Coming from Russia with love: Geoff tries Soviet machines almost as old as he is – Geoff Hill

Our Hill man made an interesting discovery in Barry Cooper’s vintage collection, which included former Army Dniepers and a 17bhp two-stroke 350cc Izh Jupiter, which Barry’s brother had built. found during house cleaning.

Geoff aboard the Izh Jupiter on his way home to Natasha for a lamb stew and vodka
Geoff aboard the Izh Jupiter on his way home to Natasha for a lamb stew and vodka

The old bikes are good – until you ride them.

The only exception among the ones I have is a 1942 Harley WLA, a sweet and light ride that is a gem compared to a dreaded 1948 Panhead with a suicide clutch, an Electra The 1978 Glide was like trying to control a 345kg blancmange and an Ural that was, er, farming.

Still, always open to new experiences, I undeterred went to Evolution Motor Works, the custom shop that supplied the aforementioned Harleys, to meet Barry Cooper.

Amazing – A BMW R 100 customized by Evolution for a customer

Barry, a former aircraft engineer who has traveled around the world repairing Boeings beyond a few years of restoring Spitfires as chief engineer for Trent Aero in Nottingham, opened the Royal Enfield dealership in Wales, then retired retired in Northern Ireland with his wife Pat and now works part-time at the company that rebuilds Evolution wheels and other bits and bobs.

But he has been riding motorcycles since buying his first bike in 1961 as a 17-year-old RAF trainee, the BSA C11G, and his real passion is old Union bikes. Buckets, for the simple reason that they are unusual and cheap.

That’s why half an hour later I stood beside him as he enthusiastically opened his garage door – despite his insistence that it was perfectly fine for his license plate to start with MIG. random.

Unique – Barry in his Blackjack Avion, powered by a 2CV . engine

The first was not a motorcycle, but an Avion tricycle made by the Cornwall company Blackjack and powered by a Citroën 2CV engine. Brilliant.

Behind it is a 1965 former Soviet Army Dnieper K750, essentially a Ukrainian version of the Ural, complete with a respirator case, jerry cans, and ammunition canisters.

“It took me two years to get it running properly, but it was really nice to ride, with a smooth engine,” he said.

Amazing – Barry’s Russian Izh two strokes, one 49 and one Jupiter

Next to it was a slim 1971 black Izh Jupiter 2, a pair of 350cc two-stroke 17bhp that his brother had found while moving house.

“The Izh was one of the most produced motorcycles in the world at one stage. I overhauled the engine, then repainted it and attached a bar end indicator light so I could use it as my daily ride,” says Barry.

“And people say Russian bikes are basic and unreliable, but honestly, they’re not worse than old British bikes.

Browse more than 19,000 new and used bicycles for sale at

“They also have some really clever techniques. The entire rear fender and saddle are hinged for easy rear wheel removal, and the cylinders are designed to blow warm air over the cabin to prevent freezing in the winter. winter.

Next to it was a green 1955 two-stroke Izh 49 350cc with a unique manual and foot shifter, presumably for indecisive cyclists.

“It’s rated at 11bhp on a clear day and is comfortable cruising at about 45mph, but then again it has a really smart dual oil bath and cooler,” says Barry.

Rugged – Dnieper K750, complete with respirator case, jerry can and ammo case on the far side

Even more bizarre is the GTW built by Geoff Thomas White, which includes a Citroën Visa 650cc engine, a 2CV transmission complete with reverse gear, Honda wheels, front fork and fuel tank, a fabricated frame and swingarm. at home and BMW K750 headlight system.

Barry started it up, and the air was filled with an intriguing combination of hum and air-cooled smoke that made me wonder if there was a respirator in the Dnieper’s case.

“Like I said, the Dnieper is more or less the Ukrainian version of the Russian Ural, which, as you know, is basically a replica of a 1940s BMW. The Germans gave away quite a few of them to people. Russia in 1941 against their will, and the Russians copied them. Anyhow, would you like to see what I brought back from Kabul? ‘ said Barry.

Firepower – Barry with Royal Enfield Bullet, Enfield Snider 1861 rifle and Afghan flint pistol – purchased in Kabul for £25 each

Who could resist a question like that? Turns out to be a Jezail, 18 years old order or 19 order Afghanistan’s century-old flintlock musket is made of steel, brass, and bronze, probably a blacksmith’s, and still produces an impressive spark.

Barry bought it at Chicken Street in Kabul for £25 and paid the same price for an 1861 Enfield Snider .577 rifle, complete with an unsettling bayonet reminiscent of his famous quote. Corporal Jones in Dad’s Army: “They don’t like it being up to them, you know. “Indeed, I wouldn’t either.

And so, time to ride. We were running out of time, and I didn’t want to push my luck with Barry’s precious collection, so he suggested Izh Jupiter.

Dinky – Izh . Ignition Switch

And you know what? It’s lovely – light, easy to handle, with gentle power distribution, a neat transmission and good brakes if you use the front and rear together.

I hum happily at 45mph, imagining myself cooking wine home through the suburbs of Irkutsk after a hard day at the beetroot compound with a beautiful wife named Natasha for her famous lamb stew and a good bottle of vodka.

But then I remembered that I was married and was forced to return to the real world, which I tried to avoid as much as possible.

Exquisite – Custom BMW R 100 saddle

* Evolution Motor Works is in

Browse more than 19,000 new and used bicycles for sale at Coming from Russia with love: Geoff tries Soviet machines almost as old as he is - Geoff Hill

Fry Electronics Team

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