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zundapp ks 100 ad

Get a Lightweight!

(by Guy ‘Guido’ Allen, July 2021)


Zundapp's feisty strokers

Ask motorcyclists to come up with an image of Zundapp, and there are two most likely answers: the WWII heavyweight KS750, most often seen rigged as an outfit, or the post-war lightweight two-stroke motocrossers.

The German company's interests were wider, including weapons for WWI, aircraft powerplants and even microcars.

Over its history, possibly its most serious mistake (with the benefit of hindsight) is that it ceased development of four-stroke engines from 1958 to concentrate solely on two-strokes. At the time this may have been sensible, but by the 1980s it, among other issues, proved fatal.

Andre Malherbe Zundapp

Through the first few post-WWII decades, however, the two-stroke market was expanding and showed huge promise. For Zundapp, there were heady days. It won the 125cc World MX championship in 1974 and 1975 with Andre Malherbe in the saddle (above), and was making an impact in less high-profile events with its 100cc series.

The KS100 in the ad at top and bottom claimed around 10 horses and ran a five-speed transmission. There were trail and street models, weighing around 102 kilos and said to be good for 100km/h. Good numbers for 1970.

Zundapp Bella

A particularly successful design, that even today has one or two owner groups around the globe, was for the Bella 200 scooter. As this 1956 ad boasts, it not only had 10 horses on board, but an electric start. That last feature put it ahead of competitors such as Vespa and Lambretta.

Zundapp moped

There's a belief however that it was the company's 50cc mopeds (1969 model above and 1984 below) which kept it afloat for years. Rob van Drieseum tells us residual bicycle pedals were compulsory for a 16-year-old without a licence in Holland (with possible variations for other parts of Europe). Note the yellow front numberplate tags, that denoted a moped.

zundapp moped

"The pedals had to be able to propel the contraption, but good luck for anything other than trying to start it. They had to be restricted to a top speed of 30km/h in the cities and 40km/h outside. That was easily bypassed.

"They cost a lot compared to other models, as did the competing Kreidlers. There was some anomosity beween the fans of each, which sometimes turned into violence. This was the 1960s."

Zundapp ks750

However it was in the four-stroke heavyweight division that the company really made its motorcycle reputation, with the WWII KS750. Prototypes were built at the request of the German military, with BMW's R75 listed as the main competitor.

The Wehrmach decided the Zundapp was the better and more robust design and BMW, for a time at least, was required to manufacture the KS750 design rather than its own machine. You can read more about that, and other war-time motorcycles in our War Babies feature.

KS750s are in big demand as classics, with prices reaching the Au$70-90,000 region (US$50-70,000, GB£40-50,000).

zundapp ks100

As for the diminutive KS100, well...good luck finding one! There will be a few shoved away in sheds, but the attrition rate would have been high given that, for decades, they simply wouldn't have been worth keeping or restoring.


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