I was thinking the other day that one of the smaller effects of the cold war in the US, is that we didn’t have much chance to sample consumer products of a true socialist state. It might have dulled the current enthusiasm for restricting choices of deodorant. If you’d still like to give it try, there are a few examples of iron curtain engineering out there. Find this 1974 MZ 250 for sale in Anchorage, AK for $1,500 via craigslist. Tip from Zach Z.
MZ or Motorradwerk Zschopau was an East German motorcycle manufacturer, It had origins in the early 20th century and its lineage is intermixed with DKW and Audi, becoming MZ after the war and separation of Germany into east and west. MZ had the misfortune of being located in Zschopau, which became part of the East German Democratic Republic or DDR. Aftet the wall fell, MZ continued to exist, and does to this day, being sold and resold to various owners.
The TS was introduced in 1973 by MZ. The TS stood for telescopic swingarm. It was powered by a two stroke displacing 243cc’s and made about 19 hp. You may laugh or roll your eyes at an East German two stroke, thinking of the Trabi, but MZ was the first manufacturer to make a 125cc race engine that produced 200 hp/liter. The designs for this engine were stolen by an East German defector and shared with the Japanese manufacturers, causing the East German government to pull the plug on MZ racing. MZ was also successful in the off-road International Six Day Trial; this TS sports a gas cap commemorating their 6 wins in the 1960’s.
This bike looks a little scruffy and could use a saddle recover, but as it sprang from a regime where no one had any money, it will probably run for ever with very little maintenance.
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Gianni is Daily Turismo’s Pacific Northwest correspondent.