The development and production of vehicle, which would be comfortable to use, offer protection against bad weather and come close to a car, was the aim of all motorbike manufacturers, and Česká zbrojovka (“ČZ”) was no exception to this.
The constructor J. F. Koch was famous in the then Czechoslovakia for his work with Pragovka, the result being a beautiful motorbike called the Praga 500 BD, and ČZ seeked to use his talents as well. In 1940, he patented a monocoque scooter design, and in 1947 he presented his vision of a modern scooter at the Prague motor show. This created great interest amongst visitors thanks to its graceful shape, and it gained the nickname “Vlaštovka”.
Česká zbrojovka started the development of their scooter in 1950, not in Strakonice, but at their branch in České Budějovice. At the start four prototypes were built, coming from construction engineers Ing Hausman, Ing Kejval and the previously mentioned J. F. Koch. The prototype from Ing. Hausman was called “Rodeo” had an interesting patented carrying rack as well as bodywork design that allowed easy detachment and access to the engine and storage areas. However, in the end the monocoque design of J. F. Koch was chosen and given the name K1.
Scooter ČZ 175 type 501/01
This new scooter was first shown in 1956, and in the following year production began in České Budějovice. The first 300 scooters made were sold in 20 countries around the world.
Their design was unlike anything that had been made at the time, and was heavily influenced by the start of the “space-age” era. Its large round streamlined shape, contrasting with the relatively small wheels, quickly led motorists to give it the nickname the 'Pig”. This wasn't meant as a term of abuse, rather just the appreciation that it was so unlike all other motorbikes at the time.
The whole concept of the scooter was to give maximum comfort to the rider and offer the most effective protection in bad weather. To this end, the Čezeta had foot mounted pedals and a large front panel and additional plexiglass screen. In front of the protective panel, the nose narrows to approximately the same size as the rear of the scooter, with the petrol tank being unusually placed above the front wheel. Behind the front panel, an instrument panel showed speed, time, and warning lights. This space also had hooks for holding bags, and after 1958 a front rack was added for carrying up to 15kg of luggage.
Below the instrument panel is the switch panel, containing fuses, spare lights etc. A storage battery was located behind the side bodywork, below which ventilation to the engine is provided. Storage space was also available below the seat.
The motor was hidden under the bulky rear bodywork. The rear wheel is also barely visible, held on a rocker arm between aluminium arms. The rear wheel had no shock absorber suspension, but the front wheel had one on the left side of the fork. Both wheels had dimensions 3.25x12” and were interchangeable. The engine unit was taken from the Jawa ČZ 175 type 356 with power of 5.9kW (7.9hp) and distinctive twin exhausts.
In contract to the original motor, a new carburetor Jikov 2924 SD 14b was used. The electronics were otherwise transferred without change.
In 1958, some changes started to be made. The name badge was changed from chrome to plastic. The exhausts profile changed (in line with the company's motorcycles). Extra accessories were made available, like a front glass screen and a rear rack for holding a spare tyre.
The first production series identified problems with insufficient cooling of the motor, which was addressed by adding a ventilator fan and enlarging the cooling fins on the engine block. The scooter with these improvements got a new type name as the ČZ 501/03. It is also differentiated from the older models by its two-colour bodywork, a redesigned ventilation panel, amendments and addition of lock to the switch panel, and a new carburetor.
The development continued with the introduction of the ČZ 175 type 501/05, which had a new dynamo and starter motor, necessitating changes to the electrical system and the use of two accumulator batteries plus a change in voltage to 12V. Kick starting remained possible, with the starting handle hidden below the seat. In total, approximately 43,000 scooters of the 501 type were produced, which were sold for approximately 8,000Kc until 1959. In 1960, an improved model was released.
Scooter ČZ 175 type 502
At first glance the same scooter, but decidedly different products, the 502/00 and 502/01 were introduced in 1960. In contract to the previous model, this scooter was equipped with a classic rear fork with two shock-absorbers. The same arrangement was introduced to the front end as well. A new motor was also introduced, the ČZ 175 type 450 with 7.3kW (9.8hp) output, noticeable because there was only one exhaust instead of two.
Whilst the 502/00 model was equipped with 12V electrics and the dynamo battery and starter motor, the cheaper 502/01 was kick-started and had 6V electrics. Apart from these two models, there was also a 502/05 model De Luxe, with a different paneled handlebar arrangement.
No big changes were made to the bodywork, only the horn was moved inside the front panel and direction indicators were added. Clients could choose from 6 colour combinations. A modified 502/06 De Luxe was offered with luxury finishes but 6V electrics. Development began of a new prototype ČZ 503, equipped with the ČZ 250 motor, but suddenly in 1964 the authorities decided to end production of scooters in Strakonice, despite them being very popular amongst the public.
In 1963 a type 502/05 scooter was sold for 9,350Kc, just a little less than the cost of a car. A total of 72,000 type 502 scooters were produced. The scooter was also the first of its type to be produced outside Czechoslovakia with assembly from 1960 of the N.Zeta in New Zealand.
A host of accessories was produced for the scooter. For example, it was possible to add a trailer (PAV 40) and a sidecar (Druzeta). The sidecar was the final construction produced by J. F. Koch.
Finally, the Čezeta also served as the base for a light three-wheel truck known as the “Rickshaw”, otherwise officially named the ČZ 175 type 505. Approximately 6,000 were produced.
Scooter Čezeta type 506
From 1964 there was no Cezeta production. From being part of the world's biggest motorcycle producer, the business shrunk under communist direction, unable to match better Japanese bikes. Merger with Cagiva didn't help and production ended in 1997.
In 2012, a new prototype type 506 was made. This uses a very large bank of lithium ion cells to make a high performance touring scooter. A czech company was registered for the project (čezeta motors s.r.o.), and the čezeta trademarks licensed to this company. Production of the new type 506 started in 2013, finally resumed roughly 50 years after it had stopped.