From Germany to China and back [via Lidl] | Zundapp returns with ZXA 500 ADV

Defunct manufacturer Zundapp is back in German hands and producing motorcycles with the launch of the Zundapp ZXA 500... its first model since 1984

Zundapp ZXA 500

From BSA to Can-Am to Jawa, it appears reviving mothballed motorcycle brands is all the rage in the industry right now… and now we have another with the surprise - if somewhat curious - re-appearance of German nameplate, Zundapp.

Last seen in Germany almost 40 years ago, Zundapp made a low-key but still significant return to the public domain at the Intermot Show in Cologne last week with the unveiling of the Zundapp ZXA 500 adventure motorcycle.

A handsome, if fairly generic looking mid-to-low capacity ADV boasting more than a hint of Ducati Multistrada in its detailing, the ZXA 500 features an A2 licence-friendly 476cc 48bhp engine, an 18-litre fuel tank, weighs less than 200kg and adds an LED rugged accessories.

Targeted squarely at the Benelli TRK 502 and Honda CB 500 X, while the origins of the Zundapp ZXA 500 aren’t entirely clear, the tell-tale anomalous “530TT” branding on the side leads us to presume it is a badge-engineered version of the Chinese-built MITT 530TT.

Who are Zundapp?

If you haven’t heard of Zundapp - quite possibly the most Germanic sounding brand name in all of Germany - it was founded in 1917, earned favour behind enemy lines as the vehicle of choice for many Nazi troops before emerging as one of Europe’s foremost motorcycle manufacturers during post-war era.

Best known for its KS750 sidecar and Bella scooter, Zundapp soldiered on as an independent German marque until 1984 when an influx of models from Japan caused its range of low capacity 50cc models and microbikes to fall out of favour.

While a familiar occurrence today, Zundapp pre-dates other manufacturers by falling into Chinese hands as early as the mid-80s. It also retained a technical collaboration with Royal Enfield into the 90s and was responsible for the Enfield Fury 175 small sportsbike, based on the Zundapp KS175.

Purchased by Xunda, which in turn was owned by Jinlang Motors - today better known for its popular Zongshen/Cyclone models - Zundapp returned to German hands in 2017 courtesy of Dieter Neumeyer, grandson of its founder, Fritz Ludwig Neumeyer founder.

Since then Zundapp branding has re-emerged as a manufacturer of e-bicycles, prompting a fair bit of surprise for German motorcycle journalists who happened upon the revived brand while shopping in Lidl.

Which motorcycle brands are set for a comeback?

As we mention at the top of this piece, dusting off defunct brands and relaunching them for a new generation is very much ‘en vogue’ right now.

Mahindra’s Classic Legends kicked things off with Jawa in 2018, before launching Yezdi in its native market at the top of the year, followed quickly by the high-profile revival of British company BSA with the Gold Star 650.

Also in the pipeline, according to rumours, is a potential relaunch of MV Agusta-owned Cagiva, though what form it could take is open to conjecture with urban mobility, electric and budget MV offshoot among the options batted about.

Meanwhile, back in India, with BSA trying to muscle in on Royal Enfield’s market share, Bajaj Auto - the world’s fourth largest firm specialising in low capacity urban models - is poised to dive into the premium end of the market having reportedly acquired the naming rights for iconic British firm, Vincent.

Buell is also back in an independent capacity for a third stab at finding fortune in the USA, Canadian firm Can-Am is back on two-wheels having invested in the electric future, while Gilera is also tipped to regain prominence in the ‘big bike’ categories through owner Piaggio’s association with Zongshen.