Before the car came, there were well over 100 small motorcycle manufacturers in Germany, hardly any of which are known today, and if so, then the actual manufacturer builds under the old brand name in China. But besides BMW, the motorcyclist knows one big name of the modern German motorcycle era: MZ, the “Motorradwerk Zschopau” (with small name details changes over the decades). For a while MZ was the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world. But after the fall of the Wall, the company was on the ground.
After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the state of Saxony set two major priorities: education and the economy. Saxony did both better than outsiders usually suspect, but when MZ was privatized in 1990, the company had to file for bankruptcy just a year later. It was one of the typical trusteeships. The state of Saxony showed a lot of goodwill, the investors showed a lot of skill in exploiting it, in short: It was a story in which every listener’s heart bleeding, while Saxony’s wallet bleed. In the course of this turmoil, from which I don’t want to pull off the grind of getting used to it again in order to spare any Saxon readers, a 1000cc two-cylinder sports tourer was created after a long, tough birth in 2003. I probably drove this as extensively as only owners usually do, because we had an Emme in the long-term test at motorcycle magazine MO.
Sports and goal tour
The first and most common version landed in the fleet, the MZ 1000 S, a classic sports tourer: full fairing, clip-on handlebars, over 240 km / h top speed, 234 kg full of fuel with a generous 20 liters in the barrel. In addition, conscientious engineers at the new Hohndorf plant installed a first-class chassis that the Emme itself never embarrassed at the Sachsenring or in Oschersleben, because yes: We squeezed them out there. It also looked good in terms of maintenance. There was even a standard cassette gearbox that was less intended for racing and more for more flexibility in model variants.
For MZ, the 1000 was an all-in. Nothing should go wrong there. Like Toyota in the first Prius, they over-dimensioned everything one clothing size. The engine, for example, was designed for a peak power of 140 hp, but was limited to 117. As a result, the 1000 Emmen were heavy, but ran remarkably reliably. She even put away my salted winter drives like nothing. I remember one time a Trabant 601 burst on one of the stainless steel exhausts. The next morning I wiped off the paint and plastic and found underneath: not even a scratch. This 1000 was a very reassuring motorcycle. She never let me down. That was one gleaming side of the coin. There was another.
(Photo: Gunnar Maiberg)
The in-line two-cylinder was a so-called “counter-rotor”: With a crank pin offset of 180 °, one piston always runs in the opposite direction of the other. This results in a balance of the first-order inertial forces. Kawasaki loves this design because it is simple and very reliable. However, Kawasaki currently stops at just under 650 cm3 on in Z 650 and Co., because the running behavior of a counter-rotor at low speeds is what I call “stifling stumbling” for optimal understanding, because in comparison to the high speed range it feels as if the engine is swallowing its loosening throttle valve while it is over the own gas column dynamics stumbles.
With a small engine this is less noticeable, with the liter engine it got so bad that it was one of THE reasons to reject the Emme. It ran like a sack of rats with whooping cough in the lower rev range. In addition, there are moments of inertia from the distance between the cylinders in the counter-rotating unit. They can become very dominant, as Laverda fans know. MZ counteracted the mass moments with a balancer shaft, but the engine remained rough. “Noise, Vibration, Harshness” (NVH), everything in abundance, not to be driven out.