Hammer Bike builds the “Very First” Ural Flat Tracker…
In 1939, alarmed with Hitler’s ambitions in Europe, the Soviet Union decided they needed a new heavy-duty motorcycle as part of their military rearmament. In order to save time, they based the design on the BMW R71. Some sources say the USSR obtained the R71 blueprints via the short-lived Molotov-Ribbentrop nonaggression pact between the two countries, while others say the Soviet Minister of Foreign Affairs secretly arranged the purchase of five BMW R71 motorcycles from Sweden for Soviet designers to reverse-engineer.
In either case, the M-72 appeared in 1941, and would become one of the most enduring military motorcycles of all time, remaining in production until 1960. Most often seen with a sidecar attached, the M-72 — built by both Dnepr and Ural, among others — earned a reputation as a steadfast, go-anywhere machine with its 746cc, 22-hp boxer engine.
The engine had a two-bearing crankshaft with roller bearings for the connecting rods. The cast-iron cylinders were coated with an anticorrosive, heat-resistant black varnish, and the bike’s auxiliary components (alternator, oil pump, etc.) were gear-driven.
“This motorcycle was also equipped with bags for ammunition and spare parts, special brackets with a pan-and-tilt arrangement to install a machine gun…The army also got in very small numbers of motorcycle modifications with an 82-mm mortar launcher mounted instead of the sidecar case.” –Motos of War
Fast forward to 2023, and Roman Molchanov of Hammer Bike has brought this 1955 Ural M-72 back to life as a personal project:
“Bears are found here and it is winter for half a year and it is very cold. Six months of winter allows you to work very well on motorcycles.”
Roman built his Ural according to the “canons” of flat track racing, looking to old Harley-Davidson flathead and XR750 trackers for inspiration. He rebuilt the boxer engine with high-compression forged pistons, modified heads, racing cam, and a lightened flywheel — modifications similar to the Ural racing motors of the 1950s. It’s also running Buell forks and Comstar wheels.
Not only did Roman pull significantly more ponies from the old flathead boxer engine, but he says he shaved some 60 kg from the bike — 130+ pounds! It now weighs 166 kg (366 lbs) instead of 225 kg (496 lbs).
Roman says it’s the first Ural flat-tracker he’s ever seen in person or online — possibly a world first:
“It is called 1-Nah, which means the very first. After all, no one has yet built a real flat tracker from the old Urals! I was first!”
Below, we talk to Roman for more details on this Ural flat tracker.
Ural Flat Tracker: Builder Interview
• Please tell us a bit about yourself, your history with motorcycles, and your workshop.
My name is Roman Molchanov. I’ve been customizing motorcycles for 20 years. My workshop is located in Siberia, in the city of Novosibirsk. Bears are found here and it is winter for half a year and it is very cold. Six months of winter allows you to work very well on motorcycles.
• What’s the make, model, and year of the bike?
This motorcycle is based on the 1955 Ural M-72.
• Why was this bike built?
Built according to the canons of flat track racing. This is my personal project.
• What was the design concept and what influenced the build?
The design is inspired by old XR racing Harleys.
• What custom work was done to the bike?
The engine has been seriously boosted, and the weight of the motorcycle has been reduced by 60 kg!
• Does the bike have a nickname?
It is called 1-Nah, which means the very first. After all, no one has yet built a real flat tracker from the old Urals! I was first!
• Can you tell us what it’s like to ride?
It rides very well, fast and slides well.
• What’s next?
Now I working on from new model Super-Nah with supercharged flathead Ural engine.