1942 Zundapp KS750
Rough and Ready
Years produced: 1940-1948
Total production: 18,695
Claimed power: 26hp @ 4,000rpm
Top speed: 60mph (approx.)
Engine type: 751cc overhead valve, air-cooled opposed twin (w/cylinders lifted 5 degrees for additional ground clearance)
Weight: 420kg (926lb)
Think your BMW GS is the ultimate adventure bike? Check out the Zundapp KS750. Built for the German military, it has 10 speeds and tops out at 60mph. And nigh on indestructible, it’ll take you where mortal bikes fear to tread — and back.
Zun-what?The Zundapp company was founded in Nuremberg, Germany, during World War I by Fritz Neumeyer, and produced detonators for the German war effort. By 1919, the war was over. Germany had been defeated, and the Allied powers had forbidden the country from producing weapons of war. Neumeyer had to find some other way to make money, so he decided to go into the motorcycle business.
In 1921, Neumeyer unveiled the Z22, a “Motorrad fur Jedermann” — a motorcycle for everybody. Thanks to its simplicity and reliability, the 211cc two-stroke single was a hit, and Zundapp prospered. Singles were the company’s mainstay throughout the 1920s, but in 1933 the K series, featuring an opposed twin and shaft drive, and available in displacements from 200cc to 800cc, appeared.
As Germany prepared for what was soon to be World War II, its military decided the coming conflict would hinge on mobility, as opposed to the static trench lines of World War I. The Wehrmacht needed a light, mobile vehicle able to get through anything.
At the end of 1937, the Reich contacted Zundapp and BMW, two of the larger German motorcycle manufacturers. The German army demanded a bike that met the following criteria:
• Ability to carry a payload of 500kg (1,102.3lb), the equivalent of three fully equipped soldiers, including arms and ammo.
• It had to cruise at 80kmh (not quite 50mph) and be able to reach 95kmh (not quite 60mph) but also be able to crawl along at 3mph so as not to run over marching troops.
• The tires had to be 5.00in x 16in.
• Minimum ground clearance had to be 150mm (6in) and there had to be enough room under the fenders for snow chains.
• Cost was no object.
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