Vila Verde designer recreated new model of the mythical Famel Zundapp

Fuck, the bike is beautiful it is not the official definition of the acronym FAMEL, but it was the version adopted by users of the motorcycle that dominated sales in Portugal during the 1970s and 1980s.

Overtaken by foreign prototypes, especially Japanese from Honda and Yamaha, the ‘made in’ bike Águeda fell in sales and popularity, ceasing to be sold during the 1990s, causing the company to close its doors.

Famel Zundapp XF-17. Photo: DR

But nowadays, the famous motorcycle of the people seems to want to return to the sales stands, reinvented, with an electric motor and a dysfunction in the aspect with which we have always known it.

One of those responsible for the new version of the Famel Zundapp, which should start to be industrialized during the year 2021, is Hélder Cação, a young natural designer and resident in the parish of Valões, at the most northern end of the municipality of Vila Verde.

There, alongside the pure river Vade, in an enclave between the mountains of Ponte da Barca, the 25-year-old recalls how he helped resurrect one of the most iconic brands in the Portuguese universe, hoping that his design will be used in the final product, something that is not yet assured.

Outline. Photo: FAMEL / Hélder Cação

Outline. Photo: FAMEL / Hélder Cação

With a degree in product design from the University of Minho with a master’s degree in design from the University of Aveiro, Hélder wanted his master’s degree to be completed with a project related to the world of engines, or he was not a fan of rallies.

Upon learning that engineer Joel Sousa, also a young man living in Aveiro, had acquired FAMEL, whose acronym stands for Fábrica de Produtos Metálicos, Lda, he proposed to investigate and develop the design of the new model, 100% electric, of our parents’ favorite motorcycle (and grandparents).

FAMEL ZX01. Photo: FAMEL / Hélder Cação

“We talked, told me that the brand should be electrified, something that I also agreed with, and we realized that we were aligned to work together in this process”, explains to O MINHO the young entrepreneur, also founder of Estúdio 812, based in Guimarães.

Cação got to work, with advice from the also Vila Verdean designer Francisco Providência, looking for a model that was disruptive with the well-known design of the famous XF-17, the brand’s best-selling model.

FAMEL ZX01. Photo: FAMEL / Hélder Cação

Hélder says that he tried to develop a product that “broke with tradition”, something he considers “critical”, because the image we have of FAMEL in Portugal is “almost untouchable”. “But we broke with the design and the project turned out to be a morphological reflection that rehearses the rehabilitation of the brand in another way, with an electrified aspect”, he explains.

One of the main features is the fuel tank, which has become obsolete. “As it is an electric motorcycle, we no longer have the mandatory deposit. So, we decided to put a suitcase (or backpack) in its place that can be removed, leaving that empty space, getting closer to a scooter ”, he says.

FAMEL ZX01. Photo: FAMEL / Hélder Cação

Currently, Hélder dedicates himself to other projects through the studio he owns in Guimarães, but remains attentive to FAMEL’s novelties, counting that, at the latest during 2021 or early 2022, the prototype can become a first version of the motorcycle.

The designer claims “pride” for having participated in this project, asserting that the objective he proposed “was successfully accomplished”. “I think it is important to associate design with the national industry, because there are other icons that should be explored, such as Casal or UMM”.

FAMEL ZX01. Photo: FAMEL / Hélder Cação

Why not create an association of companies that rehabilitate the most iconic brands of the last century, suggests Cação, as a way to end the conversation.

Hélder Cação. Photo: DR

No exhaust noise

Joel Sousa is the main mentor behind the resurgence of the FAMEL brand. The engineer bought the Águeda brand, but explains that nowadays the smoke and noise characteristic of the old motorcycles are not allowed by legal requirements.

“In a long-term view, the new Famel with electric motor is the product with the greatest potential for development using new emerging technologies offering a new concept of mobility to the user, and facilitating traffic in cities”, he explains.

Joel Sousa. Photo: Disclosure / FAMEL

“After presenting the prototype, the project passes to an intermediate phase of business development and investment capture to prepare for industrialization and commercialization”, assures the brand owner.

Famel ZX Project 01

The FAMEL ZX 01 project was developed in partnership with the brand, as a proposal for its own rehabilitation, taking advantage of the current paradigm of electric motorization.

The product is defined by a syntactic language, with a disruptive design and focused on its most functional meaning.

Of the various characteristics that define the vehicle, its modularity stands out, provided by the backpack / suitcase that replaces the previous tank – obsolete in this type of engine.

This characteristic arises from the intention of designing a vehicle capable of meeting the requirements of the largest number of audiences.

Main team

Helder Cação (design)
Joel Sousa – FAMEL (engineering)
Francisco Providência (orientation – design)
Samuel Ribeiro – IDEGUI (support for prototyping)

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