Cold War-Era Urals and Dneprs

Red October Motorcycles brings Cold War-era Urals and Dneprs in from the cold

| November/December 2005

  • Bikes like the M72 are proletariat machines built for basic transportation — not for profit
    Although new Urals are still being imported to the United States, bikes like the M72 are proletariat machines built for basic transportation — not for profit.
    Photo by Ric Anderson
  • Morris’ finds included Russian catalogs and manuals, as well as a box of immaculately preserved speedometers
    Morris’ finds included Russian catalogs and manuals, as well as a box of immaculately preserved speedometers.
    Photo by Ric Anderson
  • Bill Morris describes the Cold War-era bikes he brought back from Kazakhstan as two-wheeled tractors
    John Deere meets BMW: Bill Morris describes the Cold War-era bikes he brought back from Kazakhstan as two-wheeled tractors.
    Photo by Ric Anderson
  • A bust of Lenin keeps watch over Morris’ shop
    A bust of Lenin keeps watch over Morris’ shop.
    Photo by Ric Anderson
  • A rear machine-gun mount and trailer
    A rear machine-gun mount and trailer.
    Photo by Ric Anderson
  • Morris’ finds included Russian catalogs and manuals, as well as a box of immaculately preserved speedometers
    Morris’ finds included Russian catalogs and manuals, as well as a box of immaculately preserved speedometers.
    Photo by Ric Anderson
  • Ural M72
    Ural M72
    Photo by Ric Anderson

  • Bikes like the M72 are proletariat machines built for basic transportation — not for profit
  • Morris’ finds included Russian catalogs and manuals, as well as a box of immaculately preserved speedometers
  • Bill Morris describes the Cold War-era bikes he brought back from Kazakhstan as two-wheeled tractors
  • A bust of Lenin keeps watch over Morris’ shop
  • A rear machine-gun mount and trailer
  • Morris’ finds included Russian catalogs and manuals, as well as a box of immaculately preserved speedometers
  • Ural M72

M72/Ural Retro

Years produced: 1939-present
Total production: 3 million-plus
Claimed power: 40bhp @ 5,600rpm
Top speed: 87mph (est.)
Engine type: 745cc, air-cooled, four-stroke, horizontally opposed two-cylinder
Weight (dry): 240kg (529lb)
Price then: Unwavering allegiance to Soviet doctrine
Price now: $10,495 (with sidecar)

It was love at first sight, but the object of affection was no prom queen.

Bill Morris had taken only a passing interested in motorcycles before he traveled to the former Soviet Union in 2002 and noticed locals riding Cold War-era Urals and Dneprs.

"These aren’t prestige vehicles over there, they’re basic transportation," Morris says. "You could see them on the highway as you were going out of the city; people from the country would be driving into town. You’d see three or four guys hanging off this thing, and the sidecar would be full of watermelons or something that they were bringing into market.

"I just thought they were totally cool. I decided to buy one and drive it around."



By the spring of 2005, Morris was sharing his new hobby with collectors in the United States through a self-operated import business, Red October Motorcycles, which specializes in Ural M72 and Dnepr MV-750 motorcycles.

Morris formed the business after returning from Almaty, Kazakhstan, where he and his wife, Sharon Eicher, spent two years working at a university — he as the director of buildings and grounds, she as a development economics professor.



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