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Bike Profile - Posted 11th July 2011

1974 CZ 125 Model 477, Part Four
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Jeff Nordstrom's CZ has given him faithful service as a daily commuter: not bad for a 125 which is nearly four decades old. But the moment arrives when he comes to bid farewell to it...

The last event I documented about my 1974 CZ Model 477 involved sticking a piston ring. When descending a long steady gradient it is not advisable to apply additional throttle just because it is available. The CZ Operator's Manual listed a top speed of 62mph. I was cruising around 60mph (possible only because of the slope) with throttle to spare. I twisted a little more out of it, attained 65mph for all of 30 seconds -- at which point I lost compression and coasted to a stop from which that particular piston and cylinder would never recover.

CZs: 'Very heartily built'... 1974 CZ 125 Model 477

Fortunately for me, after a failure with an oversized piston and re-bore, I was able to find a slightly used (less than 2000 miles) piston and cylinder on eBay for $45. I got them, installed them, and they have been working beautifully ever since.

It is apparent to me now that the CZs were very heartily built, but mid-1970's Communist Bloc tolerances were not up to today's standards. I had been as happy as can be with the way my CZ had been running, and getting 45mpg on average. The replacement piston and cylinder significantly increased compression and power, and I never got less than 60mpg on a tank. Go figure.

CZs: 'Very heartily built'... 1974 CZ 125 Model 477
CZs on Right Now......

I ran the new and improved CZ for a couple of years as my daily commuter. No worries. Then at some point the charging system began to have problems. It would start with the first kick every time if the battery had a full charge. If it was not fully charged, it absolutely would not start.

Some people have a good idea what would cause this, and how to fix it. I don't. I would get it home, put it on the trickle charger, and a few hours later it would be good to go again. After it left me stranded a few times, I decided to toggle the battery off a few minutes after starting, and run directly off the magneto. If I kept the revs up a little, it would keep running and supply adequate power to the lights. That extended battery life, but I also resorted to carrying a 6 Volt charger and an extension cord in my saddle bags wherever I went.

CZs: A picture of domestic bliss... CZ Model 477 advert

I loved my CZ, but it was beginning to weary me, and the itch had returned for a bigger, more dependable, proper bike. Finding my wife distracted by the children, I coerced approval for the purchase of a new bike. The only stipulations being that it not smell so bad if I started it in the garage, and that it not be old and require a lot of work. If I was to get one, I had to ride it a lot, and I could not call her to come and get me because it broke down.

The CZ had conditioned me to admiring eyes that were intrigued by its uniqueness and boldly vintage appearance. (Crusty old farts would always give me a 'thumbs up' when I pulled up next to a group of Harley-Davidsons.) That being the case, I could not bring myself to buy a Jap bike, H-D, or any of the other typical motorcycles that you see on the road every day. I had my eye on a Hinckley T100 Bonneville for some time, but research showed that they only averaged 43mpg. I would need to do better than that to justify the expense. And really, I rarely do more than commute to and from work. 85mph-plus cruising speeds are wasted on me. I needed something that would take me to and from work, and on pleasure cruises on 55mph back roads, only needing to get me up to 70mph on rare and short occasions.

Reconciling the generations... CZ Model 477 advert

That led me to the Royal Enfield Bullet G5 Classic. It has the vintage look, estimated 85mpg fuel economy, and the EFI / UCE engine claims sustained 70mph cruising speeds. I had researched the Enfields a few years before, but all indications were that I would have to do the same amount of fettling with them as I did with my CZ, and that they were really not capable of much more in the way of sustained speeds. But this was something to consider. So I did. I found 2009 carryover that was discounted $1000 compared to a 2010, and the dealer actually had it in stock rather than having to order a 2010 model. So I bought it.

The next week I posted the CZ for sale on Craigslist. Within three hours of the posting, a buyer was at my house with cash in hand. I am please to say that he was as excited about it as I was. The CZ has gone to a good home, and now I am ready to start life with something new.

Reconciling the generations... CZ Model 477? No, it's a Royal Enfield Bullet Classic



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