9 Mar 2015 | Author: | Comments Off on European
MZ ETZ 251 Saxon/Tour

1990-94, 125cc w/c t/s single, 12hp 70mp2h 55mpg 280lb

Rather odd chopper that harks back to the days when the Fantic moped ruled the earth. Derestricted motor runs to 27 horses but doesn’t lose reliability. Hard used ones needed attention to bore/piston around 20,000 miles but 30k ain’t beyond the realms of possibility. A sure sign of an engine about to lose it all is the gearbox jumping out of gear and old ones develop a somewhat mystical reverence to their electrics.

Handling ain’t that bad given the custom stance, though quite a few were thrown down the road.


1992-94, 125cc w/c t/s single, 12hp 75mph 55mpg 250lb

Neat, naked stroker that can be derestricted to a mind bending (given the lack of mass) 35 horses and 100mph! Even in this state the engine lasts as well as many Jap 125 commuters! Given that many learners illegally got hold of the 35hp versions, crash damage is high on the list of checks to make; many thrashed examples out there. Also, Pegaso version with slightly milder engine but very rare on the used market.

Check discs, linkages and exhaust for rot.


1990 on, 125cc w/c t/s single, 12hp 75mph 50mpg 280lb

Race replica hotshot that’s largely wasted on the learner market but goes like hell once derestricted without losing all of its economy (100mph, 60mpg). Extrema brings in all the goodies (and the expense) of the bigger stuff, including lack of comfort, and high price tag. Engines seem to last well for the first 25000 miles then have piston or gearbox hassles but there are some that have done more than 35000 miles.

Pay attention to the electrics, frame and brakes.


1990-93, 560cc OHC single, 35hp 105mph 45mpg 330lb

Tuarag was Rotax engined trailster with tough but uninspiring motor and excess of poorly styled plastic which could usefully be torn off as the tubular frame’s strong and the suspension’s functional, especially on rotted town roads. Poor economy’s down to a combination of naff aerodynamics and stilted exhaust/induction; all of which can be fixed with a little bit of back street bodging. Rare in the UK but cheap enough, with many Rotax engine bits shared with other bikes.


’94 on, 650cc w/c DOHC single 50hp 110mph 45mpg 350lb

Five valve engine with excess of grunt and character in road chassis with passing nod to the Dakar replicas. A brilliant hustle in town and passable on the motorway up to the ton. Was reasonably priced until Suzuki turned up with the 600 Bandit!

The Pegaso needs narrower bars and a wider fairing; in providing proper hand protection it would then take over from those old Boxer RS BMW’s as practical wheels perfectly suited to UK roads!


1974-81, 232cc t/s twin, 30hp 90mph 55mpg 325lb

Clever piece of stroker twin engineering that burns up the road very nicely but suffers from the usual Italian electrics; also suspect alternator and clutch. Chassis is better than rival Japs of the same era and well up to modern roads. Earlier Roadster version had 25 horses at a mere 7000 revs, lacked the 2C’s electronic ignition, and had a drum rather than disc front brake. Engines ran for 15-30,000 miles depending on abuse.

Still the odd one howling around in reasonable nick but spares are very hard to find.


254: ‘79-81, 231cc OHC four,

28hp 90mph 60mpg 370lb

354: ‘79-81, 349cc OHC four,

38hp 100mph 55mpg 370lb

504: ‘77-79, 499cc OHC four,

47hp 110mph 50mpg 410lb

654: ‘80-82, 603cc OHC four,

52hp 112mph 45mpg 420lb

Similar motor to the old Honda CB350/500 fours which begin to suffer after 25000 miles – mostly from the top end, clutch, gearbox and alternator. The 504 was the most successful of the series in the UK, the smaller fours rare and the 654 somewhat fragile. Honda motors will fit into the useful chassis.

All are becoming rare, these days, and not really worth going wild over.


1973-76, 603cc OHV twin, 50hp 110mph 55mpg 480lb

Big old twin in the British tradition but strangely needed lots of revs to hustle. Despite primary vibration, the engine often ran to 50,000 miles with only minor hassles from the primary drive, clutch and valvegear. Strong frame, taut suspension and useful drum brakes but chassis rot gets to the petrol tank and exhaust. Styling lacks the classic status of British bikes.

