’57 Zundapp KS601
Not a lot of people are familiar with Zundapp motorcycles. Mostly when you hear the name, the picture that comes to mind is that of a small size, but overbuilt in the German way, two stoke motorbike. Very few of Zundapp’s bigger motorcycles made it to our shores. Zundapp was one of Europe’s major manufacturers throughout most of the 20th century. Early in Zundapps history most of the motorcycles were small then in 1933 they started producing the K models in sizes ranging from 200cc to 800cc’s. The KS 750 was popular with the German military for its strength and versatility. It was a flat twin, boxer style 7500cc with a powered sidecar…perfect for fighting a war.
After World War 2, 1951 to be exact, Zundapp brought out their most popular big bike, the KS601. Powered by a 600cc boxer twin it was a favorite among the sidecar crowd and those looking for a sturdy and comfortable road bike that was also resonabley priced. It was affectionately known as the ‘Green Elephant’ When Zundapp was bringing the KS601 to the US, Americans didn’t like the green and also wanted a more comfortable ride, so, we got a red paint job and a swingarm rear suspension in place of the plunger style found on the Euro version. Zundapp built the ‘Green Elephant’ from 1951 to 1958 when they discontinued 4 stroke development in favor of smaller size 2 stroke motorbikes.
As we are heading in fall and winter and some of you have already ended your riding season, it’s time to start thinking about winter projects and this Zundapp I found on ebay today is a perfect candidate. It’s complete, for the most part and it runs, a great place to start. Depending on deep you want to get into it, there are a couple of mechanical issues, like it jumps out of second gear, neutral is hard to find when the bike is running, and the kick start mechanism is hard to operate not insurmountable problems. While researching this bike and Zundapp in general I found a lot of good resources on the net including a good parts supply. So, get this neat old German machine, take it apart as much as you have the time, skill and money for, give it a nice paint job, put some new tires and brakes on it then when spring comes, you’re ready to ride to the nearest German Hofbrau House and have yourself some Schnitzel.
Here’s one little interesting thing about Zundapp I didn’t know until today, in 1931 Zundapp along with Ferdinand Porsche developed the first prototype of the ‘Auto fur Jedermann’…’car for everyone’. The beginnings of Volkswagen, cool huh.
Click on the pictures below to learn more about this great project bike.