Dnepr Motorcycles and Motorcycle Combinations

Dnepr MT-12 motorcycle with sidecar.

The Soviet Dnepr M-72 motorcycle combination was a copy of the German BMW R71 heavy tourer bike. The R71 was a civilian model which might have seen military service with the Wehrmacht, had it not been surpassed by the BMW R75 which was already available as a prototype in 1938. The R71 had been selected for production in the Soviet Union well before the war. A Soviet aircraft engineer by the name of Serdjukow shipped several R71 motorcycles home for analysis, and these bikes were used as prototypes for the Soviet production. Serdjukow worked at the BWM plant in Munich from 1935 to 1940, he spoke German and had many friends among his German colleagues. Apparently, Serdjukow was given access to R71 blueprints and parts, because the motorcycle was no longer top of the line.

The Soviet copy of the BMW R71 was designated Dnepr M-72, and it is still being manufactured in China today. When the Soviet Army captured BMW R75 motorcycle combinations during the war, an attempt was made to incorporate its advanced features in an upgraded Dnepr M-73 motorcycle combination with powered sidecar. However, by the time the M-73 was finally ready for production the Soviet Army had enough lend-lease Jeeps available to fill the small transport role, and the M-73 project was not pursued further. After the war, production of the original M-72 continued until 1956 when it was surpassed by the M-72 M.

  • Dnepr M-72 (ZIS Moscow, 1941)
  • Dnepr M-72 (Irbitskij Moto-Zawod, Siberia, 1942–1956)
  • Changjiang 750 (China, 1956–today)
  • Dnepr M-72 M (Irbitskij Moto-Zawod, Siberia, 1956–1961)

In 1941, the production of M-72 motorcycles was moved from the ZIS automobile factory in Moscow to a former brewery in Irbitsk, Siberia.

  • Dnepr M-72 (Charkow, 1941)
  • Dnepr M-72 (GAZ Gorkij, 1941–1950)
  • Dnepr M-72 (Kiew, 1951–1956)
  • Dnepr M-72 N (Kiev, 1956–1960)
  • Dnepr K 750 (Kiev, 1960–1963)
  • Dnepr K 750 M (Kiev, 1963–1977)
  • Dnepr MT-11 (Kiev, 1985–today)

The production of M-72 motorcycles at the Charkow factory was merged with the M-72 assembly plant at the GAZ factory in Gorkij. This plant moved from Gorkij to Kiev in 1950.

  • Dnepr M-73 Prototype with powered Sidecar
  • Dnepr MB-750 with powered Sidecar (Kiev, 1964–1973)
  • Dnepr MB-750 M with powered Sidecar (Kiev, 1973–1977)
  • Dnepr MT-12 with powered Sidecar (Kiev, 1977–1982)
  • Dnepr MT-16 with powered Sidecar (Kiev, 1985–today)

In 1964 the Soviet Army received improved MB-750 motorcycle combinations with powered sidecars similar to the original Dnepr M-73 prototype, but which used the new Dnepr K 750 M motorcycle.

Available Scale Model Kits

There are no models of the Dnepr motorcycle immediately available, but the German BMW R75 is similar enough in the smaller miniature scales.

Technical Specifications

  • Dnepr M-72 Motorcycle and Motorcycle Combination
  • Engine: 2-cylinder, H-I-A-C, 745 cc, 16.4 kw @ 4500 rpm
  • Maximum Speed: 105 km/h, 95 km/h with sidecar
  • Transmission: 4 Forward
  • Brakes: Hydraulic rear and sidecar brakes
  • Tires: 3.75-19
  • Length: 2155 mm, 2420 mm with sidecar
  • Width: 825 mm, 1600 mm with sidecar
  • Height: 980 mm
  • Weight: 205 kg, 335 kg with sidecar
  • Production: 1941–today


  • Tragatsch, Erwin: Berühmte Motorräder.
  • Pirsig, Robert M.: ZEN and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.

Museum Exhibits

Dnepr MT-12 Motorrad mit Seitenwagen

Dnepr M-72 combination, Auto & Technik Museum Sinsheim, Germany

Dnepr MT-12 combination, privately owned by a German collector

Dnepr MT-12 combination, privately owned by a German collector

Historical Employment

  • Soviet Army, Police & Government, 1941–today
  • Chinese Army, 1956–today

Dnepr motorcylces were painted olive green (army), dark blue (police) or black (government) until 1954, when civilian colour schemes became available as well.

Possible Conversions

  • Heavy Solo Motorcycle

Small scale modellers may use the BMW R75 motorcycle combination to represent a Soviet Dnepr M-72. The Dnepr M-72 was also used as a solo machine for dispatch riders.

Soviet Red Army Miniatures of World War Two