May 6, 2014

Max Reisch - Researcher/ Pioneer/ Scientist

Have you ever heard of Max Reisch? No? Me neither..until a few days ago, when my friend told me about a small exhibition, showing the bikes and cars this gentleman used to travel around the world... 80 years ago!

To my amazement, this exhibition was located less than 500 meters from my house in Bozen, Italy and was also the first 'Buschenschank' (a kind of tavern, where wine makers sell their own products on their premises) to reopen in Bozen after the second world war.

I was intrigued to say the least and after a quick email exchange with Peter, Max' son, I arranged a visit for the next day.

So, who is this Max Reisch? 
Maximilian Felix Gottfried Reisch was born on October 2, 1912 in the small Tyrolean town of Kufstein (in Austria today). 
Max ReischWith his first motorcycle he undertook the Skijoring race in 1930 and the 12-pass-ride on the "Stilfserjoch-Puch" over the Alps. As a 20-year-old construction engineer, Max Reisch started his first voyage through the Sahara in 1932 , where he also came second in a motorcycle race using the "Sahara-Puch".
India - alluring distanceThe successful North African trip was soon followed by numerous other expeditions that lead the researcher and pioneer to almost all the continents on Earth. His sensational travels by motorcycle on the overland route to India with Herbert Tichy (1933), on a Steyr 100 to Indochina (1935) and the circumnavigation of the globe (1936) got him world-wide fame and recognition. Uniquely, all vehicles he used for his expeditions are still in working condition and can be seen at the "Max Reisch Exhibition" in Bozen, Italy by appointment. 
The pioneer died on the 18th January 1985, aged 72. He himself said: "I'm satisfied, because I have reached 102 years. The years in the desert count twice."

(Loosely translated from the official website) 

As you can see, Max Reisch was no ordinary man. In fact, he was the first person ever to ride a motorcycle from Europe to India. That's no small feat, considering that in 1933 there weren't any high-tech motorcycles, support teams and other modern commodities. 

The first thing you see when you arrive, is the big man that is Peter, Max' son, who's been taking care of his father's legacy since he passed away in 1985. Peter was a patient and forthcoming host, answering all our questions regarding the history and the engineering of the exhibits.

Here is a Jenbacher Gutbrod, Type Atlas 800, from 1950, 800 ccm, 18hp. It's likely to be the very first mobile home in Europe. Reisch used this vehicle in 1952 and 1953 to travel to the Middle East and North Africa. 

Reisch's office

The blueprint of the 'Arabia-Sadigi'

In 1956, Reisch goes on another voyage with an Opel Olympia, Type Caravan, 1956, 1500 ccm, 45hp.
This car sports a newly developed roof tend, which Reisch could first test in Egypt.

Here is the 'Gardasee-Puch', Type 175, 1926, 175 ccm, 3hp. Reisch rode this bike to the lake Garda in Northern Italy in 1931, to write an article for a motorcycle touring guide.

Unfortunately, the one bike I was really keen on seeing, wasn't there. Together with the round-the-world car ('Asien-Styer'), the 'Indien-Puch' was temporarily being shown at another exhibition.

Max Reisch was not only a researcher, journalist and world traveler, he was also one of the first people to recognize the cultural value of collecting vehicles. In his collection we find cars and motorcycles alike.

Peter Reisch signing his father's book 'Indien - lockende Ferne'

Signing my brother's book 'Über alle Straßen hinaus. Forscher, Pionier und Wüstenfahrer'

At one point Peter asked us to help him move some bikes. Needless to say that I jumped at the chance of handling bikes that have twice my age!
We even got some nice wine from Peter's vineyard for our efforts. As if we needed a reward. tssssss :-)
Stored away in the wine cellar

Actually, I wanted to sit on all of them, but in the end I settled for just one.

This Puch still had the original dirt from the 1940s. Vintage dirt!

South Tyrol is a motorcycle paradise with all its mountains, lakes and majestic views, so if you're in town in this beautiful corner of Italy, I warmly recommend a visit to the Max Reisch Collection and Archive in Bozen.  You won't regret a visit!

For more information, check out the official website (in German), or this page for great pictures. To book a visit, write an email to Peter:

I guarantee you will love it like I did.


Anonymous said...

Great photos and account. We'll have to arrange a trip to the Jessada Technik museum when you get back.

Omega Racer said...

I've been there about 5 years ago, but will gladly go visit again!

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