On this page, there is a general view about some little known Eastern factory, closed since several years. 

The first Russian bike and the "Podolski" 750

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In the first pic above, we can see the first Russian motorcycle. It's the "Rossia", produced in the city of Riga in the 1901 by a bicycle's factory founded by a German immigrant, Alexander Leitner. It was equipped with a Fafnir single-cylinder engine, four stroke, 247 cc, and 1,75 hp; no gearbox, no clutch, total weight 52 kg. It's remarkable that this bike has the engine mounted in the low position. This was an important feature: in the early years of the century, other European producers (also famous) used the engine mounted in very strange positions: over the front fork, under the seat, in the upper part of the frame, etc., and not yet in the right position (between the pedals)! In the second, third and fourth pics above, instead, the motorcycle used by the Red Army before the Ural: the PMZ "A-750" (or "Podolski"), with a V-twin engine inspired to the American Indian motorcycles. It had 15 hp, for 100 km/h of maximum speed (80 with the sidecar). The difference between the Indian and the Podolski, is the frame, in stamped steel-foils on the Russian bike. It was produced between 1935 and 1939; during the following years, instead, this bike was replaced by the well-known flat-twins of IMZ-Ural.

The unknown models of the "Vniimotoprom"

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In the city of Serpuchov, there was a research center called "Vniimotoprom", that realized several interesting prototypes. The "Vniimotoprom" realized not only GP motorcycles (in the first pic above, the "Vostok S-565" four cylinder, the only Soviet bike that partecipated to the World Championship: click here to read the history), but also prototypes with rotary Wankel engine, probably the only attempts to renew radically the outdated Russian production. Up (second pic), one of the early Wankel prototypes, equipped with a single-rotor 500 cc.engine, placed longitudinally, air cooled, with 38 hp. Unfortunately, the rest of the bike was very outdated, with frame, brakes and gearbox taken from the old Dnepr 650 sidecar. In the third and fourth pics, the "RD-517" sidecar, and, in the fifth pic, the "Rotor 500", both of the '80s, with the same Wankel engine of the first prototype (but liquid cooled, and with a power increased to almost 50 hp), and still with the outdated Dnepr's layout; the "Rotor 500", although the modern look, has still the front drum brake! 

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 The bike in the four pics above, although a years-70's layout, was realized in the 1985. It's the "Motoprom RD-660", totally different from the previous Wankel prototypes: it'a new project, the gearbox and frame aren't from the Dnepr, the engine -air-cooled, 660 cc.- is placed transversally, with final chain transmission. All these bikes shows the Russian interest for the Wankel engines (experimented also by Lada-VAZ); anyway, these prototypes never entered in production.


Other brands: Czechoslovakia, DDR, Poland


The Czechoslovakian Bohmerland, produced between 1923 and 1939, was a very strange bike! It's a single-cylinder four strokes,  350 or 600 cc, with an unbelievably long frame. It was also the first bike in the motorcycle's history with alloy wheels. Up (first pic), a 600 cc.sidecar, and a later 350 cc. version (second pic). In the third pic, instead, i'm looking the reason of this frame's lenght (1998, National Technical Museum in Prague)...but there was even a longer version, with FIVE places!

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Another Czech brand is Praga, producer of well-known lorries, but also (during the past) of refined motorcycles. The Praga 500 (first pic above) was very important, because it was the first serial motorcycle of the history with double head camshaft! The camshafts were driven by shaft and gears; moreover, the gearbox can be easily removed from the side, like many modern motorcycles (especially racing). In the second pic, the 350 single-head camshaft, equally refined and equipped with final shaft drive. Unfortunately, the production of these models was too expensive, and the motorcycle production was stopped in the 1933. Today, the Praga is again present in the motorcycle market with the ED 250 (third pic), a non-professional enduro with a two-strokes engine, liquid cooled, derived from the Jawa enduro of the late '80s, with 40 hp (fourth pic). In the fifth pic, instead, a new four-stroke motocross bike, named "CD 610", inspired to the Swedish Husaberg, with single head camshaft, four valves, and over 60 hp. 

