Viking Rider

Viking Rider

Damsel captured this photo as we pulled into the grocery store parking lot yesterday. The rider’s helmet made me think of what I imagine the Vikings might have worn for headgear. The motorcycle and sidecar are an unusual sight in this part of the world; it is a classic Russian IMZ-Ural.

From Wikipedia:

IMZ-Ural is a Russian maker of heavy sidecar motorcycles.

In 1940, the Soviet Union acquired the design and production techniques for BMW R71 motorcycles and sidecars.The first M-72 model was finished in 1941. Originally, factories were to be located in Moscow, Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), and Kharkov, but due to the approach of Nazi German troops, the Moscow facilities were moved to Irbit, and the Leningrad and Kharkov facilities to Gorkiy (now called Nizhny Novgorod).

The origins of the IMZ-Ural are linked to developments in the Eastern Front during World War II. The Soviet Union was preparing for possible military action by Nazi Germany. Joseph Stalin ordered the Soviet military to prepare in all possible areas, including the ground forces that would be defending the Soviet Union against invading German tanks and infantry. Mobility was especially stressed after the Soviet Union had witnessed the effect of the blitzkrieg on Poland.


Other than the headgear on the rider, the man’s vest is also interesting. The patch on his right side is the combat service identification badge of the US Army’s 1st Cavalry Division. On the left side of the vest are more patches and decorations, most of which I can’t make out from the photo. However, there are also military service ribbons. I can’t tell if one of them is a Vietnam service ribbon, again due to resolution issues.

The Viking Rider mounted his unique vehicle and was gone before I could ask about the motorcycle and thank him for his service. Maybe we will see him again. He won’t be hard to notice.

Click on the image to enlarge.


  1. drjim said,

    September 28, 2018 @ 17:24:47

    I’ve seen those cruising around in SoCal, and I think there’s been one or two at Old Fort MacArthur Days in San Pedro.

    I thought they were a funny-looking BMW when I first saw one, and then learned how they came about, much like how the Russians cloned the Studebaker trucks we gave them.

  2. CapnBob said,

    September 28, 2018 @ 18:53:38

    I had not noticed them before the Viking helmet guy.

    Interesting about Studebaker trucks. I’ll have to do some research on it.

  3. drjim said,

    September 28, 2018 @ 20:45:08×6_truck

    And we all know the B-29 was cloned.

  4. CapnBob said,

    September 29, 2018 @ 10:11:26

    Thanks for the link, DrJim. Cool stuff!

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