love at first bike

Gerard and July Hilbers

Velserbroek, Haarlem,  The Netherlands

Read in Dutch 

Motorcycle enthusiast Gerard Hilbers of Velserbroek, bought his first Horex Regina way back in 1982. A single cylinder 400cc 4 stroke, built by Horex in 1956 at their Bad Homburg, factory in Germany. The Horex company, in a period both before and after the 2nd World War  produced wonderful twin and single cylinder 4 stroke machines with glorious names. As well as Regina, later came the Resident and Imperator. It took Gerard two years to restore the bike and soon after added a Stieb 200 sidecar. You can see the result below. I'm sure you'd agree, it looks amazing!

In 1989 Gerard bought another Regina ripe for restoration. It may have taken a few years to complete, but when finished it was perfect. In 1993 there was a third Horex in his workshop. This bike however was the 1955 Imperator 400cc twin.  Gerard's Horex became three before his life was to change forever when he met July in 1995. They were to become lifelong partners.

I'd sort of guess that  Gerard and July's paths collided through a joint interest in bikes, as July was about to gain her riding licence when they met. They were obviously meant to be together and married two years later.  The first Regina Gerard restored attended the wedding too!

The young couple's bike restorations continued and the next Horex was to become July's favourite. In 1998 Gerard found a 1958 350cc Horex Resident, rusting in a barn in France. It had been stood for a considerable length of time.  "Their" restoration was exactly what you'd expect given the results of the first three, it was outstanding.


On the 26th December 1999 their son Wouter was born. Of course over the next twenty years or so, Wouter was going to have a motorcycling education, he had fine teachers.

4 stages of Wouter's education......

1. Relax on a motorcycle

2. Do what dad says, "hang on tight"!

3. Run free (on a 1940 SB35) 

4. Be a great mechanic (like Dad)

Following the restoration of the Resident and whilst Wouter was growing up they were able to enjoy their bikes on some pretty challenging European tours. Which were a true testament to Gerard's craftmanship.

So it wasn't until Wouter was 10 years old that they decided to save yet another Horex. This is surely the finest of all. A 1940 SB35.  What a magnificent restoration.

1940 SB35 their last Horex restoration

left to right ...

1954 Regina with S/C, 1958 Resident, 1955 Imperator, 1956 Regina, 1940 SB35

Hilbers' Family Album

I mentioned earlier that of the five restorations, July has a favourite. So we'll finish with a wonderful photograph of her riding the Resident, with Wouter on the back...what a joyous photo!

The importance of the Hilbers family's dedication in bringing back these bikes to life is immeasurable.  The craftmanship of the restoration has to be admired, but to see these bikes being ridden and enjoyed rather than on display in a museum is fantastic.  

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