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MZ TS 250

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by Mauser, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. I just bought one of these (1974 MZ TS 250) this week and pick it up next week. Ugly, quirky thing but I fell in love with it. Anybody else have one or know a bit about them?

  2. I had one or two back in the UK. Bearing in mind the fact that they cost peanuts to buy and run, they were brilliant and great fun.

    I'll put up a more comprehensive account later.
  3. Thanks Pat, That'd be great.
  4. Haven't seen an MZ250 for ages, nice pickup :)
  5. Thanks ZRX1200R, I don't think there would be too many in Australia these days.

  6. Hello
    I have a MZ etz250 that I use to commute to work
    Mine can be a bit temperamental at times but over all it is a great bike that is different and easy to work on . They are not the quickest thing on two wheel but mine will cruise comfortably at 95Ks all day .
    I have loaded mine up and done some big trips up the coast to bike runs and it is always a good conversation starter

    Parts are a little hard to get I get mine from Germany
    I have found most people don`t even know what an MZ is they ask you what is it and you tell them an MZ and 95% of the time you get yes but what brand is it :roll:

    What sort of condition is yours in ?I think the TS is a great looking bike
    Pity you did`t live a bit closer as we could have done an all MZ run. :LOL:
    Anyway good luck with the old girl
  7. Hi MZ,

    She's a tidy bike in very good condition for her age. Only done 10,000 miles and comes with a fair few spares, manuals etc. Blue and silver in colour. An MZ only ride sounds ok. Thanks for the reply mate.

  8. I bought my first MZ for 110 quid from an old guy who claimed to be giving up riding. I was after a replacement for the grotty C90 that I'd been using as a hack since the final demise of my horrible and unmourned CB400N.

    It was a red 1978 TS250 Supa 5 (referring to its 5 speed gearbox) in nice, shiny, fairly low mileage condition. It made some odd noises on the overrun, but I knew MZs were prone to odd noises so I ignored it.

    Overall impressions were that it had reasonable styling, very high quality materials, welding and foundrywork (far better than contemporary Japanese 250s). The paintwork was good too, even if the colour and finish made it look like it should have had Tri-Ang emblazoned across it somewhere. There were lots of nice little touches like the ally handlebar clamps/clock brackets, the neat and robust choke lever and the drawer like toolbox in the back of the seat (which did, admittedly, render the pillion rather uncomfortable if they sat too far back).

    Riding position was a bit weird (footrests well forward, narrow flat bars) but very comfortable, even over big distances. Apart from the toolbox issue mentioned above, the pillion was treated as a normal sized human too.

    The engine was a gem. It was surprisingly punchy, capable of revving well past its alleged redline, and very smooth thanks to the clever rubber mountings. The five speed box was light and positive with well chosen ratios. Over the time that I had the bike, it surprised a lot of people with how quick it was. It would generally whup any contemporary four stroke 250 (which, bearing in mind the staggering mediocrity of the offerings from Honda and Yamaha at the time doesn't mean much) and wasn't left far behind by the likes of air cooled RD250s. It would also pick the front wheel up on the throttle in second if you had a passenger, although that was as much a function of rearward biased weight distribution as anything else.

    Max speed (flat on the tank, feet on the pillion pegs and left hand gripping the fork stanchion) was somewhere around the little diamond shaped logo thingy at the bottom of the speedo face. Timing over measured distances and clocking by mates indicated that this equated to somewhere in the high 80s (~140 km/h). More usefully, it would cruise at an indicated 70-75 all day with a 90 kg rider and luggage.

    Like all strokers, fuel consumption was heavily dependent on throttle position. Normal use saw about 60 mpg (4.7l/100 km) but one long thrash into the worst headwind I've ever experienced brought that down to 30 mpg and some anxious limps to the next petrol station. Oil went in at 30:1.

    Handling was excellent. The suspension wasn't particularly refined but worked adequately and, again, was better than its contemporary competitors. The shocks were, allegedly, rebuildable, but I don't know as I never had to find out. I liked the cast ally preload adjustment levers too. No need to break out the C-spanner if you had a heavy pillion.

    It went round corners in a manner more confidence inspiring than I had ever experienced up to that point. It would go where you pointed it and had almost infinite ground clearance. The only real limitation was the tyres. MZ picked some really peculiar sizes (2.50 x 18 front, 350 x 16 rear I think) which didn't give much scope for decent rubber. If you had a death wish, you could fit OEM Pneumants, Cheng Shin (or was it Kenda?) did some marginally better ones, I once saw some Pirellis that would fit but had a worryingly square profile, leaving Avon Supremes as the only real alternative. Fine in the dry, OK in the wet and no real vices, but not a sports tyre by any stretch.

    The good handling, nice enough in itself, was the only thing, that made the brakes tolerable. Everything you've ever heard about the MZ front drum brake is true. Adequate for gentle, one-up pottering, give it a bit of stick or the extra weight of a passenger and it was lethal. You could get the lever back to the bars, in the wet, without locking up or, indeed, slowing appreciably. I pulled the end off at least one cable trying to achieve reasonable deceleration. Losing the front brake entirely was only marginally more disastrous than having it :shock: . It did lead to me beating a Porsche from Bristol to Bath once though, because he slowed down for the roundabouts and I couldn't :grin: .

