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Ish, rare and yet not sought after…

Rare and yet not sought after…
ER Classics Desktop 2022

As a motorcycle dealer, what should you say to a doubting candidate if you don't know it yourself anymore? “But he's purple. Purple! PURPLE!!! Buy it anyway!”

Ish… Or something

IZj (Russian: ИЖ) is a Russian motorcycle brand, produced in Izhevsk by Izhmash, from 1996 IzhMoto. Nice old mechanical artifacts, these Russian working animals.


Because working animals, those are these 350 cc two-strokes

They are completely made for transporting a whole family plus all their belongings with a third wheel. Not out of passion, but out of dire necessity. And that still applies today. Because what was once the Soviet Union, now still exists outside the urban centers and a limited number of entrepreneurs born in the countryside in the 1950s and poverty. Motorized transport is not yet a 'fun' thing or a lifestyle. But the Ish has significantly more torque than a Jawa 350 twin, and a solo Ish with sidecar transmission lets you pull some masterful wheelies.

In the beginning

The first 'Russian' motorcycles (IL-1) were based on Harley-Davidsons and Indians, but had their own 1200 cc V-twin engine. The IL-1 did not go into production because the idea was too clunky. The type designations were simple, in 1928 the IL-1 to 5 were built. The 1 and 2 had their own V-twin, the 3 had a 750 cc Wanderer-V-twin, the 4 had its own single-cylinder two-stroke and the 5 had a 500 cc Neander block. From 1933, lighter two-stroke models were built. These were copied from the DKW L 300.

Mass production of motorcycles started in 1946 under the name IZ

IZj became fairly well known in the West as a producer of the Jupiter and Planeta motorcycles. The Planeta models were introduced in 1962, the Jupiter models in 1965. In some countries (eg Great Britain) sold under the name Cossack. IZj became one of the largest motorcycle manufacturers in the USSR, mainly specializing in medium-sized motorcycles in the 350 cc class.

In 2009, 80 years after the first Russian motorcycle production, production was discontinued.

Until then, these motorcycles remained proof that things from the former Soviet Union were clunky, solid and heavy-duty. Unfortunately, in conjunction with a questionable quality, this did not give the ultimate desired end result. But the whole setup was so simple that you could always get such a product up and running with the supplied on-board tools, a block of wood and a little patience.

Foreign exchange wanted

Desperate to get Western currencies, Ish came up with the last emergency jump: they gave their 350 cc twin a resolute makeover. They gave it a sleek modern styling and sparkling colors. The result? You can find that heartwarming or disgusting. But in the times we live in, it is at least convincing proof that classic motorcycles don't have to be priceless. On the contrary.

Ish… Or something

In Russian the factory is called IZj, but due to incorrect translations from the Cyrillic script you sometimes read Ish, Iesch, Isch, IJ or Ug.

Our fashion model just got out of the company van during an unplanned visit to Loods 8 in Arnhem. The engine was apparently purchased new by an employee of a large psychiatric institution who has only used the machine on the 'company property'. So perhaps he was a permanent resident instead of an employee. But that doesn't make it any less of a find. And whether this late Ish is beautiful or ugly? We dare not say anything about that because tastes differ.

Rare and yet not sought after…
Rare and yet not sought after…

2 Comments

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  1. Not always the finishing touch, but these 350s of Russian manufacture are extremely solid and strong.
    If you really want to do it right, you translate it Cyrillic to IZH…but because that is a “schj” sound to 'us', you do see a lot of ISH…just like 'shit'..

    Comparable to a DKW /MZ 350; very strong at the bottom, so pre-eminently a tensioner.
    Unfortunately, 'Russian' is still too often associated with 'quality Ascension', while if you use such things as they are intended they are almost indestructible…

    Block oil pump, just old fashioned mixture lubrication, they last forever.

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