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CYCLE TORQUE TEST: MuZ Tour....


CYCLE TORQUE have allowed me to post the road test they did on the MuZ Tour. Thank you to Chris Pickett, the editor, for giving permission. This test was first published in 1999.

The Gentle Skorpion

Do you need a motorcycle which is practical for everyday use but will cope with a bit of weekend thrashing just for fun? Do you fancy something mechanically simple but robust and easy to maintain? You should check out the Skorpion range from German manufacturer MuZ.



FOR many years, trail bikes have been press-ganged into doing commuter duties, a task they carry out competently because they are tall (good visibility), have quick steering (great for agility), possess simple, reliable motors (easy and cheap to maintain) and they don’t cost the earth to run. The drawbacks of the traillie are few but vital: they have brakes which are designed for off-road use (which means they often aren’t as effective on the road as they might be) and they handle like a gumboot full of spaghetti when pushed hard. Fine if you’re an experienced thrill-seeker but a nightmare for the less skilled. Wouldn’t it be nice if some factory took a reliable single-cylinder engine and stuck it into a stiff frame with good suspension and brakes? Well, that’s exactly what the progressive designers at MuZ have done with the Skorpion Tour.

On The Road

The first thing that impresses about the riding position of the Tour is that it is upright and comfortable with no stretch to the bars. The handlebar is adjustable up and down after the clamping bolts are loosened and I found that a slightly lowered bar made the riding position very relaxed. An additional adjustment is provided to move the whole clamp assembly forwards or backwards over three positions secured by location notches. The seat is long and firm which allows plenty of room to alter your position to relieve the on-set of the dreaded sore bum syndrome. The bike just begs to be ridden and you soon find that you’ve been in the saddle for longer than you thought, but the seat remains fine. The location of the foot pegs is adjustable through four positions: two vertical and two horizontal. The horizontal movement needs dealer assistance as it requires the exchange of the gear linkage rod and relocation of the rear master cylinder. For my frame, the pegs could have been slightly further forward for the upright riding position.

Negotiating the traffic that clogs a city is usually a chore to be grudgingly endured but on the MuZ Tour it was fun. The forward visibility is very good and the bike can be threaded through lanes of vehicles with ease. It is light and short enough to be turned between cars should your lane splitting be faced with a closing gap. There is always enough power from the the big single to get you out of tight spots without the wheelie problem which can be a problem with trail bikes.

Acceleration is brisk without being arm-tearing, but there is adequate power for safe overtaking and the bike will go quite hard once you’ve given it enough throttle opening.

For commuting, the bike is outstanding in what is usually a hideous environment and its ease of maintenance should commend it to buyers seeking a day-to-day workhorse.

A glance over the specifications points to sporting abilities and taking the bike out for a good hard ride showed that it will live up to expectations. Punting it along the Putty Road showed off the frame and suspension to great effect. The frame is stiff and entirely free from flex, and the suspension, which is adjustable only for preload at the rear, proved well able to cope with the vagaries of riding hard over secondary roads. As a compromise, it works very well but it is naturally taxed over big bumps where its relative lack of compliance will see the bike skip. I found no problem with this because the over-all stability was never in doubt as the bike remained well and truly on the chosen course. Given the compromises inherent in the suspension, the bike’s stability over bumpy roads was outstanding. Add in the grip from the sticky Pirellis and you’ve got a surprisingly rapid bike which is easy to ride hard with confidence.

The Grimeca brakes – especially the single front disc – are outrageously good. The performance of the front leaves me a bit short of superlatives, it’s that good. If it was fitted with an adjustable lever (as it should be) it would be one of the best single discs on the market. Braking hard into hairpins was a joy, with incredible power and feel. At lower speeds it is equally controllable. It is superb but please Mr MuZ, give the lever the adjustment it so richly deserves.

