Whatever happened to Zschopau's Motorcycle Industry?

Former East German City Stages a Moto-Comeback

The small town of Zschopau was once the center of German motorcycle manufacturing. Dampf-Kraft-Wagen (DKW) was founded there in 1922 and, by the early 1930s, was the world’s largest manufacturer of motorcycles. DKW’s motorcycle division was rebranded Motorradwerke Zschopau (MZ) in 1956, and built its 2 millionth motorcycle in 1983 before falling on hard times. Privatized in 1990 after German reunification, MZ struggled financially for nearly two decades, finally ceasing operations in 2008.

Former GP racers Ralph Waldmann and Martin Wimmer purchased MZ in 2009 with the intention of reviving the brand, but their only result so far has been a less-than-successful Moto2 racing effort. Now another firm, ZPmoto (ZP for Zschopau), is attempting to restore the town’s reputation as a motorcycle manufacturing hotspot. Founded by master carpenter Norbert Vogler and operating in the shadow of the old DKW/MZ factory (now a popular nightclub called “MZWerk”), ZPmoto currently offers one motorcycle—the unique, classic-styled ZPsport enduro.

Designed by David Negrello (ex-Aprilia) and powered by a liquid-cooled, four-stroke, 450cc single sourced from Gas Gas in Spain, the ZPsport is meant to recall the early '60s, when MZ dominated the International Six Days Trials. It’s a brilliant-looking retro-style scrambler; the only thing that isn't old school is the near-$23,000 price!