CZ motorcycles were produced in Strakonice, Czechoslovakia by Ceska Zbrojovka (Czech arms factory), a maker of armaments. The first CZ motorcycles appeared in 1932. These were street motorcycles, and the CZ company was very successful in road-racing. After 1945, CZ was incorporated into the nationalized Czech motorcycle industry, and became connected to another famous Czech machine—Jawa—for the remainder of its manufacture.
The CZ company was an innovator in the introduction of two-stroke motorcycles, and the company’s rugged and powerful motocross machines were largely responsible for dethroning the then-dominant four-strokes. In the 1960s, CZ moved more into off-road models, while Jawa concentrated on producing road machines. CZ’s reputation for strength and reliability was well-deserved, and the CZ motorcycle was synonymous with quality and no-nonsense design in the early years of motocross. CZ garnered 7 motocross world championships, and was equally successful in the International Six Day Trial for many years. As the 1970s progressed, Japanese competition doomed the great but less responsive CZ company. CZ continued making motorcycles into the 1990s, and there were high hopes for its resurgence when the Italian Cagiva company purchased CZ in 1993. Unfortunately, Cagiva’s own failure in 1997 took CZ along with it, and the planned revival of the proud CZ motorcycle brand never occurred. The arms branch of the CZ company has thrived, however, and CZ’s rim-fire rifles and handguns are considered among the best in the world.
Nearly every European motocross rider in the early 1960s spent some time on a CZ. Among the most famous riders who are associated with CZ, two will be forever linked to the great brand. Belgian Joel Robert—considered by many to be the most naturally-talented motocross rider, ever—won most of his championships on CZ. The ever-popular native Czech Jaroslav Falta—denied the 250cc world championship in 1974 by unsportsmanlike Russian tactics—was immortalized by CZ with its production of the “Falta Replica” line of motocross machines.
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