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Motorcycle PMZ-A-750 - how Soviet BMW engineers combined with Harley-Davidson

Motorcycle PMZ-A-750 - how Soviet BMW engineers combined with Harley-Davidson
The production of motorcycles in the Soviet Union was well established - there were enough of them for everyone. At least those that were produced directly in the USSR. Of course, Jawa, CZ and Pannonia were considered in short supply, but they are not Soviet either.

The motorcycle was an affordable means of transport, a lifesaver for rural people who lacked cars. But this is already in the 1960s, when two-wheeled vehicles were sold even in village shops. And before the start of World War II, the main issue was to provide the Red Army with motorcycles.

The military needed heavy models with sidecars, although in the late 1920s commanders relied on cavalry. But even then there were people who understood that foreign armies did not just equip motorized units.

Мотоцикл ПМЗ-А-750 – как советские инженеры BMW с Harley-Davidson совместилиThe motorcycle is beautiful, it turns out that it was created not only for the military. Photo: Youtube.com

Today we will talk about the rarest pre-war motorcycle PMZ-A-750. It is interesting, if only because it was called the Soviet Harley-Davidson.

If you understand, then the model is unique in that it is a copy of a BMW walker with an engine, like a Harley. And at the same time, the Soviet development - the PMZ-A-750 did not have a single detail of foreign production. Recall that we are talking about the first half of the 1930s!

Prerequisites for the emergence

It all started with unique prototypes of the IZH brand, created in the amount of 5 copies. These were motorcycles of different classes, ranging from a light one with a 200 cm3 engine to two heavy bikes with 1,2 liter engines.

Unfortunately, almost all IZH prototypes, except for one, turned out to be unclaimed - in the end it was decided to produce the simplest and cheapest bike - it was called IZH-7. However, they collected a little - a little more than 100 pieces.

A machine gun was installed on the carriage. Photo: Youtube.com

But for the Red Army, light motorcycles were irrelevant. The military demanded heavy models, preferably with wheelchairs, capable of performing the role of a mobile machine-gun point, an analogue of a horse-drawn cart.


Developed motorcycles Peter Vladimirovich Mozharov. This talented engineer was once sent to Germany to study German models from different manufacturers. The designer also understood technology from the USA, he considered Harley-Davidson especially successful.

Having studied the presented samples of heavy motorcycles, Mozharov decided to create several models at once. According to the assignment, he had to develop and show the commission at least two bikes - heavy and medium. The latter was supposed to be launched for the civilian market.

The first prototype was NATI-A-750. The chassis for this motorcycle was made in the image and likeness of the German BMW. But they decided to take the engine from the other side of the world - from Harley-Davidson, of course, also as a role model.

Civil motorcycle single. Photo: Youtube.com

The average motorcycle was called NATI-B-375. Mozharov was clearly not going to pay much attention to this model, realizing that the main thing was to make a bike for the military. As a chassis, NATI-B-375 received a hodovka from the Leningrad L-300. The engine was created on the basis of NATI-A-750, simply by "halving" it.

In parallel, they released a third heavy motorcycle, made in the likeness of BMW.

The selection committee looked at all the models, rejected the NATI-B-375, considering that it makes no sense to start mass production of an average bike with a 375 cm3 engine, if you can just produce a ready-made L-300. By the way, this model was also developed by Mozharov at the time.

But the selection committee liked the Soviet Harley. Technical workshops in Izhevsk, where Mozharov's group worked, were given the task of assembling five prototypes for sea trials.

Why PMZ and not IZH?

It seems that the "Soviet Harley" was supposed to be produced in Izhevsk, since it was there that the experimental modifications were assembled. But in this city they decided to make medium motorcycles. As time has shown, this is exactly what Izhevsk was doing in all subsequent years, except for the military.

