The Motorcycle for Everyone

Celebrating the 100th birthday of the Zündapp Z22

The first motorcycle from the Zündapp company (about 1922)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

The first motorcycle from Zündapp

Nuremberg-based Zündapp (previously known as "Zünder- und Apparatebau") launched into the age of motorcycle manufacture in 1922. Its Z22 was modeled on the British "Lewis." With a small 2.5 hp motor, the Z22 came with the slogan "The Motorcycle for Everyone," and laid the foundation for Nuremberg to develop into a stronghold of the motorcycle industry. 

The 1000th Zündapp Z22 motorcycle off the production line (1922)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

No. 1000

Employees proudly display the 1000th Z22 at the end of the first year of production. An order total of 5,000 meant lengthy waiting times. Handling was soon improved thanks to a two-speed transmission, which could also be retrofitted. Lighting was not included as standard, and the bikes had to be push-started. 

The production hall at Zündapp (about 1922)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Hand-crafted production

The first Zündapp motorcycles were still assembled entirely by hand on assembly supports. The number of employees had already grown to more than 600. The driving force for the entire operation was company founder Fritz Neumeyer, a powerful man with many connections – and above all, a firm believer in motorization.

Delivering Zündapp motorcycles (about 1922)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Delivering motorcycles

An important element in Zündapp's success on the booming motorcycle market was the early development and subsequent expansion of a Zündapp dealer network with responsibility for delivery, maintenance, and customer service. In the earliest years, horse-drawn vehicles were an important means of transport, especially for short-distance deliveries.

Zündapp riders in 1922.Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Zündapp enthusiasts

The 1922 Automobile and Motorcycle Sports Week in Bad Kissingen was one of many events where Zündapp enthusiasts were able to gather. These three well-dressed men look proud as they pose for the camera. There was no racing at Bad Kissingen, just tests of skill and obstacle courses.

Franconian Reliability Trials (1922)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Franconian Reliability Trials

The Franconian Reliability Trials were held on 12 occasions between 1920 and 1934. The routes were regularly changed, but always passed through outlying areas in Franconia and covered a distance of two to three hundred kilometers (approx. 120-185 miles). There was huge interest in this tour and the many special trials it included. A team from Zündapp, headed by foreman Hans Metsch (number 13), took part in the tour in 1922.

The winning Zündapp team (about 1926)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

The winning Zündapp team

Zündapp was quick to learn the promotional value of motorsport, and assembled a works team of its own which took the team prize at the 8th Franconian Reliability Trial for solo machines. The tour, which included many special tests, covered a distance of more than 450 kilometers (approx. 280 miles). Once again, almost all the riders were Zündapp employees.

Josef Grünwald, Motorcycle racer (1922)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Josef Grünwald, Motorcycle racer

Josef Grünwald rode for both Zündapp and Triumph. In the photo he is posing on a Z22 with a VNFM emblem on his top. VNFM, the Vereinigung Nürnberg/Fürther Motorradfahrer (Nuremberg/Fürth Motorcycle Riders' Association), was established in 1919 and was the first organization for motorcycle enthusiasts in Franconia. It was also responsible for organizing and holding regional racing events.

Zündapp advertising (1920s)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Zündapp advertising

Sophisticated, targeted advertising was an important factor in the success of Zündapp from the outset. The finest graphics, design, and esthetics almost always caught the spirit of the times perfectly. The key objective of Zündapp advertising in the 1920s was to promote public motorization ¬– with The Motorcycle for Everyone.

Economy as an advertising argument for the Zündapp Z22 (1923)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

World economy record

Economy was one of the most powerful arguments in advertising. In June 1923, a Z22 covered 133 kilometers (82.66 miles) with one liter (0.26 gallon) of fuel on the AVUS in Berlin – a world record. Similar world records were achieved on the racetrack at Reichelsdorfer Keller, where the Z22 achieved an average consumption of 0.74 liters per 100 kilometers (318 miles per gallon). The company invested millions in advertising this result.

Zündapp meeting (about 1924)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Zündapp clubs

The growing popularity of motorcycles in general and, of course, "The Motorcycle for Everyone" in particular led to the establishment of all kinds of Zündapp clubs and associations, which organized rallies throughout Germany so owners could meet in large groups. To keep pace with this trend, Zündapp expanded its dealer network throughout Germany.

A motorcycle trip to the outlying areas around Nuremberg (1922)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Zündapp and Mars

This photo of a trip to Altdorf and Grünsberg in 1922 comes from the granddaughter of engineer Claus Franzenburg (X), the inventor of the "Weisser Mars" ("White Mars"), probably the most spectacular of the motorcycles manufactured in Nuremberg at the time. Franzenburg took part in the Franconian Reliability Trials not with a Z22 but with a Mars motorcycle and sidecar combination.

Zündapp K249 (about 1924)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

The successor model

Competition on the motorcycle market intensified once Germany's currency had been stabilized following the hyperinflation of the early 1920s, and in 1924 Zündapp introduced the successor model to the Z22, the more powerful K249. The 249 cc two-stroke engine delivered 3.5 hp, and riding enjoyment was enhanced with a three-speed transmission and a kick-starter. The 10,000th Zündapp left the production line at the end of the year.

A prototype from the Zündapp company (1924)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

A prototype

The K249 formed the basis for a spectacular prototype which now exists only in the form of a single photo. Three engines were combined to make a three-cylinder unit. The transmission, kick-starter, and all-in-one exhaust characterize the image of this sleek machine, which was probably designed for racing. The frame was the same as the series models, and no sporting appearances are known.

Assembly-line production at Zündapp (about 1924)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

Assembly-line production at Zündapp

The first steps toward assembly-line production were introduced in 1924 – a kind of "track system for final assembly." By then, more than 1,000 Zündapp dealers assured rapidly increasing sales figures. Zündapp was on the way to becoming Nuremberg's largest motorcycle manufacturer, and the fifth-largest in Europe.

The Zündapp Z22 at the Motorcycle Museum (2022)Museum for Industrial Culture, Nuremberg Municipal Museums

The Nuremberg Motorcycle Museum at the Museum for Industrial Culture

Zündapp, Nuremberg's most important manufacturer of motorcycles, is the subject of a small separate area featuring former world record holders, prototypes, custom bikes, and test models. In addition to its permanent collection, the museum also regularly hosts special events, meetings of brand enthusiasts, and other motorcycle-themed events.
Nuremberg Motorcycle Museum at the Museum for Industrial Culture

Credits: Story

Text and choice of images: Matthias Murko

Implementation: Brigitte List

More about the history of the Nuremberg motorcycle industry can be found in the book accompanying the Nuremberg motorcycle museum
Matthias Murko: Motorrad-Legenden
Erweiterte und vollständig überarbeitete Neuauflage
Tümmel Verlag, Nürnberg 2014

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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