CZ: Česká Zbrojovka Strakonice

But the brand also made a name for itself on circuits
ER Classics Desktop 2022

ČZ from the former Czechoslovakia made weapons and motorcycles. Many more weapon manufacturers did that. Because when peace broke out again, the people were eagerly looking for cheap motorized transport. And weapon production and the making of motorcycles require the same kind of technical precision. So that's clear. After all, BSA's logo was 'the piled arms' and Royal Enfields were 'made like a gun'. And once CZ, which is nowadays almost mentioned in the same breath with what really is the competitor, Jawa, was a brand of its own and a proud weapon manufacturer.

CZ, An unimaginative names policy

CZ stands for Česká Zbrojovka and means Czech Weapons Factory. In the socialist / communist world they were not generous with sparkling brand names. Factories were named after where they stood and what they made. Nice and clear. A well-known product from that factory is the CZ 75, and that designation did not refer to a cylinder capacity. For a long time, the brand belonged to the Laurin & Klement (= Skoda) group. The first motorcycles were built in 1931. The machines sold well, with 5.000 sold in the first two years. They had a 73 cc single-cylinder two-stroke engine housed in a reinforced bicycle frame. The second 98 cc version was also a success.

The first motorcycle

The first real motorcycle appeared in 1935. This was an 150 cc model, which grew to 172 cc before it came into production. In 1936 there was already an 250 cc machine in sports and touring performance. From 1937 the cylinder contents increased, although new light models also appeared.

In 1947, the factory was nationalized under the post-war government and forced cooperation with Jawa, Jawa-ČZ hit the market. In fact, the CZ's became just Jawa's with a different emblem and possibly different colors. Hence: The Jawa / CZ club. In 1961 the name was changed back to ČZ.

In Western Europe, ČZ was mainly known for its enduro, cross-trial engines, but it was also fully participated in road racing in the 1960s.

In the years 1950-60, ČZ also built scooters under the name Čezeta.

The latest revival of ČZ

Around 1990, in a meanwhile more capitalist environment, they entered into a partnership with Cagiva, which resulted in 1996 selling the new ČZs only as Cagiva. A department of the old factory, ČZ Velo, also tried to breathe new life into the name in 1996, starting with an 35 cc moped motorcycle.

In December 1997, the partnership with Cagiva was discontinued due to lack of success and the name ČZ belonged to the past.

Now interesting enough

ČZs were - with MZ and Jawa - for a long time one of the classics that only had a kilo value. That has meanwhile changed seriously. Partly because there is so much prosperity in the Czech Republic and Slovakia, just like in the Neue Bundesländer that it is appropriate to nostalgically cherish memories of the socialist / communist past. In the meantime, it has already come to the point that CZs and Jawas in their home homeland now earn more than is paid for here. That is why Jawas and CZs are bought here to be taken home again. And that is why they are becoming rarer here ...

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