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AK-47 manufacturer Kalashnikov unveils electric motorcycles

They give new meaning to the phrase 'Gunning the throttle'...

RUSSIA is behind some of the most resilient (and least attractive) military vehicles around – just take a look at the BMP-1 or the Taurus 2x2.

And for a country of which 65 per cent is covered by permafrost, and an estimated 70 per cent is uninhabitable, it’s hardly surprising.

But the latest two-wheelers to emerge from the Soviet state buck the trend. They’re subtle, smart and – despite being built by legendary AK-47 manufacturer Kalashnikov – aren’t adorned with weaponry.

The Kalashnikov UM-1 (Urban Moto) and SM-1 (Super Moto) were unveiled at the 2018 International Military Technical Forum last week. The electric bikes are the next generation of the ‘Concern’ e-bikes originally designed to be used by Russia’s special forces and the 2018 World Cup Police.

The UM-1 is distinctly ‘adventure’, with knobbly tyres, high ground clearance, long-travel suspension, engine (or would that be battery) bars, integrated panniers and a tall screen. It looks somewhat similar to KTM’s adventure family – although I wouldn’t say that too loudly in front of any gun-toting Kalashnikov employees.

The SM-1, meanwhile, shares many of the same features, including inverted front forks, knobblies, chain drive, sturdy swingarm and a LiFePO4 battery, but the exposed trellis frame and lower seat make it much more street-friendly.

Firm details are a little scant, but Kalashnikov’s website claims they weigh between 165 and 245kgs, can hit at least 62 mph and will make 93 miles on a single charge – that’s half more than the military bike, which reportedly only had a 62-mile range.

They’re not going to win any prizes in the EV motorcycle market – for now, that is. But if the bikes live up to Kalashnikov’s indestructible reputation, they’ll certainly be going places (when battery range improves…) And their silent running will no doubt be useful to Spetsnaz types in Syria, Chechnya, or wherever the Russian Bear turns its attention next.

Both are manufactured by subsidiary IZH, although there’s no word on if and when they will become available to general public. Although, with Kalashnikov also announcing an EV car to rival the likes of Tesla, it sounds like the arms company is electrifying itself. How terrifying...

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