Motorcycle construction in Zschopau
In the Saxon city of Zschopau and its neighboring town of Hohndorf , motorcycles were built from 1922 to 2016. Manufacturers who, from 1952, traded under the brand name MZ and briefly under the name of MuZ became famous . The abbreviations stand for VEB Motorradwerk Zschopau, Motorradwerk Zschopau GmbH, Motorrad- und Zweiradwerk GmbH (MuZ), as well as MZ Motorrad- und Zweiradwerk GmbH and from 2009 for Motorenwerke Zschopau GmbH . The world's first motorcycle assembly line was in Zschopau . Until the day of the economic union between the Federal Republic of Germany and the GDR on July 1, 1990, MZ was the world's largest motorcycle manufacturer with 85,000 machines a year, exporting to around 100 countries.
Although production at MZ fell sharply after 1989 and was completely terminated in 2008, 89,975 MZ motorcycles were registered in Germany as of January 1, 2019, which means that the MZ registration number within 10 years since production was discontinued with 12,747 additional vehicles by 16, 5 percent, corresponding to a constant share of just over 2.0 percent of all motorcycles registered in Germany.
Until the Second World War - Rasmussen, DKW and Auto Union
From household appliances to motorcycle construction
In 1906 the Danish entrepreneur Jørgen Skafte Rasmussen bought the disused Barthsche cloth factory in the Zschopau Dischautal and set up a branch of the Chemnitz company Rasmussen & Ernst there. Initially, household and workshop equipment, steam boiler fittings and vehicle accessories were manufactured there. From 1912 the company traded under the name of Zschopauer Maschinenfabrik JS Rasmussen . During the First World War, detonators and grenade detonators were produced and the number of employees rose to over 400.
From 1916 the prototype of a steam-powered motor vehicle was developed and the DKW (steam power vehicle) trademark was created , which was used for bicycles, motorcycles, cars and refrigerators. The development of the steam engine was finally stopped in 1921. In 1919, the engineer Hugo Ruppe at Rasmussen developed a small two-stroke engine as a toy drive (DKW = "Des Knaben Wunsch") and a stationary engine. Both were exhibited at the Leipzig Fair in 1919. In 1920 a one-horsepower bicycle auxiliary motor (DKW = "The Little Wonder") was developed, and later Rasmussen also offered complete bicycles with auxiliary motors and reinforced frames.
In 1922 the series production of motorcycles began in Zschopau under chief designer Hermann Weber and sales manager Carl Hahn senior with the Reichsfahrt model . In 1923 Rasmussen converted the engine works into a stock corporation. Almost all of the shares were in his possession, and his wife Therese Rasmussen became chairman of the supervisory board. In 1926, the world's first motorcycle assembly line was built in Zschopau. In 1928 DKW took over Audiwerke AG Zwickau , in 1929 the plant was the largest motorcycle factory in the world with an annual production of 60,000 motorcycles and a turnover of 60 million Reichsmarks.
A total of more than 68,000 units of the successful E200 / E206 were produced between 1925 and 1928. In 1928/1929 the "DKW-Siedlung" was built in the southwest of the city on the Zschopenberg as a factory settlement of the motorcycle factory. As a result of the global economic crisis, sales collapsed in 1930 and the factory made a loss of around 2 million Reichsmarks. Then Richard Bruhn , bank director at the Saxon State Bank, became chairman of the supervisory board at DKW. At the instigation of the Saxon State Bank merged Zschopauer motor works with its subsidiary Audi Werke AG of Zwickau , the Horch Werke AG (also Zwickau ) and the vehicle plant Siegmar of Wanderer-Werke in Schoenau near Chemnitz in 1932, Auto Union AG with a provisional seat Zschopau. The merger of the four brands resulted in the logo with the four rings, which is still used by Audi today. The company's founder JS Rasmussen left the company in 1934 and moved to Sacrow near Potsdam in 1939 . The relocation of the company headquarters to Chemnitz took place in 1936 in the converted and expanded buildings of the former Presto works .
