KMZ – Kiev motorcycle plant began to function soon after the capital city of Ukraine was cleared from German fascists’ occupation during the Great Patriotic War. For base of production Armoured Vehicles Repairing Workshops were utilized founded in 1932. Later it was renamed Armoured Vehicle Repairing Base, evacuated from the site in July 1941. After Kiev was regained at the end of 1943 the factory was reformed as 8th Armoured Vehicles and Tank Repairing Plant returned to its pre-war location with all its staff and equipment to repair soviet and captured military vehicles and assemble imported motorcycles supplied by Lend-Lease to the Red Army.

In September 1945 there was founded “Kiev motorcycle factory”, which with “Wanderer” machinery relocated from Germany adopted production of engined bicycles K-1B “Kievlyanin” (a citizen of Kiev). The bicycle was equipped with a two-stroke, 98 cc, 2.2 hp engine and 2-speed gearbox.

In 1947 based on this model a tricycle K-1V appeared. It was designed for veterans of the Great Patriotic war with disabilities. And a small series of cargo tricycle K-1G was produced for postal, commercial and in-factory transportation of cargo. The machine was not widely used, as its low power engine could not have taken a somewhat sufficient cargo load.

In 1949 after GMZ (Gorky motofactory) was closed, hundred of its former specialists and a set of technological machinery for production of M-72 (it proved well during the war) arrived at KMZ. Because of lack of production base, the factory switched to making the new machine gradually, while making a reserve of parts for the old model and closing its production.

Since 1952 the models K-1B and K-1V were only assembled from parts left in the factory’s reserve. Later production equipment for K-1V was handed over to Serpukhov town, where these machines were mass-made at SMZ (Serpukhov motofactory).

In 1952 KMZ built 500 engines and gearboxes for M-72, while 500 kits of undercarriage parts were supplied by Irbit motofactory (IMZ). Following years co-operation with IMZ stopped gradually, as KMZ in its turn adopted its own production of undercarriage parts and assemblies in Kiev. At that period of time M-72 was aimed to be supplied for army, militia and other state services, so it was long produced without improvements in design.

After a decree afforded selling the M-72s to private buyers, the factory team run by main designer K.A. Pozdnaykov began work on the machine’s improvements. As a result there appeared M-72H (English: M-72N, “new”), which besides its improved finishing got a modernized sidecar wheel suspension, enforced spokes of wheels and aluminum cast hubs. There were also a lot of improvements in engine and transmission, but main – telescopic fork was replaced with short lever type front fork and two hydraulic shock absorbers.

KMZ M-53

At the same time the factory was developing an experimental model M-53 and its sport modification M-53C (eng.”S”, sport), the latter was a successful competitor in the USSR and other Socialist countries races. Unfortunately, the M-53 was not allowed for mass-production, but for 500cc OHV engine 26 hp, short lever front fork, pendulum rear suspension with tilted shock absorbers, one-piece seat for rider and passenger were prevailing features over M-72. It has been referred to as perhaps the most beautiful motorcycle produced in the USSR, and also one of the rarest.

Then the factory did research on a 4-stroke V-twin 750cc motorcycle resembling Italian make “Moto Guzzi” machines. Several such engines made at Serpukhov (VNII Motoprom) were mounted into a standard mass-series chassis of KMZ, but the progress did not go beyond experiments.

In 1958 a modernized machine production named “K-750” began. K-750 differed from the previous model radically: with increased compression ration engine power grew from 22 to 26 hp, improved engine cooling with finned oil sump, rear candle (plunger) suspension was changed for a pendulum (swinging arm) with both directions spring and hydraulic shock absorbers. Wheels boasted new cast aluminum hubs, even length spokes and adjustable taper roller bearings of wheels. Brake mechanism received balancer and wear compensator of brake shoes, sidecar body was mounted with rubber elements, sidecar wheel torsion was replaced with both directions spring and hydraulic shock absorber suspension.

In 1964 a new improved model K-750M again had a telescopic front fork and rear had both directions spring and hydraulic shock absorbers, a similar off road version MB-750 was supplied for army with sidecar wheel drive. The drive consisted of two straight tooth gears without differential mechanism, drive shaft was mounted not inside sidecar frame tube (as on German war off-road motos), but near it. Worth noting is that M-750M engine had an increased service life due to improved cooling of cylinder heads and oil in a finned sump, to add a different gear shifting mechanism, brake drums insides got labirynth sealing.

Based on main model a sports version K-750CM was created, it proved a successful racer on road and cross tracks. An important feature was unification of many parts and assemblies of Kiev and Irbit motorcycles, crucial for supplying motorcycle owners with spare parts.

In 1960 as a part of KMZ experimental work a few four-wheel motoloaders were assembled: classical commercial vehicle design with plastic cargo platforms and box carriers. Named KMZ-: “Kiev” , these machines had rail frame, independent front wheel suspension, and a K-750M engine with a cooling fan (by the way these engines were widely used in the Soviet army not only as stationary power plants, but as auxiliary engines on some of artillery units that were able to quickly change their position in combat). Cargo load of the experimental cargo samples reached 600kg, but the machines were not mass made due to many reasons.