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In the ex-DDR, there were not only the MZ and Simson: up, the Roller "Berlin 150" scooter, produced by the IWL ("Industriewerke Ludwigsfelde") between the years '50 and '60. This scooter, with a layout similar to the Russian Tula, has 12-inch wheels, 150 cc. two-strokes engine, air-cooled with fan, 7,5 hp, final transmission with chain under sealed carter (as on several others Eastern bikes). The max speed was 85 km/h.

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Also the Poland had an own motorcycle industry, although unkown: there were even 28 fatctories between the 1928-1972 period (see also Polskie motocykle and Motorcycles of Poland , two good sites). One of the most important factories, was the Junak, maker of single-cylinder bikes inspired to British realizations, during the years '50s and '60s. In the first pic, above, the Junak "M10", a classic 350 cc. four-strokes, 18 hp, 120 km/h. This bike had also a good success as Enduro/Cross bike (second pic), and it was realized also in a version for the records of speed (third pic).

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But the Junak factory realized also a very interesting prototype: the "M-14 Iskra" of the 1962 (first, second, third, fourth and fifth pics above), with a totally new parallel-twin (350 cc, SOHC, 24 hp, 140 km/h), and with a very advanced fairing, realized in fiberglass and similar to the English Ariel "Leader" motorcycle. After this realization, the Junak brand disappeared definitively in the 1965. However, recently it's reappeared with a new cruiser model, the Junak "Millenium 250" twin (sixth pic)...but this bike is simply a Korean Hyosung, produced under Suzuki's license. There is nothing of Polish on this motorcycle!    

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Others Polish bikes: in the first pic above, the CWS "M-111" (1933), copy of the Indian motorcycles, with a V-twin engine, side valves 14 hp (the sidecar in the picture was destinated to the Polish mail service). In the second and third pic, instead, the WFM-OSA "M-50" 175 scooter, produced during the '60s, and equipped with 14-inches wheels. It seems incredible, but this vehicle partecipated to the International Six Days of Enduro, even with enough good results, except for the first year of partecipation, when the engine was in trouble...at the start (fourth pic)! This scooter has a very strange layout: the engine is a motorcycle's unit with vertical cylinder, but it was rotated (90 degrees) with the cylinder in horizontal position, and with the gearbox under the driver's seat!

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 Another Polish motorcycle factory was the WSK (Wytwornia Sprzetu Komunikacyjnego, which translates as "Communications Equipment Factory", communications also includes transport in Polish), closed in the 1985 after the early strikes against the Communist regime. The strike in the WSK factory was the first in Poland, before the Gdansk strike, reported by the magazines of all the world. This factory produced essentially small-displacement bikes, 125 and 175 cc, with a classic two-strokes layout. Up (first and second pics), the WSK "175 Kobuz", years '80s model; the early versions of this bike were realized during the '60s. In the third pic, the "M-16" off-road model from the '70s. After the end of the motorcycle production, the WSK choosen the production of helicopters. 

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However, in Poland is still active a factory of mopeds: the Romet, located in the city of  Bydgoszcz, initially simply a producer of Czechoslovakian Jawa mopeds under license. After some time, the Romet began the production of mopeds with totally Polish engines. In the first pic above, one of the early models, the "Komar", produced since 1965; in the second pic, instead, the "Pony", a mini-moped, and, in the third pic, the "Chart", a little 50 cc. motorcycle, both produced since the years '80s. Also the Romania has still a little motorcycle production: in the fourth and fifth pics, the Mobra "Hoinar", a moped produced in the city of Zarnesti, and equipped with a 5-speed-gearbox engine (probably of Sachs derivation), capable of 5 hp for 70 km/h of max speed. 


Some pic taken from Polskie motocykle , Motorcycles of Poland , www.cartinki.ru , http://weteranszos.pl/ , Motociclismohttp://muzza3.fateback.com/a-z.htm , www.scootermaniac.org