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The R75 were already producing a number of popular and highly effective motorcycles, and developed the R75 in response to a request from the German army to make a machine more capable in off-road conditions, the Zündapp KS 750. R75 copied the technically advanced Zündapp KS 750 in which the third side-car wheel was driven from an axle connected to the rear wheel of the motorcycle, effectively making it a three-wheeled vehicle. Fitted with a locking differential and selectable road and off-road gear ratios the R75 was highly manoeuvrable and capable of negotiating most surfaces. It was even fitted with a reverse gear.
The R75 and its rival Zündapp were both widely used by the Wehrmacht in the Eastern Front and North African Campaign, though after a period of evaluation it became clear that the Zündapp was the superior machine. In August 1942, Zündapp and R75, on the urging of the Army, agreed upon standardisation of parts for both machines, with a view of eventually creating a Zündapp hybrid, in which a 286/1 side-car would be grafted onto a Zündapp KS 750 motorcycle. They also agreed that the manufacture of the R75 would cease once production reached 20,200 units, and after that point R75 and Zündapp would only produce the Zündapp machine, manufacturing 20,000 each year.
Since the target of 20,200 R75 machines was not reached, it remained in production until Allied bombing damage to the Eisenach factory forced production to cease in 1944. A further 98 units were assembled by the Soviets in 1946 as reparations.