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Tech Specs

MZ 1000SF

Engine:
998cc 2-cylinder inline 4-stroke with 180 deg. firing. 4-valve DOHC heads with hydraulic tappets, liquid cooled. 6-speed transmission with roller chain final drive. Mapped injection system, 51mm chokes, and twin catalyst exhaust to Euro 2.

113bhp @ 8000rpm
98Nm @ 7000rpm

Chassis:
Dual tube chrome-moly steel bridge frame, 43mm USD Marzocchi forks and Sachs monoshock rear suspension both with compression, rebound and preload adjustment. Dual semi-floating 320mm front discs with 4-pot Nissin calipers, single 243mm rear disc with 2-pot Nissin caliper.

120/70 ZR front tyre
180/55 ZR rear tyre

Wheelbase: 1445mm
Seat height: 825mm
Dry weight: 209kg
Fuel capacity: 20lit

Price: £6,495

 

 

MZ 1000SF - Road test

Words and Pictures by Dick Henneman

click for a larger imageThe last time I rode this bike, the skies were blue and the sun shone down on the smooth, grippy roads that twisted and turned between the olive groves of southern Spain.

But now it's pitch dark, I'm hunched over the bars and the rain is beating on my visor as I plough my way north along the boredom alley that is the M1 Motorway. Ah - I must be back in the UK then!

If you read the press launch report that I did on the MZ 1000SF back in February this year (2005), then you'll have probably got the impression that I rather liked this bike. So much so that we've been trying to get one from the factory for a longer test ever since. Our perseverance has finally paid off, but unfortunately not in time to take advantage of the best of our summer biking weather.

My destination for this evening ride from the Thames Valley is a friend's house just north of Sheffield, and the plan is to get there and then over to the pub by 10.00pm for a few local beers and one of their massive roast pork baps. And I have to admit that at the moment the thought of the food and drink at the end of the journey is probably the only thing that's keeping me heading north. The cold, the wind, and the rain are not making this into one of the most pleasant of my recent bike journeys, but I also have to admit that the 1000SF is making very light work of it. That one-litre twin-cylinder engine just oozes torque everywhere in the rev range, making it just so easy to keep the momentum going without having to clog it up and down the box, and the upright riding position and the wide bars make the whole thing a very relaxing experience, in spite of the weather.

click for a larger imageThe other surprise is the amount of weather protection provided by the small headlamp fairing. Back at the launch, MZ made a lot out of their design for the headlamp unit, and to be fair, in the warm Spanish sunshine it was very effective in reducing the wind draft that makes sustained high-speeds on naked bikes such a pain in the neck - and arms. But those warm, dry Spanish days are a world away from the cold and wet night as I go past junction 29 Chesterfield on the M1 Motorway. But the fairing's ability to deflect the air around the rider works just as well with cold wet air, and although I'm not getting the protection that I would from a fully faired bike, I'm doing a lot better than I would expect from a naked bike. In fact the rain's not really a problem at all. A bigger nuisance is the buffeting I'm getting from the cars and trucks that are sharing this wet, cold ribbon of three-lane tarmac, and the wide bars and the upright riding position don't help much here, as they turned my upper body into a sail and transmitted the shocks to the steering. After a bit of experimenting I find that tucking my elbows in cuts down on the problem.

This is not a nice journey, but I'm beginning to appreciate some of the 1000SF's qualities. Even in these conditions, and in spite of the turbulance, this is one very stable bike. And it's really comfortable, although comfort under these circumstances is a little subjective. Still, after three hours in the well-padded saddle there's not a trace of numbness in either buttock. It's a bit like riding an armchair, although in this case it's as though you've left the patio doors wide open and there's a storm blasting through the garden!

click for a larger imageAnd that engine is a real peach. I have to admit to being a bit of a fan of litre twins, and when there's lots of miles to cover there's not a lot around to beat them. This one from MZ is one of the best. It's basically the same motor as they used in the 1000S, but re-tuned to move the torque lower down the rev range. On the downside this loses 4bhp at the top end, but quite honestly it's not that noticeable and the result is an engine that pulls from just about any revs, which makes overtaking simply a matter of rolling on the throttle and riding past on a wave of torque. Ah, there goes another tin box on wheels! Bye bye.

