MZ 1000S (2004 - 2007) review

Good effort at building a sports tourer. Ok handling.
You'd never buy one. Rough engine.

The last time I rode anything with an MZ badge on the tank, it was a ratty old two-stroke commuter that smoked like a chimney and had the disturbing habit of leaving various parts littered behind it on the road.

This image may be what first springs to mind whenever the name MZ is mentioned, but it's a reputation that the company is trying to shed. The smoky two-strokes were banished to the back rooms when the Berlin Wall fell down, while the company turned its attention to large capacity four-strokes.

To be fair, it has been making the four-stroke 660cc Baghira supermoto for a while now, but it's the new MZ 1000S and its 1000cc parallel twin engine that the company is planning its future around.

My first impressions of the bike as it is unloaded out of the back of a van aren't that bad. Despite looking like an extra from Dr Who, I actually quite like the MZ's angular features. A few in the office were a bit more cruel and said the rear end looked like it has been reversed into a bollard while the front reminded them of a bad '80s take on what a future bike may look like. But looks are subjective anyway, as I keep trying to tell the girls I meet in nightclubs.

Sitting on the bike and, despite the large chunky controls looking like they are designed for people with club hands, everything seems in place and it's quite refreshing to see an analogue speedo again instead of a digital one. Hit the starter and... shit, I've broken it.

Rather than turning the motor over briskly like most other bikes, the starter struggles like hell, sounds like it's about to break, then fires the motor into life. My first thought was a nearly flat battery, but it did this even after a long ride, so I guess it's just how it sounds and that's part of the bike's character.

With the motor running, I was pleasantly surprised by the MZ after a few miles. Although it feels a bit crude, it actually rides quite well. The handling through traffic and at low speed is quite good - a bit top heavy in an Aprilia Falco type way that can make it flop slightly into roundabouts - but overall, the bike feels very light at low speed and handles well.

The problem is the motor. The parallel twin is rougher at low revs than a night out in Croydon and it judders at anything below 4000rpm, which isn't too good through town. You may say this is just characteristic of a twin, but even Ducatis are reasonably smooth low down now and only really start complaining below 2000rpm. With the MZ you have to be in the right gear, not a single one too high.

Out of town and with the speed picking up, the MZ starts to improve. The seat is very soft and padded and the riding position is very comfortable. Once above 4000rpm, the engine becomes smoother and is actually quite fast and responsive, without too many vibrations. Add a few fast corners into the equation and the MZ fails to bat an eyelid on smooth corners and handles well. Until you hit a bump.

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Good effort at building a sports tourer. Ok handling.
You'd never buy one. Rough engine.