Riding an MZ Across the US: Foreword


1970 MZ and PAV trailer

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.

5/3/2018 7:40:14 AM

Cool ride. My first motorcycle! Bought it really cheaply when I moved to Berlin from the States just after the wall came down. Quite comfortable and fairly reliable. Very simple and well put together, for the most part. When that model came out there were alot more bikes on the road than cars in East Germany, and the bikes were used by everyone for every kind of job. Especially good on the nasty old roads of the day, and the simple technology was easy to repair. With the improvements you've made, it should be smooth sailing. Enjoy!

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