Touring on the Tour was pleasant and relaxed with the big single pulsing away below. Cruising speeds of around the legal freeway limit of 110 were easy to keep to although the bike would happily go faster. At 120km/h the bike is very smooth indeed, but with no fairing, the ‘balloon man’ effect made anything over that speed uncomfortable and for regular use of this sort, the bike begs for a fairing and lower bars. Carrying luggage is a matter of ocky straps over the back seat because with a plastic tank, you cannot use a magnetic tank bag. You could strap a pillion down with ockies, too, but they are more likely to find sitting on the broad pillion seat more convenient. The pillion pegs are low and well placed for comfort and the seat is low enough for the pillion to gain some wind protection from the rider’s body.

Taken overall, the bike makes very good sense if you’re after a practical mount for a variety of uses. As a second bike for daily transport or a step up from your first 250, it is well worth considering. With a robust engine from Yamaha and engineering from Germany, the bike’s build quality is unquestionable. Importantly, the two areas lacking in the basic Tour model are addressed very effectively by other models in the Skorpion range. The Tour’s lack of a fairing is well catered for by the Sport, which features a half fairing and clip-ons, and the lack of luggage carrying ability is dealt with by the Traveller, which features a full touring fairing and 30 litre lockable and detachable panniers as standard. At prices (+ORC) of $9648 for the Tour, $9999 for the Sport and $10,604 for the Traveller, the bikes represent good value for money.

The Driving Force

Powering the bike is the 660 cc water-cooled, five-valve, single-cylinder Yamaha (XTZ) engine. If ever there was a power unit with a well deserved reputation for simplicity and rugged reliability, it is this one. It produces 48hp (35kw ) at 6250rpm with maximum torque of 56Nm at 4500rpm. Fuel efficiency is a strong point with our test over city commuting, country touring and some scratching returning an average of 22km per litre of standard unleaded. The tank holds 18 litres including a reserve of three. Reserve was needed at by 330km (depending on use) and the maximum range should be about 390 km.

The gearbox is a five-speed unit with widely spaced ratios. The gearing translates to 27km/h per 1000rpm in fifth gear. The clutch is light and gear engagement is always positive, either from rest or going up or down the gearbox.

The engine is strong and willing, with a pulsing throb which keeps you in touch with the fact that there is a big single down below. The vibration is not intrusive at normal riding revs, but it will let you know in no uncertain terms if you drop too far down the rev range. It doesn’t mind spinning, but it doesn’t like lugging, so keep the revs up. To stay happy, the engine needed around 3000rpm in fifth, which equates to 80km/h. Below that speed some transmission snatch made itself felt and fourth gear was favoured. In fourth, the engine would happily turn at around 2600rpm, which equates to 60km/h.

With service intervals set at 6000km, the bike will be easy to maintain. The basic service tasks include changing the oil and the filter and adjusting the valve clearances, as well as checking for tightness of bolts and adjusting the chain.

The Framework

Wrapped around the engine is a welded, oval-section tubular frame designed by the respected London design house Seymour Powell. This deltabox frame has been awarded numerous design prizes and it is easy to see why – the construction is first class and the powder-coated finish sets the whole thing off very nicely. However, design awards might look splendid on the boardroom wall but they’re not much use on the road, which is the ultimate test. In that environment, the frame exceeded expectations. It is a very stiff unit indeed and provides a strong and rigid platform which absorbs the stresses of cornering and braking, never once showing any unpleasant reactions.

The front suspension is by conventional 41mm telescopic fork from Paioli and the rear is a Bilstein gas monoshock unit, adjustable for preload. There is 140mm of wheel travel front and 130mm rear. Brakes are by Grimeca, with a single 316mm disc and four piston fixed caliper up front and a single 240mm disc with two piston caliper at the rear. Wheels are three spoke, cast alloy items from Grimeca, 17 x 3.00 up front and 17 x 4.00 at the back. Tyres are Pirelli, 110/70 front and 150/60 rear.

Equipment

The bikes boast such features as braided brake lines, stainless-steel exhausts a sidestand and a centrestand. At first the side stand is a bit awkward to get at but familiarity soon overcame that. The lights are excellent on both high and low beam but the high-beam warning light was too bright.

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