Now rare in the UK but the odd rough one turns up with ruined electrics and an excess of rust.


1977-79, 750cc OHC six, 71hp 120mph 45mpg 490lb

Six cylinder piece of madness whose handling defies its width and weight, superior to most big, bad Jap bikes of the era. Motor was smooth but gutless, presumably because of the excess of frictional forces in the engine and low tech two valve combustion chamber. Though it’s not impractical it’s more likely to be viewed as a venerable classic by collectors than a usable road bike.

Lacks comfort, coherent electrics and long-lived clutch or alternator.


1980-82, 900cc OHC six, 75hp 120mph 45mpg 485lb

Upgrade to the 750 Sei that lost 5lbs, added some much needed style and improved on the production of torque; overall, a sensible and useful upgrade to the smaller six. Engines have been known to run for 30,000 miles without problems, though at any time clutch, starter motor and valvegear can be troublesome. Smoky or rattly motors are expensive news and best avoided – a sign of a genuine low miler’s found in chassis condition, both chrome and paint often short- lived.

BMW R45/65

‘79-84, 449/649cc flat twin, 28/50hp 90/ 110mph 70/50mpg

Relatively light (405lbs), built down to a price boxers that lack build quality of the earlier twins. Valvegear and pistons often need attention before 50,000 miles. Some jokers put R45 top ends on the R65! Also the LS model with shark-like looks but same engine. R45’s cheap (around Ј750), economical but very slow but R65 engine or top ends will fit.

High milers may have transmission and even crank hassles.

BMW R60-100

R60:‘70-78, 599cc flat twin,

38/40hp 95/105mph 60/50mpg

R75:‘74-78, 750cc flat twin,

50hp 110mph 60mpg 410lb

R80:‘79-80, 797cc flat twin,

50hp 110mph 50mpg 410lb

R90:‘74-77, 898cc flat twin,

60/67hp 120/130mph 55/45mpg

R100:‘77-84, 980cc flat twin,

60/70hp 115/120mph 55/45mpg

Classic twin shock Boxers age well. Later models have better transmission but poorer economy. R75/80’s the best model, especially with RS fairing, but the good ones are very rare – owners don’t want to sell. R90/100’s have weird handling and excess vibes, engines go after 50,000 miles (smaller bikes can do twice that).

Clutch, timing chain, generator and valvegear likely problems.


1981-96, 797cc flat twin, 50hp 100/105mph 35/50mpg

Aged Boxer design suffers from poor economy and excess mass (470/ 500lbs) but still usable for the long distance stuff. Better gearchange and less jerky transmission than the older R’s but still needs a learned boot. Old GS trialster’s lighter and more fun than most Boxers but usually thrashed, can die before 40,000 miles – engines make enough noise to be obvious in their demise.

Usual BMW problems at high mileages, revolve around top ends, pistons, clutch, timing chain, etc. The odd one has done over 200,000 miles, when everything from snapping shaft drives to gearbox explosion is likely.


1987-96, 980cc flat twin, 60hp 120mph 40mpg 510lbs

RT and RS models replaced by the naked R100R, which ain’t quite classical and heavy compared to the old 70’s Boxers, though the gearbox and handling have evolved out of all recognition. RT/RS remain useful high speed tourers, though the RS has the better fairing and superior appearance. Both have reasonable longevity, though occasionally ruined by inconsiderate DR’s.

R100GS’s hot when equipped with Paralever rear suspension but often thrashed.

BMW F650

’94 on, 650cc w/c DOHC single 50hp 105mph 55mpg 410lb

Good mix of power and torque from Rotax designed, Italian assembled big thumper, although it could usefully lose the half fairing and a 100lbs of mass. Secondhand ones are generally mildly used; more important to look for signs of crash damage than engine ills. Dealers are demanding silly money for them!


1986-96, 740cc DOHC triple, 75hp, 120mph, 55mpg, 500lbs

Smaller Brick works well as tourer, especially in K75S (125mph, 525lbs) form. Very high mileage examples can suffer from transmission, injector and top end problems but a 100k viable. K75RT has barn door fairing, weighs 570lbs, doesn’t make much sense.