During the Second World War, the company mainly built power generating sets and motorcycles for the Wehrmacht, along with other armaments . From November 21, 1944 to mid-April 1945, there was a satellite camp of the Flossenbürg concentration camp at the DKW plant . 500 Jewish women and girls from the Auschwitz camp had to do forced labor in the armaments industry . Since 2005, a memorial stone has been in memory of the six women and girls who died here at the Zschopau cemetery.
As early as 1920 DKW achieved its first racing success with the works driver Max Hucke from Erfurt at the Dresden track race. Rasmussen recognized at an early stage the effective advertising and sales-promoting effect of motorcycle racing. However, the races at that time were mostly driven on near-series machines, the pilots were often private drivers or factory employees. In the following years, DKW achieved important victories and top places at numerous racing events such as the ADAC Reichsfahrt, which was very popular at the time, or the race at the AVUS in Berlin. a. by chief designer Hermann Weber and Hans Sprung , the master of the drive-in department.
In 1925, a special racing machine was developed for the first time with the ARe 175. Two years later, under the direction of chief designer Hermann Weber and test engineer August Prüßing , who has been with DKW since 1925, the largest motorcycle racing department of the time was created. In the years that followed, riders like Arthur Geiss , Walfried Winkler , Ewald Kluge and Bernd Rosemeyer won eight European motorcycle championships and 23 German championship titles . DKW is particularly successful in the displacement categories up to 175 cm³ and up to 250 cm³. At the height of its success in the mid-thirties, around 100 employees work in the racing department, including racing manager Adolf Meurer, racing engineer Alfred Liebers and racing mechanics Kurt Haase, Kurt Terpe, Paul Uhlmann and Karl Wagner. When Geiss, Winkler and Kluge won the silver vase at the 17th International Six-Day Tour in Oberstdorf in 1935, the first successes in off-road sports were also evident. Numerous world speed records for motorcycles with streamlined fairing and the start of small series production of racing and off-road sports machines, which are mainly sold to private drivers, also fell during this period. In 1936/1937 DKW also achieved increasing racing success in the sidecar classes up to 600 cm³ (by Karl Braun with co-driver Erwin Badsching) and up to 1,000 cm³ (by Hans Kahrmann with co-driver Heinrich Eder and Hans Schumann with co-driver Julius Beer). The racing department was dissolved in 1941 due to the war, and August Prüßing took over the management of armaments production at the DKW plant.
After the Second World War - IFA
Dismantling and starting over
The modern production facilities of the former DKW plant were completely dismantled in 1945/1946, transported to the Soviet Union and reinstalled in Ischewsk in the Ischmasch plant. Efforts to resume motorcycle manufacture were evident in the DKW L60 light motorcycle , which was developed at the Wilischthal plant . This was a new development, which was necessary due to the cylinder capacity exemption limit of 60 cm³ in effect at the time. The only 40 kg heavy type of motorcycle developed 3 HP. Special design features were a bow-shaped rear end, the cardan drive and the pendulum fork with vibration metal elements in the axis of rotation. When the motorcycle was presented to the public at the Leipzig spring fair in 1948, however, it was already clear that there would be no series production of this new type of motorcycle. The statutory engine capacity exemption had since been raised. This opened up the possibility of resuming production of the RT 125 , a pre-war development. Series production began in 1950 under the trade mark Industrievereinigung Fahrzeugbau (IFA). Despite the state production requirement of 5000 pieces, only 1700 RT 125s were completed in 1950 due to a shortage of materials. In 1951 the first mobile model of sidecar motorcycle compatible with 350-cm³- appeared two-stroke - boxer engine and shaft drive, the IFA BK 350 . The series production of the BK did not start until 1953.
