History

General History and insight on the Design: (You probably already know some of this if you like these bikes. The history portion here, however, is quite a bit more accurate than the "grapevine version" many continue to pass on.) IMZ KMZ

Predating the more modern 1960s BMW based OHV Urals and Dneprs, I focus here on the Flathead (SV) Bikes commonly lumped together by Eastern Europeans under the nick name for military bikes, "Molotov."

Originally designed in the late 30s and evolved from their other successful sv flat twins, the 1938-41 BMW R71 was the last Flathead twin BMW would put into full production. Around 1939 The Russians, although not fighting with Germany, could see the rapid build up and modernization of the German military (Especially their huge number of armed motorcycles and sidecar outfits). At that time the Russians saw their immediate need for a similar cheap and highly mobile combat vehicle. They sought to adopt a more capable existing design foregoing the long research and development time they would require for making an "original" Soviet engineered model to replace their older motorcycles. The Soviet Military, some say with the influence of Foreign Minister Molotov (hence the nick name) decided upon the BMW R71. They then acquired several of the very capable sidecar outfits through neutral Scandinavian neighbors and set out to copy and produce these machines, which they dubbed the M72. When Stalin's suspicions proved to be true and the Germans invaded Russia in late summer 1941 their primary motorcycle production facility moved from Moscow and re-established itself in the Ural mountains, near the town of Irbit (The I in "IMZ") out of the range of German bombers. However, production during the war did take place at numerous other facilities to boost production such as the machine plant in Gorky.

The M72 was produced exclusively for the Red Army during WWII. The Russians, after the war ended, added to their future motorcycle tooling by copying newer OHV designs that had been captured. They built on the newer design technology and finally put it into their production lines in the 1960s. However, the rugged 750cc sv motor would remain the primary workhorse of the Soviet military for years to come. The M72 was built in its various model configurations until 1960-1961. This was shortly after another plant, in the Ukraine, had been established to take on the job of military production and the Irbit Motor Zavod (IMZ) was left to concentrate on motorcycles for domestic consumption (Irbit began limited civilian sales in 1946). Initially sold as Irbit M72s they later adopted the "Ural" name. The popularity of the rigs grew steadily with the Russian people and their Eastern Bloc neighbors and by the mid 1960's the full output of the IMZ/Irbit/Ural plant was for the civilians of the Eastern Bloc.

The KMZ plant (Kiev Motor Zavod) is the facility in the Ukraine that the USSR planners chose to continue the production of military M72s. This plant produced the M72H models at first, and not long after, they began production of the new K-750 model. As increasing numbers of K-750s were turned out, KMZ's M72H production began to wind down. The K-750 had a slightly higher HP output from the sv motor and a more conventional swing arm rear suspension instead of the original plunger type. As with most USSR production organizations, KMZ's product also had no official name, for a long time but later advertising or marketing was allowed. Because the KMZ was located near the "Dnepr" river that runs through the capital of Kiev, the name Dnepr was born and was eventually attached to the bikes coming out of Kiev Motor Works.

For the in depth Dnepr story, see my write up at: http://www.brucifer.net/homework American Dnepr Enthusiasts Here!

Some interesting Designs (prototypes and limited production)