TULA

The austere Russia produced not only normal and cheap motorcycles, but also scooters with abundant and eye-catching '50s-style coachwork! Although it was a secondary factory, the "Tula" is important, because it was the only producer of scooters in Russia (besides the Vjatka, a perfect copy of the Vespa!); moreover, it produced also quite strange vehicles...at least, the most original vehicles in the Soviet production, usually devoted to an absolute conservatism.  

 

The beginnings - The "Tulitza": the scooter of the Russians

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The "Tula" (official name TMZ, "Tula  Motorzikly Zavod") was born in the 1955 in the city with the same name, and the first model is shown in the first and second pics above: the "Tulitza 200". It was simply the copy of a bulky German scooter, the Glas "Goggo-Isaria" (from the nickname of the little nephew of Hans Glas, the founder of the factory, and from the name of the "Isar" river, in Germany), in the third pic, above, characterized by an unusual style, quite "heavy" but  enough pleasant. The "Tulitza", like the German original version, had a mechanical part with some motorcycle features: the engine, 200 cc, four-speeds gearbox, air-cooled with fan, 10 hp (fourth pic above), was placed centrally with a final chain transmission, like a normal motorcycle. Moreover, it had the comfort of the electric-starter (still poorly diffused in all the countries during the '50s). 

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 The project was good: the "Goggo-Isaria " obtained a good success also in the USA, and therefore it was reprised by the Russian engineers, substantially unchanged about the main features. The production of the "Tulitza" was stopped in the late '80s, after some slight modification: in the first, second, third and fourth pics above, the Tula "Turist 200" of the 1967, and, in the fifth pic, the last version of the 1987. Effectively, the "Tulitza" was an enough elegant vehicle, quite unusual for the austere Soviet motorcycle scene! 

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On the Tula engine, also a prototype of very simple three-wheel minicar was obtained: the "Zaika" (first pic above), realized in the late '60s and capable of only 50 km/h. Like all the Russian motorcycles, the "Tulitza" was realized also in a mototrolley version, called "Muravey", that stands for "ant" (second pic): differently from the scooter, this version is still today produced (third pic). 

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The original (and, probably, too "chic" for the Soviet dogma...) "Tulitza" was replaced by a totally different vehicle (although powered by the same engine), shown in the first, second and third pics above: the "5.251" (very bureaucratic name!), intended for the use in the "sovkoz" and "kolkoz" (the Soviet farms). The final chain is always covered with a plastic carter; suspensions and frame are of motorcycle-type. This vehicle is comparable with the Suzuki "RV 90" of the '70s, and also with the Fantic "Koala", vehicles very similar about the concept, with big and "fatty" wheels. In the fourth and fifth pics (realized by me), two updated versions of this vehicle, seen at the Milan's Exposition in the 1995: the yellow bike is a 50 cc. version with an Italian "Franco Morini" engine, and, in the last pic, is possible to see (although the very low quality of the image...) a 200 cc prototype with an updated look (both never went in production)...anyway, the hostess of the Tula's stand were better than these bikes!

 

Recent models

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Today, the Tula produces a revisited version of the "fat-wheels" bike. In the first pic above, the Tula "5.952", substantially unchanged...but with a GT-type windshield! The vehicle in the second pic above, instead, was called "Vepr", that means "boar" in Russian...in fact, it's ugly like a boar! It's derived from the other model, but it has 14-inch wheels: it seems almost an electric toy-bike for children... In the third pic, the trike version of the "5.952", a classic vehicle for the cargo use.   

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  Same opinion for the scooter in the first, second and third pics, above. It's called "Fregat", it's equipped with a 50 cc. air-cooled engine (without fan), with a classic manual transfer box: substantially, the engine of this scooter is derived from a moped (it's produced by the ZID factory). The frame has a strange curved design, with front lever suspension. I don't wanna be cruel, but this vehicle is terribly similar to a sink (i wanna avoid comparisons with other elements of the bathroom...). The vehicle in the fourth and fifth pics, instead, has the same engine (but also an Italian "Franco Morini" engine is available) and the same denomination ("Fregat"), but -although the look always enough strange- it's slightly better (except for the azure/yellow painting...), and more interesting as hybrid between motorcycle and scooter. 

As last image, another pic of the "5.952", with a shocking azure/pink painting and an huge windshield! Today, the Tula factory produces motorcycles, machine-tools, military and medical equipments and stationary engines. This type of bike could be interesting as "fun bike"...but this painting is quite "kitsch": from the austere Soviet look, the jump is slightly excessive! 

Some pic taken from www.mcasta.ru , http://www.roadracing.50megs.com/tula.html , http://www.medport.ru/USSR/chapters/chap_02.htm , www.scootermaniac.org

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