The Arrival

Those of you who are Zündapp riders will know about the prices of classic motorcycles. It is not uncommon to see a KS600 or KS601 for over 15.000 EUR. That’s serious money. The only option open to me as a result is to restore a ‘less than pristine’ bike. Even those are very hard to come by. Zündapp didn’t make that many KS601s to start with and the days that you could find one forgotten in a barn are over. Since the advent of the great price equalisers like E-bay everyone knows what old parts can be worth to the right buyer.

Over the years I had picked up a few KS601 parts, mostly from people who (despite E-bay) didn’t know what they were selling. A few parts were sold out of Greece and I decided to make a trip over to see what else was out there.

I even found a KS601 in need of real love, but even after offering a bit more than what the rust bucket was worth, the owner decided not to part with it.

However, I did receive a call from my contact a few months later that another KS601 had been found and and was, in fact, for sale. I received some photos from a dark shed with a frame and engine number and I thought, why not, it’s now or never.

Well, that thought was a bit premature. When it arrived it was pretty clear that I should have waited for a better opportunity. You’ll see why shortly. If you take a hard look at how many parts are salvageable I paid way too much.

But let’s take a look at the KS601 in all its glory:

As you can see it’s in a very very sorry state due to what I can only describe as a failed attempt to turn a beautiful machine into a 70s cafe racer. Let’s look at what’s wrong:

  • The front mudguard has been shortened
  • The headlamp housing has been truncated (it is an original housing where the rear bit has been folded in on itself)
  • No speedometer
  • Then handlebar could at first glance be the US export model, but is in fact a home made affair.
  • Handlebar clamps are beyond repair
  • The handles are not original
  • The frame has at some point been cut in two and a home made swing arm has been fitted. Not in a pretty way. So the frame is a write-off (this could not be seen in the photos I was sent or I would have thrown in the towel right there)
  • The engine has been open to the air for a very long time. Despite this the interior didn’t look too bad, but the crankshaft bearings are gone, the cylinders are shot, the cylinder heads need a full overhaul and the carburettors will require very extensive repair.
  • The gear box housing has a sizeable crack in it
  • The rear mudguard has been ‘customised’ and is rusted through a the frame side.
  • The rear wheel has been reinforced with welded steel or aluminum strips. I don’t know whether those can be removed without damage.
  • The rear wheel hub that holds the driveshaft was extensively modified to work with the homebrew swingarm. Thouse housing was ground back and the original suspension can no longer be fitted. At minimum the housing will require replacement.
  • Brake pedal is home made and not original
  • No rear light
  • The kickstarter has been customised so it can fold to the side
  • The footrests have been welded to the frame.
  • The gearshift lever has been welded and customised
  • The original mechanical ignition is rusted beyond recognition
  • The fuel taps are after-market replacements
  • The current seat doesn’t look too comfortable
  • Quite noisy without an exhaust system
  • There is the small matter of a missing suspension system

So, that’s pretty horrible at first, second and third glance. The good bits are:

  • The fuel tank sides have been filled in, but is otherwise in a good condition. This can be saved.
  • The front wheel hub is unmolested
  • The front fork will require re-chroming, but is otherwise OK
  • The engine housing itself is in a reasonable state as are most of the gears.

I’m going to look at it as an ‘extra challenging’ restoration that will take a bit more time than expected. It’s either that or give up immediately. It will require learning some new skills like metal lathe working and bodywork welding so I expect the whole restoration will take years. But that’s OK, I’m sure it will ride like a dream and I’ll never want another bike. Right?

In the rest of this blog you’ll find how things progress.

Here some more pictures of what I have to work with: