THE RUSSIAN MOPEDS!
In Italy (my country), mopeds and scooters were always among the main products of our motorcycle industry, and all the young drivers had a lot of choices especially among the mopeds (today, instead, there are primarily scooters). In Russia, of course, the situation is very different: the economic situation does not allow the improving and updating of the production, therefore the Russian mopeds are essentially the sames of 20 years ago; but there are also models old of over 30 years...and these mopeds are still produced!
Models of the years '50-'60-'70
The Russians, during the time, copied products of any type, from the cameras to the cars; therefore, also the mopeds were often simple copies of Western products. Above, some example of "Riga" mopeds, produced in the homonymous city in Latvia by the "Sarkana Zwaigzne" plants (officially called RMZ, "Riga Motozykl Zavod", that stands for Riga Motorcycle Factory); all the three pics shows the "Riga-1", launched in the 1959, and inspired to German mopeds of that period, with two-speed gearbox, pedal gearshift, telescopic suspensions; the weight was 45 kg.
The model of "Riga" in the first pic above (i don't know the name), instead, was shamelessly copied from the famous French "Velosolex": each detail is copied, from the front engine with roll transmission, to the frame in square tubes! In the second and third pics, the "Riga-11" and "Riga-13", presumably of the years '70s, but outdated even for that period, with no gearbox, no automatic clutch (!), no rear suspension, and engine placed in the high part of the frame, like the motorcycles of the years '20s!
Above, instead, other models produced by the Riga's factory. In the first, second and third pics, a "sporty" model: the "Delta Sport", with motorcycle-type frame, long saddle, but gearbox with only two speeds. This model, although the years-70s look, was produced only since the 1986!! The model in the third pic, equipped with monoshock suspension, was probably presented later, and it was presumably produced in limited series or remained as prototype. In the fifth and sixth pics, the "Mini", produced in the same period (till the early '80s), quite similar to many Italian mini-moped of the years '70s.
In the six pics above, another moped of the former Soviet Union: the "Karpaty Sport", produced in the city of Lvov (Ukraine) by the LMZ (Lvov Motozykl Zavod). The off-road version in the first and second pics had the handlebar with auxiliar crossbar (in full motocross-style), high mudguard and exhaust, like the best tradition of the Western cross-country motorcycles of the years '70s...but this models was produced only since the early '80s! The factory proudly declared that the engine (third pic) needed a complete revision only at 15.000 km (not very good, indeed...); moreover, there was the electronic ignition, and, supreme "luxury", the rear stop light! In the fourth, fifth and sixth pics, the road version, different only for the low mudguard and exhaust, and for the handlebar without crossbar.
From the "Karpaty", also a Junior motocross version was realized, "burocratically" named "2.752" (first pic above): the fantasy about the names wasn't featured in the Soviet motorcycle industry! In the second and third pics, instead, the "Karpaty-2" (also called "2.164"), with a newer design, presumably of the years '80s. It can be said that, till the late '70-early '80s, the distance between our mopeds and theirs, was not so big; but, with the years, this distance became "sidereal"!
In the six pics above, other mopeds of the Soviet era, called "Verkhovina", always produced by the Lvov's factory. The "Verkhovina" model in the first and second pics above, called "V-902", is of the late years '50s, essentially a motorized bicycle: the max speed was 40 km/h, the fuel consumption 1,2 liters/ 100km. In the third, fourth, fifth and sixth pics, some following model, produced since the years '70s, not very different from our Italian production of the same period (Garelli and similars): on the exemplar in the fifth pic, there is also a sporty motorcycle-type fuel tank, and, on the version in the sixth pic (called "Turist"), there are windshield and side bags!
About the models in the four pics above, i don't know even the factory where they were produced! The model in the first pic, called "16-VM", is totally similar to the already mentioned "V-902"; the second, called "MV-18", is of the years '70s, and it was also known as Zif "77". Anyway, both were produced in the city of Penza. Even more mysterious the mopeds in the third and fourth pics: i know only that they were called respectively "MP-047" e "Vivjanka MV-042"....stop!
What do you say? I put the same pics of the first paragraph? No, these pics are newer...but, effectively, the vehicles are unchanged! In the first and second pics, the current versions of the "Delta Sport" and of the "Riga-13": the "Delta" received only new alloy wheels and a new headlight with plastic protection; the "Riga", instead, is even totally unchanged! More modern, although always quite essential (but less than the "Riga-13"...), the mini-moped in the third pic: the "Stela Pento", always produced by the Riga's factory, and equipped with an Italian "Franco Morini" engine, with automatic clutch. In the fourth pic, the Krasny Oktober "Fora Sprint", produced by another factory ("Krasny October" stands for "Red October": although the name, also this factory is still in activity), but substantially similar to the "Delta Sport", except for the...very "refined" fairing (in the opening page pic is shown the normal version of the "Fora"). In the fifth pic above, instead, the current version of the "Karpaty", unchanged since many years. It seems incredible, but there is still people who buy these vehicles; unfortunately, the truth is that these are the only vehicles that a Russian can buy with an handful of roubles, without spending a fortune in dollars to buy a modern scooter or motorcycle.