1967 KMZ K-650

(K-650 had exteneded finning on inlet side of cylinder heads)

It was in 1960, when the factory began work on developing a new type two-cylinder overhead valve (OHV) horizontally-opposed engine that would serve as a basis for a new generation of motorcycles. In 1967 for 50th Anniversary of the Red Revolution the factory began to mass-produce motorcycle K-650 “Dnepr”, which main design feature was 649cc OHV engine, 32 hp. Attempting to increase service life of the engine a new design was applied: crankshaft bearings were new type – automotive type shell bushes, cylinders were cast of aluminum and press-fitted a cast iron sleeve. At the same time MB-650 having a sidecar wheel drive was supplied for the army.


Later, when all-Union state standards were changed, the model was named ‘”MT-8” produced till 1971, when it was succeeded by MT-9 with slightly modernized chassis and most crucial – a reverse gear was added. Namely “Dnepr” MT-9 became the 500000th machine produced by KMZ in November 1971 and was assembled at KMZ till 1976.

Dnepr MT-9

Year 1974 marked a new era for buyers: new model MT-10 could boast a 12 volt onboard electric system that greatly improved effectiveness of lighting and signaling. Unfortunately, these were the only improvements besides a double cushion for sidecar passenger and a new fuel tank of increased volume.

Dnepr MT-10-36

In 1976 the factory conveyor issued the first series of new model Dnepr MT-10-36 that with modernized carburetors had increased engine power from 32 to 36 hp. The following year buyers could evaluate MT-12, though under a new model name there was a disguised old but reliable sidevalve 750cc engine and transmission with sidecar wheel drive of MB-750 used with a new undercarriage.

Dnepr MT-12 with sidecar wheel drive

Same machine named MB-750M was supplied to the Red army since 1973. There is no proven information for reasons of MT-12 appearing for open market sale, it may have been army authorities that rejected this motorcycle and KMZ was forced to use parts in reserve, but maybe the factory was ordered to “open secret stuff” and let this military production for general public. Interestingly that the motorcycle for civil use was modernized with a gearbox from OHV engine version, having not only a reverse gear, but also *automatic declutching mechanism when shifting gears.

1977 saw a very interesting motorcycle for road races. Kiev specialists developed “SSh-500” with two-stroke, four cylinder 494cc engine borrowed form a cutter, which was liquid cooled and had power of 75 hp at 10000rpm. The machine was equipped with 8×10” wheels and took part in USSR championships with success.

26 January 1979 the millionth motorcycle came off the KMZ conveyor.

Model “Dnepr” MT-10-36 was built till 1984 when it was changed with MT-11 having surprisingly engine of lower power, 32 hp instead of 36. Undercarriage got a parking brake, while other improvements were almost insufficient. Engine, gearbox and some other parts were made interchangeable with corresponding parts of motorcycles “Ural” of IMZ.

Dnepr MT-11

Two years later there appeared a version having MT 11 engine and sidecar wheel drive named MT-16.

Dnepr MT-16 with sidecar wheel drive

After Ukraine became a fully independent state, motorcycles from Kiev were named “Dnipro” (prounounced “dneepoh”) and production output was decreased gradually. Since 1991 a solo motorcycle “Dnipro” KMZ 8.157.02 was assembled together with unchanged models “Dnipro” MT- 11 and MT-16 making the factory production line, sidecar versions were offered with telescopic front fork or long lever front fork.

By the year 2000 it was thought that the factory was closed, though it even continued working on experimental machines such as 1000cc engine motorcycle and cargo tricycle capable of carrying 300kgs of load.

KMZ were hoping to come out of stagnation and were planning to conquer a proper sector of the Russian and overseas markets. Several models were prepared to see if they were demanded by market. Sadly motorcycle and sidecar production at Kiev Motorcycle Works ceased.

Translation ©Evgeny Radchenko 2014 especially for


There were two versions of the “Stubbie” leading link front forks. Early version used roller bearings, later version used ball bearings.
(note Catweazle) I never saw ball bearings but I’ve seen glide bearings used, steel and bronze

Motorcycle K-650 had more flared mudguards ends and cylinder heads had longer fins on inlet side. These longer fins were reduced on model MT-9 onwards.

*Gearbox MT804 with reverse gear and automatic declutching mechanism (foot clutch). There was also made a gearbox MT804 without reverse gear mechanism, the reverse gear hand lever was omitted for MT-9 solo motorcycles. These thus allowed a 5-speed arrangement. Gearbox MT804 interchanged with old-type “crash” gearbox, with shorter driveshaft length required.

MT-9 had a high profile camshaft. MT-10 had mild camshaft. MT-10 had increased diamter inlet valves.

Parts stamped with a star were from military assembly lines quality control.

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