Dnepr story

Dnepr Logo

The history of the Dnepr ( KMZ, Kievskiy Mototsikletniy Zavod ) starts up in the 1946, but not with a “flat twin”. The first bike produced was a little two-stroke 98 cc, the “ К1Б”, or “Kievlyanin”. This bike was the Russian version of the Wanderer “98″ (a German bike similar to a Sachs), but it was not a simple copy, the original drawings and tools of the Wanderer factory were taken by the Russians as compensation for war damages, therefore the “Kievlyanin” is not “like” the Wanderer, but is the German bike build in Russia. Anyway, it was a very simple bike: 2 hp, 50 km/h, two-speed gearbox, bicycle pedals, no rear suspension. The “Kievlyanin” was produced until 1951. They were also made as tricycle for invalid veterans !


“Kievlyanin invalid”

“Kievlyanin invalid”

Since 1951, the KMZ-Dnepr begins the production of the “M-72″, totally similar to the Ural model that has the same name: flat-twin, 750 cc, side valves, 22 hp. Also an own Museum was realized, as typical feature of all the Soviet factories. In the 1971, the new generation with over-head valves Dnepr K-650 (with the longer head fins near carbies) was launched, it was the base of the models currently produced.


Between the ’70s and ’80s, several prototypes of Dnepr powered by Wankel engines were realized! These bikes, never entered in production, were enginereed by the Vniimotoprom (Technical Institute for the Motorcycle Industry Research), in the city of Serpuchov, 70 km from Moscow.

(1974): the “RD-501B”, with a single-rotor engine, 495 cc, the air cooling system with fan, and a max power of 38 hp/6300 rpm.

The “RD-515″,, “RD-517″ and “Rotor V-500″, equipped with the same engine of the first prototype, but liquid cooled, with a power close to 50 hp, and a very strong torque at the mid-revolutions. The look is more modern, and there is some experimental solution for the massive production, as the alloy-cast wheels, never produced because this type of wheel was easy to break, because of the poor quality of the Russian aluminium and the conditions of the roads. The “Rotor” has a look similar to some Japanese realization of the period…but, like the previous prototypes, it has still the same frame and 4-speed gearbox of the old Dnepr, and even the drum front brake! This range of bikes shown the interest of the Soviet industry for the Wankel engine, although this work never improved the modernization of the normal production.

Dnepr RD-515

Moreover, the Dnepr realized also a “maxi-enduro”, in BMW R100 GS and Cagiva Elefant style! In the four pics above, the Dnepr “1000 Enduro Dinamit”, probably realized in the early ’90s. The
engine was a new 1000 cc., with 5-speed gearbox, Bing carburettors and electric starter, with a power of 70 hp, very good for the maxi-enduro class of that period. That engine was intended also to be mounted on a new range of Dnepr 1000 cc. models. On the “Dinamit”, there were also a front disk brake (drum on the rear) and even a monoshock suspension! Also this bike remained a prototype, a shame for the power unit, but not for the coachwork…

Dnepr Dynamit

The differences between Ural and Dnepr.

Dnepr seems similar to the Ural, but the engine is totally different, with alloy heads and cylinders, in the Ural 650 engine these parts are in pig-iron, although the new Ural 750 engine is realized now in aluminium. The oil pump is located in the front cover of the engine, in the Ural it’s located in the crankcase, driven by the camshaft. The rocker cover from the Dnepr is rectangled and from the Ural it’s ellips. Crankshafts are different, connecting rods, roller type bearing for the Ural, and shells (slide bearing) for the Dnepr. But the most important difference is the gearbox, semi-automatic in the Dnepr, the change of speed is possible without the clutch lever. Dnepr has rounded mudguards, Ural has more squarer mudguards.

Dnepr K750-W

Dnepr MT-9

Dnepr MT-10

Dnepr K650/MT9/MT10
649cc OHV, 32 bhp. 1968 to 1974 This motorcycle was developed from the Russian Ural. Very little difference between the K-650 & MT-9 except the MT-9 usually had a 4-speed and reverse gearbox and the latter a squarer fuel tank. The K-650 replaced the K-750

Main differences between K-650 and MT-9 was new gearbox with reverse and automatic declutching mechanism, but also the cylinder heads on K-650 had longer fins on carburettor side than later Dneprs.

K650 head

Dnepr MT11/16
649cc OHV, 32 bhp. Mid 1980′s to the early 1990′s. Really only a sidecar motorcycle, but is also available with the sidecar wheel drive and known as the MT-16 but has the MT10.36 engine

Dnepr MT10.36
649cc OHV, 36 bhp. Manufactured in the mid 1980′s to early 1990′s. Made as a solo as well as a sidecar motorcycle.

Dnepr MT-11

Dnepr MT-12

The K-650, MT-12 & MT-16 are very close models in that the Dnepr 12 uses the running gear of the Dnepr 11 & 16, and as the Dnepr 12 was a military model the MB650 sidecar drive has been used with the diff lock. 746cc SV, 26 bhp. Mid 1970’s to 1984. Sidecar wheel drive is through a split torque differential, based on WWII BMW R75 system. Fitted with 4-speed and reverse gearbox. Mainly for military use in USSR. The main difference is the replacement of the KMZ OHV engine with the 750cc SV. However, even the different engine uses the same ignition (manual advance distributor) and 6 volt generator, electrics etc. as used in the K-650 & MT-9. The 750cc engine is also used in the Ural M-72 and the Dnepr K-750.(with slight differences between the engine per model)

Dnepr MB650-M1
649cc OHV, 32 bhp. Used the MT10.36 or Dnepr 11 engine. Mid 1980′s to the closure of the factory in the late 1990′s. This is the military version of the MT16 which has the 2-wheel drive but with a differential lock. The build quality is reputed to be much better than the civilian models and had a paint rather than chrome finish. KMZ produced these motorcycles for the Soviet military on a special production line at the Kiev factory. They were used as reconnaissance and communications vehicles by the Soviet Army into the 1980s.

Kievskiy Mototsikletniy Zavod

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