Finally, I crest a rise and before me there's the twinkling lights of Sheffield. It's not often that a major city can look so inviting in the pouring rain, so perhaps my view is being distorted by thoughts of roast pork rolls and beer as well as the water running off my visor. A quick sprint across the elevated section of the M1, past the Merryhills Centre, take the next exit to finally get off the motorway, and minutes later the 1000SF is safely tucked up in the garage and we're hot-footing it across the road to the pub with the saliva glands going flat out. But they're going to be denied because the kitchen's closed as the staff are on holiday. Rats!!! We drown our sorrows with considerable quantities of locally-brewed ale and then retire back to the house for a midnight feast.

The following morning the rain has cleared, so it's time to let the MZ loose on the roads of the Yorkshire Dales.

click for a larger imageThe surface of some of these leaves a lot to be desired, and the suspension that was so good on the M1 motorway and the smooth tarmac of southern Spain is getting a bit on the harsh side. But that's no problem because everything is fully adjustable and easy to get at, and a couple of minutes twiddling with the front and rear compression settings and backing off the rear preload with the hydraulic adjuster calms things down a lot without compromising the handling in any way. Now I can really get on and enjoy the ride without getting fired out of the saddle at every pothole and tarmac patch. The SF seems just at much at home in these surroundings as it did on the motorway and in Spain, and can be hustled round the twisties in the same way, helped by the wide bars, the excellent chassis, and the dependable grip from the Sportec-M tyres. This is one very good neutral- handling bike, holding an accurate line through the corners, not running wide or falling in.

The whole plot is moved along apace by the excellent injection which is both jerk and snatch-free when rolling on and off the throttle. In fact it's so good that if you didn't know otherwise, you'd begin to think that there were a couple of very nice carburetors lurking under that 20L tank. This allows you to make good use of the other feature of a large twin - engine braking. Although the four-pot Nissins at the front are more than adequate for the performance of the SF, just rolling on and off the throttle to control the rate of progress makes the whole ride just that little bit more satisfying.

I'm really beginning to like this bike a lot.

Although the gear selection is not the quietest or the smoothest - selecting first from rest is particularly clonky - changes are crisp and positive and you don't need to use the clutch to get up through the gears. Only once did I find a false neutral, on a downchange between fifth and fourth, and I think that was more my fault than the bike's; but getting neutral for real can sometimes be a bit of a pig. The good news is that when the green light comes on you actually are in neutral, and not just checking whether the bulb works, like some other twins that I won't mention here.

click for a larger imageTaking the SF into the urban warzone shows that this is a bike that is just as much at home dodging the traffic jams as it is sweeping through the A and B-road twisties or clocking up the motorway miles. The bars give it excellent maneouvrability, although their width means that the narrowest gaps need to be approached with caution and may need to be left to the sportsbike riders with their clip-ons. Stick it in second and roll the throttle for any speed between zero and fifty using just the engine to control your rate of progress. I wouldn't even mind taking the 1000SF for a continental tour, although I'm not so sure about about its pillion ability. The bike we tested had the optional pillion cowl fitted instead of the seat and we weren't able to find anyone daft enough to sit on it and have their buttocks permanently separated. But with the pillion pad fitted, the only place to hold on to is the strap across the front the pad, and our experience with these doesn't inspire pillion comfort or confidence. I'd want something much more substantial before I'd consider taking a pillion for anything more than a few miles down the road, and I expect that they'd feel the same as well.

Although the SF has very strong streetfighter-styling cues, it has ride, handling and comfort qualities that make it much more than an urban warrior. This is a bike that is capable of scratching, commuting and even continental touring, although carrying luggage or packages can be a bit of a problem as there are no bungee hooks of any kind. There's really only the pillion peg brackets, although the number plate mount is so substantial that you could also use this as well. I did!