Introduction of the trademark MZ and economic advancement
The motorcycle factory has operated under the name VEB Motorradwerk Zschopau (MZ) since 1952. From 1956, all models were called MZ, starting with the RT 125/2, which came onto the market in January. Due to the simple structure of the vehicles and the easily interchangeable parts, the MZ, also known as Emme or Emmie , was a “people's motorcycle” that focused on functionality, durability and model continuity. From 1954 onwards, the chain was fully encapsulated, patented by MZ, which was not found in other two-wheeler manufacturers. The IFA BK 350 went on sale with increased performance and better noise insulation than the MZ BK 350. In December 1956 the MZ ES 250 followed , in the same month the MZ ES 175 , each with an extremely comfortable and at the same time stable swing arm chassis. With the introduction of the ES 250/1 from 1961, MZ consolidated the above-average properties of the motors with extremely favorable torque curve . Taken together with the successes in motorsport, these characteristics made MZ motorcycles popular in western countries as well. Production took on enormous proportions, and MZ quickly developed into Europe's largest motorcycle manufacturer.
Production of the RT series ended in 1962 after twelve years of production. 310,800 RTs were manufactured at MZ. The motorcycle was also copied by many other manufacturers, including Harley-Davidson and Yamaha . With around five million copies, the RT 125 is probably the most copied type of motorcycle in history. Production of the MZ ES 125/150 began in 1962. The model had a sheet metal press frame, which was easier to manufacture in mass production than a tubular frame. Together with the derived series ETS 125/150 and TS 125/150 , with around 900,000 machines, it represents the most popular German motorcycle to date. In addition, it was the world's first motorcycle with asymmetrical low beam. In 1961, on the initiative of MZ, a two-stroke motorcycle museum was opened in Augustusburg , which now houses one of the most extensive two-wheel collections in Europe. MZ was one of the few companies in the world that delivered motorcycles with sidecars from the factory, whereby the Super-Elastic sidecars from Stoye were among the best quality sidecars ever built.
Even if not as strong as the automobile industry, further development at MZ was shaped by the economic solidification of the GDR. The proven concepts were continued, but the development of larger motorcycles was prevented. The claim to help determine the world's best in the quarter-liter class had to be gradually abandoned. In the Federal Republic of Germany, the motorcycles were available from the Neckermann department store and mail order company and, due to their low price and robust construction, continued to enjoy great popularity, especially with students. In West German cities with large universities, they were part of the cityscape until the 1990s.
In the GDR, MZ motorcycles were ubiquitous, they were very often driven for purely everyday purposes and in some cases made up for the lack of cars. In 1975 there were 80.9 motorcycles per 1000 inhabitants in the GDR, that is, the equipment of the population there with motorcycles and scooters exceeded that in the FRG (4 motorcycles per 1000 inhabitants) by a good 20 times, while the level of equipment the FRG with cars exceeded the GDR at the same time by a factor of 2.6.
With the ETZ 250 , disc brakes and 12-V electrics were introduced in 1981, both of which were standard in motorcycle production at the time.
From 1957 to 1973 MZ was the leading German brand in international motorcycle racing in the 125 cm³, 250 cm³ and 350 cm³ displacement classes . The MZ works team included racing drivers Ernst Degner , Horst Fügner , Werner Musiol , Heinz Rosner , Klaus Enderlein and Günter Bartusch . The West German racing driver Dieter Braun drove German and world championship races for the West German Neckermann-MZ racing team from 1968 to 1969. In 1968 and 1969 he won the German motorcycle road championship in the class up to 125 cm³ on Neckermann-MZ. In addition to Germans, foreign drivers also drove for world championship points on MZ machines. The best known were Gary Hocking , Mike Hailwood , Luigi Taveri , Alan Shepherd , Derek Woodman , László Szabó and Silvio Grassetti . Although the MZ racing machines could compete with the emerging Japanese machines from the brands Honda , Suzuki and Yamaha , in the 1960s, for political reasons, even the best drivers were unable to achieve a branded world championship for MZ. In world championship races in NATO countries, the MZ racing team was often excluded from participation due to the FRG's claim to sole representation , as GDR citizens mostly did not receive an entry visa. In 1974 MZ withdrew from road racing and in 1975 completely dissolved the racing department in favor of motorcycle off-road racing.
In 1963 the GDR national team won the World Trophy on MZ motorcycles for the first time at the International Six-Day Race . This competition is synonymous with the team world championship in motorcycle off-road sport . This was followed by five more trophy victories on MZ in 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967 and 1969. In 1968 Werner Salevsky was injured in a fall and the MZ team had to give up the race. One last success in the six-day race came in 1987 when the DDR Trophy and Silver Vase teams won the competition. MZ was represented by the drivers Jens Scheffler , Harald Sturm , Uwe Weber , Jens Grüner , Mike Heydenreich and Udo Grellmann .