Very early ones can still be viable despite huge mileages already covered.

BMW K100

1983-94, 987cc DOHC four, 90hp, 130mph, 45mpg, 500lbs

Less impressive than K75, now replaced by the K1100. Heaviness and ugliness hidden by excellence of its finish and opulence of its brand name. Early models often had intrusive vibes, odd gearchange and weird handling. Masses of low rev torque saves it from obscurity. Neither the RS nor K1 cut it as sportsters.

16 valve head was introduced in the nineties, gave a touch more performance. Same problems as K75.

BMW K1100

1992 on, 1100cc DOHC four, 100hp, 130mph, 40mpg, 550lbs

Grand tourer with lots of luxury, safe if uninspiring handling and BMW quality. LT is tourer heaven, RS slightly more sporting version. Both have an engine that concentrates on producing the maximum torque at the lowest revs and have good top gear roll-ons for ultra-relaxed touring on the open road. Engine’s well developed, more sophisticated than the K100.

Weight, poor economy and 70mph speed limits make them a little lost on UK roads.

BMW R850/1100R

1994 on, 850/1100cc flat twin, 75/80hp 120mph 45mpg 520lb

Naked, new tech Boxer with bulbous styling, excessive mass and advanced Telelever suspension. Width of the engine limits town madness but sophisticated suspension at both ends allow most bumps to be absorbed without the usual BMW ducking and diving. 1100R has major benefit of excess of torque, 850R cheaper.

A significant advance over recent R100’s but more attention’s needed to weight saving, though it doesn’t show up too much once under way, thanks to the modern chassis.


1993 on, 1100cc flat twin, 85/80hp 135/ 125mph 50/45mpg

Unique new Boxer designs are more or less on the pace, relying on an excess of torque for their kicks. RS works well in most conditions except for dense town work when it’s slowed by the engine width. GS trailster inspires a different kind of madness.

Both rely on Telever and Paralever suspension to tame long travel and shaft drive reaction; works exceedingly well for most of the time. Catalytic converter and ABS brakes are a bit excessive on a modern motorcycle.


1990-95, 125cc w/c t/s single, 12hp 70mph 70mpg 200lb

Roadster’s sensible, naked stroker that handles better than it looks; a useful update on the 125 Blues. Can be derestricted to 26 horses, which gives a top speed of over 80mph and some interesting kicks as it only weighs 200lbs. Old ones have a dubious finish, odd electrics, seizing calipers and a motor that can be worn out in 30,000 miles; but nothing that storming the breakers can’t cure, though they are on the rare side.

Never made great inroads into the market despite a competitive price.


1992-95, 125cc w/c t/s single, 12hp 70mph 70mpg 200lb

Trail styled street bike that looks smart, handles well on reasonable tyres and goes fast when derestricted. Quite a few were written off by keen learners, so a careful check of the chassis is necessary. Older ones rot after a few British winters, so overall finish is a good indication of the way it’s been treated – nonetheless, non-standard paint jobs usually mean it’s been crashed. Availability of spares from breakers is poor and nice ones rare.

Seen one fitted with Yamaha motor!

CAGIVA 350/600 W12/16

’93-96, 350/600cc OHC single, 30hp 90mph 60mpg 350lb

Mild, useful trail bikes that thump along for 35000 miles before any hassles turn up (usually from the ignition or top end). High miles are indicated by lumpy carburation and poor running at low revs – it doesn’t take at all well to radical alterations to the exhaust or airfilter, either. The 600cc version does vibrate appreciably more than the smaller bike and worn out examples will have feet jumping off pegs!

Both models are rare, the 350 discontinued in 1994.


1992 on, 125cc w/c t/s single, 12hp 75mph 60mpg 280lb

Relatively heavy race replica that had, in its latest stylish incarnation, Italian fans creaming themselves. The 12hp model is a bit silly but the derestricted, 30hp version is hot stuff both in terms of the power it puts down and its handling. However, the four grand new price is something of a joke and they desperately need to put the watercooled engine in a naked chassis; 30 horses and 200lbs being rather more interesting than the race replica stuff that only makes sense when there are a 100 horses to hand.