My only other gripe concerns that big generator cover that sticks out on the left side of the engine. When your feet are on the pegs there's no problem, but when it comes to putting the left foot onto the tarmac at rest, if I wasn't careful I found the lower part of my leg coming into contact with it . . . . and it does get awful hot, even through a layer of leather! It's also a prime target should the bike go down, so a set of crash bungs would be amongst the first items on my shopping list. I never really noticed this during the press launch, probably because there weren't any traffic lights or jams to bring me to a halt in Spain and force me to put my feet on the ground!

click for a larger imageThe whole bike has a very solid look and feel to it, and the build quality is up there with the best. There's some nice touches like the span adjustable levers on both the front brake and the clutch, and there's full adjustment for compression and rebound damping and preload at both ends that actually has an effect on the handling.

By modern standards the instruments look a little dated, but in use they're easy to read and are well illuminated for night riding - not distractingly bright, but just enough for good visibility. There's no digital speedo, just two big stacked analogue dials for speed and revs, a small panel containing all the idiot lights, and a digital display with a clock, bargraph-type water temperature gauge, and the odometer that can be switched between total miles travelled and a trip. There's even a hazard warning light switch, and there's a completely redundant switch for the lights on the right handlebar, which is a bit on the strange side as the lights come on automatically as soon as the engine starts.

But the one thing that dominates this bike is the engine. It really is a cracker, free-revving, but with mountains of torque that makes the riding so easy and so much fun. I had a minor vibration issue with the motor when I first collected the bike for test, but quick action by the MZ factory and Jack Nice Motorcycles soon fixed the problem. Thanks guys.

This is one very good motorbike. Sometimes the environment and limited riding time at model launches can give you a false impression of a bike's capabilities, but the 1000SF works just as well on our less-than-perfect road surfaces as it does on the warm, smooth Spanish tarmac. And after riding the bike for a month through the UK's autumn, I can say that it delivered everything and more of what it promised at the launch. Just add some proper bungee points and some decent pillion handrails and it will be brilliant. How about it MZ?

DH


Second Opinion - Simon Bradley

I suppose that it’s inevitable to an extent, that after an enforced break from riding, even just four months, any bike that offers a return is going to be The Best Bike Ever. Or at the very least it’s going to be great. And so it was when I collected the MZ from Dick’s house to ride for a few days before taking it back to Jack Nice in London where the demo fleet is based.

The first thing that struck me was the size. This is not a small bike, and it’s no flyweight either. The height and weight made the initial slow speed manouvering before getting on a little exciting. Certainly with a right arm that isn’t quite as strong as it might be. But that’s a small point, really. Certainly not an issue or a complaint, more of an observation.

click for a larger imageLooking closer at the MZ, the detailing and general quality stands out. I felt that, especially at this price, the MZ is a particularly well screwed together piece of kit. The matt black finish suits the shape and the attitude, and while the styling isn’t exactly pretty, it has a rugged charm that is really quite appealing. There is an air of solidity about the whole bike that really does make you feel that you are riding something ready for whatever the world can throw at it.

Starting up is as simple as any modern bike, the injected engine catching easily and settling down to a nice steady tickover. Smooth may not be the right word to use, but the vibration, while certainly present, is by no means harsh.

Once moving, as is so often the case, the size and weight vanish, replaced by a bike big enough to be comfortable but by no means bulky. Handling is excellent at low speeds with no tendency to fall over or run wide. Totally neutral, in fact, just like the 1000S from which it is derived. The only potential criticism is the slightly harsh feel to the suspension at low speeds. Something which I’m sure, given the degree of adjustment on offer, could be tuned out with a little fiddling. As the speed increases, it becomes apparent that the weedy little fairing punches way beyond its weight in terms of effect and getting the wind off the rider. At barely legal speeds this naked bike feels as good as the best sports tourer. A neat trick. It also swiftly becomes evident that the handling is just as good at high speeds as at low. Long sweepers are taken without a wobble or weave at marginally excessive speeds while roundabouts can be despatched in true sportsbike style.

In short then, I found the MZ 1000SF to be a brilliant combination of handling, performance and user friendliness. Yes, it feels slightly less refined than a four cylinder engine. Yes, it has bags more character as a result.

And yes, I could certainly live with one, day in and day out.

SB

 



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