After the political change in 1990
Privatization, bankruptcy and start-ups
After the fall of the Berlin Wall , MZ was privatized in 1990 . The company Motorradwerk Zschopau GmbH filed for bankruptcy on December 18, 1991. Reasons were, among other things, the loss of the markets in Eastern Europe and Eastern Germany. The management consultants Wolfram Sauerbrey and Petr-Karel Korous, who were commissioned by the Treuhandanstalt with the redevelopment and sale, showed that they were unable to sell the plant in Zschopau to interested parties, including the Turkish small computer and mechanical engineering company Kuralkan , which has been the largest component supplier for MZ and im since 1987 Counter-deal importer of MZ motorcycles for the entire Middle East was to sell. In the self-determined lack of an alternative, they took over the lucrative shares of the bankruptcy estate themselves. When it became clear shortly after the takeover that Sauerbrey had several criminal records for fraud and forgery, he withdrew from the company's management. His business partner Korous stayed as managing partner in the newly founded company.
This successor company, MuZ Motorrad- und Zweiradwerk GmbH , moved in 1993 to the new building site in the Großolbersdorf district of Hohndorf , where the cylinder grinding shop was located in GDR times. After a few attempts to revive the company, the Malay group Hong Leong took over the company in 1996; from 1999 the company was named MZ Motorrad- und Zweiradwerk GmbH .
The ETZ patents and manufacturing facilities were sold to the Turkish Kuralkan Corporation KANUNI MOTORLU ARACLAR AS . In Istanbul, the ETZ 251 and 301 models were manufactured under the manufacturer name MZ Kanuni for a few years from 1994 (probably until 2001).
Missed model changes
With the purchase of 500 cc four-stroke engines from Rotax , a poorly conceptual and unsuccessful attempt was made to counteract the collapse in demand. This measure proved to be counterproductive, as the installation of the expensive and significantly heavier four-stroke engine from third-party production radically thwarted the previously favorable price-performance ratio of the lightweight two-stroke engine from in-house production and thus the brand image that had been established for decades. In 1989, the year of the model change, an MZ ETZ 250 cost around DM 2,000 and the new ETZ 251 around DM 3,000, but the MZ Silver Star, as a retro classic with a Rotax engine, should have already cost almost DM 9,000 in 1992, which is significantly more cost more than the technically comparable cult machine Yamaha SR 500 .
First newly developed models
The first new developments appeared in 1994, the Scorpion models , which were powered by a 660 cm³ single-cylinder Yamaha engine. With comparatively extremely high list prices between 10,000 and 15,000 DM, these developments neither corresponded to the brand image developed over decades, nor were they competitive on the market, so that these developments could not cover their production costs either. In 1994 the MuZ Kobra study , with an 850 cc two-cylinder engine from the Yamaha TDM , was also presented. In 1997 , the MZ Baghira and Mastiff appeared as Enduro and Super Moto versions with the basically identical 660 cm³ Yamaha single-cylinder engine that was already installed in the Scorpion .
With the introduction of the new RT 125 in 2000, an in-house developed engine was again offered - now a DOHC four-stroke with 125 cm³. This has also been working in the sister models SX ( Enduro ) and SM ( Supermoto ) since 2001 and was considered one of the most powerful four-stroke engines in its class.
The high point of a failed model policy in terms of both vehicle and production costs were the 998 cm³ models MZ 1000 S / SF / ST with parallel twin introduced in 2000, but only entered production in 2003. Their DOHC engine had an electronic intake manifold injection and when it was launched, it was the most powerful series production twin-cylinder on the motorcycle market with 86 kW (117 PS) and 95 Nm. The fully adjustable chassis with a 43 mm Ø upside-down fork , an aluminum cantilever arm , a bridge frame made of chrome-molybdenum steel tubes and a floating 320 mm Ø double disc brake with four-piston calipers on the front wheel corresponded to this technical standard of their time. Despite the relatively acceptable pricing of the 1000 S model at € 12,118, production had to be discontinued in 2008 after only 1,180 vehicles had been manufactured, as the sales figures did not even come close to the forecast and economically required level.