’93 on, 750/900cc OHC V-twin, 60/70hp 115mph 50mpg

Paris Dakar replicas that weigh in at 420lbs (heavier than the street Ducati’s whose engines they share) but less silly than BMW off-roaders. Styling doesn’t inspire but the lusty engines make them shift in a suitably fearsome manner and handling’s okay. They are occasionally used for the cut and thrust of DR work, which makes for some interesting times in London – they are tough enough to leave a line of wrecked cars in their wake.

Check for slipping clutches and ign hassles.


1988-89, 650cc OHC V-twin, 60hp 115mph 55mpg 400lbs

Rare if not wonderful version of the Pantah that motors along okay but doesn’t really inspire. Usual Ducati engine hassles but at least spares are easily available and the electrics aren’t quite so weird as in some Wop iron. The only high mileage one the UMG’s come across had warped discs, leaking suspension, rusted chassis and loadsa of oil leaks but still shook windows in their frames and could see off CX500’s, and the like.

There’s no reason to pay serious money for one.


1986 on, 650cc OHV flat twin, 36hp 90mph 60mpg 475lb

Update on the old Cossack with improved styling and engine components. Available in a variety of guises, all having an old-fashioned, functional, funky appearance. You either like this kind of thing or collapse into hysterical laughter.

Old BMW motors can be fitted. Pay an extra Ј100 for the sidecar version which is sufficiently well built to drive through cars and across roundabouts. Plenty of cheap old ones, plus Cossacks and Ur(in)als.


67-78, 249/349/436cc OHC single 28/35hp 95/105mph 85mpg

Early 250’s weren’t too reliable and lacked style. 24 Hours had suspect alloy but could hit the ton on a good day. Desmo version a little faster than the Mk.3 but can wreck the big-ends and the crank. Useless carb, electrics and exhaust. Can break legs rather than start if the timing’s slightly out.

350 best buy but rare. All are agile and gutsy but rigid suspension and fierce primary vibes make them less than inspiring. Some very expensive renovations, used spares are rare.


1974-78, 748cc OHC V-twin, 50/65hp 110/ 125mph 50mpg

Old type vee with bevel drive cams, bit of a beast with clunky gearbox, weak clutch and fragile crank, not to mention self-igniting electrics and back breaking suspension. Expect a major rebuild around 25000 miles or earlier if poor oil’s used. S and SS versions were hot cafe racers with leading edge handling at the time, somewhat finicky Desmo motors and the kind of minimalism that appeals to masochists.

Some stock 750 models with SS clothes at the latter’s prices, so beware.


1977-79, 863cc OHC V-twin, 64hp 120mph 50mpg 450lbs

Bored out version of the 750 with suspect handling and lack of style. Can run to 50,000 miles. Good workhorse but doesn’t have the guts of other Dukes. Still quite a few on the road, available at reasonable prices but watch out for crank failure – either at high miles or from using the wrong oil. Later Darmah version was much more stylish, better handling and less brutish, but some engines failed within 20,000 miles.

Try to avoid bikes that smoke heavily or have excessive engine noise as they can turn out expensive.


1977-79, 863cc OHC V-twin, 68hp 130mph 45mpg 425lbs

Vee-twin that’s loved and revered by a few fanatics but can be blown off by any number of modern Jap 600’s. Famed for its handling, which came from ultra stiff suspension and good geometry rather than any frame excesses, it also had exciting lumps of torque in typical vee-twin manner. Problems come from crap electrics, engines that only run on straight oil, difficult starting and the need for frequent rebuilds.

Can be awfully temperamental when something goes out of adjustment.


’80-84, 498/583cc OHC V-twin, 48/60hp 115/ 125mph 50mpg

Vee-twin with belt drive Desmo camshafts (10,000 to 20,000 mile belt life, valves need shimming every 8000 miles). Pre ’82 500’s suffer weak gearbox and clutch, later bits can be fitted. Later bikes are reliable for 50 to 60,000 miles with few problems, although thrashed examples can ruin their cranks. Nice handler with relatively supple suspension; electrics are more reliable than early Dukes.

600TL had economy chassis but same engine as the Pantah.


1989 on, 749cc OHC V-twin, 50hp 105mph 40mpg 430lbs

Odd looking Duke that showed that their vee-twins only worked as sportsters. Handling is better than most such devices but that doesn’t say much. Caliper rot, suspension going floppy, clutch judder and snapping rear chains are some minor hassles to look out for.