However, among the Russian mopeds, the ZID "Pilot" (first, second and third pics above) is the most modern (although not comparable with an Aprilia RX 50!) and with a sufficient equipment: three-stage gearbox, monoshock suspension, electronic ignition. It's not a miracle of design, there are no disk brake, no liquid cooling system...but, at least, it allows some fun on off-road! In the fourth pic, instead, the ugly mototrolley version, and, in the fifth pic, the "Active 50", substantially a "Pilot" with a different look.
The ZID (located in the city of Kovrov, also producer of the "Voskhod 175" motorcycles) produces also the foldable moped in the three pics above, called "Ptaha". For informations to possible Russian readers, i don't want to make irony in order to deride a people and his vehicles, but this moped, although not very different from several Italian mini-mopeds of the years '70s (Garelli "Katia", Italjet "Pack", etc.), is quite funny. Note the shock-absorber fixed directely under the saddle, and the not very reassuring steering tube...it has a diameter slightly bigger than my thumb finger!
But..that's not all! In the first and second pics above, the scooter Tula "Fregat 50" (read also the page about the Tula scooters); it's equipped with an engine essentially derived from a moped (with manual gearshift). I don't wanna be cruel, but this vehicle is terribly similar to a sink! The vehicle in the third pic, instead, has the same engine and the same denomination ("Fregat"), but a different look, more similar to a motorcycle...although always quite strange! In the fourth pic, another moped: the LSZ "Pegas", produced in S. Petersburg by an aeromotive plant, and equipped with an engine of Indian production (Ancur). Obviously, this moped is very far from an airplane...
"Minimalist" mopeds...and racing mopeds
I finish this page with the two cheapest and rough vehicles produced in Russia. They are the highest point of this travel through the world of the cars and motorcycles in Russia, the symbol of the infinite patience of the Russian drivers, forced to drive, sometime, real "fossils" on two wheels...
...because the moped in the pic above can be defined, in my personal opinion, only as a fossil. This piece of junk, still today produced (!!!), is the ZIF "20": in comparison with this model, all the other mopeds on this page are worthy to be considered like an Harley Davidson! On this vehicle, the only part similar to a motorcycle is the tank; the others (frame, engine, brakes) are, quite than simply "old", dated at the stone age. Even a simple motorized bicycle, as the Garelli Mosquito, is more modern: you must consider also that many motorcycles of the years '10 had already the engine placed in low position, and not in high position (between the legs) like this mummy on two wheels. With this position of the engine, the legs of the driver are probably well scorched and greased by the heat and the oil vapors, and the roadholding very "wonderful" (there aren't suspensions). But this is not the lowest level of the motorcycle history...
...because the lowest level is in the pic above. This is the Minsk "Kroha", still today produced, a sort of horrible motorized bicycle with a design inspired to a clothes drier (and a clothes drier is even better), probably good for people from 2 to 92 years of age, thank to the very long ad adjustable saddle tube. The motocross-type handlebar and the off-road tyres are absolutely unexplainable on a vehicle of this type. In my opinion, this is the ugliest two-wheels vehicle of the world!!!!!
However, the two pics above are a partial redemption from a so degraded technological situation! They shows two racing mopeds, the "Riga 15-S" of the 1972 (first pic above) and the "17-S" of the 1976 (second pic), realized by the already mentioned RMZ in collaboration with the "Vniimotoprom" (read also the page about the Vostok racing motorcycles). On the "15-S", the engine was air-cooled, with a power of 13,5 hp. On the "17-S", instead, it was liquid cooled with thermo-siphon system (without water pump); moreover, it had aluminium cylinder (with Nickasil coating), six-speeds gearbox, electronic ignition, and also rotating disk valve on the admission duct, therefore with a very respectable technical layout. The "17-S" had a power of 16,5 hp/15.000 rpm, the weight was 62 kg, the max speed 153 km/h! The following versions of this bike were capable of a power close to 20 hp, for 170-180 km/h of max speed.
The Riga "15-S" (in the pic above, in front of other Riga racing bikes) had even the honour of a partecipation to a stage of the GP World Championship 1972, in East Germany: driven by Eduard Borisenko, it took the seventh place, finishing the race and obtaining some point. Therefore, honour to the Russian "comrades": they had good technical abilities, although they were forced by the lack of money to produce real motorized WC (i'm sorry for the expression, but it is necessary)...cheers!
...with the vodka, of course!
Some pic taken from www.mcasta.ru , http://moped.hotbox.ru