If you were looking for a day of entertainment in 1930s Munich, you might find yourself on a field cheering loudly over the roar of motorcycle engines. In this 1934 video, archived by British Pathé, performers and acrobats execute daring tricks and skillful driving maneuvers on motorcycles, sidecars, and automobiles.
In the 1930s, Germany was home to the leading motorcycle manufacturers, earning the title of the country with the highest density of motorcycles in world in 1933. The spectacle in Munich shows off these zippy vehicles as well as the skills of the motorcyclists. Each of the acts is a “clever and amusing display,” just as the voiceover describes.
The motorcyclist in the very first act navigates a series of obstacles, elevating the sidecar and swerving the bike around a track. At the 20-second mark, he even quickly jumps off of the still running motorcycle, crawls under a set of tables, and hopes back on with ease.
At the 50-second mark, a series of performers donning Roman gladiator attire ride on bikes attached like horses and carry chariots across the field. There’s even a comical “crazy scientist” working a strange machine. After fiddling with the contraption, it explodes in a giant puff of smoke.
And for the grand finale, an impressive human pyramid of several male gymnasts rolls out onto the field. They balance carefully on two motorcycles (oddly driven by what appears to be two people dressed in a bear and jaguar costume). The three-tiered hanger apparatus rotates as the motorcycles slowly drive around delighting the audience.
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