Closure of the development department
At the end of August 2005, the management felt compelled to carry out extensive restructuring. At the end of 2006 the entire development department was closed and all employees were laid off. The quality of the motorcycles still being produced also fell sharply due to the dismissal of the quality control staff. The company's share capital was largely withdrawn. However, production continued in small numbers. The collection of rare development models, test vehicles, test parts, comparison and special measuring vehicles was sold.
According to Hong Leong , losses of over 70 million euros have been made since the takeover in 1996. On June 6th, 2008 it was announced that the production will finally be stopped at the end of 2008. No motorcycles have been produced since September 2008. The plant was closed at the end of 2008.
The last range of products before production was discontinued consisted of the following models:
- the 125 cc single cylinder series RT, SM and SX,
- the 660 cm³ single-cylinder supermoto (also available as an HR version with a shorter suspension fork, lower seating position and shorter swing arm), only a few copies,
- the 998 cc two-cylinder machines 1000S (Sport), 1000SF (SuperFighter) and 1000ST (SuperTraveller).
The street machine Skorpion has not been produced since 2002, the MZ Baghira Enduro continued to be built on request until the end of 2007. After that, the production of both Baghira (Enduro / Supermoto) and the Mastiff was discontinued due to stricter emissions standards and low sales.
New establishment as Motorenwerke Zschopau GmbH
In March 2009 it became known that the former motorcycle racing drivers Ralf Waldmann and Martin Wimmer wanted to buy and renovate the motorcycle and two-wheeler factory in Zschopau. After the re-establishment, the company traded as Motorenwerke Zschopau GmbH . The hope for a new beginning was the project of an electric scooter , the MZ Emmely EL1 . Production of the Charly electric scooter resumed in November 2009.
In November 2011, MZ received a state guarantee in order to be able to build 1200 machines (road motorcycles T125 and off-road motorcycles type 122) in 2012.
In February 2012, 20 of the 56 employees working in Hohndorf went on short-time work because the supplier of electrical drive systems Clean Mobile had filed for bankruptcy. As a result, no electric vehicles could be assembled. On September 7, 2012, Managing Director Martin Wimmer filed for bankruptcy at the Chemnitz District Court due to insolvency for the motorcycle works in Zschopau. However, production should initially be continued until the court has decided.
Bankruptcy petition 2012
Motorenwerke Zschopau GmbH (MZ) had to file for insolvency at the Chemnitz District Court at the beginning of September 2012 due to a loan that had not come about at short notice. The Chemnitz district court rejected the insolvency application on September 10th as formally inadequate and demanded a repair within two weeks. Initially, the production of the electric scooters continued with the 49 employees. The Chemnitz District Court initiated insolvency proceedings on September 30, 2012. After the bankruptcy proceedings were opened, only a small production of electric three-wheelers took place for the Swiss Post . So 20 of the original 56 employees were employed. The debt amounts to between six and seven million euros and is distributed among 170 creditors.
Failed renovation in 2013
Despite a number of more than 30 discussions and factory tours with some well-known potential investors from home and abroad, the insolvency administrator was unable to find a solution for Motorenwerke Zschopau GmbH. The uncertain prospects caused the respective candidates to refrain from investing millions of euros. A renovation at the beginning of May 2013 was therefore unsuccessful. Most of the last 20 employees were given notice. The final assembly of the electric tricycle for the Swiss Post was done by 3 remaining employees. In May 2013 the newly founded MuZ Vertriebs GmbH took over the supply of spare parts for the models Charly II, MZ 125 RT / RT-Classic / SM / SX, Baghira, Mastiff, Bison 175N, ATV 50/100/150 / Cabra, MZ 1000, which were manufactured after 1990 S / SF, Saxon, Rotax -Motor and Scorpio. With the relocation of MuZ Vertriebs GmbH to Schneeberg (Erzgebirge) , the activities of MZ and MuZ in the Zschopau region ended in October 2013. The trademark rights to the word and figurative mark “MZ” and “MuZ” were claimed in November 2013 by at least four different applicants. In 2015, the brother of the former MZ works driver Reinhard Klädtke , Dirk Klädtke, owner of a mechanical engineering company and tenant of two former production halls since February 2014, acquired the entire MZ factory premises in Hohndorf in a foreclosure auction.