It might be possible to fit some more suitable cycle parts and suspension. It’s one of the few Ducati’s that isn’t going to make classic status, so it has its uses as a cheap source of engine parts, but very rare in the UK.

DUCATI M600/900

’93 on, 583/900cc OHC V-twin, 55/73hp 110/ 120mph 50/60mpg

Amusing retro styled vee-twins with lots of panache but a finish that doesn’t like British winters. The 600’s a sweet running thing (once warmed up) via its updated Pantah engine but the 900 has all the grunt and guts. Both are full of that elusive character without having any chronic faults, though older 900’s may have a dodgy clutch and both can suffer malfunctioning ignition units. Some good discounts on new M600’s so don’t pay silly money for one.

Many low mileage, summer only examples.


1988-92, 750cc OHC V-twin, 82hp 135mph 45mpg 410lb

A flashback to the old SS vee-twins, with the same silly riding position and similar kind of gutsy performance. Handles and performs even better with the benefit of a bit more civilisation. Looks tiny alongside some Jap multi’s and a viable alternative to the FZR and GSXR multitudes.

Check clutch, electrics, front forks, and engine for bottom or top end noises and oil leaks. Availability of reasonably priced examples is poor.


1988-92, 750cc OHC V-twin, 80hp 140mph 45mpg 435lb

Fully enclosed bodywork that looks as good as Honda’s CBR600 but didn’t inspire Ducati loyalists. Suspension not as well sorted as it should be but any hard ridden bike will have been upgraded by now. Reliable motor for the first 25000 to 35000 miles but needs regular oil changes and valve shimming. Age and high mileage cause poor finish and electrical faults. Competitively priced with regards to rival Jap replicas and a very useful speed tool.

Availability of nice ones is poor.


’89-92, 906cc w/c OHC V-twin, 85hp 150mph 40mpg 450lb

Watercooled engine, Weber carburation and fully enclosed bodywork redefined the old Pantah engined series. Alas, the new motor’s heavier than the old aircooled unit, probably down to old-fashioned casting techniques. Complex motor can prove expensive at high mileages. Better handling than the 750, thanks to superior suspension. Very heavy on tyres and brake pads, but then most bikes of this mien are as well.

Some very dubious examples out there and the odd low miler looking for a loving owner.

DUCATI 600/750/900SS

92 on, 583/750/900cc OHC V-twin, 600: 55hp 120mph, 50mpg 380lb;

750: 60hp 135mph 50mpg 390lb; 900: 75hp 140mph 45mpg 410lb

The 900 version of these bright red cafe racers wins out on everything except cost, which is close to ridiculous compared to the 600. The 750’s a good bike in its own right; also a touch smoother and more robust. The 600’s okay but the performance doesn’t compensate for the riding position. Check for the usual things on Ducati’s – clutch, electrics, oil leaks, general finish, etc

DUCATI 851/888

90-94, 851/888cc w/c OHC V-twin 100/120hp 160mph 35mpg

High tech Italian vee-twin which reminds one of the old seventies 900SS – brilliant when everything worked properly but hell when something went wrong. This time around there was a lot to go wrong, including electronic ignition, fuel injection (on the 888) and eight valves. They take quite a lot of owner involvement, regular servicing and lots of consumables to keep in good fettle. Some really well loved ones out there but even poor examples fetch serious money.

Avoid anything that knocks, leaks or smokes.

DUCATI 748/916

’94 on 748/900cc w/c OHC V-twin 100/120hp 160mph 35mpg

Hot styling blows the minds of juvenile road testers but it has the power and handling to back up the looks. Highly impressive to ride for short periods, the comfort factor may limit long distance enjoyment. The successor to the old 900SS as far as highway kicks on the brutal side goes; the 916’s quite capable of blowing away most of the big Jap replicas.

Both the 748 and 916 had their prices cut heavily in 1997, now lots more on the market than before.

JAWA 350

1975 on, 344cc t/s twin, 28hp 80mph 70mpg 350lb

Updated chassis and styling in ’94 less of an eyesore. Less likely to expire from electrical or mechanical problems than earlier model. Exhaust smoke and engine rattles are normal on the old stuff.

