1965 CZ 360
The bike that killed big four-strokes
In the early 1960s, the MX world was centered in Europe, and it was going through tremendous change.
And that was due in part to bikes like this two-stroke 1965 CZ 360 Twin-port, which were knocking four-strokes off the podium at race after race.
In the 1950s and early ’60s, the open class was dominated by modified four-stroke streetbikes. But in the years before the sport caught on in the U.S., two-strokes started to make their mark.
One of them was a predecessor of this bike, a factory 263cc two-stroke built by Czech company CZ that in 1963 was the first-ever two-stroke to win a 500cc World Motocross race.
With what they learned from the 263cc bike, CZ built several prototype 360 MXers for 1964, and a number of CZ riders finished in the top 10.
In 1965, the prototypes became the bike you see here—a production-based racer that was sold to anyone and campaigned in modified form in the championship by the factory works team. By the end of the season, CZ rider Paul Friedrichs finished second in the world standings behind the BSA of Jeff Smith, who now sits on the AMA Board of Directors.
It was the last time a four-stroke won the 500cc World MX championship. The following three years, CZ won the class with various versions of its light, powerful, 360cc two-stroke.
The production machine was popular because of its low price (around $1,300) and impressive stats—it was said to make 30 horsepower and weighed 234 pounds. In addition, it compared favorably to the works machine in design and quality and came with a full spares kit that included a cylinder, pistons, rings, spokes, gearing, a chain, wheel rims, clutch plates and more.
This particular machine, previously on display in the "Motocross America" exhibit at the Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum at AMA headquarters in Pickerington, Ohio, is owned by former five-time World and four-time Trans-AMA Motocross Champ Roger DeCoster. It’s just like the bike he rode in Belgium motocross national races in 1965.