Sometimes you get one of those offers you just can't refuse. Here at RoadRUNNER, that happens rather frequently. But this one is different. Fabled German marque MZ has been teasing the public for several years now with the 1000S concept bike first seen at the 2000 Intermot. Apparently, they now feel it's ready for some exercise and they want me to join in the calisthenics. Water the plants and put the cats out, I'm headed to Phoenix.
Growing up a "bikeaholic," I naturally devoured every piece of literature I could lay my hands on that had anything to do with motorcycles. The history of the sport always fascinated me and it still does. As a kid, I loved digging through articles trying to find the names of the oddball brands of bikes the "old timers" rode. The Maicos, Hodakas, CZs, Greeves', Bultacos, and Pentons were easy to look up and find pictures of and even occasionally, I might see the real thing down at the rock pit. Yet, one brand always seemed to remain a secret. The East German-made MZs were well represented in the old race results, but the only pictures available were grainy action shots of dour-looking guys with unpronounceable names. If there were any MZs in Maryland, I never saw one.
Fast forward thirty plus years and, my, how things have changed. The Iron Curtain has dropped and thanks to a buyout by the deep-pocketed Indonesian holding company, Hong Leone, MZ has risen. Arriving at the Thunderbird Speedway in Phoenix, I finally get to see several specimens of the MZ 1000S and, believe me, 'dour' is not the mood that comes to mind. These bad boys scream to be ridden. And after the usual track safety concerns are addressed, it's finally time to suit up and ride.
Engine and Transmission
Guiding the MZ out on the track for a few warm-up laps, I'm immediately struck by the tractability of the engine. I have to confess: I was skeptical of the idea of a modern sport-touring bike with a parallel twin configuration, especially 998cc worth. Harkening back to early experiences on old Triumphs and 650 Yamahas, visions of vibration slam danced through my head. Well, you can forget that, Johnny Rotten, because that's not the case with this new breed of machine.
The single counter balancer does a beautiful job of keeping things remarkably smooth all across the rpm range. Speaking of smooth, the power delivery from the engine rolls forth like velvet thanks to the Sagem electronic fuel injection. There aren't any noticeable flat spots or power surges - it's so nice when the engineers get it right the first time. You get the stump-pulling torque expected of a big twin and you can keep your fillings. Just roll on the throttle and enjoy a nice steady pull all the way to the red line. As linear as this engine feels on the track, the open road is where it should really shine. Stay tuned. We're working with MZ to get a 1000S for long-term evaluation. Hopefully, we'll have more on its touring prowess later.
Okay, we have a nice motor that has a great power delivery, so that should imply a quality transmission. You are correct in your assumption. The cassette-style six-speed gearbox didn't give cause to raise any concerns even after a full day of getting banged around on the racetrack. I didn't take it easy on the cogs and I'm sure the other guys didn't either. The gears engaged as easily by the end of the day as they did in the beginning and the hydraulic clutch exhibited no detectable signs of fade.
Chassis and Suspension
The first thing of notice about the chassis is that I don't notice anything. Maybe some of the more track savvy racer types out there can tell you different, but this street guy hasn't noticed a thing.
Stability is the key word with the 1000S. No matter how hard I push the bike in the corners, the chicane, or the esses it never falters. Over a few rough places on the track I purposely aim for, I'm rewarded with sheer neutrality. The bike simply sucks it all up and keeps going in the direction it's pointed. Even an overly aggressive downshift to second gear, causing the rear wheel to break loose, doesn't upset the 1000S. Quality components do pay dividends. The attractive steel tubular frame imparts the aforementioned stability and surprisingly nimble steering. The inverted 43mm Marzocchi forks are fully adjustable and handle the rigors of the track quite well, holding up in heavy corner braking without dishing out punishment on the rougher sections of the course. The rear Sachs monoshock performs just as admirably. The preload is easily adjustable via a very accessible large knob on the left side of the bike. When dialed in properly, the shock rewards with a confidence that allows you to lean into corners with attention tilted more toward the fun factor than the fear factor.
