Zündapp KS 80 – class leader among light motorcycles

Zündapp KS 80 - class leader among light motorcycles

In the studio: Zündapp KS 80

Class leader among light motorcycles

Content of

With quality and workmanship at the highest level, the Zündapp KS 80 was the class leader among light motorcycles – but also in terms of price.

Zu loud, too fast, too prone to accidents: on January 1, 1981, the unthrottled 50s were hit by the collar. According to the will of the legislature, everything should get better with the new 80s light motorcycles: 80 cubic centimeters displacement, a maximum of 80 km / h and the maximum performance had to be achieved at 6000 tours. In addition, there was driver training with a practical test that did not yet exist in the old, speed-unlimited class of the 50s. If the lamentation of the newly regulated youth was still great in the beginning, that changed quickly: at the latest with a nice pillion on the back, the nominally faster 50s had no chance against the more powerful 80s light motorcycles.

One reason why Rainer Bissinger only considered an 80s. Already in 1982 it fell into disrepair with Zündapps KS 80, when he was 16. It was his dream moped, and German quality counted in the clique. With the Japanese, he and his buddies were still skeptical, although it soon turned out that the Far East 80s were technically no worse. But for the Swabian only the Zündapp or a Hercules came into question. He still owns his first KS 80, in silver. It is ready to drive, restored, but with minor modifications, as you do as a teenager.


Zündapp KS 80 cooler.

Bissinger did not yet know that his childhood sweetheart was the result of a research contract from the Federal Environment Agency. It was about “measures to reduce the noise of small motorcycles and reduce subjective annoyance”; so the Munich manufacturer was directly involved in the development of this new class. Other German companies also knew about the introduction of the new class at an early stage, and it was no secret that life was to be made difficult for Japanese brands.


Zündapp KS 80.

A calculation that did not work out, however: Kreidler filed for bankruptcy as early as 1982, followed by Zündapp in 1984, another large German light motorcycle manufacturer. The locals were too sure of their market dominance, producing quality at a price that less and less could afford. The KS 80 is one of the best examples. Its frame is designed to be so stable that it can withstand a total weight of 300 kilograms – with an empty weight of 105 kilograms. The motor has an output of 8.3 HP at 6000 revolutions and, thanks to the water cooling, has no temperature problems. The much-criticized draw-wedge gearshift of the old 50s gave way to a claw-shift gearbox. Zündapp made most of it itself, but quality was also a top priority when it came to supplier parts – such as the Marzocchi fork or the Grimeca disc brake. The fact that the red pencil was also an issue with the Munich-based company is best shown by the cheap-looking VDO watches and the spartan six-volt electrical system. Nevertheless, in 1981 the KS 80 cost an impressive 4150 marks, which exceeded the budget of a large part of the young target group.


Shiny: The Zündapp embossing can be found on even the smallest details. Unfortunately, the high level of vertical integration turned out to be a coffin nail in terms of costs.

The Japanese already got real motorcycles for the money. Nevertheless: In the first year of sales in 1981, business with the 80s was really good. At the end of 1982, however, there was not only a lot of light motorcycles in stockpiling at Zündapp, and the next low hit was not long in coming: On January 1, 1983, the insurance companies increased their premiums by 100 percent because the statistics after two years had a rate of around 200 Accidents per 1000 vehicles. The enormously increased operating costs slowly forced the light motorcycles into the offside of the registration statistics, but Bissinger remained loyal to his Zündapp. Even more: when he happened to come across an advertisement in the newspaper for a New Hercules K50 RL in 1991, it was the kick-start for his collection.


Zündapp KS 80 engine.

He now has a fleet of vehicles that would easily be enough to furnish a museum. Zündapp, Hercules, Kreidler, 50s and 80s, most of them brand new. “Back then they just stopped at the dealers.” Long written off, in the accounting as well as other sense. Our photo model, the orange KS 80 from 1983, was also such a sleeping beauty, the engine has never seen operating materials. A collector had given Bissinger the tip that she was at a dealer in the Bavarian Forest. “When you found a machine in the 90s, there were usually a lot of spare parts and new slaughtering machines en bloc.” Wait a minute, “new” slaughtering machines? “Sure,” says Bissinger, “1980 and 1981 the business with light motorcycles boomed, and dealers ordered machines beyond the normal contingent because spare parts were often simply not available! These were then not sold, but rather stripped to meet the demand for parts. “


This Zündapp has never had contact with petrol or oil.

The collector doesn’t see himself as a screwdriver, so he has sold a lot on and helped finance his hobby. “Before the Ebay era, everything was about contacts, and if you are known in the scene, you always get tempting offers.” In the meantime, his collection has grown to 17 pieces. Twelve of them are brand new, the others have been restored using original parts from old stocks. Drive? “I can hardly get to that,” the Swabian regrets. In the last two years it was just 400 kilometers. What he finds most fascinating anyway is the absolutely original condition of his machines. “You can see exactly how it was back then when the mopeds rolled off the assembly line, minor scratches from assembly in the factory, but also negligence or peculiarities. This authenticity in detail cannot be restored with a restoration. ”The orange KS 80 also remains authentic in any case, it will not take a road under the – of course – still original rubbers. It is a new machine. And should it stay.

Technical specifications


Collector Rainer Bissinger on his KS 80: The dream of that time has been joined by 16 more.

Liquid-cooled single-cylinder two-stroke engine, bore 46 mm, stroke 47 mm, 78.1 cm³, mixed lubrication, 6.1 kW (8.3 HP) at 6000 rpm, 21 mm Bing slide carburettor, claw-shifted five-speed gearbox, chain drive

Landing gear:
Central tubular frame, Marzocchi fork at the front, two-arm swing arm at the rear, single disc brake at the front, drum brake at the rear, dry weight 105 kg, tank capacity 13.5 l

Price 1981: 4,150 marks

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