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Bike Review - Posted 12th October 2012
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MZ ETZ 250 - Part One

Rick Howell was looking for cheap thrills to take on long distance trials. A classic MZ and the motorcycling club fit the bill...

The MZ ETZ 250 cost me 250. If it wasn't being sold by a friend I might have tried to beat the price down to 200, but it had some MOT and road tax, so we were both fairly happy with the figure. I saw it as a potential long distance trialler as there is a small group of dedicated MZ riders in the long distance trials world.

Note lack of engine cradle... MZ ETZ250

Paul had used it as a commuter, and the road from commuter to long-distance trialler is a long, rutted, slippery one! The MZ sat forlornly on the side of the road outside his house, unloved, gently rusting in the salty Plymouth air, and a bit sad. We laughed about how he expected one morning to find other run-down MZs, CZs and Jawas parked alongside - like an temporary recycling point for unloved eastern European bikes.

At first inspection the quirky East German machine is, well, quirky. The spine frame makes the rubber mounted engine protrude into the breeze in a slightly unnatural way, but there's quite a lot of important ground clearance. The rubber mounts rid the bike of lots of unwanted vibes as the motor is freely revving, being oversquare (64mm stroke x 69 bore) and 10.5:1 comp ratio. The long exhaust is efficient and kills the raucous 2-stroke tak-tak-tak to a more acceptable ting-ting-ting; like it or not, more and more events are looking at acceptable noise limits.

On this model there are standard 18" alloy rims front and back, later ones have a 17" rim and a shorter wheelbase / swinging arm; an effective but not startling 160mm (just over 6") diameter rear drum brake, and a pretty reasonable 210mm (just over 8") front disc brake - though some earlier ETZ models were fitted with a drum brake which isn't so good.

The forks are Ceriani copies and perform well, the lower yoke is steel, the upper aluminium alloy - a material used throughout the machine - on which are mounted clocks showing mph and revs plus four basic idiot lights and the ignition switch. Handlebars are narrow, with alloy levers, with the cheapest choke lever ever invented. The throttle has twin cables - one each for the carb and oil pump.

MZs on

The steel fuel tank holds over 4 gallons in total (including a 1.5 litre reserve which really approximates to about 15 miles) - they're quite thirsty. The tank also limits the steering lock to lock, and replacing with an earlier TS tank helps here. On green lanes and MCC events I haven't yet found the lock wanting, although stepping off a trials bike and onto the MZ takes a moment or two to adapt to the limits.

Kinky!... MZ ETZ250

The carburettor is a BVF 30N 3-1 - a basic model based originally on a Bing and allegedly not something to mess with, but replaceable with a 30mm Mikuni. It's mounted on a lengthy inlet tract, and attaches to a rubber shroud and sizeable air filter and system which reduce induction noise considerably. The air filter is contained within the LH alloy side panel, under which is the separate 1.3 litre tank for 2-stroke oil feeding a Mikuni autolube pump.

The right hand sidepanel (alloy again) contains the battery (12V) and fuses, with the seat covering the coil, rectifier and regulator. The three phase generator is rated at an enormous 210 watts and drives the standard car type H4 55/60W headlamp with ease. All the electrics look as if they're built to last, and from an earlier time - 1950 perhaps - apart from the sticky-out indicators and large rear light with separate rear and stop lamps. But it works, and works well. That headlight is a dazzler - just what you need to avoid the ruts and rocks about to cost you your gold medal!

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Long Distance Trials

It's one of the oldest forms of motorsport. Over 100 years ago, a bunch of enthusiasts of the new powered bicycles formed a club, and then set a test - a big one. The Motor Cycling Club was formed in 1901, and by 1904 had devised an ultimate test of the fledgling machines reliability - a run from London to Edinburgh; non - stop, in a set time scale, and on a prescribed route. The riders completing the trial successfully in all respects were awarded a Gold medal for their efforts. The die was cast on an event that has ever since been held annually, and became so popular that two other events were devised to further test the mettle of those Edwardian pioneers - the Land's End trial (1908) and the Exeter trial (1910).

All three still run each year, with the Exeter taking place in the depths of winter on the 1st or 2nd weekend of January; the longest, the Land's End, starting on Good Friday and finishing on Easter Saturday in the west of Cornwall; and finally the shortest today, but potentially the toughest, The Edinburgh, held on the first weekend of October from Tamworth to Buxton.

Ready for action?... MZ ETZ250

Once upon a time the only way to take part was to be invited by 'the committee'. Run on quasi-military lines, the MCC trials, and the Brooklands speed events run by the MCC were considered a pinnacle of motoring and motorcycling skill and manufacturer's teams with well-known names vied for honours against private individuals.

Today entry is easier and open to any rider or driver who holds an appropriate UK or European Driving Licence, a simple competition licence (ACU trials licence for bikes) and MCC or VMCC or BAFMA membership. The entry system has just been developed for on-line completion which makes the whole procedure even more straightforward.

New members and potential entrants are directed by the website to contact experienced MCC members to gain advice on class, machine preparation and generally what to expect; how to fill in entry forms and get hold of ACU licences etc. The MCC website has a great deal of information including entry lists giving potential entrants' an idea of what type of machines are used, and in which class.

Read more at www.themotorcyclingclub.org.uk

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Part Two coming soon: Recommended modifications, and how the MZ has coped with competitive trials

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