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Classic Velocity Blog

MZ Gelandesport

Classic Velocity

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Although the basics of MZ as a motorcycle manufacturer in the former East Germany have been covered here before (see MuZings) , it is time now to focus on their exploits off-road. Their greatest success was at the International Six Day Trials (ISDT), a race that had been run since 1913 and which featured nations competing in teams for a trophy. The event is a 1200+ mile test of rider and equipment in which the rider must carry out all of his or her own repairs. Today it is called the Six Days Enduro and is more of a multi-day rally. In the early 1960s, MZ (like all of the eastern block manufacturers) wanted to show that it could produce world class machines, and assigned engineer Walter Kaaden the task of building a factory racing effort for the track and for Gelandesport (off-road racing).

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One of the premiere events for building such credibility for a motorcycle was the ISDT. The team used breakthrough 2-stroke technology to create lightweight high performance enduro machines which dominated the competition. The East German team riding MZ machines earned gold medals from 1963 to 1967, usually beating arch rivals West Germany. They lost in 1968 to the West Germans who were on Zundapp machines, but returned to victory in 1969. MZ won again decades later in 1987.