MZing in Finland
By Keijo Virtanen
Yes, MZ has a very good and strong tradition here. Finland belongs
to the first who started to import IFAs in the very beginning of
the 50’s, and because the Zschopau factory ”Mannschaft” could
come to races to Finland more easily than to some other western
countries, MZ got here a good name and reputation in both road
and off-road racing; of course by winning.
MZs were solid, sold too, thus Finnish MZ-riders have now been
able to restore examples of most early models. A simple 2-stroke
which can stand well the riding during our winters, when 4-strokes
suffered from ice inside the crankcase because of condensation and
hardened oil which did not circulate – during the days of all-year-riding
MZ was a natural choice. And then the last official MZ-rider for
GP-circus was a Finn named Virtanen (Virtanen is the most common
family name here.)
I have been a very small school-boy when motorcyclists were near
to become endangered species in the 60’s – but my elder brother
did ride motorcycle. He had mostly Jawas, which were always
broken in one way or another, but once he was offered MZ ES300
and that was a go! A close friend of mine has still that same machine
now, hopefully restored back to road some day… My brother also
got an MZ ES 175 in bits, so also I was able to wittness the
difference of the workmanship between MZ and Jawa (which he
had to put to pieces so regularly).
Our importer of MZs ceased by the end of the 60’s and so only one
example of the model ETS 250 Trophy Sport was imported, by our
importer of Wartburg, for type approval. The machine has survived,
being the 16th example of that model from the line in 1968 –, two
examples of ETS 125s have arrived, ES250/2 is also very rare here.
The finnish Suzuki-importer sold well TS models in the 70’s and ETZs
in the 80’s and when motorcycles were used mere just for leisure,
MZ had the ability to remain an everyday motorcycle. Thus, when
motorcyclists started to organize one-make clubs during the 80’s,
MZ-riders just rode as they always did.
Japanese big bikes have become most common also in this country,
but the MZ-riders belong to a ”mentally and technically priviledged
group”. After several years of discussions, when MZ-riders
happened to meet, whether an MZ-rider club was needed or not,
in 1992 a club was founded, relatively informal from the start, and
so it has remained, with minimum bureacracy.
The situation was that our Suzuki-importer went into bankruptcy by
the late 80’s, so we did not get more MZs nor spares, except
ordering them separately. After the Wall had come down a good
try with new ETZs was started by a small group of MZ-activists;
they imported some tens of bikes but the firm suffered that they all
had to keep other jobs to live, and when real MZs went to Turkey,
only high-priced MuZs remained available. So there has been
a humble mission for an MZ Riders Club: to spread information
about the qualities of these real motorcycles, where to get spares
– and to keep contacts. We have collected knowledge, literature,
too. A magazine has been published 5 times a year.
When other clubs have meetings, rallies, in order that members can
show more and more shiny and gorgeous (and expensive) motorcycles,
MZ riders arrange a meeting just to get together – and talk about…
whatever under the sun (or a cloud) one happens to have to share,
and if they have something to show about their motorcycles that is
that they are just clever devices for moving from place A to B
(please note the keywords ”just” and ”clever”). And a visitor can
arrive with a motorcycle of a whatever make.
The winter in Finland is dark, snowy, wet, chilly, sometimes really
cold, more than -30 C degrees… all what winter can be, but the
Spring will see a few MZs on the roads leaving a fresh aroma behind
with ring-ding-ding… MZing does not need a strictly organized club
for to go on, we often ride separately, but sometimes it is good to
have a fellowship. So once a year – in the end of the 24th week of
the year (in July, week before Midsummer Night) – we organize
a meeting / Treffen.
In meetings we enjoy of good company, sauna – with swimming if possible –
and of course also makkara the most popular finnish vegetable;
made of fat, flour, milkpowder, salt… Sometimes it is called sausage.
Any way it was flushed down with a great amount of Lappland’s Gold
or some other beer, as we are used to do.
The 16th meeting was some time ago… 17th meeting will come.