    A number of fixes existed. You could get the shoes relined with something better than MZ's old lino, skimmed in a lathe to match the drum, fitted with a slightly longer actuating lever and a heavy duty cable. Alternatively, the twin leading shoe drum from early 70s Hondas could be made to fit. One bike I used to see regularly had a beautifully engineered triple disc setup using GL1000 components. A bit over the top for something so small and light but the owner seemed happy. The easiest fix was to install the later MZ disc braked forks (I seem to remember the yokes and steering stem may have been needed too). Being poor and lazy, I did none of these and just got really practiced at defensive riding, which was good training for the wife's Commando which was even worse :shock: .

    The electrics weren't completely pathetic, although if I hadn't owned CZs before I experienced them, I might have thought otherwise. 6V and dynamo generation has gone the way of the dinosaurs for good reason :grin: . To be fair, the headlamp was the best 6V unit I've seen. The light was a middling yellow rather than the dark chocolate brown that was all the CZs could muster. The main annoyance was the placement of the fuse box in a perfect place to catch all the road crap from the back wheel, resulting in constant dirty or corroded contacts. There were only two fuses, which was probably inadequate considering I know of at least 2 MZs that have incinerated themselves as a result of electrical faults.

    Reliability of my own example was not brilliant, although my major woes were not really the fault of the bike.

    As I said before, when I bought it it was making some strange noises. Over the next week or two, these progressed to a machine-gun rattle on the overrun that was so loud as to be audible over an adjacent big Jap four with a hollow 4-1 pipe. Eventually (after about a month) the engine stopped with a very final sounding clonk. In with the clutch and coast to a halt :( .

    Strip down (very, very easy on a stroker single) revealed that both big and little end bearings had disintegrated, allowing the piston skirt to hammer on the flywheels with no load on the engine. Eventually, the skirt broke up, pieces finding their way through the transfer ports and into the combustion chamber, locking the engine solid. Amazingly the bore had survived untouched. A good, used crank for 15 quid, new main bearings, piston, seals and gaskets were all chucked in and I was back in business. The new mains weren't essential, but it seemed a good idea to replace East German bearings with Japanese.

    Sadly, probably owing to hurried work under primitive conditions, I stuffed up something in the gearbox and it took to jumping out of third. I put up with it for a while, before stripping it again to find a badly worn selector fork, and rebuilding it again with good, used selectors, only to have it start popping out of third again a few days later. Finally, I managed to break the kickstart and was reduced to bump starting. However, at about this time I was offered another Supa 5 (blue this time), which I bought for its engine. This proved to be just as fast, completely unburstable and posessing a gearbox and kickstart which worked perfectly for the rest of my ownership.

    In the end, it got smacked into the side of a car that pulled out on me on a roundabout one wet night, bending the forks. By that time, I had a GSX550, which made motivation to fix the Tin Mule rather hard to find. Eventually I gave all my redundant MZ stuff to a mate who had need of a cheap hack. As far as I know, he remained happy with it.

    Cheap, fun, surprisingly capable, easy to work on and reliable if you don't f@#k it up by incompetence like I did. A bit of a hunt with Google might find you some information on MZ racing in the UK, along with a handy tuning guide or two.

    Just bear in mind it's a 35 year old bike and that you'll need to mail order spares and I doubt if you'll be seriously disappointed :grin: . In the unlikely event that you are, I'll give you 50 bucks for it :LOL: .
  9. Any chance of some pics ?
  10.  Top
  11. Thanks for the exhaustive review Pat, I enjoyed reading it a real lot mate, very informative and helpful.
    Thanks for the link MZ, much appreciated indeed.
    Here's The only pic I got so far.

  12. Ooh, that makes me feel all nostalgic :grin: .

    It looks to be a decent example. Interesting (and something I'd forgotten) that the earlier model had the speedo in the headlamp and higher bars than the Supa 5. On mine, the top of the headlamp housed a neat combined lighting and ignition switch.

    I'm also reminded that the earlier engine has conventional cylinder head finning rather than the "stacked pancake" look of the later engines.

    I've also got a suspicion that you might be lucky enough to have an 18" back wheel. If that's the case, you get a lot more tyre choice than I had.

    Incidentally, I forgt to mention something that might save you some grief. The full chain enclosure is brilliant, but do beware. Never, ever, wheel the bike about with the chain disconnected but still on the rear sprocket. It will wrap up inside the sprocket enclosure and burst it with no warning or effort, the plastic enclosure being of rather brittle plastic :( .

    Also, the centrestand was crap and there was no sidestand. However, for soft surfaces, I discovered that the open end of a frame tube under the seat nose was a perfect fit on some sectional ally tent poles I had. A bit of judicious bending and I had the best rough ground stand I've ever come across. A bit awkward to erect and dismantle (carried the bits in the top box), but 100% reliable.

    What many people fail to realise is that MZ led the world in stroker technology until the early 60s. It was only when their top guys defected to the West and subsequently went to Suzuki that anyone else really got a look in. When you look at the dyno curve for a 1970s MZ 250 engine, it's strikingly similar to that of a lot of late 60s/early 70s enduro bikes from the likes of Bultaco, Montessa and Maico. Hardly gutless wonders.

    It's worth avoiding the 125 and 150 MZs though. Although they handle well and are made from decent metal, the engine design isn't half as nice. Vibratory, gutless and slow, they're not even a decent parts bike for the 250 as there is surprisingly little interchangeability with the larger bikes.

    Wish I still had mine.

    Ring-a-dingding-pongggggpongpong-ding :grin: .
  13. Thanks again Pat, your insight and knowledge of this motorcycle are very helpful.

  14. Here's a better quality photo.