120 years ago, Narcis Podsedníček was the first to arrive in Berlin, but he was not declared the winner

In the beginnings of their company in 1895, Václavovin Laurin and Klement devoted themselves to bicycles. They started in a small workshop of five people, with foot-operated or hand-operated machinery, but after a year, 21 employees produced five different models of bicycles with the patriotic designation Slavia.

Václav Klement and Václav Laurin

Photo: Škoda Auto

Machines with internal combustion engines soon came. Slavia A and B motorcycles were presented to the public on November 18, 1899.

Laurin took care of the development, and Václav Klement’s business talent secured the company significant orders on the domestic market and in developed industrial countries, including Germany and the United Kingdom.

From a toolmaker to a racer

Even then, motorsport was used for marketing purposes. The quality of motorcycles was to be proven by the Paris-Aachen-Hanover-Berlin race in 1901.

Narcis Podsedníček (1866–1932), a regular employee of the factory, was chosen as the most experienced for the racing debut of the Mladá Boleslav brand at the largest motor sports company of its time.

Narcissus the Chairman

Photo: Škoda Auto

He was first a worker-toolmaker and at the same time belonged to sales representatives, later he developed into a master. As a competitor for the Slavia brand, he was one of ten riders competing in the category of motorcycles and motor tricycles.

The three-day race measured 1196 kilometers. In the spirit of the time, the route mostly led on unpaved or poorly paved roads, which led to many tire defects.

Out of a total of 110 vehicles, only 48 drivers finally reached the finish line. Among the motorcyclists, Podsedníček was the first, but he was unlucky. His night arrival at the finish line was not properly documented.

At three o’clock in the morning he did not get any of the stewards of the race, so the time of arrival was confirmed only by a police officer. However, the organizers did not recognize this record, and in the end only four French riders on De Dion-Bouton tricycles were classified in the finish.

Grandfather motorcycle

Production of the Laurin & Klement Slavia type B motorcycle began in 1899, and in November of that year it was introduced together with the type A at the Prague-Bubny cycle race track.

Today, the machines brought the obvious position of the engine in the lower part of the frame, thanks to which they were better controlled and had better stability.

Motorcycle LK Slavia Type B

Photo: Škoda Auto

The Slavia type B was powered by an air-cooled single-cylinder with a displacement of 240 cm³, which gave an output of 1.75 horsepower. The first motorcycles did not have gearboxes and the rear wheel was driven by a flat leather belt directly from the engine. The use of human power via pedal boats, ie starting and auxiliary transmission, was solved by a classic chain.

The motorcycle reached a maximum speed of up to 40 km / h. Until 1904, a total of 540 Slavia type B motorcycles were produced in Mladá Boleslav.

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