Sometimes we stand still and wonder, why did the Japanese got so good in building motorcycles. It all started in 1959, when a little-known Japanese company, turned up to contest their first 125cc racing bike at a TT. Many onlookers laughed at their odd RC142 machines, loosely based on the OHC 125cc Benley roadster. But within two years Honda were TT winners and world champions.
But this all was nothing to technology invented by the East German MZ team. The MZ team had only one problem, Ernst Degner, defected from East Germany in 1961, taking with him many two-stroke technological breakthroughs, developed by engineer Walter Kaaden, expansion chambers design, transfer port shapes and rotary disc valves.
All these revolutionary motorcycle technology made their way into the factory Suzuki's, for which Ernst Degner was now racing, improving the power of Suzuki's 125cc racer from 9 horsepower to 25 horsepower almost overnight.
Though his defection was seen at the time as a noble gesture against the tyranny of the Communist regime it was actually a stab in the back for the struggling MZ team, which subsequently lost the chance to win a world title and effectively handed the future of motorcycle racing to the Japanese factories.
Rotary disc valves and other technology developed by the East German MZ team are still used today by some motorcycle manufacturers. MZ Motorrad- und Zweiradwerk GmbH is still operational as a motorcycle manufacturer located in Zschopau, Germany.