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Bike Review - Posted 19th November 2012
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MZ ETZ 250 - Part Three

Rick Howell makes his final preparations for the Exeter and Land's End Trials, and reports on how his budget-bike MZ classic performed in action...

Lean and purposeful... MZ ETZ250, after the Exeter Trial

The MCC's Trials combine overnight road-going navigation in all weathers and especially-prepared off-road sections. As well as having the right bike correctly fettled, another desirable feature is somewhere to store spares and tools - not in a rucksack. I use the canvas military style bags which can be strapped together and carry the following:

Minimal quantity of key tools that will complete the vast majority of tasks and events (such as punctures or cable refit)

Latex gloves and a rag to clean up bits

Spare clutch cable, lamps (head, tail, brake), springlink, spark plug, points

A selection of nuts and bolts, wire, a few coins

Two-stroke oil - about 10 litres of petrol worth. Should see me through a trial with a full oil tank (MZ has a Mikuni pump for oil and therefore a tank - no premixing in the petrol tank is necessary).

Tyre fixing kit: levers, slime, new inner tube capable of fitting either tyre, pump, tyre pressure gauge and one or two of those CO2 canisters for instant reinflation

Cargo net - store that spare pair of overtrousers so necessary in the dead of night just outside Barnstaple, which have become unbearably hot by the time you get to Newquay - the Land's End at Easter can be pretty varied in temperature.

Only the essentials... And a finisher's certificate!...

Important documents such as the control card, licences and MOT certificate, along with money, credit cards and phone are kept in plastic bags in my jacket so I know exactly where they are, and stay dry.

Flights of fancy? Well, I don't think anything there's anything on the bike that isn't required or isn't necessary. There's no point in carrying extra items just for the fun of it, as they all weigh extra which uses fuel and adds potential instability. I could replace the rear mudguard and light assembly, I could ditch the indicators and replace with natty miniatures. But is it worth it? I don't think so.

This is what we like to see...
Cheap Hacks on

After all, this is a cheap hack, fitted with a secondhand rear tyre, a rebuilt front wheel (the greatest expense so far - about 125 in parts and tyre), a few hours work to fit the seat, route card reader and alter the footrests etc. If I were in an Enduro for example it would be hopelessly uncompetitive as far as competing against other bikes in its class (B = non-British, under 450cc).

But there's the rub. I'm not competing against my fellow riders, I'm taking on the organisers, the club, the course - it's a one-on-one with every one of us entering the trial to beat the club and all it can throw in our way - rocky sections, restarts, tiredness, miles of riding, cold, heat, inclement weather - to try and wrest from the club the ultimate prize - an MCC Trial Gold medal.

The Results

The 2012 Exeter Trial found me claiming a Bronze medal. I had struggled to get any power or revs - as if the points had closed up. We checked en route and found they hadn't. Baffled - aha! - we struggled on and despite a puncture that I manfully repaired by the roadside I was very pleased to see the finish point at the Trecarn Hotel in Torquay and sign off.

I bought and fitted a Mikuni from Allens Performance but found no improvement. I tried to remove and clean the silencer and then noted a lot of rattling metal. Inspection revealed (by cutting the silencer in half as it cannot be dismantled for cleaning) that the baffles had broken up into half a dozen bits, blocking the exhaust in such a way that the poor thing was well and truly strangled. There should be a photograph here somewhere showing all the bits in a heap. I decided that since I had a carved-up silencer I might as well make up a high level exhaust. It looked ok; a bit rough, but boy - did that improve breathing!

Self-dissembling A photograph here showing all the bits in a heap...

Looking a little more like a machine fit for purpose (in an old fashioned this-is-a-roadbike-fitted-with-trials-tyres kind of way), I entered the MZ for the Land's End. I didn't get the result I wanted but I got to the finish, camped overnight and rode back to Exeter. The real issue was the revvy nature of the engine. It needed to be more torquey - apparently all the other MZ lads use TS 250 engines which are thus endowed - and in discussion with MZ aficionados it seems that even the genuine ISDT machines are difficult to ride as they put out a lot of horses but at a cost of limited torque.

Kinky!... MZ ETZ250 with high-level silencer

For me the MZ experiment has come to an end and I've moved it on. But the MCC events will take any machines on two wheels and sidecars on three so I'm eyeing up my '48 Matchless for suitable tyres, and I have a TY175 which I could register and put a lighting set on, and there's another Bantam being redeveloped for LDTs. Paul has got himself an ex-army Rotax MT350 (have we had fun ribbing him about a Harley? You bet), and another mate of sidecar fame is considering a BSA C12 as a project. Virtually anything can be persuaded up a muddy lane - there are bikes of all sizes and types from DT50 Yamahas to a 1930s Scott to a 1000cc V-twin Aprilia regularly competing.

So why not give it a go yourself? www.themotorcyclingclub.org.uk

Forensic examinations show this bike to be well used...

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