Rigid rear suspension and one of the passenger seat springs. Photo: Youtube.com

Recall that IZHMASH survived the collapse of the USSR and produced medium-sized motorcycles for a long time. The last model to roll off the assembly line was IZH Planeta-5 in 2008. Since then, there has been repeated talk about the revival of medium bikes in Russia, but the matter has not progressed further than Chinese prototypes.

As for heavy motorcycles, they decided to produce NATI-A-750 at the Podolsk Mechanical Plant. This enterprise did not have any experience in the production of two-wheeled vehicles, and even more so the necessary machines and equipment.

Mozharov and his team had to set up a full-fledged production at the PMZ from scratch. The first motorcycle, assembled without the participation of related enterprises, was ready at the beginning of 1934, although it still needed to be finalized.

PMZ-A-750 could already be called pre-production. The only thing left to do was to “grind” the motorcycle and start the conveyor. Pyotr Mozharov decided to take a vacation and went to the Crimea. There he died under mysterious circumstances. PMZ-A-750 was put into production without a chief designer.

By the beginning of the summer of 1934, the first 10 motorcycles were assembled. They were immediately sent to a military test site. After modifications, PMZ-A-750 participated in a motorcycle race from Izhevsk to Moscow via Gorky.

The famous engine from Harley-Davidson in the Soviet version. Photo: Youtube.com

Ordzhonikidze, People's Commissar of Heavy Industry himself, approved the model, saying that the Red Army needed at least 1,5 of these. This task was overfulfilled three times - from 1934 to 1939, more than 4,6 thousand bikes were produced at the Podolsk Mechanical Plant.

Technical features

A duplex frame was used as the basis for the PMZ-A-750. The location of the gas tank is interesting - it is, as it were, nested inside. Realizing that the power reserve is important for a military motorcycle, the designers made a fuel tank with a volume of 21 liters with an average declared consumption of 6 liters. per 100 km.

A three-speed gearbox was installed, the speeds were switched manually, with a special lever. The transmission to the rear wheel is chain.
Engine power was originally 14 liters. s., then it was increased to 15-16 liters. With. Without a sidecar, the motorcycle could accelerate to 90-95 km / h.

The rear suspension was typical for the models of the first half of the 1930s - rigid, that is, in fact, it was not there, like on a bicycle. The driver and passenger were saved from vibrations only by spring-loaded seats. The front suspension for modern motorcyclists looks generally strange - it was spring.

The sprung fork looks exactly like this. Photo: Youtube.com

However, no one would have to complain about the Spartan level of comfort in the Soviet Union. Motorcycles and cars in those years were the highest achievement of technological progress - they rode - this was already considered a miracle, especially for rural residents.


PMZ-A-750 were supplied not only to the army - many bikes fell into the civil service and even into the hands of the population. The fact is that the military continued to piously believe in the cavalry and were in no hurry to form motorcycle detachments in large numbers.

PMZ-A-750 was operated by the chairmen of collective farms and state farms, the model even “lit up” several times in the cinema. In the film "Tractor Drivers" he was driven by a girl - actress Ladynina.

Unfortunately, without Peter Vladimirovich Mozharov, the motorcycle was never finalized to the ideal. The main problem was the ignition. The motorcycle often acted up and did not want to start.

There were also complaints about the gearbox, which often did not want to switch. The weight distribution of the PMZ-A-750 without a sidecar left much to be desired. The front wheel was vibrating at speed. Sometimes the steering wheel escaped from their hands because of them.

The gearshift lever is located on the left. Photo: Youtube.com

However, all this was unimportant for the late 1930s. They stopped the production of PMZ-A-750 for a more banal reason - it cost twice as much as the same TIZ-AM-600, for example.

During the Soviet-Finnish war, PMZ-A-750 motorcycles took part in the hostilities. There, the complaints about the ignition were once again confirmed. The military did not need equipment that started up according to one known schedule. The "Soviet Harleys" were also used during the Great Patriotic War.

Now PMZ-A-750 is a rare collector's model. It is difficult and very expensive to buy such a motorcycle, even if there is a person who wants to part with it.


Photos used: https://youtube.com

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