660cc, Big Single Cafe Racer from East Germany!
Germany’s MZ has to be one of the most interesting motorcycle manufacturers in history. The company was owned by the East German state in Cold War era, during which time MZ engineer Walter Kaaden developed revolutionary two-stroke engine designs, including the first race engine to make 200 horsepower per liter. His designs would influence motorcycle racing for years to come. In fact, Suzuki became competitive in motorcycle racing only after obtaining Kaaden’s two-stroke design secrets from MZ gran prix racer Ernst Degner, who defected in 1961. This story is detailed in Mat Oxley’s fascinating book Stealing Speed: The Biggest Spy Scandal in Motorsport History, which we highly recommend.
In 1994, MZ introduced the Skorpion Sport — a lightweight, liquid-cooled big single street bike developed in collaboration with Yamaha. The 656cc engine offered 48 horsepower, good for a top speed of 116 mph, and the Skorpion quickly developed a reputation for razor-sharp handling and braking. Club racers flocked to the bike and dedicated racing series appeared in various countries in the late 1990s. Unfortunately, the Skorpion Sport went out of production in 2004, and MZ went out of business in 2013.
Enter Mario Deuse, a mechanical engineer in Göttingen, Germany, whose affinity for the MZ marque goes way back to his childhood in the GDR. Says Mario:
“I was born and grew up in East Germany and MZ was always part of people’s life.”
Mario has been building and customizing bikes for years. In fact, the first bike he ever customized was his father’s MZ ES250/2 with sidecar.
“My fathers bike was one of the first I customized. The virus of customizing caught me and will do it until I’m dead.”
After seeing Jeff’s Lamb’s MZ Skorpion, Mario decided to sell his beloved Triumph Tiger and build an MZ Skorpion cafe racer of his own. The result is the striking build you see here, which weighs just 363 pounds wet — 17 pounds less than the dry weight of the original! Below, we get the full story on this lithe East German beauty.
MZ Skrpion Sport Cafe Racer: In the Builder’s Words
I am Mario Deuse, a graduate mechanical engineer, 47 years old. I’m married and I have two children and two cats sleeping under my workbench as long as I don’t use the angle grinder. I live near Göttingen.
I’ve been hooked on motorcycles as long as I can remember. First a moped, Simson S51, then the MZ ES250 / 2 with sidecar from my father. It continued with an AWO 425 (Bikers News April edition 1992), followed by a Yamaha XS650, followed by a 1972 Triumph Tiger (2nd place Custombike Reader’s Choice 2006) and a 1984 BMW K100.
I was born and grown up in East Germany and MZ was always part of people’s life. When I saw the MZ Skorpion of Jeff Lamb from Australia, it happened to me and I thought, there was something. I remembered the MZ as an outstanding motorbike. Without further ado and with a heavy heart, I sold the Triumph to fill up the conversion fund. I did not ride with it for ages and having a renovation project was more important to me in the end.
What was done:
Frame, rims, fork tubes, rear frame and swingarm are powder coated. The tank came from a Suzuki RGV125 Gamma (I burned some bigger holes when I tried to fix the new brackets, then had the tank welded by a pro. I decided to do a coating inside for safety, which was not planned). Fuel tap is from a Yamaha FZR.
Oil tank is completely new made of aluminium sheet metal, bent and welded. Side covers on the oil tank carry my “start number” from the last century.
The rear fenders at the rear frame are designed with CAD-Onshape and CNC milled. I can recommend Onshape as an intuitive free CAD software tha’s easy to use. In the beginning they were planned as stand-alone rear fenders but the TÜV refused and requested a separate steel rear frame. So the fenders act as covers now. Rear frame is newly built from the parts of the original rear frame.
Seat is completely new with a cover of Alcantara. The gold and green stitching should pick up the stripes from the tank and continue.
Electronics are completely new with m-unit by Motogadget and a super small LiPo battery in a welded aluminum box under the tank.
Footpeg mounts and switch armatures on the handlebar were designed in CAD with Onshape. I’m doing CAD every day at work so it’s not an issue. A local manufacturing company then CNC-milled them. The surface finisher around the corner did the anodizing. Footpegs are from Tarozzi.
Tank and the front fender are painted in traffic white RAL9016. Front fender is made of two front origin MZ front fenders using only the front side of them.
The stripe was printed by an advertising company and glued onto. Then everything was covered with clear coat. The stripes are in the MZ colors gold, gray and green to continue the great history of MZ a little bit. The tank carries on the sides the later MZ logo without the small “u” (artistic freedom).
A new airbox covers a K&N filter due to the loudness restrictions in Germany.
I made the cladding for the ellipsoid headlamp out of a universal aluminium fender and crimped the hole in the middle with hammer and wood.
Speedometer is from Acewell with I suppose one million functions. Cool!
Muffler comes from GRP Italy. I have had a lot of trouble getting the muffler quiet to fulfill the legal demands here in Germany but getting an approval for the bike is more important at the moment.
Throttle grip is from Domino from Italy.
Turn signals at the front are “Kellermann” and rear ones are “Highsider” acting as a taillight / brake light / turn signal combination.
Handlebar stems are from LSL.
The bike weight is roadworthy (full tank!) 165kg. This is very noticeable in comparison to the dry weight of 173kg in original condition. The thing is a real curve finder. With other wheels are again 6kg in it, but now it is enough first. I have to take more time for my wife and children again. They endured it long enough that I spent almost a year in the garage for hours. Thank you!