When you think of German motorcycle brands, what comes to mind immediately?
Probably BMW, right?
But through most of the 20th century, another German company made not only motorcycles but also scooters and even mopeds.
The name of this company? “Zundapp.”
In this blog post, you’ll discover:
- What they made before they made motorcycles
- 3 of their most well-known models – from a WWII-era motorcycle to a scooter
- What does the Swedish slang phrase “slödapp” translate to?
What is Zundapp?
Zundapp was founded in 1917 in the German city of Nuremberg. The name itself is short for “Zunder – und – Apparatebau G.m.b.H,” which translates to “Tinder and Apparatus Construction.”
The reason for this name was because they originally made detonators, but after WWI ended, there was little demand for explosives.
As such, they switched to making motorcycles, with their first one being the Z22 in 1921.
In 1933, the company introduced the “K” series – a series of heavy motorcycles which featured a driveshaft and two universal joints.
The “K” is short for “Kardanantrieb,” which is German for “driveshaft.”
During WWII, Zundapp (along with BMW) were two of the main makes of motorcycles of the German Army (then known as the “Wehrmacht”).
After WWII ended, the company decided to make another switch – this time, they started making small two-stroke mopeds and scooters.
But even though the company did quite well in the 1960s and 1970s, the good days couldn’t last forever.
By the 1980s, Japanese motorcycles and scooters started to become more and more popular, and Zundapp had a hard time keeping up.
And in 1984, despite making it through two world wars, the company officially went out of business.
If you’ve ever seen WWII movies like A Bridge too Far or Where Eagles Dare, you might see one of these motorcycles in the background.
Along with the BMW K75, the KS 750 was one of the most common motorcycles used by the Wehrmacht during WWII.
Powered by a 751cc boxer engine, the KS 750 was made between 1941 and 1944 and was used both in Europe, North Africa, and even the Eastern Front.
First introduced in 1971, the KS50 is a single-cylinder two-stroke moped that was particularly popular in the 1970s, along with many Puch models.
One of these KS50s can be seen briefly in the foreground in a scene from the 1977 TV-Series Lära för Livet (roughly “Life is For Learning”).
In fact, just like many Puch models, the KS50 mopeds remained popular even years after the company went out of business.
Despite Zundapp’s popularity and success in Sweden, not everyone loved them.
In fact, some even developed a derogatory term for them – “Slödapp” (roughly translates to “Slowdapp”).
In 1953, before the days of the KS50, Zundapp made the Bella – a single-cylinder two-stroke scooter with a design inspired by the Parilla Levriere.
Between 1953 and 1964, 130,000 Bella scooters were built, including a unique model called the “Suburbanette,” which was only sold in the United States.
Would you like to know more about the Zundapp Bella? Read the Specs & Stats post about it here on the Dual Wheel Journey.