You find custom builders in the most unlikely of places. A month ago, we featured a bike from Hong Kong for the first time; today, we’re showing our first custom from Siberia. It’s a little different to our usual fare, but bear with us.
This rather stylish little bobber-flavored Ural chop comes from the small but well-equipped workshop of Roman Molchanov, who lives in Novosibirsk—the third biggest city in Russia. It’s about 900 miles (1,500 km) east of Irbit, where Ural motorcycles have been made since 1941.
Roman’s Ural is a little younger than that, but not much: it’s an IMZ M72 built in 1954. The M72 was a reverse-engineered version of the late-1930s BMW R71, hence the similar-looking cylinder heads with eight visible boltholes on either side.
The custom motorcycle scene is small in Siberia. That’s not surprising, given the climate—the average daily temperature in midwinter is somewhere around 3 °F (-15 °C). Still, that hasn’t detered Roman from building around 30 bikes so far.
Roman’s English is limited and we don’t speak Russian at all, but we’ve managed to figure out what he’s done. He chose the M72 because it’s rare to see a custom M72 in Russia. “And no electronics, no microchips. Absolute simplicity and reliability.”
It’s no secret that the build quality of early Urals was somewhat suspect, so Roman stripped the M72 down to the frame, removed the brackets he didn’t need, re-welded the ones he did, and tidied up all the seams.Read More...
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