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Bike Profile - Posted 12th December 2011

An MZ Adventure, Part Two
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Phil Speakman set off on a trip to Belgium aboard one MZ, and then had to head back home to swap bikes when it fell at the first hurdle...

My MZ Trophy hadn't turned a wheel in over six months, but the neutral and ignition lights both lit up brightly, showing that the battery didn't need swapping. After a few 'ignition off' priming kicks it started immediately. I strapped my small bag onto the passenger seat and was back on the road again before the recovery chap had even stowed his ramps. I think he waved me off more in hope than in expectation, knowing I only had at best three and a half hours to ride almost the entire length of the M62 on a busy Friday afternoon with heavy rain forecast for the entire length of the journey.

They don't make 'em like that anymore... MZ Trophy 250 - Second time lucky?

Just before I reached Birch services, the Trophy gave me its usual low fuel warning signs of pinking noisily. It does this for approximately 30 seconds before the engine finally dies, allowing me plenty of time to switch the fuel tap to reserve. Once topped up with a full tank of fresh 33:1 petroil mix, I set off again to tackle the Pennines, noticing a slightly sticking throttle as I left Birch.

'I can ride around that', I thought, knowing that the ferry would have completed loading by 18:30 and the clock was already fast approaching 4pm. However, by the time I'd reached the 'Little House on the Prairie', squatly sandwiched between the east and west bound carriageways of the M62, the throttle was becoming increasingly awkward. Eventually I reached down to jiggle with the cable, thinking I might have a sticking throttle slide.

The error in my reasoning became plain when I found myself holding the complete slide, needle and cap assembly in my right hand, while the bike set off in pursuit of three sharply braking lanes of M62 traffic with all the 'infinity and beyond' recklessness its now unrestricted 250cc motor could muster. With a deft flick of the ignition switch, its Kamikaze attempt for BBC Radio 5 traffic report glory was cut short, allowing me to coast to as dignified a halt as it's possible to achieve whilst still clutching one's carburettor slide assembly in what should've been the throttle hand…

Looming out of the gloom...
MZ bits on Right Now......

Once the slide had been replaced and the locking ring firmly tightened, the bike was given a jolly good talking to regarding any more such silliness, leaving the rest of the journey to be completed without further excitement and at a remarkably quick pace. Indeed by the time I'd checked in with P&O, I calculated that I'd completed the approximately 120 mile journey in just two hours twenty minutes. This was in spite of the usual congestion problems normally associated with a Friday afternoon crossing of the M62 compounded with an unscheduled stop just outside Huddersfield for a carburettor reassembly exercise.

Considering its previous six months or more of complete inactivity and a total absence of preparation, I felt particularly pleased with my ES250/2 Trophy's performance, especially as I hadn't even made time to check the tyres or even the chain before setting off.

Unfortunately, once Tony and Phil turned up on the ferry, it appeared that Tony's Jawa 360 wasn't in anywhere near as good a state as my MZ. During its more leisurely route via Woodhead Pass, it had completely given up on the idea of charging its own battery, finally requiring an ignominious push just to get it on the boat. I suggested the electrics may have become wet whilst fording the river at Pontefract, but my attempt at etymological humour cruised overhead at 35,000 feet, completely unnoticed.

Should've bought an MZ... Tony's Jawa 360, complete with electrical fault

As it transpired, after two years of delivering exemplary service to Tony, his Jawa had recently displayed problems of a similar nature. Unfortunately for all of us, his remedy had been to fit a rusty secondhand voltage regulator reclaimed from an old CZ. Hence sympathy for Tony's plight was in short supply that evening and the watchwords for the rest of the weekend soon made themselves apparent:

'Tony, stop buggering about and just MZ-B it!'

Wise words indeed for many old European bikes with electrical problems, as their Vape based alternator systems are splendid bits of kit. Indeed it was mainly because of Tony's previous reluctance to address the problem seriously that much of the humour that evening made reference to the ferry's newly fitted '360cc twin' anchor!

Cruel, but deserved we thought, especially as Tony had a perfectly healthy MZ ES250/2 Trophy sitting in his garage which he could have chosen to ride instead.

The following morning, the Jawa's battery had recovered itself enough for it to start and ride off the ferry under its own steam. Once through customs, the couple of meters of three-core wire (which we'd scrounged from one of the helpful maintenance chaps on the boat) soon proved its worth. We re-polarised the field coils by flashing them from the battery and this seemed to fix things for a while, but within 20 miles or so the charge warning light had reappeared and eventually the Jawa was down to firing on only one pot.

Are we there yet?... Arrival at Ypres

Nobly, still running on a mag-dynamo, the BSA Gold Star was able to donate its 6V battery whilst still working fine, allowing the Jawa to make it to our hotel in Ypres under its own steam. During one of the half dozen stops we'd been forced to make during the 40 mile journey since leaving the ferry, we'd disconnected the 360's field coils to maintain as much charge in the battery as we possibly could.

Would the Jawa actually make it to the rally? Or would it prove to be the second motorcycle going home with the AA from this trip?


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