Motorcyclists have good reason to be skeptical of limited-edition race-replicas.
Often the name is attached by a marketing department eager to cash in on a factory's racing success. Unfortunately similarities between most replicas and their racetrack cousins often end with the name and fancy paint, while genuine component changes are minimal or even non-existent. Luckily, this isn't the case with MZ's Skorpion Replica -- although it shares its frame and motor with the Skorpion line up, similarities between it and the factory racer are common.
After Germany's reunification, the factory from Zschopau decided they wanted to become serious players in sportbike production. Knowing that better racebikes mean better streetbikes, they made the decision to go racing. Specially-built Sound of Singles bikes were constructed and raced, garnering several wins in various series throughout Europe. Buoyed by these results, and sensing a marketing opportunity, the powers at MuZ decided to commemorate their achievements by producing a racing replica.
Thus, the MZ Skorpion Replica was born. MZ's Replica is a limited-edition machine that combines a racebike's lightning-quick handling with the undeniable charm of a big single-cylinder engine. Skorpion Replicas will not be common machines, and a special serial number tag on the triple clamps will immortalize each one. U.S. importer American Jawa claims only 16 units will find their way to American soil in 1996. Now that's exclusivity.
What each of those 16 Replica owners will discover is a bike that was constructed with a "cost is no object" attitude when it came to selecting chassis components. Wide, three-spoke Marchesini rims (17 x 3.5 front, 17 x 5 rear) hold premium Metzeler 120/60 and 160/60 ZR speed-rated rubber. A 41mm inverted WP fork with 20-position compression damping and eight-position rebound damping adjustments help keep the front tire in control during the toughest cornering demands.
Equaling the front forks race-quality pedigree are Brembo Gold Line four-piston calipers putting the squeeze on two full-floating 280mm drilled rotors. The remote-reservoir master cylinder, equipped with a four-position lever reach adjustment, forces fluid through dual steel-braided brake lines. A Brembo two-piston fixed caliper with 240mm rotor takes care of braking duties at the rear
Despite the race-replica name and top-notch components, the MZ Rep's appearance is somewhat subdued. A tasteful silver on dark gray paint scheme is a pleasant change from the day-glo spray jobs and boy-racer graphics of many Japanese sport bikes. Beautifully sculpted and aerodynamic bodywork flows seductively to the solo seat tail section. Despite its small appearance, even six-foot-tall testers felt comfortable riding the Replica, thanks to a reasonably roomy seating position and wide, clip-on handlebars.
In fact those clip-ons are almost too wide, providing more than enough leverage to turn the elfish machine. It is interesting that MZ chose to go with longer bars in the interest of comfort on a race replica. Another rare but appreciated feature of the Skorpion were adjustable footpegs that have two horizontal and two vertical settings. Despite such a range of adjustments the footpegs aren't at all bulky, and look to be pirated off a superbike rather than an assembly line parts bin.
Such an impressive spec sheet of quality chassis components fitted as standard equipment only makes the lackluster engine performance more frustrating. A mere two horsepower is all that sets the Replica apart from other MZ Skorpion models, mainly due to its more efficient exhaust system. Presumably, MZ didn't want the expense of certifying a modified engine for emission standards, as the current Yamaha-produced 660cc mill had already passed these tests. One small consolation for Replica owners, however, is that an engine in such a mild state of tune should respond well to performance modifications.
If you're expecting a superbike-like rush, don't look here. There are plenty of inline-fours available to satisfy lofty horsepower needs. Meanwhile those who admire the unique power delivery of thumpers will appreciate the Replica's engine. Smooth riders will love the torquey, flat powerband that lets them pull strongly through corner exits without the need for stratospheric revs.
Whether or not the engine is up to your standards, you certainly won't have any complaints about the bike's incredibly agile handling. MZ's Skorpion Replica garnered high marks for its cornering capabilities, allowing us to drag knee, then boot, without a concern for Skorpion parts touching terra firma. Further adding to a rider's cornering confidence are ferociously powerful brakes that are easily capable of lofting the rear wheel with just a quick two-fingered snap of the brake lever.
MZ's Skorpion Replica was one of the best handling bikes we have ever tested. Not to say that the Replica is the sportbike to end all sportbikes -- it isn't. But for those looking to combine uniqueness, agility, exclusivity, comfort and stopping power, no other bike can match the Replica. Unfortunately for MZ, they haven't been able to bring their prices into the same realm as the competition. At over $10,000, the Replica is priced out of reach of most of us, and falls into the range of exotic machinery. Whether or not it will find a niche in that market remains to be seen.
Manufacturer: Motorrad und Zweiradwerk Model: Skorpion Replica Price: $10,500 Engine: liquid-cooled, SOHC, 5-valve Bore x Stroke: 100mm x 84mm Displacement: 660cc Carburetion: N/A Transmission: 5-speed Wheelbase: 55.9 in. Seat height: 30.3 in. Fuel capacity: 5.52 gallons (including 0.92 gallon reserve) Claimed dry weight: 363 lbs.