Participation in the motorcycle world championship
In 2010 , MZ entered the newly created Moto2 class of the motorcycle world championship with driver Anthony West and thus re-entered road racing. At the end of the season, Anthony West finished 23rd in the World Championship with 26 points. In the 2011 Motorcycle World Championship , the commitment was expanded and a second motorcycle was added to which Max Neukirchner entered . In addition, MZ started with Bernd Hiemer in the Spanish motorcycle championship.
In the 2012 motorcycle world championship , the MZ-Racing-Team planned to start with a motorcycle in the newly founded Moto3 . This should be piloted by Jonas Folger . Due to financial difficulties on the part of MZ, however, a motorcycle could not be made available to Folger. In January 2012 a cooperation between the MZ-Racing-Team and the Racing Team Germany was announced. In the course of this cooperation MZ provided a Moto3 motorcycle that was driven by Toni Finsterbusch . Racing Team Germany took care of the race track.
Motorcycle manufacturer ZPmoto
In 2010 the motorcycle manufacturer ZPmoto was founded in Zschopau. The company has been producing the ZPsport 449 model in small series since October 2012, a retro model with a design based on the MZ GS. The ZPsport 449 was first delivered in early 2013. Originally around 50 vehicles were to be produced annually. Due to an engine delivery stop by motorcycle manufacturer GasGas , production ended in 2016 after 12 units.
- RT 125 series , 1950–1965
- 1950–1954 IFA RT 125
- 1954-1956 IFA RT 125/1
- 1956–1959 RT 125/2
- 1959–1962 125/3
- 1964-1965 125/4
- BK 350 series , 1952–1959
- 1952–1956 IFA BK 350
- 1956-1959 BK 350
- ES series , 1956–1978
- 1956–1957 ES250 double port
- 1957–1962 ES 250
- 1957–1962 ES 175
- 1962–1967 ES 250/1
- 1962–1967 ES 175/1
- 1962-1965 ES 300
- 1967–1969 ES 250/2
- 1969–1973 ES 250/2 Trophy
- 1967–1969 ES 175/2
- 1969–1972 ES 175/2 Trophy
- 1962–1969 ES 125
- 1962–1969 ES 150
- 1969–1977 ES 125/1
- 1969–1977 ES 150/1
- ETS series , 1969–1973
- 1969–1973 ETS 250
- 1970–1973 ETS 125/150
MZ ES 250/2 with Stoye Super-Elastic sidecar , built 1967–1973
- TS series , 1973–1985
- 1973–1976 TS 250
- 1976-1981 TS 250/1
- 1973–1985 TS 125/150
MZ TS 150 "Luxus", 1973–1985
- ETZ series , 1981–1991
- 1981–1989 ETZ 250
- 1985–1990 ETZ 125/150
- 1988–1991 ETZ 251/301
MZ ETZ 250
- 1991–1998 Saxon Tour / Fun / Country
- 1993-1998 Silver Star
- 1993–1998 Saxon Sportstar / Roadstar
- 1994–2004 Scorpio / Traveler
- 1997-2007 Baghira Enduro / Supermoto
- 1997-2007 Mastiff
- 2000-2008 RT 125
- 2001-2008 SX / SM 125
- 2003-2008 1000 S / ST / SF
- 1994 / 2009–2012 Charly , electric scooter
- 2010–2012 Charly EVO , electric scooter
- 2010–2012 Emmely , scooter
- 2010–2012 Anthony , scooter
- 2010–2013 MZ Bike bicycles
Scorpio Tour 1995
MZ RT 125 , from 2000
MZ SM 125 , 2001-2008
MZ 1000 S , 2003-2008
MZ 1000 SF , 2005-2008
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