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From the Owner

The ups and downs of owning a classic motorcycle

Dad’s Leftovers: Niels Svanholm’s 1938 Nimbus

1938 Nimbus, right side 
Niels Svanholm's 1938 Nimbus MkII. Nimbus made essentially the same machine from 1934 to the end of production in 1959. 

I grew up with Nimbus motorcycles. My father had brought three of them over from Denmark before I was born, in the mid-1960s. The motorcycle is a 1938 Nimbus. Built by a company that started out as a vacuum cleaner manufacturer, the Nimbus was company founder Peder Fisker’s pet project.

1938 Nimbus, left side  
Note foot shift, shaft drive and telescopic forks, all in 1939, years before most manufacturers.

I grew up with an interest in things mechanical, and Dad used this Nimbus to school me on how to work on these bikes. Dad got old and moved back to Denmark with his Nimbus (a 1937 model with sidecar), and I was left with the “leftovers” – a bike that had been pirated for necessary parts to keep the 1937 running.

1938 Nimbus engine 
The Nimbus used a 746cc overhead cam air-cooled inline four. Open valve gear was prone to rapid wear.

Along came a wife and later two children, and the leftovers were left in the shed. 2010 was the year to finally deal with Dad’s wish for me to prove I had actually listened to him all those years ago in the old garage. The restoration actually went quite smoothly, and now I am proud to ride her every summer.

Note: To read more about Nimbus motorcycles, read this article from the July/August 2006 issue of Motorcycle Classics.