Motorworld’s newspaper №59

What will be, will be. Zündapp motor works was founded in 1917 for the manufacturing of military equipment (Zünder und Apparatebau GmbH stands for Detonators & instruments Company). In 20 years, the major part of its production, which had two or three wheels, had been supplied to the Wehrmacht. Despite the fact that Zündapp KS600 bikes had been extensively advertised as civil motorcycles (there’re a lot of cheeky Fräulein with their admirers behind the handle bar on numerous brochures), the vast majority of them went to the Army and police. So, a civil KS600 has a greater value.

The first Zündapp motorcycles (the K family) designed by Richard Küchen were introduced in 1933 at the Berlin show. The K family consisted of six models having different engines from a one-cylinder two-stroke engine to a four-cylinder four-stroke one, but all engines shared the same feature – these were rear-driven bikes (a drive shaft was used), which had an unified chassis and a frame made of pressed elements. At first, four-stroke engines were the flathead ones. Then, an overhead valve engine having 500 cc displacement appeared (in 1936) – this was installed on the KS500 model. The engine could accelerate a bike to a speed of 130 km/h at 26 h.p., which was comparable to a bike equipped with a 800 cc engine. It was a riding horse but bad suited for a sidecar. For this reason, the company introduced a compromise option – Zündapp KS600. The engine displacement was increased to 596 cc, the number of carburettors was decreased to one (from two) – this resulted in an increased engine power at low RPMs and the capacity at high RPMs increased to 28 h.p. A strong chassis was better tailored for heavy-duty operations with a sidecar.

Zündapp bikes equipped with opposed-piston engines are often compared to BMW motorcycles due to the fact that both have similarity of appearance. But if we look closer, we’ll see they’re completely different machines. Crankshaft of the Zündapp KS600 rotated on three main bearings (two roller bearings and one plain bearing). Rods were set on the crankshaft on roller bearings with bearing cages. Camshaft was installed in the crankcase top half and was driven by gears made of Novotext (cotton textile-phenolic resin). These gears were a little brittle but produced low noise. Besides, Novotext was able to be well oiled. Kickstarter had a bevel gearing, so the engine could be started more easily compared to BMW. Double-disk clutch operated in oil mist. A four-speed gearbox was particularly exotic: it had chain drives instead of pinion drives for the purpose of smooth & noiseless operation. Gear shift was both hand & foot operated. Rear-wheel drive was implemented via a drive shaft with two couplings.

The frame made of pressed elements was weighty and strong. The rear suspension was rigid. The machine had a parallelogram fork equipped with a hydraulic shock absorber.

Zündapp KS600 was a preface for creating a special military motorcycle KS750 manufacturing of which had started in 1941. But manufacturing of KS600 machines didn’t stop – they were used as mobile generating sets.

Zundapp KS750 from the «Motorworld by V.Sheynov» collection

In the early postwar years, Germany was prohibited to manufacture motorcycles equipped with engines, which had displacement of more than 250 cc. In 1949, the ban was lifted and the Germany restarted the manufacturing of Zündapp KS600 in Nurenberg. The designing of a successor had started right after that. Zündapp KS601, a new model, was introduced in 1950. KS601 got a significantly upgraded powertrain (based on KS600) and a brand new chassis.

Manufacturer Zündapp Werke, GmbH, Nuremberg (Germany)
Years of manufacture 1938 – 1941, 1949-1951
Quantity produced, units 21 499
Price 1395 RM
Today’s value N/A
Type Flat-twin, 4-stroke
Engine capacity, cc 597
Bore and stroke, mm 75 х 67,6
Engine rating 28 hp at 4800 rpm
Sparking Magdino Noris
Carburetor Amal M76
Battery 6 V
Clutch Double plate in oil-bath
Transmission 4-speed
Frame type Stamped steel duplex
Front suspension Parallelogram, with hydraulic shock absorber
Rear suspension Rigid
Brakes Drum type
Wheel size 3,50 x 19
Length, mm 2 150
Width, mm  885
Height, mm  960
Wheelbase, mm  1390
Ground clearance, mm  125
Seat height, mm 720
Mass, kg 195
Gas tank size, l 15
Maximum speed, km/h 145
Range, km N/A

* – Data on the results of the measurement at the exhibit of “Motorworld by V.Sheyanov”.