Asphalt Heroes

Asphalt Heroes

Photo: Kalashnikov Concern

This year, the World Motorcycle Day is celebrated in June. Rostec’s companies have their own long motorcycle tradition. The first domestically produced L-300 motorcycle was developed and entered serial production at Krasny Oktyabr factory that was succeeded, years later, by UEC-Klimov focused on gas turbine engine manufacturing. The iconic IZH motorcycles had been manufactured by Izhmash factory in Izhevsk (now it is Kalashnikov Concern) for about 80 years. Kalashnikov currently produces a limited collection of replicated Soviet motorcycles, but with modern motor drives.


The first serial motorcycle

In the mid 1920s, the Soviet government decided to develop domestic motorcycle manufacturing beginning with modification of the German DKW 300 Luxus. The first domestically produced motorcycle was called the L-300. The product was developed and manufactured by Krasny Oktyabr factory in Leningrad whose successor now is UEC-Klimov included in Rostec.

The L-300 was able to build up a speed of 80 km/h with fuel consumption of about four liters per 100 km. The motorcycle was produced from 1931 to 1939, a total of about 19 000 vehicles were manufactured. It was extensively used by the Red Army for reconnaissance and communication. Even after the end of production, the L-300 was highly-demanded due to its reliability and easy steering.

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The L-300. Photo: Military and Technology Museum

The L-300 also played an important role in the development of motorcycle sport in the USSR and helped racers win competitions, and also took part in long-distance rallies on an equal footing with foreign models.

Very few ‘Octobrists’, as the L-300 was often called, has survived to the present day. One of them is now exhibited at UEC-Klimov’s museum. Serial production of the L-300 laid the extensive groundwork for the development of motorcycle manufacturing in our country, and popular models made in Izhevsk became its successors.

 

Motorcycles from Izhevsk

The first prototype motorcycles were made by Izhevsk factory (currently Kalashnikov Concern) in 1929. They were created under the direction of Pyotr Mozharov, a talented engineer and designer, who led the work on the L-300 later in Leningrad. A whole line of five different motorcycles was developed at once.

Serial production in Izhevsk was launched only in 1933 using the L-300 drawings. Here, the motorcycle was called the IZH-7 and the improved versions were called the IZH-8 and IZH-9. After the Second World War, the factory received trophy drawings and German equipment as reparations and, thus, the first mass-produced IZH-350 was created and produced in the amount of 120 000 vehicles.

But it was the IZH-49, whose production was launched in 1951, that brought real glory to Izhevsk-based professionals. Despite its considerable age, you can still come across this very successful model in retro lovers’ garages. It were motorcycles that formed a basis for Izhmash’s conversion production in postwar years.

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The IZH-Jupiter and IZH-Planeta “space” families – the hits of Russian motorcycle industry – were created in Izhevsk in the space exploration age and produced until the 2000s. A particular focus shall be made on the unique IZH-Planeta Sport 1973 model – the fastest motorcycle on Soviet roads that was also successfully sold abroad.

More than 5 mln. vehicles were produced in Izhevsk and the local motorcycle production became the largest one in Russia over the first half century by 1979. The 10 millionth motorcycle rolled off Izhmash’s conveyor in 1991.

«Калашников» открыл ретро-серию коллекционных мотоциклов

Electrical IZH. Photo: Kalashnikov Concern

However, it wasn't quite the end of the Izhevsk motorcycle history. Kalashnikov Concern announced the launch of a limited series of replicated Soviet IZH motorcycles in spring this year. An electrical version of the iconic IZH-49 was the first of them. This is a retro styled urban single seat bike. The maximum speed of the vehicle is 90 km/h, the drive range is 80 km to 100 km. Upgrading of other models made in Izhevsk is in future.