by Michael Kamrad
There is a recent trend toward “cross-bred” motorcycles. A smaller company like Bimota or Buell builds a bike and uses engines made by a larger company like Harley-Davidson or Suzuki. The result is a custom creation that carefully matches the engine with every other component. This month’s review gives us a chance to ride one of these “cross-bred” animals &endash; an all black panther from Germany called the MuZ Skorpion Sport Cup. This single cylinder creation has blitzkrieged M.M.M.’s shores and left us wanting to share what makes this bike a winner.
MuZ has taken its own race-styled frame and installed a 660cc single cylinder Yamaha engine, an engine that has evolved nicely since first introduced in the eighties. This 5-valve, liquid cooled engine is a perfect match for the lightweight frame. The feeling of a one piston power plant is an enjoyable experience. One rider, one cylinder &endash; a very personal connection.
Putting the engine and rider in harmony with the pavement is second nature for the Skorpion chassis. The tubular aluminum frame is matched with a stiff WP suspension and keeps the cycle in sport bike mode all the time. The brakes respond well and stop the action quickly. Nothing but the most severe riding conditions made me lose confidence in the Skorpion. A light weight high performance motorcycle can maneuver in ways that heavier bikes can not. The Skorpion makes no small claim to that fact. It owns it.
The engine and chassis are surrounded by an all black, full-body fairing with good wind and element protection. The gauges are white-faced and even include a clock, so you can see how time flies when you are having fun. Exhaust and wheels are also all black. An appealing part of the motorcycle is its intimidating beauty. I’ll call it a black panther, because it is strong, agile, graceful and beautiful.
What the Skorpion gives you for your dollar is fine German quality, a world class Japanese motor and a yearning for a pipe and jet kit. You also get all day riding comfort and all day smiles. This trend of cross-breeding is finding a finely tuned market for exotic motorcycles &endash; unique rides for unique riders. Test ride a Skorpion Sport Cup. Das ist Gut.
The MZ Skorpion Sport
The end of riding season finds groups of motorcyclists loitering around coffee shops and taverns trying to find some way to occupy the time until the snow and ice clear. Their conversations often turn to the “Best Sportbike” debate.
The V-twin camp and the in-line-four-ers send the few pro-boxer folks to the next room. They then haggle over the merits of each configuration, until both parties realize that neither argument is strong enough to end the debate. They move on to horsepower and power-to-weight ratios.
Any bikes cranking out less than this year’s acceptable power minimum are dismissed. The process moves forward. Of course, a ten horsepower advantage for Model X can be overcome by a thirty pound weight advantage for Model Y. Pocket calculators come out. A few more models are eliminated.
The arcana of steering geometry, chassis design and suspension set-up weed the contenders down to a “top three.” In-the-saddle experience on the remaining models is considered useful at this point, as these numbers are very difficult to understand by just looking at the spec sheet. A little time on the bikes can eliminate several for being comparatively “too soft” or “too hard.” Remember, most of these bikes are so close in their street performance that any perceived difference may simply be the result of incorrect tire pressure.
In tie-breaker situations, the bike with the largest expanse of monochrome paint unmarred by decals wins.
The one thing missing in this process is the rider. Everyone has different riding styles to which different bikes are suited. Roadracers who look unbeatable one season on a V-twin can wind up in the middle of the pack the next season after switching to an in-line-four. A gray-haired guy in San Francisco used to join my group on our sporting rides through the Santa Cruz Mountains.
Hundreds of sportbikes converge on these twisty roads every weekend, and this fellow had no problem embarrassing most of us youngsters. It was quite a sight to see him sitting bolt upright on his mid-seventies Yamaha sliding it sideways through the turns, coming out under full throttle, and blowing by 1993 FZRs in the process. The bike suited him and his style.
So do not declare me certifiably loony when I reveal that the MuZ Skorpion we borrowed from Trackstar Motorsports is on my personal short list for “Best Sportbike.” It fits my style.
The Skorpion is different from the rest of the sporting motorcycles. The most prominent difference is the 660cc single-cylinder Yamaha engine. This is a very refined 5-valve ohc plant, but with its lone big lump, you feel as if you have rediscovered the blood and guts of basic sport motorcycling. One cylinder thumping away under your seat sends you back to the days when oil smelled good and gasoline smelled like gasoline.
The seating position of the MuZ is also unique for a modern sportbike. The bars are close to the rider; you do not have to stretch across three feet of fuel tank and “assume the position” before you blast off. Sitting in less than a full race tuck does not hinder this writer’s enjoyment of a spirited ride. The Skorpion wins big points for its natural riding position. I also give it high marks for being skinny. One great benefit of a single-cylinder or twin-cylinder engine is that it allows the bike to be narrow. (Hello Suzuki, do you get it?) The bike gives up a lot of power to most other sportbikes, but the lack of weight and girth allow it to rip through favorite river roads at an astonishingly fast pace.
The frame is made to order for this engine and is another unusual feature of the Skorpion. The power output of the Yamaha single does not require the massive frame found on other bikes. The slight tubes used on the Skorpion are simple, elegant and functional. Every part works well with its neighbor and makes things easy for the rider. It does not take long to become completely comfortable with the Skorpion. The only things I did not like were the shift lever’s extremely long throws. This complaint is negated by the exceptional side-stand. Most exotic bikes have exotic side-stands. Having any bike that is less than six months old fall over drives me nuts.
I may not have convinced anyone in these few words that the MuZ Skorpion is one of the best sportbikes out there, but believe me, the little single is inexplicably fun. Do yourself a favor. When the snow clears in a few months, go take one for a ride. The bike is fun. Really, really fun.