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1974 CZ Model 477
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Jeff Nordstrom has taken the plunge and bought a classic bike, just like the one he used to ride back in the day. Just like the one he had back then, it's somewhat mechanically challenged...

While searching for information on the new Bonneville that I was hoping I could convince my wife I should have, I stumbled across the treasure trove that is RealClassic. Reading through stories and articles about makes of motorcycles I had never even heard of got me reminiscing about the oddball motorcycle of my youth. A 1972 CZ 175 Sport. The story of that bike has already been told ( It also got me wondering if there were any more similar motorcycles still around.

I had finally convinced my wife that it would be a good idea to get a motorcycle for me to commute to work on. She had agreed to a new Triumph Bonneville. This was a major change for me, as I had grown up in a family of Harley-Davidson riders, and learned to scoff most specifically at Japanese motorcycles, but generally at all other makes. I live in an area where 'cruising' is typically at 75+ mph on long open freeways with little traffic and sparse scenery. Many of us held the opinion that an 883 Sportster was too puny to be considered a real cruiser.

'CZ is the Ducati of the Iron Curtain' Apparently. 1974 CZ model 477

It was with that frame of mind I logged onto eBay and discovered a 1974 CZ model 477, similar, but not the same as the much abused bike of my youth. It was listed, mostly accurately, as a 1974 CZ 175 model 477. 83 original miles, original tyres (still in good condition), good paint, slightly pitted chrome with some rust spots. Running.

I was intrigued, so I asked my wife how to place a bid on eBay, assuring her that I was not going to bid very much, and there was no chance that I would win such a collectors' item for a mere $700.

My wife called me at work the next day to inform me that I had won, and needed to arrange for pick-up. It was then that I noticed the location of the seller. I was in central Washington State, and the seller was 1500 miles away in Wisconsin. A few phone calls later and I had transportation arranged. I would be paying $650 to have a $700 motorcycle delivered in three weeks. My wife was less than impressed.

I now had three weeks to muster enough false excitement to convince my wife that this was a good purchase. She remained skeptical, but I assured her that I would not even mention getting a 'big' bike for at least five more years.

Three weeks later I get a call from the driver of the motorcycle delivery truck, requesting that we change to delivery spot to a large empty parking lot, as he was uncomfortable opening his trailer at a crowded truck stop with twenty $30,000 motorcycles in the back, just to off-load a single $700 CZ. We arranged a spot, and I grabbed my helmet and was off to take possession of my prize.

The helmet was not necessary. I had taken the description of 'running' too literally. I pulled up to the truck and observed immediately how similar it was to my CZ of old, and then looked closer to discover that both tyres were flat. Then I lifted off the seat to discover wires but no battery where the battery had been on my old CZ.

Further investigation revealed a few other problems that resulted in a phone call to my dad to have him bring his pick-up and help me get my prize back to my house. I was full of dread and disappointment at my purchase, and the reception that awaited me at home when my wife discovered the CZ would not be running for a while.

CZ(s) on

The next week I called the seller with a few questions, the first being 'What was meant by running?' The response was 'not seized.' Semantics.

I purchased a new battery, and connected it to the wires under the seat, and all sorts of lights and blinkers came on, but with no indication as to why. While tracing the wires, I discovered another battery in a side box that did not exist on my old CZ. Replacing the old battery with the new battery, suddenly lights and things worked how they were supposed to. I still did not know what the other wires under the seat were for, but now I even had spark. A little gas directly into the carb, and it even ran for a few seconds.

A few minutes later, I had replenished all of the fluids, aired up the tyres, and was ready to try to kick it over for real. But the petcock was plugged solid and no fuel would get through. I was stuck until I could find someone with a petcock to match up to a CZ gas tank. Fortunately there are some vintage motocross fanatics around town, and one of them had something to do the trick. Fuel flow restored, tickle the bowl, kick, reset the kick-starter, kick, reset the kick-starter, kick, reset the kick-starter, kick, reset the kick-starter, tickle the bowl again, flooded. Dad had demonstrated his method for clearing a flooded carburetor on the old CZ, by pulling back the rubber boot between the air intake and the carburetor, and letting the fuel drain out. This technique resulted in the disintegration of the rubber boot.

'A half hour later I had fabricated a new air intake boot from a piece of sheet rubber, some Shoe-Goo, and a couple of cable ties...'

Now that I had heard her start, I was determined to get her running, and soon. A half hour later I had fabricated a new air intake boot from a piece of sheet rubber, some Shoe-Goo, and a couple of cable ties. Tickle the bowl, kick, reset the kick-starter, kick, reset the kick-starter, kick, reset the kick-starter, kick, reset the kick-starter, tickle the bowl again, flooded. Push it for all I am worth on a flat road, hop on, smash the shifter into second, sputter, sputter, sputter…stop.

Now nearly passed out from exhaustion, I push it to a hill; a long, steep hill. By the time I reach the bottom of the hill, she is coughing and sputtering, but she is running.

Random chance and lucky carb adjustments yielded smoother running, and more consistent starts. I thought it was running as well as it ever would, so I took it down to the cycle shop owned and operated by a vintage motorcycle fanatic to show him what I had. He took it out for a loop and came back with a smirk on his face and said; 'Something's not right.' After selling me some high-grade synthetic two-stroke racing oil, and some high-grade synthetic racing gear oil (because that is what they used in Czechoslovakia in the early 1970s) he told me to adjust my points.

Not being a mechanic, and this being my first attempt at points adjustment, it took me a while. But my newly obtained CZ Model 477 Shop Manual walked me through it. It stopped missing, and started running stronger and cleaner. It was like a brand new motorcycle. We couldn't resist running this CZ advertising photo again.

New-found power and engine performance can reveal other problems. The clutch started slipping. It was easy to hide the clutch problem with the exterior clutch adjustment. There is a screw on the outside of the clutch and magneto box that you can adjust while riding.

This worked for a while, but eventually I ran out of adjustment and had to address the problem appropriately. The original cork friction plates were falling apart. Fortunately my motorcycle mechanic knew who to call, and in two days I had three brand new friction plates. Three days later I had the fourth, and shortly after that it was back together and running strong.

The CZ is my daily commuter to work now, when weather allows, and I could not be happier. It never fails to attract attention in a town where Harley-Davidsons and Japanese sport bikes dominate the fair-weather roads. I'm sure the attention is derived as much from the fact that I do weigh a little more than the bike that transports me, but there is also a uniqueness to look and sound of the CZ. The yellow-on-brown paint scheme hasn't seemed to catch on in the US, and my wife commented to me just yesterday that it really is one of the ugliest things she has ever seen, but it runs well, and nobody else has one.

'They have the coolest looking emblem around...'

And for all the good and bad anyone might say about CZ, they have the coolest looking emblem around. I have a Ukrainian friend who saw my CZ for the first time and made the statement; 'CZ is the Ducati of the Iron Curtain.'

Not bad.


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