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K-175 "Kovrovets" - the first Soviet motorcycle in this class

K-175 "Kovrovets" - the first Soviet motorcycle in this class
In the early 50s, the motorcycle industry of the USSR was limited to heavy, medium and light equipment. A seat remained vacant in the 175cc class. see. It was decided to fill this gap at the plant. Degtyarev. Several lower class models (125 cc) were already produced there: K-125, K-55 and K-58.

They had approximately the same characteristics (weight - less than 100 kg, maximum speed - 70-75 km / h). The main differences were engine power and design features. Over 15 post-war years, about 750 thousand units of such equipment were assembled.

К-175 «Ковровец» – первый советский мотоцикл в этом классеThe first "Kovrovtsy" were almost an exact copy of the "Java-250". Photo: youtube.com

In the mid-50s, experimental workshop No. 26, with the assistance of the entire SKB team, began designing a new class of equipment. By 1956, the first prototype was made, which was presented at the exhibition of achievements of Soviet industry. It was timed to coincide with the landmark XX Congress of the CPSU.

A model that took the factory to the next level

Participants of the party event appreciated the motorcycle from the plant. Degtyarev deservedly. Modern design, cross-country ability and comfort made an excellent impression on everyone. After such a favorable assessment, it was worth expecting the earliest start of mass production.

In the same year, the K-175 motorcycle entered the factory conveyor. The novelty, called "Kovrovets" in the first year of production exceeded the milestone of 10 thousand.

The last factor immediately brought the Kovrov plant to the European leaders in terms of the number of products produced. The new model was noticeably different from the previous one, but still borrowed some elements from it:

✅ 3-speed gearbox
✅ pendant
✅ DC electrical system
✅ battery

Nevertheless, most of the elements and external design were adopted from a foreign motorcycle. What? If you are at least a little familiar with Soviet motor vehicles, then you will definitely know the answer to this question. And it is contained in a persistent expression: "Java from Kovrov." Yes, the Czechoslovak model 353 became the main "donor" for Kovrovets. In the subsequent time, amateurs even managed to install parts from K-175 on Czechoslovak motorcycles (you had to somehow get out in the face of a shortage and high cost of imported components). After all, equipment from a friendly country was stopped much earlier.

Cylinder with different head ribs. Photo: youtube.com

Yet arrogance had its limits. Although the automatic clutch was stolen from the Czechs, over time they increased the size of the gas tank, changing its shape and stopped installing the steering wheel cover. A few more touches in appearance and a specific color - so that no one accuses of complete plagiarism.

New line and faster assembly

Despite the borrowing of many ideas, the motorcycle had an original design for the Soviet motorcycle industry of those years. Some even compared it to a revolution in the field of two-wheeled vehicles, which brought it to a higher level.

The result was many government awards: a silver medal and a diploma of the 2nd degree. And 17 people from among the direct participants in the development received medals of various denominations from the exhibition committee of VDNKh.

The plant staff tried hard to show gratitude to the Soviet government and people. So at the end of the decade, at least 90 units of two-wheeled vehicles rolled off the assembly line during each working hour. This result was achieved due to the reconstruction of production facilities, which led to the optimization of the entire process.

The brake light improved traffic safety. Photo: youtube.com

Two assembly lines were replaced by one, and a separate paint shop appeared one floor above, using a new three-layer electroplating technique (copper-nickel-chrome). Now, these time-consuming manual tasks have been fully automated. This approach freed up labor and led to a significant acceleration of the overall process of producing finished products.

External design and technical parameters

We can say that it was the K-175 that was the first to demonstrate the appearance of the motorcycle, which was preserved until the end of the Soviet era. The undersized wheels, crankcase combined with the carburetor housing and conical mufflers gave the motorcycle a compact look. If we add to this a powerful engine for such a volume and the ability to travel together, then we can safely talk about a design breakthrough.

The frame has changed only a little: there was a platform for mounting the relay-regulator and miniature steps, which are also used in the following models of the plant. But the seat, given the 2-seater design, was used new: wide, high and very comfortable. It featured barrel springs, felt lining and a leatherette case in brown tones. The seat was made removable, with grooves in the back and a countersunk screw in front.

The front fork was telescopic and consisted of eight parts (3 metal and 5 rubber). The rear mudguard is almost identical to the K-55 model, but the front has undergone some changes. Its shape was deepened, with stiffening ribs added over time to improve vibration resistance and shape retention. In general, many components and parts remained interchangeable with their predecessors. But the cylinder was updated:

✅ two graduation windows
✅ aluminum shirt
✅ cast iron sleeve

The ribbing was made in an oval shape (at the head it had a different pattern). The carburetor was covered with a decorative cover, and the air filter was mounted in its body. Later, to solve the problem of starting at low temperatures, a thrust-controlled damper was used. A couple of new discs were added to the clutch.

The popularity of the motorcycle and the emergence of new modifications

The unspoiled Soviet buyer accepted the new and modern motorcycle with great enthusiasm. Particularly pleased with the constant increase in production volumes. Such results were achieved thanks to a change in the policy of the Soviet leadership.

The last modification of the K-175V with a different emblem. Photo: youtube.com

Nikita Khrushchev believed that the Soviet system was too militarized, so a gradual conversion of enterprises oriented towards the Ministry of Defense began. This freed up considerable production capacity in Kovrov, allowing a significant increase in the number of motorcycles produced.

Moreover, the model very soon acquired new modifications. In 1959, the plant introduced the K-175A. Its main difference can be called a 4-speed gearbox and increased engine power. After 3 years, a 9-horsepower K-175B appeared with a new emblem on the tank and wings with curved edges. The latest was the version of the motorcycle with a 9,5 liter engine. With. In addition, several variants of sportbikes for multi-day competitions and motocross appeared on the basis of the road model.

Over time, the model has noticeably changed for the better: a dust-proof casing for the drive chain and a brake light activated by pressing the brake pedal appeared. The latter brought passive safety to a higher level. Also, the power of the 175 cc engine has increased from 8 to 9,5 liters. With. The emblem "letter "K" in a circle" was replaced by the inscription "Kovrovets-175" with hares sitting on top. By the way, the last element migrated to the next model of the plant.

It looks like the latest modification, but this is Voskhod-1. Photo: youtube.com

In new modifications, the similarity with Czech technology has noticeably decreased, due to a different tank and a modified steering wheel design. This avoided the earlier delays in production, when understaffed equipment sometimes accumulated on the factory floor. In this form, the assembly continued until the mid-60s. Apart from road and sports modifications, the main model K-175 from 1956 to 1960 produced 185 thousand units. In 1965, the plant switched to the production of a new family of motorcycles - Voskhod, a new page in the history of the enterprise began.


Photos used: youtube.com

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