Also sidecar.


1978-84, 497cc DOHC Twin, 48hp 110/ 100mph 55mpg 410lb

Early Alpina’s were faster but less reliable than the later 500T/S. If the Alpina had all the attributes of a good twin it could also suffer overheating and oil supply problems. Some engines lasted for only 10,000 miles, others managed 40,000 miles – burns exhaust valves, breaks camchains and wears out pistons if neglected.

Handling was only limited by short-lived, weak swinging arm bearings. Montuic was racer on the road; fast, fun but troublesome.

MZ ETZ 251 Saxon/Tour
MZ ETZ 251 Saxon/Tour


1971-76, 750cc OHC twin, GTL: 52hp 110mph 60mpg 480lb;

SF: 65hp 120mph 45mpg 470lb; SFC: 75hp 130mph 45mpg 465lb

Massive vertical twin that in GTL form was mild and odd looking but engine ultra tough, can run for over 100,000 miles. Top end first to give problems, crankshaft very strong. SF version faster, classic looking, troublesome top end after 40,000 miles. Still many left on the road due to good build quality.

SFC was proddie racer with a lumpy engine that only worked on the open road; very expensive. Most bikes are high milers.


1977-81, 981cc DOHC triple, 80/90hp 130/ 140mph 45/40mpg

3C was relatively mild triple that was often upgraded to harder Jota. Top end gives trouble first but motor can run from 50 to 100,000 miles. Engine in good condition’s fairly smooth, some heavily used ones go through piston rings rapidly – worth applying a compression tester.

Ride’s heavy going, needing muscle and long legs. Pre ’81 Jotas are wild bikes, more engine troubles. Also rare 1200 version with less reliability and more vibes.

Most are now owned by dedicated enthusiasts.


1982-84, 981cc DOHC triple, 84hp 140mph 45mpg 540lbs

Milder motor with new crankshaft that takes the edge off the Jota but still quite a handful compared with modern 600’s even though the RGS’s the best looking and handling Laverda triple – not quite out of heart attack country when the going gets tough. Engines typically run to 60,000 miles before needing a thorough rebuild, top end or gearbox most likely to need attention. Also Corsa and RGA versions.

Getting to be very rare on the road, now; the older Jota’s are the ones with the classic status.


1995 on, 650cc DOHC twin, 70hp 130mph 35mpg 400lbs

An update on the old 500 engine, housed in a modern chassis in the cafe racer idiom, which suffers from harsh competition from Ducati. Relatively straightforward twin cylinder engine really needs to be housed in a Bonnie type chassis and sold on practicality, but there ain’t no money in that for a small company. Big vertical twins are so rare, these days, that almost any incarnation has to be welcomed and the Laverda seems like an amusing way to hustle.


1976-82, 344cc OHV V-twin, 35/42hp 95/ 105mph 65mpg 350lb

Neat little vee-twin that peaked in the first Sport version, thereafter lost style, power and performance. Also milder Strada version that had a much more comfortable stance than the Sport which combined clip-ons with forward mounted pegs. Handling excellent, first models had neat double sided drum brake. Highly tuned engine can blow up when thrashed around 30,000 miles but some made it to 75000 miles. Belt drive for the cams needs replacing every 15000 miles, make sure you fit the correct type.

Poor chassis finish but most refurbished. Most spares still available.


1979-82, 478cc OHV V-twin, 46hp 110mph 60mpg 350lb

The larger version of the Morini didn’t work as well as the 350 but it’s a useful little bike if used mildly. Some have been converted to early 350 Sport layout and look all the better for it. Straight through pipes and modded air-filter make it rather more interesting on the open road. Engines often need a rebuild around 20,000 miles if they have been used at all hard.

The odd rat one turns up cheaply, with ruined cosmetics and knocking engine.


1985-87, 344cc OHV V-twin, 40hp 105mph 50mpg 370lb

The sweet little Morini engine ended its days housed in a stylish, fully enclosed expanse of GRP but few people bought them. Mainly because the engine ended up so muted under the noise and emission regulations that it had lost its edge, the flat cylinder heads just couldn’t cope with modern times. The Dart handled okay, was relatively comfortable and the engine was quite reliable.

