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Riding an MZ Across the US: Foreword

The teardrop-shaped PAV trailer was designed to match 1960s Jawa motorcycles, but still works visually OK with the more angular MZ.

Early retirement has a number of advantages, one of which being extra time to go traveling. Which is what I’ll do the early summer of 2018, across the USA, on my 1970 MZ ES250/2. For the uninitiated, this is a 250cc single cylinder, two stroke motorcycle, built in the former East Germany. More about that bike later.

In 1982 I went coast-to-coast on a 1950s Nimbus, a Danish, hardtail 750cc inline four. Started out in New York City, and when three months later I reached Portland, Oregon, I was filled up with impressions and pretty much broke. So after a quick ride down Highway 1 to Los Angeles, the Nimbus was put in consignment there, and I flew back home. Didn’t get to see Yosemite, Death Valley, Las Vegas or the Grand Canyon.

This time I’ll start in L.A., see the above sights — to mention but those few — and travel in better comfort and slightly faster than first time around. Not necessarily in better style, though, as far as the motorcycle is concerned: The Nimbus is originally a 1934 design; it looks good, has eight exposed rocker arms sure to thrill audiences, and is clearly an old bike — charming, yet a bit slow and not all that comfortable.

The MZ, on the other hand, will win no beauty contests. But being decades younger, it has soft suspension at both ends, handles well and keeps up with traffic better (see www.motorcycleclassics.com/classic-german-motorcycles/iron-pig-mz-motorcycles-zmmz11sozraw). In addition, this particular example has been modified with a later 5-speed gearbox, a Mikuni carb, modern electrics and some chassis improvements.

Being a GoldWing rider trapped in Nimbus rider’s body, I like to carry a lot of stuff when on the road, so supplementing the topbox and sidebags, the MZ has a Czechoslovakian PAV 41 trailer in tow.

The MZ has been shipped to Los Angeles, where Kaj Pedersen of the Nimbus Club of America keeps it until I show up in mid-April. And a back-up Nimbus has been sent to Travis Scott, up near Pike’s Peak in The Rockies in Colorado. This is in case the MZ croaks somewhere along the way, so I can continue traveling on a bike I know well, without the bother of having to find another oldish bike locally. The plan is to sell both bikes when the trip ends in late June.

Originally posted on Kim Scholer’s blog.

Published on Apr 30, 2018
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