ZPmoto 449: Are Enduros the Next Wave in Retro Classics?

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Photo by Christian Queens
ZPmoto picks up the DKW legacy to build a retro-style 449 enduro, with production starting in October 2012.

To understand the new ZPmoto you must go back to 1922, when DKW in Zschopau, East Germany, delivered its first motorcycles. DKW went on to become the world’s largest motorcycle manufacturer — all of them 2-strokes — and post-WWII the complete design and tooling of one of DKW’s most popular models, the RT125, was handed over as reparations to BSA, where it became the best-selling Bantam, and to Harley-Davidson, where it turned into the Hummer. DKW relocated to West Germany, founding a factory at Ingolstadt to make 2-stroke bikes and DKW cars alongside Audi saloons.

On the other side of the post-WWII Iron Curtain, Zschopau was overrun by Russian forces in 1945, and the DKW Zschopau factory was rebranded as the legendary MZ. With engineer Walter Kaaden’s influence, more than two million 125cc-300cc MZ 2-stroke singles were built and sold over the next 45 years.

MZ was also one of the world’s principal offroad enduro brands in the 1960s, taking DDR teams to win the International Six Days Trial an unprecedented five times between 1963 and 1967. That makes the announcement that a new German manufacturer, ZPmoto, is about to start building a new retro-themed enduro in Zschopau big news.

The classically-styled, street-legal ZPsport 449 enduro has strong design cues reminiscent of MZ’s classic offroaders, complete with its green tubular steel frame and pseudo 2-stroke, Euro 3-compliant exhaust. Power comes from a Spanish-built 449cc, 6-speed Gas Gas double overhead cam 4-valve producing 45 horsepower at 6,200rpm. Dry weight is a claimed 260 pounds. The modern retro styling of the ZPmoto employs Brembo brakes and twin -hlins shocks mounted on a steel swingarm, which like the MUPO fork are fully adjustable for preload, rebound and compression damping.

“The ZPmoto 449 is a tribute to the World Championship-winning Zschopau-built machines of former decades, and combines classical values with modern technology,” says company spokesman Martin Löser. “It will also be the first motorcycle made in Zschopau in almost 40 years to carry the city’s coat of arms.”

Following extensive development, the 449 is scheduled to start production in October this year. The 449 will retail at €18,850 ($23,120 as of July 2012 exchange rates), and there will be only 50 motorcycles built each year, or roughly one motorcycle a week. Visit ZPmoto for more details. MC

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