MZ Baghira

www.supercoolbikes.com

www.supercoolbikes.com

Let me preface this article by stating, unequivocally, that I love four stroke singles. I am biased. I have no use for inline fours. If 90 hp and 35 fp of torque on a 600cc bike sound like a good thing, you’re in the wrong place. If, on the other hand, that hp/torque balance is more like 50/50, and the roads where you do your riding are tight twisties, you are in the right place.

I have owned a handful of big singles and one small one. They include a Suzuki TS125 (two stroke), a Suzuki Savage, a Yamaha SR500, and a one-off custom with an SR500 (540) engine in a Suzuki GS500 chassis. Just recently I added a big cat to the mix: I bought an MZ Baghira Street Moto.

www.supercoolbikes.com

www.supercoolbikes.com

The MZ is a different cat. It looks like a dual purpose bike, but is set up primarily for the street. It is direct competition for the KTM Duke and the BMW F650. The standard Baghira is aimed more at the dirt, with sky-high seat and semi-knobby tires. The Street Moto is three inches lower. The Pirelli dual use tires disappear quickly on the street (I estimate 1000 miles, tops), and that’s a good thing because I really wanted some premium sport-touring rubber on this cat. I have a set of Metzler MEZ-4’s waiting to get spooned on. I’ll provide an update when I get ’em on. (They’re on, drop to the bottom of the page for updates. 4/03)

The bike uses Yamaha’s excellent 660 cc, water-cooled engine. In stock form it makes about 45 rear wheel horsepower and about 40 fp of torque (as tested on the Cycle World dyno), just a bit less than what the BMW F650 makes. The demo model I bought has an aftermarket exhaust – M4 – and the dealer claims 52 hp but the M4 factory guestimates more like 48. As soon as I get a chance I’ll have it dyno’d and post the HP and torque curves. If they’re right with 52 hp, that puts it just a bit better than a stock KTM Duke. Weight (wet) is similar to the Duke, and about 40-50 lbs lighter than the BMW. Cycle World (April, 1998) tested the MZ Mastiff, the cousin of the Baghira (same engine) and lists the following specs:

www.supercoolbikes.com

www.supercoolbikes.com

– compression ratio: 9.5/1
– weight, tank full: 387 lbs
– fuel consumption (higk/low/avg): 41/36/39 (my first tankful, ridden pretty mildly, resulted in 47 mpg)
– seat height: 33.5 in
– best 1/4 mile: 13.52 seconds @ 92.5 mph
– zero-60 mph: 4.4 seconds
– 40-60 mph: 3.8 seconds
– 60-80 mph: 4.8 seconds
– measured top speed: 100 mph

For reference, Motorcyclist magazine (“Hard Numbers” section) lists the BMW F650 at 49 hp, 42 fp torque, best 1/4 mile of 13.01 seconds at 97.7 mph, 60-80 roll-on of 4.77 seconds, and a list price of $8,700 dollars. The KTM Duke measures to 48 hp, 40 fp torque, best 1/4 mile of 13.1 seconds at 96.75 mph, zero to 60 in 4.0 seconds, a top speed of 102 mph, and a $7,200 price tag. My MZ was under $6k including tax/title/license and aftermarket parts, but it was a demo model.

As an interesting comparison, a Suzuki Bandit 600 has 73 hp, 39 fp torque, a 12.6 second at 107 mph 1/4 mile, and (noteworthy) a 60-80 mph roll-on of 6.8 seconds. Now my friend, who’s gonna win coming out of that corner? hehe. Suzuki’s awesome GSX-R 600 with a whopping 101 hp and 46 fp torque barely edges the Baghira with a 60-80 mph roll-on of 4.7 seconds. A Honda VFR800 needs over 5 seconds for 60-80. Honda’s RC51 takes 4.94 seconds. Honda’s VTR1000 Superhawk takes 5.00 seconds. Suzuki’s lovely SV650 needs 5.13 seconds. Triumph’s Sprint RS does it in 4.8 seconds. That real-world oomph is the reason to play with a big single. Very few bikes in the 500-750 cc range match that grunt (Kawasaki’s Ninjas do, as does Honda’s CBR600F4i and Triumph’s TT600). Yes, I do realize that every bike listed above will STOMP the MZ at the top end. How often, exactly, do you drive more than 100 mph in America?

This is a play bike for the twisty roads around your town, not for the race track.

RIDING IMPRESSION

The ride is pure thumper. That means that you feel each and every power pulse. Anecdotally you can think of it as one bang per fencepost. At low revs this is a very noticeable thing. As the revs climb, the pulsing smooths out and the bike is relatively vibration free. What vibes do intrude are low-frequency, and thus don’t make your hands or feet all tingly like a buzzy inline four can.

No speed demon, the bike tops out around 100 mph. That’s plenty however, as the front end is getting pretty light at that speed. I found that I had to lean a bit forward to weight the front wheel or feel as though the bike was going to go into a tank-slapper (huge, uncontrolled head shake). Once I shifted my weight forward the problem mostly disappeared. I figure putting more street-oriented tires on should eliminate the rest of the problem. In the twisties is where this bike shines. It launches out of corners hard. The typical technique for a low horsepower/high torque engine is to run in hard, break when you see God, then the moment you reach the midpoint of the turn get back on the gas with gusto. So far I haven’t run it against anything other than a hotted-up Buell Blast (about 35 hp) and a mildly hotted-up Yamaha SR500 (also about 35 hp) so I don’t have any real comparison. Once I find a larger bike to play with I’ll report back on the results. It’d be fun to dice it up in the tight stuff with someone on a decent 600/4 or a 750/4. I’ll get killed on a straight, but should have a bit of an edge in the corners. I’ll bet my wife’s Honda Hawk 650 GT would be a great playmate.

My only nitpick so far is that the headlight fits so strangely in the vestigial fairing that it seems like the inside of the fairing is illuminated better at night than the road is. I have a strip of duct tape (red, so it’s not real obvious) covering the gap from the inside, but I think I’ll need something a bit more opaque to really block the light leak.

ACCESSORIES

The bike has an aluminum aftermarket muffler from M4. It is a bit on the loud side, but not unreasonable. To me it sounds like the V&H SS4R can on my custom 540 single. Earplugs are not needed. You can find out more about M4 here: M4 Exhaust

I just scored an ATV tank bag from my local parts shop (Madison Motorsports) in basic black for only $26. It is small, yet will hold my raingear (just barely) or my lunch and a book. However, it fits, was cheap, and provides a small (5″ x 6″) map window. The brand is QuadBoss. UPDATE 7/03: I just found a larger, more versatile ATV tank bag from Moose. It has a largermain compartment (maybe 50% larger) than the QuadBoss bag, and on the top flap has a pouch for a water bottle and another zippered pouch for glasses or whatnot. On the inside of that flap is a map pouch. It makes using the bike to commute a bit easier, and I *needed* the extra capacity for an upcoming trip (watch this site for the trip report!).

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