If you are under 30, you’ll probably never ever heard of CZ. But if you are a tad older you probably have memories of the clunky, yet effective bikes that came out of Czechoslovakia. While never very popular as road bikes outside the former Eastern block countries, the bikes were much more commonly seen in off road competition from motocross to the infamous International Six Day Trial. In fact America’s first World Motocross champion Brad Lackey started his international Racing career aboard a CZ!
But after years off the radar, the former world championship winning machines are back – and how!
It seems that the owner of the Italian-Czech society, the almost predictably named Alessandro Ferrari is a big motocross fan, so his company, which is based in the equally brilliantly named Slusovice has put together a stunning looking machine for 2016.
The 300cc two stroke which uses an aluminium perimeter frame much like the TM300 or the infamous Honda CR250, has been put together to compete in the EMX300 races in the forthcoming Czech GP at Loket. The championship is currently being led by the flying dutchman Mike Kras but British veteran and former British MX champion Brad Anderson sits in a comfortable third on his bored-out Yamaha YZ250 for the Gloucestershire based GL12. The series has re-ignited two-stroke racing within the world championships, even if the 300s are only competing for a European title on a reduced schedule compared to the big boys in the MXGP and MX2 classes.
CZ first competed in the World MX championship back in 1958, initially starting with four-stroke machines. With little success on the thumpers, the factory moved to two-stokes and from that point never looked back. They clocked up seven world titles and also took the Motocross of Nations title back in 1975, before eventually bowing out of the world stage in 1985. In that time, their bikes were ridden by MX legends from Joel Robert and Roger de Coster to Gaston Rahier and Guennadi Moisseev, Russia’s only world mx champion.
Over the same period, CZs were the bike of choice for many enduro and off-road riders, favoured for their awesome power and bullet-proof engines. The competed in every off-road race from the Baja 500 to the ISDT and had legions of fans all over the world. Despite this, the factory was unable to keep up with the budgets of the Japanese competition and eventually stopped production in 1991.
The emergence of a great looking bike for 2016 will warm the hearts of former fans, but don’t pin your hopes on a return to the big time for the former champions. The looks like a one-off, but all the same it’s a damn fine looking one!