The German motorcycle manufacturers Zündapp was originally founded in 1917 by Fritz Neumeyer, with the help of Friedrich Krupp AG and the machine tools manufacturing company of Thiel. The original companies name was Zünder und Apparatebau G.m.b.H and it is from an abbreviation if this that we arrive at the name of Zündapp.
However the company did not make motorcycles until 1921, before then they made detonators for explosives but after World War One with the break down of the German military, the demand for arms and munitions became practically non existent. The company did not want to close, so it built motorcycles instead.
From 1940 up until the end of Word War Two , Zündapp made 18,695 KS-750 motorcycles exclusively for the German army (Wehrmacht) before this, civilian motorcycles had been adopted for military service but it was found that they were not up to the rigors of combat and all terrain conditions that the bikes would be put through.
The heavy duty KS-750 was designed purposely for use in the Wehrmacht and was constructed of many parts that could be found on the BMW R75 motorcycle, this was so that production costs were kept to a minimum and also spares could be obtained much easier than if the bike was only built using unique Zündapp parts.
This fact has also helped today's restorers of these bikes and parts for a 1940's Zündapp can still be sought in adequate quantities, nearly seventy years later!
The KS-750's engine was well designed and could deliver lots of power and torque, so much so that the bike was equipped with a towing hook and it could consequently tow heavy loads behind it, up to 1850 lbs. The Zündapp KS750 could even quite easily carry seven persons and their equipment, as seen in the World War Two picture below.
Modern military re-enactors also like to climb aboard the Zündapp KS750 and if a bike is available they will always use one during their military displays.
The bike had a two cylinder, flat, horizontally opposed 745cc engine that gave a top speed of sixty mph, with a economical fuel consumption of around thirty four mpg. The gear box was equipped with four main forward gears with an additional special off road very high torque gear and also a reverse gear.
The Zündapp was the first bike of its kind to have hydraulically operated brakes on the rear wheel and sidecar wheel. The sidecar wheel was also powered for extra traction, this was via a drive shaft coming from the main drive off the engine. It was in effect a two wheel drive motorcycle.
The sidecar's differential could also be locked to evenly distribute all the power to the two drive wheels at the same time when going over rough ground.
The Zündapp KS-750 utilized the renowned parallelogram front forks system that could be adjusted for rebound and pre-load, these were expensive to manufacture, difficult to maintain and had a complicated structure but they delivered fantastic handling in all conditions and were favored over the BMW R75 by all who rode it.
The KS-750 was capable of negotiating inclines of up to forty five degrees with its powerful engine and with two soldiers and all their equipment, it could easily traverse very rough and hilly ground, this was due to its relatively high ground clearance.
All this performance from a heavy duty military motorcycle combination that on its own weighed over 925 lbs and with two soldiers onboard plus the MG34 machine gun, ammunition, two MP40 sub machine guns, a compliment of grenades and other equipment the bike then weighed over half a ton!
The bike could also be equipped with a trailer that was simply hitched to the back of the bike via the hook that was attached to the frame by the right of the rear saddle.
The trailer could deliver ammunition to front line troops, along with medical supplies and equipment.
Without the side car attached, the Zündapp KS-750 served quite well as a dispatch riders bike and could quickly whizz over the landscape delivering important messages. As long as the rider had the skills at handling a motorcycle then there was nowhere the KS-750 couldn't go.
She was a very powerful bike indeed, it was a well thought out and well engineered design that was both reliable and dependable. The German Army indeed thought so too and put this bike to great use during World War Two. The Afrika Corps utilized many of them in the North African campaign too, many of these bikes have survived and belong to collectors as does the superb example below.
It can almost be taken for granted that any Zündapp KS-750 motorcycle combination that is painted up in desert sand colors was used in North Africa by the riders of the Afrika Corps.
The Zündapp KS-750 will often also make appearances in the movies. Many World War Two movies will be seen with a Zündapp KS-750 trundling around somewhere on the set. Many of these bikes survived the war and are now proudly owned by collectors and bike enthusiasts alike. It does not take much persuading for them to "lend " their bike to the movie makers.
The Zündapp factory that was based in Nuremberg, was making these motorcycles for the German Army all throughout World War Two until it got demolished in a bombing raid by the Allies in 1945.
The company however restarted production of motorcycles after the war making commercial bikes for whoever wanted them. Sadly, Zündapp finally folded in 1984 and henceforth all of their bikes are now sought after as collectors items and prized enthusiasts bikes.
Page created June 19th 2009. Updated December 14th 2012