Adolf Hitler tried. So did the Russians. But nothing could stifle the Czechoslovakian spirit that honored its engineers and technicians with a level of respect usually reserved for artists. It’s no wonder that the Czechs would build the best and most reliable motocross bike in the world by 1965.
CZ’s motocross history started in the mid 1950s with a 175cc bike that was simply modified to 250cc (although the company was founded in 1919 as a weapons manufacturer). The single cylinder’s twin-exhaust-port design was developed out of necessity to help overcome cylinder distortion caused by excessive heat. The original CZ two-stroke engine pumped out 22 horsepower and used a twin-pipe exhaust system.
In the beginning of its development, the twin-pipe CZ was no match for the English-built Greeves two-strokes, but CZ was quick to develop and improve the basic design. Unlike the British factories, CZ was also willing to transfer the technology from its works bikes to the production machines. In 1964 CZ put a production version of its 1963 works bike into the capable hands of a young Belgian rider named Joel Robert. Robert (pronounced “Row-Bear”) would win the 1964 FIM 250cc World Championships on the Type 968. It weighed just 214 pounds, delivered 26 horsepower and featured sand-cast magnesium engine cases, a slim fuel tank and a hand-formed aluminum airbox.
By 1967 CZ would improve the twin-pipe design with a new single-port cylinder that utilized a much less vulnerable high pipe. Sadly, the factory that was once so quick to make changes and push the R&D envelope suddenly slowed development to a crawl. By the time the Japanese factories came on the scene in the early 1970s, CZ would begin to see the writing on the wall. They would lose both Joel Robert and Roger DeCoster to Suzuki, and were forced to solider on with Iron Curtain riders on antiquated machinery.
1965 CZ TWIN PORT 250 FACTS
CZ twin pipes enjoy celebrity status among motorcycle collectors because they were raced by Joel Robert and Roger DeCoster. There are two collectible models—the Type 968 twin-pipe 250 and the Type 969 twin-pipe 360. A correctly restored twin-pipe 250 will sell for around $10,000, and the 360cc twin pipe will sell for as much as $15,000. Amazingly, for many years you could buy a brand-new twin pipe (250 or 360) in the Czech Republic—built from left-over parts; however, replicas and NOS (New Old Strock) copies are not as valuable as original motorcycles. Look for the original magnesium hubs (preferably not painted), hand-formed aluminum airbox, correct Barum tires and original Pal rear shocks.
For more info on classic bikes go to www.earlyyearsofmx.com