Back to the forgotten German motorcycle MZ 1000S

The 2000s were the year of the Japanese sports hikers (well, it still is!). We had the powerful Suzuki Hayabusa and the Yamaha FJR1300 which refine the boundaries between Supersports and Touring. BMW was also there with the K1200 and K1300 ranges. But amidst all the commotion, there was a lesser-known German motorcycle manufacturer charging hard into the well-versed herd.


MZ Motorrad is a lesser known German motorcycle manufacturer that enjoys the same fame and prestige as BMW in its home turf. And they dropped a silent bombshell with the futuristic-looking 1000S sports tourer. It was a brand new bike from MZ a long time ago, and they went all out. It packed the company’s first multi-cylinder engine in 45 years; it ended up being the most powerful straight-twin engine of the 2000s!

Every component of this cool motorcycle was special, including the wheels which were patented to provide less rotational mass, enhancing its “flickable” character. There were a few iterations of this cool German. And although the MZ 1000 range had a very short lifespan, it managed to stand out from the big guns of the time, including the Honda Firestorm, Ducati 1000SS and even the Suzuki SV1000.

The MZ 1000S was a unique 2000s motorcycle that combined Italian-style visual drama and reliable Japanese-style engineering in one sexy package.


The MZ 1000S is equipped with the most powerful inline-twin engine of the time

The MZ 1000S may be a motorcycle the world knows very little about. But this nice-looking sports tourer was once equipped with the most powerful inline two-cylinder engine. Interestingly, the 1000S had been a new multi-cylinder motorcycle from MZ for a long, long time (last seen in 1959). The 999 cc 180 degree L-twin engine was also the largest displacement engine ever installed in an MZ motorcycle.

It developed 117 hp at 9,000 rpm and 70 lb-ft at 7,000 rpm. It was clearly a howl, but power was transferred to the wheel in a linear fashion via a removable six-speed cassette-style gearbox. All but the aggressive gearbox choice were in keeping with the MZ 1000S being a touring-ready machine.

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The MZ 1000S was a sports bike with a spirit of touring

Every component of this sport bike also underscored the fact that this age-old German automaker wanted the 1000Z to be a stylish and comfortable motorcycle. The saddle was wide and comfortable, designed for long runs. The chassis has also been designed to provide a well-balanced driving experience. MZ used chrome-molybdenum steel for its double-deck trellis-style frame.

This offered more rigidity and reduced weight compared to other materials. Suspension duties were taken care of by 43mm Marzocchi inverted front forks with adjustments for rebound and compression damping. At the rear, a Sachs multi-adjustment monoshock was fitted. It came with a remote hydraulic preload adjuster.

Combining strength and lightness, the 1000S featured specially designed and patented 17-inch wheels. Called Twin System wheels, they resulted in a 10% reduction in rotating mass compared to cast alloy wheels. These wheels were wrapped in Metzeler Sportec M1 120/70 front and 180/55 rear tires at launch. Braking duties were performed by a pair of Nissin four-piston calipers up front mated to 320mm semi-floating discs.

While the riding position was demanding, MZ managed to strike a balance between an engaged and relaxed position with a wider set of clip-on handlebars. It also had relatively relaxed rear footpegs compared to other sport bikes in the segment. Let’s just say the MZ 1000S was very similar to the mighty Suzuki Hayabusa here.

Designed by the same guy behind the Lockheed F-117 Nighthawk

The MZ 1000S was a unique and sharp looking motorcycle. And the credit goes to the same guy who designed the F-117 Nighthawk fighter jet. Peter Naumann was the man behind conceptualizing the 1000S’ “New Edge” design language. The body was steeply sloped to provide an aerodynamic and efficient driving character.

The goal was to glide smoothly through the air, at any speed! The design was futuristic for its time, and the fanged design of the headlight assembly and sleek rear end gave it a unique visual appeal. The design language was so far ahead of its time that it still has the visual appeal (even on par with the dramatic Italians) to go on par with the 2022 Supersports.

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The MZ 1000 range was short-lived but left a lasting mark

MZ had created a few variations of the 1000S during its short lifespan. After the full-fledged 1000S came the MZ 1000ST which was a more comfortable version of the 1000S. It came with a more comfortable saddle (for both rider and passenger), stiffened handlebars, and lower footpegs for a more relaxed riding triangle. The windshield was also taller for better wind protection.

Even the motor has been detuned for a more linear character honed for the long haul. Visually emphasizing its touring character was a set of optional Krauser panniers that looked surprisingly good on the bike. Finally, there was the MZ 1000SF which was a Streetfighter based on the 1000ST. Although we’re not quite sure of the weight savings resulting from the elimination of the hoods; the SF was clearly a mean-looking motorcycle.

MZ’s trio was technologically advanced and far superior in components and design. Unfortunately, internal company issues didn’t help these cool Germans go far and MZ closed shop, and the 1000 range after just three years of launch.

Sources: Topspeed, MZ Motorrad Retrieved

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