What is “MadUSA” and how about this Wunderlich thing?

Deciphering Algemeine Betriebs Erlaubnis and the strange name of this mad machine.

Wunderlich MadUSA

Wunderlich MadUSA

Okay, we’ll dive right into this naked BMW’s MadUSA name. You may remember “Mad Max,” the knobby-tired S1000RR special built by Wunderlich in Germany (pictured above). Our testbike kept the “Mad” of that bike and added “USA,” since this streetable machine was built to ride stateside. “We think the bike is a beauty like in the Medusa legend, but we also built it into a monster, so it’s a double meaning,” said William Plam of Wunderlich America.

Plam was a BMW dealer starting in 1985, the same year that Erich Wunderlich began making parts for the Yamaha XT series in Germany; Erich only got involved with BMWs a bit later. Wunderlich Germany now has about 45 people on staff, all working to develop fancy and functional parts for every new BMW (and other makes now, too, particularly in the adventure segment). Plam and partner Marc Corker now concentrate solely on the Wunderlich business in most of North and South America.

What makes Wunderlich different? Plam pointed out that the company's parts have ABE certification. What's ABE? It's Algemeine Betriebs Erlaubnis, which roughly translates to "permission for general use in traffic," according to Plam. You see, the German DMV/certification process known as TÜV (Technischer Überwachungs-Verein or Technical Inspection Association) makes our registration and modification laws look like a wild-west free-for-all.

In Germany, if you get a part that is not ABE certified, you have to have the bike and part inspected by TÜV, paying both that agency and the inspector for the privilege of, say, putting aftermarket footpegs or brake and clutch levers on your bike. ABE certification is costly for a parts-maker, but it’s a big incentive to buyers in the home country because all the red tape is taken care of for you. Just bolt on your part, present your papers and you are golden.

What does it mean for us? Well, you can be confident that your Wunderlich parts are of the highest quality without needing to present your papers to anyone. Get modifying, cowboy.