Zündapp was founded in 1917 by Dr.-Ing. E. h. Fritz L. Neumeyer and Friedrich A. Krupp, Essen, under the name: Zünder und Apparatebau (Ignition and Equipment Company) G.m.b.H, Nürnberg. They supplied ignition equipment to the German army until the war ended in 1918. In 1919, after the transition to a peace-economy, the company changed its name to: Zündapp company for the construction of special machines G.m.b.H. in Nürnberg. At this time, they also started producing light machine parts and in 1921, the fabrication of motorcycles. In the following years, the small, nimble machines were known throughout Germany as "Zündapp, the motorcycle for everyone".
In the early 30's, Zündapp started to produce boxed-frame motorcycles with quiet, low maintenance shaft driven transmissions. As Germany regained its former economic prosperity, Zündapp followed suit by manufacturing larger motorcycles with multi-cylinder 4 stroke engines displacing 500cc, 600cc and even an 800cc boxer 4 cylinder, the K 800. In 1938, Zündapp began delivering what would become their most popular motorcycle of this era; the horizontally opposed twin cylinder KS 600. The KS 600 was produced for both the civilian and military markets. The overwhelming success of the KS 600 would live beyond the destruction of the Zündapp factory in 1945. In 1948, production began on the KS 601(aka Green Elephant). The KS 601's motor was nearly identical to the KS 600 with few exceptions. In September 1939, as WWII began, all new motorcycles produced were diverted to the war effort. Most existing civilian motorcycles were also purchased and pressed into service. Many early wartime photographs of German motorized units feature the rugged KS 600 along with many other repurposed civilian motorcycles, often repainted in camoflauge military garb.
While the KS 600 was very durable and reliable, the German Army High Command(OKW) required a motorcycle that could support the conditions of existing and future fronts, such as Afrika and the East. Sometime in 1940, the OKW ordered development of a new motorcycle with strict requirements. Notable among these were:
- ◊ 750cc twin with cylinders slightly less than 180° opposed to increase ground clearance
- ◊ 2 wheel drive, driven sidecar wheel
- ◊ High/Low/Reverse selectable gears
- ◊ Hydraulic rear brakes, a first for motorcycles
- ◊ Limited-slip and lockable rear drive
- ◊ Magneto powered, battery optional
- ◊ Heavy 16"x 4" spoked wheels
- ◊ Handle up to 45° grades
- Jul 18th 2017: New! November 1950 KS 600 and sidecar spare parts manual added. 95 pages with illustrations
- Jan 13th 2017: Several spare parts manuals(Ersatzteilliste) have been added
- If you would like to register your Zündapp, please click here.
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