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MZ Motorcycle History

MZ Classic Bikes
  • 1906 Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen (Denmark) bought an empty cloth factory in Zschopau
  • 1917 invented the Dampfkraftwagen (German for steam-powered car) also known by its trademark DKW
  • 1920 motor-assisted bicycle
  • 1923 renamed in DKW
  • 1927 started racing activities
  • 1928 DKW takes over the Audi factory at Zwickau
  • 1929 60000 motorcycles leave the Zschopau factory, and DKW is the largest motorcycle manufacturer in the world
  • 1931 introduced DKW small cars
  • 1932 The Auto Union was founded, created from Audi, Horch, Wanderer and DKW.
  • 1939 developed the RT 125
  • 1948 renamed in IFA (a state-owned enterprise in GDR)
  • 1950 The Zschopau works begins production of the RT 125 model, developed before the war, under the trademark IFA (Industrieverwaltung Fahrzeugbau). This model became patent free after the war and was further developed in Britain, USA, Japan, Italian and West Germany.
  • 1952 the BK350 appears, the first two stroke shaft drive.
  • 1956 The works is now called VEB Motorradwerk Zschopau, or MZ for short.
  • 1962 The ES 125 / ES 150 starts manufacturing. Up to the present day (2004) it is the most-built German motorcycle. It was also the first motorcycle with an asymmetric low beam headlight pattern.
  • 1970 the millionth motorcycle rolls off the conveyor belt, an MZ ETS 250 Trophy Sport
  • 1972 MZ takes over manufacturing of sidecars from Stoye.
  • 1983 the 2-millionth motorcycle rolls off the conveyor belt, this time an MZ ETZ 250. With disk brakes and 12 volt electrics the MZ had reached the modern standard in motorcycle design.
  • 1989 MZ ceases manufacture of sidecars.
  • 1990 MZ is privatised, on 1991, 18 December.
  • 1993 MZ goes under receivership, and the ETZ patent sold to the Turkish firm Kanuni which continued producing models 251 and 301. The MuZ company is formed from the rest.
  • 1996 MuZ was bought by the Malaysian Corporation Hong Leong
  • 1999 the u is finally dropped from the name MuZ.

The Zschopau works are one of the oldest motorcycle factories in the world, producing motorcycles since 1922. Most well known models were the 125/150 and 250 series, with the variants ES, ETS, TS und ETZ. And MZ was one of the few producers that made motorcycles with sidecars, though prior to 1972 sidecars were manufactured by Stoye.

Sports activities started in 1927


Winner of International Six Day Trial (a form of off-road motorcycle Olympics): 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1987.

Road Racing

  • 1958 first wins in 125/250 cc and an over all second championship 250 cc
  • The MZ two strokes, developed by engineer Walter Kaaden have influenced motorcycle racing for decades. His revolutionary two stroke system was copied widely in the sixties by Japanese manufacturers. Yamaha and Suzuki two-stroke engines became competitive in motor sport only after they gained possession (??!!) of MZ design secrets.

Sadly, the East-German government did not exactly support the international racing aspirations of MZ. The defection to the West of grand prix rider Ernst Degner, complete with a set of secrets (!!!), started the end of the glory years of Kaadens bikes.

  • The Skorpion Sport 660 cc single got its own MuZ-cup racing series in several countries at the end of the nineties. It is famous for its precise handling. It's still a popular mount for clubracing and Supermono racing. Its withdrawal from the official factory program is much mourned by fans.

After World War II, the German DKW factory, universal leader in the building of two stroke engines, found itself on the wrong side of the Iron Curtain in East Germany, and was renamed first IFA, then MZ. ("Motorradwerke Zschopau")
The 1952 BK 350 was one of the first models to bear the new MZ badge, and it remained in production until 1959, with an important modification in 1956, when Earles leading link front forks were fitted. The BK 350 was an example of that great rarity, the flat twin two stroke. Its highly advanced construction made use of such techniques as shaft final drive, but its commercial success was restricted by the depressed state of the market.

Sporting Success

In 1956, it was shouldered aside - and ultimately replaced - by simpler, more economical single cylinder two strokes. As a prelude to it'sgreat sporting success in speed and off road events, and in its first years of existence, the MZ factory at Zschopau utilized the BZ350 for its first entries in ISDT -International Six Days Trial - where in 1956 Horst Liebe won a gold medal riding a BZ 350. Apart from its cross country equipment, this bike was no different from the standard machine.