Written by Martin Hodgson.
The agony and the ecstasy; that’s the roller coaster ride you learn to live with when you enter some of the world’s most prestigious motorcycle shows. But from his base in Russia’s beautiful cultural capital of St. Petersburg, Leonid Skakunov, has found a way to balance the triumphs with the adversities. And out of heart break, fuelled by determination, he took a bone stock 2011 Ducati 796 and crafted a show winning machine. It rolled into his Drive-in Workshop as a Monster and left as the God before you, Prometheus.
We’ve been told more than once by keyboard warriors that our taste in bikes sucks. But in a welcome twist of fate, that comment is absolutely correct for tonight’s ride. Why? Because this beautiful bike was manufactured by the industrial powerhouse of Fisker & Nielsen in Copenhagen; better known to you and I as the Nilfisk vacuum company. And if there’s ever a motorcycle we’d like to see brought back to life by its modern patent owners, it’d be this one. So direct from Russia’s Motorworld by V. Sheyanov, here’s a mint condition, cherry red 1938 Nimbus 750.
It’s the mid 1950s in Russia. As the country sunk deeper into its Cold War with the West, Soviet military minds began to realise that if push ever came to shove, they would probably need a replacement for their current army motorcycle, the Ural (or more correctly, the Irbit) M-72. Based on a brash reproduction of the BMW R71, its 20-year-old days were numbered. The replacement? Well, if pinching ideas from Deutschland worked once… So they acquired themselves an R51/3 and got to work removing the pork knuckle and adding a little beef stroganoff of their own. And then they took it racing. The result? Meet the Ural M-52S from Motorworld by V. Sheyanov.
Nyen. Saint Petersburg. Petrograd. Leningrad. It’s the city with more names than Rasputin had orgies. Along with the Mad Monk, Saint Petersburg has been at the centre of Russia’s tumultuous past century of history, including being its imperial capital and the root of the Communist revolution of 1917. It’s now one of the most ‘Western’ cities in Russia (both socially and geographically) and serves as the country’s cultural epicentre. So it makes sense that if there’s anywhere in the nation’s vast expanse that would sprout a world-class bike shop, it would be here. Enter Butcher Garage, a bunch of custom Vespa builders who’ve undergone a little revolution of their own and shifted their mitts onto some Japanese metal. Here’s their latest build, a Honda simply called ‘The Scrambler”.
The great American writer and 1949 Nobel Prize winner for Literature, William Faulkner once said of the past, “History is not was, it is.” Having lived through two world wars, the great depression and hailing from the deep south of the USA he had seen more history than most ever will. But he was always well aware never to believe one’s own hype nor unchecked bold claims. So while Honda, Ducati and Aprilia have used V4 engines to great success in MotoGP and WSBK with supreme technological achievements, you have to go back to the dark times of the Great Depression to find their inspiration. And this is it. The Matchless Silver Hawk, a V4-equipped motorcycle introduced to the world at the 1930 Motorcycle Show in Olympia, London. So where did we find such an incredible example? In the Motos of War collection from our great friends in Russia, The Motorworld by V.Sheyanov, of course.
It’s Friday. So what better way to end the week than a stroll (or maybe a brisk ride) down memory lane with our favourite Russian Bike Museum that actually lets you jump the cordons and ride their collection. The fools! Yes – it’s time for another killer classic from Mother Russia’s The Motorworld by V.Sheyanov. This time, it’s a Russian bike too – but with some good ol’ Milwaukee know-how and a dash of Deutschland delight thrown in for good measure. You’d think that such a messy mix of influences would result is something looking like a design-by-comittee nightmare, but behold one of the most beautiful vintage bikes we’ve ever seen. Please say a big ‘Здравствуйте’ to the wonderful ПМЗ-А-750, also known as the ‘Podolskian Mechanical Factory A Seven Fifty’.
We were sent this CB1000 by one of our readers, Nik from Moscow. He built a lot of the bike himself. Nik hand made the clip-ons, tach cover and even the exhaust cans with titan pipes from Japan. It also has Brembo calipers, TSS shocks and a radial front master cylinder from a GSX-R1000. Unlike the popular CB550 and CB750 you don’t see many CB1000’s done cafe racer style. It actually makes a mean looking modern cafe racer and we take our helmets off to you Nik. [Unfortunately Nik crashed this bike 2 weeks after completing it. We hope it wasn’t too bad mate].
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