A Piece of History: the Origin of Cossack Motorcycles

a nude hot girl on an Izh Jupiter motorcycle

Ok fellas, the topic I’m about to cover this time is a generic one and I hope it will be useful to those of you, who have little or no knowledge about Cossack motorcycles. I’m gonna answer the most common questions people have about these bikes.

What Does the Term “Cossack Motorcycles” Mean?

Back then, during soviet times, there was a special company that dealt with all motorcycles produced in the soviet union, and all those bikes were branded as Cossack Motorcycles. So, generally speaking, the term “cossack motorcycles” includes all bikes produced in the former soviet union. Even though the term also includes such bikes as Izh (the one on the featured image), Minks, etc, the most popular ones are Dnipro MT and Ural, so, when you hear someone saying this term, you can be sure this person means Dnipro or Ural.

As for the idea to name the bikes “Cossack”, well, everything is simple. A few centuries ago when we had slavery and Ukraine was occupied by poland and russia, those men who valued their freedom above all and were ready to fight and die for independence were called the Cossacks. This was an extremely powerful military formation that was able to successfully fight the forces of russia, poland and osman empire. Thanks to their love for freedom, fearless and excellent horse-riding skills Cossacks became an ideal brand name to represent soviet motorcycles.

How Were Those Bikes Created?

Both Dnepr and Ural have the same origin – BMW, nope, it’s not a joke. I know, it’s hard to believe that these bikes with all their engineering problems have something to do this the world-famous BMW company, but they really do.

BMW R71 near a brick wall

an example of a BMW R71 motorcycle

In 1940 the soviet union decided to equip its army with military motorcycles. They were lazy enough to design something and thus decided to simply copy BMW R71, which had already proven itself to be a high class military motorcycle in the German army. So, soviet anonymously bought 5 BMW R71 somewhere in Sweden, got them disassembled, copied and created the M-72 motorcycle. Unfortunately, as it always happens, the copy was far not as high quality as the original bike and had a number of problems that merged to later versions of soviet heavy motorcycles (K-750 by KMZ, M-61 by IMZ). Later K-750 was replaced with the K-650 model that was named the Dnipro MT-8, and M-61 was replaced with the Ural M-62 motorcycle.

What Are the Latest Models of Dnepr and Ural Motorcycles?

Dnipro 14.9M in a museim

an example of a Dnipro Escort 14.9M

The latest model of a Dnepr MT is the Dnipro KMZ 8.157.01, it’s a solo (without a sidecar) heavy motorcycle that became available for buyers in 1991. This model is a rather downgraded version of the Dnepr Escort 14.9 model that was made solely for escorting big bosses in kremlin. I will make a separate post about the Dnepr Escort 14.9 in the future, because it deserves much more than a few lines in a general post. As you can see, even the latest model from KMZ is a rather outdated product that needs thorough upgrade before it becomes really efficient and reliable.

a nice-looking Ural Wolf

an example of a Ural Wolf

When speaking about the latest products of IMZ, the situation is slightly better. Most models are as old as the ones from KMZ, but there are several rather modern models like Ural Wolf (btw, this model is no longer produced) and Ural Retro. Indeed, the mentioned models are much better than the previous ones thanks to using lots of European, American and Japanese parts (brakes, ignition, carburetors, etc.), but, unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that the models are really high quality. They still have some engineering issues connected to the engine itself, so these bikes need some manual improvements even despite being rather pricy.

Hope this post gave you better understanding of what cossack motorcycles are, how they were created and why they are not as reliable as we would like them to be. If you need some additional information or have some specific questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments below. I’ll do my best to answer them asap.

Alex White
Alex White
I'm just a guy who values 3 things in life: girls, bikes and freedom. I get them all with my custom-built Dnipro MT. Cossack motorcycles are truly unique and reliable bikes if being treated right, and I decided to create this blog and share my vast experience and love for cossack bikes with other bikers all over the world. Need my help or advice? Contact me via skype or email.


  1. alan j boyle says:

    I love the look of the Ural Wolf but cant seem to find one in my price range nor in the UK, I have decided to build my own and give it a bit more power with a VW Beetle 1200cc engine . It will be very important to produce the Ural wolf design and the overal riding stance of the Ural Wolf and of cause it must be all BLACK, matt, satain and gloss black. It would be rude not to hahahaha.
    ride safe guys and gals
    Sheffield, England, UK

    • Alex White says:

      Hi Alan,

      Ural Wolves are rear because not many of them were built, besides, it’s not the best chopper in the world 🙂 I mean most folks buy Urals and Dnipros because they love riding with sidecars and love their close to military look. Much less people use those bikes as solos. Lots of folks are fond of different custom bikes built from cossack motorcycles because of the look of flat-twins. And the Ural Wolf doesn’t look absolutely unique (yet, it does have its style) because it mostly look like a standard chopper but with a flat-twin.

      I’m sure you won’t have problems building such a bike. Building such a frame from scratch costs about $200 or maybe even lower in Ukraine. I don’t know the prices in the UK, but it shouldn’t be too high. Once you have a frame, you can take any wheels you like from any chopper, the same situation is with the front fork, handlebar, shocks, etc. Those parts of the Wolf are not unique and can easily be substituted.

      If you like flat twins like I do, I’d suggest you try finding some BMW R30-R100 engine and gearbox. Those engines and gearboxes look much alike but are more reliable than the ones Urals have. The result will look much more like the Ural Wolf than the one with the Beetle engine.

  2. Billy Holcomb says:

    Hi All.
    Billy here from the USA.
    Read your blog and enjoyed it.
    If I can help you in anyway give out a shout via email.
    You said that you have a passion for girls,bikes and freedom. LOL ( Smart Man !)
    I have found that my bike comes first. It gives me my freedom and for some odd reason that Harley always seems to get the girl. 😉
    Anyway like I said . Enjoyed the blog.

    • Alex White says:

      Hey Billy,

      Thanks for stopping by and commenting 😉 Yeah, I guess you are right, a nice bike can help you have it all.

      Yet, considering the current situation we have in Ukraine, I’d say freedom is on the first place for me and most Ukrainians. The russian dickhead putin started a war against my country and we all now know how important freedom is.

      P.S. fortunately russians are too stupid and drunk to be good fighters and they failed to conquer my country 🙂

  3. Rob says:

    Hey Up Alex, Lincolnshire England here (The land that time forgot). Anyway, just about to swap one of my old Kawasaki KDX’s for a Cossack Jupiter 3. Probably a bad deal but ive got a few KDX’s and fancy something different to potter about on. My question is, can they be pepped up a bit??? Are they best staying standard??? How reliable etc etc??? Got loads of questions really but that’ll do for now.
    Cheers, all the best. Rob.

    • Alex White says:

      Hey Rob,

      I don’t usually use the word “reliable” when talking about soviet made cars, motorcycles and spare parts and IZH Jupiter is no exception 🙂

      You do can make it better a bit by installing newer parts, for example a new ignition system, a new carb, etc., but when it comes to soviet made spare parts, it’s always a gamble – one day you can buy a real junk, the other day you might be lucky to buy a spare part that will last for years.

      The motorcycle itself is quite simple and I’m sure you will have no problem should you plan to upgrade it or just service and leave it as it is.

      Let me know if you have any other questions.

      P.S. I’ve been quite busy lately and have no time for the website. If you have some urgent questions, feel free to contact me via skype.

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