They are very rare in the UK and may, in twenty years time, make it as a classic on the back of their curiosity value.


1981-85, 490cc OHV V-twin, 45/50hp 105/ 110mph 50mpg 350lb

Small vee twin with shaft drive and straightforward pushrod engine. Agile, lacks the usual Italian temperament except for clunky gearbox that goes nasty with age. Valvegear in trouble by 30,000 miles, clutch often burnt out by 20,000 miles. Mk.3 and cafe racer Monza versions had useful bit of extra power. Monza’s tended to be thrashed which turned them fragile and chassis degraded rapidly – few left on the road.

A few years ago there were lots of rats but now mostly just the odd low miler around.


1983-85, 643cc OHV V-twin, 50hp 110mph 50mpg 350lb

Upgraded version of the V50 that doesn’t inspire but was popular with mature riders who didn’t want a tourer with excessive mass. Even a torrent of tender loving care did little to stop the chassis and electrics rotting, everything seemed to fall apart from the inside out. Some bikes managed 50,000 miles, others didn’t do half that.

The whole engine seems to wear out simultaneously, so what seems like a minor fault may be a sign of looming expense.


1985-87, 643cc OHV V-twin, 60hp 120mph 45mpg 380lb

Uprated V65 engine with more power and tougher internals but still a somewhat dubious trip if thrashed at speed for long distances – the cylinder heads can overheat and, ultimately, the crank goes knock- knock. Also gearbox and UJ’s are trouble spots. Rare are engines that do over 40,000 miles.

Chassis and electrics were better than many Guzzi’s, which ain’t saying much. When in nice condition it’s quite a ball to ride but finding one in such a state is difficult.


1988 on, 746cc OHV V-twin, 40/50hp 110/ 115mph 40mpg 385lb

V50 design knocked out to the maximum doesn’t exactly inspire as it’s a long way from leading edge engineering but it is a compact, light bike that can do most things adequately. Exciting it ain’t. Targa version looks neat and the 750T has its uses as a tourer cum hack. Expect engine problems after 25000 miles if it’s been used at all hard, although finish and electrics have improved over the years.

Nevada’s mild, almost useful tourer in custom mode.


1977-84, 844cc OHV V-twin, 65/70hp 120/ 130mph 45/50mpg

Early Le Mans suffer leaking shaft drive seals, jerky gearbox, slipping clutch and laughable electrics and finish. Updated with new fairings and smoother transmission. Mk.3 can’t be rebored and lacks earlier style.

Bikes run for 50,000 miles without too much hassle. Look out for UJ’s, generator and starter troubles, and top end demise. Has heavy throttle and clutch, plus shaft drive reaction in bends. T3/ 5 much milder devices that can go for 80,000 miles plus – some went around the clock.

Many well loved machines out there.


1984-90, 949cc OHV V-twin, 80hp 130mph 40mpg 500lb

Big, agricultural vee twin with heavy throttle, lurching shaft drive and electrical idiosyncrasies. Thumping torque, general longevity and ease of maintenance are its saving graces. Avoid 16 inch wheel version (or convert back to 18 inch) as it doesn’t suit the handling at all. Well sorted Le Mans (which includes suspension upgrade and doing something about the naff riding position) are worth buying if the price is right.

Avoid tuned engines as reliability suffers. The new 1100 Sport and Daytona have taken over the Le Mans mantle.


1976-94, 949cc OHV V-twin, 65/75hp 120/ 130mph 50mpg 500lb

The Spada was Guzzi’s serious tourer which evolved into the Spada 3 that had an almost stylish full fairing and was in many ways their most practical hustle. Alas, they suffer from all the common Guzzi hassles and problems. They age well under a mild regime, a few having done 100,000 miles or more.

First impressions will probably not be favourable but those who persevere for a couple of months tend to fall in love with them. Some nice ones left out there.


1986-95, 949cc OHV V-twin, 75hp 125mph 50mpg 475lb

Neat, naked big vee twin that still has its endearing grumpy nature and should be looked at by those interested in true retro kicks. Shaft drive hiatus tamed slightly in recent versions but anything with over 60,000 miles is likely to have loose UJ’s. Wiring, switches, calipers, exhaust and general finish have to be viewed with suspicion in aged examples and they can end up running very rough.

