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RIP Michael Czysz


Michael Czysz came to our attention out of left field several years ago as the designer of a wild MotoGP prototype. You can see some of our coverage of Czysz here and here. Czysz has to be considered one of the most bold and creative motorcycle designers of the last decade, eventually turning his attention to electric race bikes … winning the Isle of Man TT Zero race four years in a row from 2010 to 2013.

Czysz seemed to have endless energy and drive, and plenty of money to back it up. Czysz made his fortune as a designer and developer. His real passion was motorcycles, however, and racing.

When Czysz announced he had a rare form of cancer a few years ago, he knew he wouldn’t recover. Eventually, he stopped making bikes, and we stopped paying attention to him. This past Saturday, Czysz passed away as a result of his cancer. As motorcycle enthusiasts, it is worth taking the time to reflect on the contributions Czysz made to this industry, but we chose the following video so readers would understand his design background, as well.  Have a look.

See more of MD’s great photography:



  1. Doug says:

    It is still frustrating that Dorna changed the rules to 800cc then back again to 1000cc. (regardless if MotoC went onto achieve 4 TT Electric victories)

    I’ve read the criticisms from James Parker about the C1 engine’s layout. He theorized the motor would have to make a lot more hp than the rest of the field due to the power loss going through the twin crank & longitudinal gearing changes. There’s truth to that but the last I knew the Czysz team was making breakthroughs in the head design, on their way to more hp. Combine that with the overall re-think to handling and who knows what could have happened at the GP or WSB levels? Racing sanctioning bodies have to take this example to heart and realize how Dorna squashed innovation. Even if some of his ideas would not have found their way to a street bike, his ideas would have generated other ideas, and so on. Instead we have Moto2 !

    standouts about the C1 to me are (not limited to):

    1. the narrowness of the motor & drivetrain….about the width of a 200 mm rear slick
    2 the first ever aesthetically pleasing funny front-end to challenge the tele.
    3. the super cool-looking headlight design that conjures up Le Mans endurance race cars
    4. holistic approach (more so than others it seems) to raise handling standards.

    Thanks Michael Czysz. May your friends and family have comfort in their grieving.

  2. Joe says:

    I admired his design thinking; looking for ways to conquer fundamental problems by defying convention. I like that.
    In the process really made some breakthroughs.
    He did things differently, but not for the sake of being different but rather to seek functional superiority. But he also did it beautifully. Gorgeous machines..
    The things he did certainly inspired me..
    My condolences to his family and friends.
    May God comfort you during your loss and pain.

  3. FastCorner says:

    Rest easy, MC, gone way too soon. You made Portland riders proud. I’ll ways remember you revving up that test mule for a big crowd at your SE facility. What a great noise you made.

  4. mkviz says:


    Sip on that CZYSZ and pour one down.

  5. Ricky Crue says:

    RIP Mr. Czysz, your legacy is one to be proud of!

  6. Speedtriffecta says:

    He had many similarities with John Britten…including a life cut short prematurely by cancer…:(

  7. Neil says:

    I was just looking at his Isle of Man racing on Youtube not long ago. I did not realize cancer was taking him from us. Great work. I am sure it will live on in the engineering designs of those to follow. He went from last to first at the Isle of Man. Inspiring. Live today. Ride today. Build it. Fix it. Carpe Diem. RIP Michael.

  8. Provologna says:

    Thanks for this post. For such a successful person, he seemed to have great level of human touch and empathy, qualities sorely lacking in such high achievers.

    God speed, and my condolences to his family and friends.

  9. Tank says:

    Everybody dies, not everybody lives. Michael lived doing what he loved. RIP

  10. Scott says:

    I don’t seem to remember Michael Czsyz getting a whole lot of love when he first broke into the racebike scene. Like most visionaries, he was ridiculed and his ideas were dismissed by many. I remember seeing the C1 at Laguna Seca, and it was a work of art. But his bikes actually worked, and they were fast. And like so many others before him, his genius will truly be recognized now that he’s gone…

    Godspeed, Michael…

  11. Gary K. says:

    Like Tommy D. said, I immediately thought of John Britten who was another amazingly talented and creative motorcycle designer who was taken way too soon. Another terrible loss for the motorcycling community.

    Godspeed Mr. Czysz.

  12. Bart says:

    This is hard. He was a pal here in PDX. Been to his house, he is a family guy all the way. He instructed with us at track days. Rode with him for several years. I was there for the unveiling of the C1 on stage, will never forget that. I was there when it was ridden on the track at PIR. I was there when the E-bike caught on fire and helped put out the fire, the bike went on to do well at Laguna Seca. I was there when he had the flag on his boot for a lap.

    He pushed boundaries I couldn’t even imagine.

    He will be missed.

    Life is short, make it count.

  13. al banta says:

    He was an incredible man to be sure. As far as the posts about the Big C more and more folks are “beating it”. There is so much going on the C world. Trust me a bit on this one, I am a survivor..You can beat the big C..

  14. dru says:

    Met him at the NY MC show at Javits. i was looking at his bike and asked a question. I thought he was just a spokesperson. Then we talked about bikes for about twenty minutes, five minutes in I realized who he was and kept on wondering why he was spending time to talk to me.

    Learned a lot about bikes & people that day.

    A class act.

  15. ApriliaRST says:

    Very sad news and I’ve yet to watch the video. I really liked his design ideas. RIP

  16. Kyle says:

    Notice the longitudinal engine out of the C1 sitting on the stand in the corner of the living room. That was pretty bold statement in the nod to improve handling

  17. Jeremy in TX says:

    Sad news. A friend – 38 years-old and fighter if I ever knew one – lost his 9-month battle with cancer this past week. It is a truly wicked disease that takes too many good people from this earth. RIP Michael Czysz. Condolences to his family and friends.

    • Dave says:

      Sad news indeed. From what I’ve read, he was diagnosed late. It also sounded like he didn’t take long to decide to keep living all the way to the end. Guys like this are really rare and we’re very lucky when we find them. I hope his work influences people for generations to come and that his family find comfort.

  18. jimmihaffa says:

    An inspiration to everyone, but especially those who are brave enough to undertake an ambitious pursuit, alone. RIP

  19. Ricardo says:

    Another motorcycle designer genius gone. RIP Mr. Czysz.

  20. Butch says:

    What Tommy D said . . . . . . .

  21. Ronbob says:

    What Mickey said.

  22. Steven says:

    Thank you for posting this. Very sad news in many respects. A true visionary.

  23. Vrooom says:

    I briefly met him once at PIR (like a handshake and a “heh”). He was riding a new Ducati at the time, can’t recall the model, maybe the 1199 or something like that. The dude was fast. RIP Michael.

  24. Tommy D says:

    Sad news. It sounds too much like John Britten’s story. Such talent taken too early.

  25. mickey says:

    With enough ingenuity and mechanical ability you can beat electrical limitations, you can beat aerodynamics, you can beat mechanical problems, but you can’t beat the big C.

    RIP Michael Czysz

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