Saturday, 5 November 2011

Old Flame

Having mentioned that I used to own an MZ Silver Star sidecar outfit in an earlier post, perhaps I should admit to a fondness for three wheels (although the mr.combo moniker might just have given it away).

My first venture onto three wheels was on a Jawa 638 with a Velorex sidecar attached. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of this machine. Its most redeeming feature was that it was cheap. This was a very important consideration at the time as (a) I didn't have much money to begin with, and (b) what I did have I didn't want to spend on something that I wouldn’t like.

In the end, that wasn't to be a problem. I was quite taken with the experience, once I'd gotten over the initial problems inherent with now having a wardrobe strapped to the side of my bike.

After the Jawa expired I started looking for another outfit, preferably an MZ one as I was familiar with these bikes and, once again, these were relatively cheap at the time. I eventually located an MZ ETZ250 outfit for sale at the other end of the country. It was a runner, had an MOT and some tax left. I made arrangements to collect it and was soon in possession of the matt black contraption shown below.

stickers on tank represent all of the countries travelled through on Baltic trip by previous owner

I was to use it as my only transport for a further four years, during which time it got a rebuild and a bit of a re-vamp as you can see.

It even made an appearance on the MZ Riders Club stand at the Scottish Bike Show - probably 1999 or 2000. This was a last minute thing as we were given a stand almost twice the size of what we had previously and it looked rather bare. So, as my outfit was the only machine that I could lay my hands on at short notice, I decided to bring it along and it shared the limelight with one of the newly released Skorpion Sport 660s.

The strange thing about the organisers of the show at the time was that they always gave us a stand in amongst all the classic bike clubs. So, the place was chock full of beautifully restored, and ever so shiny, British bikes and their proud and very shiny owners. Then there was us.

Now, it was, and I will freely admit it, a bit of a shed. Oh, it went all right, but it had been ridden through the previous winter months and I couldn’t be bothered to even wash it before riding it to the show. It was, therefore, not exactly what folk were expecting to see when they eventually made it past all the Vincents, Triumphs and Nortons. Some of the other clubs gave us as wide a berth as possible. We were probably letting the side down! Others were a trifle puzzled to say the least. You could see them stop and have a stare. They’d shake their heads a bit, and then go and find their mates to get them to come see the Nutters. And, yes. That is a tent with some legs sticking out of it, but that’s another story.

The following piece is from the noticeboard that I put up in front of the outfit. Other such boards on the ‘proper’ club stands were full of useful technical data; mine was a bit more tongue-in-cheek. It's probably not that hard to work out why we didn't really fit in. We weren't taking it seriously enough.

Purchased in 1997 for the princely sum of £400 as a non-runner, “The Beast” was soon put back onto the road and became my sole means of transport to and from work, shopping, section meetings and the numerous rallies run by the MZ Riders Club throughout the country.
In a previous incarnation, as a matt-black tradesman outfit, “The Beast” spent several months travelling throughout the Baltic States before finally reaching the Polar Circle. This high mileage might be why, a year after I bought it, the engine suffered terminal meltdown on the Edinburgh by-pass one sunny Saturday afternoon while travelling along at about 60mph - serious ‘brown trouser’ time, I can tell you!
However, all dark clouds have their silver lining. With the outfit off the road for a time I had the chance to do all those things I’d been thinking about:

  • The engine was bored out to 300cc.
  • Electrics were tidied up and indicators and sidecar lights fitted.
  • Brakes were up-rated with fitment of a Brembo unit from a BMW twin.
  • Tradesman box-lid changed for a seat unit from a Swallow sidecar rig.
  • Home-made tonneau cover and top-box fitted.
  • Whole unit given a ‘groovy’ new paint job.
This new and improved outfit has been my main means of transport ever since.
Yes, I do have another bike. Yes, it’s an MZ. And, yes, it’s an outfit. I added a Silver Star/Watsonian Stratford to my stable of bikes about a year ago. This is a 500cc Rotax-engined outfit. Very smooth (these things being relative) and quite a bit faster. However, “The Beast” remains my daily hack.

As you may have noticed it is not as shiny and polished as most of the other bikes at the show. There may be those of you who think that I’m just too lazy to wash it. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are, after all, the MZ RIDERS Club. I’m merely trying to make a point! The outfit got dirty being ridden to the show, and it will get even dirtier on the way home, so why bother cleaning it?
Anyway, there is some serious debate that the only thing holding it together is the vast acreage of rust and dirt, so why tempt fate?

The Technical Bit -
  • Engine : 300cc air-cooled two-stroke.
  • Electrical System : homemade and extremely jury-rigged.
  • Gearbox : 5 gears, 1 neutral & about 4 false-neutrals.
  • Frame : probably some kind of metal.
  • Wheels : one at each corner.
  • Tyres : one on each wheel, usually sourced from scrap bins.
  • Power Transmission : I thought that this was a cartoon show!
  • Brakes : barely adequate.
  • Top Speed : 60mph (down a hill with a following wind). Ooh, ooh the speed!
  • 0-60mph : you are kidding, aren’t you? Bring a calendar.
  • Fuel Consumption : Ha, Ha, Ha! You’ve never had an outfit, have you?

1 comment:

  1. With my recent car problems, I'm seriously thinking about getting my old Honda outfit back on the road as a good winter backup vehicle. Every motor cycle show should have some examples of bikes that are actually used as intended.