Putting a stop to all of this isn't a problem on the MZ either. Two four-piston Nissen calipers squeeze the twin discs up front and a Nissen two-piston caliper handles the single rear disc. They simply haul the machine down as slowly or quickly as you wish. Even after a full day of abuse on the track, the brakes show little if any sign of fade.
Fit and Finish
Overall, this is a finished product that fits a sport riding style quite well. The bike has a nice feel the minute you throw a leg over it. And at no point did the "I'll need to get used to that" factor show itself. The seat is firm yet compliant and presents no edges to cause fatigue on longer rides. Even the passenger seat looks well designed and quite useable. (More on that later as well.) The bars may seem low to some but they work perfectly for my taste. I make no bones about my sport-touring leanings and this is a machine I could certainly lean on. The details are well attended to right down to the switches and levers. The analog tach and speedo are easy to read and fashionably integrated with the other gauges. Everything seems easy to reach and confusion free.
Aesthetically, the 1000S is a joy to behold. Its striking design is a nice cross between origami and organic, with just enough of both to create a pleasant visual synergy. And the sound the big twin delivers makes a joyful noise. The twin aluminum mufflers offer a pleasant thump reminiscent of the old-school twins of yesteryear. One of the machines at the track was fitted with an aftermarket exhaust that sounds positively exquisite.
I wish I had gotten some real-world seat time on this machine. Bear in mind, comfort is irrelevant and nearly impossible to accurately judge during a racetrack session. My gut instinct tells me that the 1000S could be a prime candidate for some extended mileage days. The platform seems almost perfect for sport touring with a nod more to the sport side. Optional soft luggage and a tank bag are available if one is so inclined. Personally, I'd be inclined. The track is great, but I want miles. The neutral chassis, stable suspension, great brakes and that wonderfully forgiving, easy-to-use big twin, give the MZ 1000S a certain character that is easy to fall in love with.
Now what we need is a long weekend away from it all for some of that quality alone time.
Retail Price $ 10.995
Warranty two years with unlimited mileage
Maintenance Schedule 600 / 6000 / every 6000 miles (1,000 / 9650 / every 9650km)
Motorrad of North America
771 Fentress Blvd. Daytona Beach, Florida 32114-1247
Type Parallel Twin, four stroke
Cooling liquid cooled
Valve Arrangement DOHC, 4 valves per cylinder
Bore & Stroke 96.0 x 69.0mm
Compression Ratio 11.5:1
Carburetion fuel injection
Exhaust Emission Control catalytic converter
Clutch wet, multi-plate
Final Drive chain drive
Frame duplex tubular frame
Wheelbase 1425mm (56.1in)
Rake (horizontal/vertical)66° / 24°
Trail 103mm (4.06in)
Front Suspension inverted telescopic fork
Stanchion Diameter 43mm (1.7in)
Adjustments spring preload, rebound and compression damping
Travel 120mm (4.7in)
Rear Suspension single shock
Adjustments spring preload, rebound and compression damping
Travel 120mm (4.7in)
Wheels & Tires
Type Aluminum alloy 5 spoke
Front 3.50 x 17
Rear 6.00 x 17
Front Tire 120/70-ZR17
Rear Tire 180/55-ZR17
Front Brake 2 discs, 4-piston calipers
Rear Brake single disc, 2-piston calipers
Dimensions & Capacities
Seat Height 825mm (32.5in)
Dry-Weight 210kg (463lbs)
Fuel Capacity 20 liters (5.3gal)
Claimed Horsepower (measured at crank)115hp
Top Speed Over 200 km/h (125mph)
Acceleration0-100 km/h (0-62.5 mph) 3.4 sec.
Fuel Consumption n/a
Fuel Range n/a
Equipment Analog speedo and tach. Fuel gauge, clock, odometer, and trip meter. Cassette style transmission. Optional tank bag and soft panniers.
RoadRUNNER Test Diagram
Luggage w/accessories 3/5
Bike for the buck 3/5