Owners tend to be mature and sensible so some nice buys out there if you take the time to track them down.


1976-95, 949cc OHV V-twin, 75hp 110mph 50mpg 550lb

Harley style Guzzi that’s unlikely to send the America company out of business but lopes along in a weirdly majestic manner. Generally tough and reliable with just the electrical and UJ blues to watch out for. Handles well for a custom but is rarely thrashed – thus there are some very old ones that are still working well, though they do need a lot of polishing to keep their shine.


1992-94, 949cc OHV V-twin, 75hp 130mph 50mpg 475lb

Update on the old 750S which was the most stylish of the Guzzi’s. Looks to kill for, the rest of the bike is a touch dated in the Guzzi way but once you get used to the idiosyncrasies it can be used hard and it’s generally quite practical. They are rare on UK roads. Open pipes free up the engine and make a gorgeous racket, but make sure the jets have been altered.

Reasonable used prices make them something of a bargain but build quality on early models was questionable.

MZ 125

1978-94, 123cc t/s single, 10hp 60mph 70mpg 240lb

Lacks the 250’s build quality and less reliable, but a cheap way into the learner game, much more reliable and usable than other Iron Curtain hacks. Available as the Alpine, Delux, ETZ (with disc brake and sharper, er, styling) or Lux. Also cheap 150 version (65mph and 70mpg) with same naff styling as early 125; engines will swap.

Old ones have self-igniting electrics and exploding gearboxes to add to the amusement. Short-lived but stylish MZ Saxon version priced itself out of the market in 1994.

MZ 250

1968-90, 243cc t/s single, 20hp 85mph 60mpg 300lb

Huge variation in models: ETS Trophy Sports had unique styling; TS250 Sport handles and goes well; Supa Five had redesigned motor and nice styling; ETZ has the best combination of qualities. Drum brakes not really adequate (use rear brake arm at the front) and many early bikes went through mains as quickly as Honda V-4’s went through cams. Regulators are a weak spot in the electrics and gearbox bearings can go at any time.

One of the few Iron Curtain bikes to offer a decent riding experience.

MZ 251

1990-96, 243cc t/s single, 21hp 80mph 65mpg 280lb

In Lux form an extremely ugly motorcycle with usual MZ virtues and hassles – engines will do 20,000 miles before any serious problems occur. 1993 saw the introduction of the much more attractive Saxon Tour and Saxon Fun, which are actually good to look at. Much better value than the 125’s and retain MZ’s much vaunted ruggedness and practicality.

For ’95, the Lux and Saxon Tour fought it out for supremacy, the former sold on a bargain basement price.

MZ 300

1987-96, 300cc t/s single, 25hp 90mph 50mpg 300lb

Update on the well established 250 had poor economy in pre ’93 models. Otherwise quite useful, tough and well braked but not quite fast enough. Updated in 1993 with Saxon Fun and Tour styling, with better economy (around 60mpg) whilst retaining full chain enclosure and long lasting consumables.

MZ 500

1992-96, 494cc OHC single, 34hp 90mph 50mpg 350lb

Rotax engine fitted into 251 chassis with redesigned frame which is more than up to the job. Early 500R doesn’t even make it as ugly as sin, replaced with the slightly less offensive Silver Star. Saxon Tour, Fun and Country are much more interesting (from ’93 on).

Rotax motor generally tough for the first 30,000 miles but some ran on worn out cam belts which did in the top end. Spares are okay, possible to upgrade the motor into more powerful form.


’95-96, 660cc w/c OHC single, 50hp 110mph 50mpg 380lb

Yamaha XTZ660’s engine housed in interesting and stylish chassis shows some promise – alas, MZ haven’t gone out of their way to make the running costs minimal. Not very many on the secondhand market as highly priced when new. Engine should be tough and durable but the odd silliness with the oil tubing run and general build quality.

MZ ETZ 251 Saxon/Tour
MZ ETZ 251 Saxon/Tour
MZ ETZ 251 Saxon/Tour
MZ ETZ 251 Saxon/Tour
MZ ETZ 251 Saxon/Tour

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