It is one of the world's oldest motorcycle manufacturers, and manufactured their first motorcycle in 1904. Peugeot, the oldest extant, began manufacture in 1898. Indian Motorcycle began producing bikes in 1901.Triumph produced bikes in 1902 and Harley-Davidson and Husqvarna both in 1903. The company produced ball bearings, motorcycle engines and bicycle parts. Sachs Motorcycles was a subsidiary producing motorcycles, mopeds, motorised bicycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). The manufacturing of motorcycles was broken out of Sachs into its own company and the mother company producing automotive parts was bought by ZF Friedrichshafen AG to form ZF Sachs.
Sachs took over Victoria, Express and DKW in the 1960s. Fichtel & Sachs became a large maker of automotive parts. Their moped motors continued to be used by many brands until the mid-90s and small capacity motorcycle engines of up to 175 cc displacement were also made. The company began to supply motorcycles for the German Federal Armed Forces in 1992.
After facing a series of financial problems, stemming from pensions issues relating to the Hercules bicycle works, the company went into insolvency proceedings and ultimately saw a successful management buyout led by the managing director Corrado Savazzi. At this time Sachs was reduced to local assembly of small, cheap, Chinese-sourced scooters, which weren't doing well. The distinctive Sachs MadAss was the only Sachs-engineered motorcycle made at the time.
The insolvency administrator Mr. Wolker Boehm was not only able to continue trading, but also put the company in a position to develop new models, such as the new XTC125, unveiled at the Intermot fair in Cologne, Germany in October 2006. In 2007 the company moved to new locations in Nürnberg / Katzwang and 2008 changed its name from SACHS Fahrzeug- und Motorentechnik GmbH to SFM GmbH. In 2010 it has become one of the market leaders in self-propelled electric bicycles and development of new motorcycle and scooter models has continued, taking the brand away from local assembly of cheap scooters under the crisis years to possibly rebuilding its own former strong identity.