The M-72 was a motorcycle built by the Soviet Union. Conceived as a replacement for the two heavy motorcycles used by the Red Army—the TIZ-AM-600 and PMZ-A-750—both of which had performed unsatisfactorily during the Winter War with Finland and were considered outdated designs. The replacement chosen was the BMW R 71 which had been rejected by the Wehrmacht as a replacement for the R 12. As a result of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact the necessary legal, political and economic procedures were in place for BMW to provide the design, tooling and training for the manufacture of the motorcycle and military sidecar.
|Manufacturer||USSR, various state factories|
|Weight||225 kg (496 lb) (conventional)|
350 kg (770 lb) (sidecar)  (wet)
Production was intended at three factories located in Moscow, Leningrad, and Kharkov with ancillary items coming from several other factories. Only the Moscow factory MMZ produced any complete motorcycles prior to the German invasion and commencement of the Eastern Front (World War II).
The Moscow factory was moved east to the town of Irbit in Western Siberia and renamed IMZ. The Kharkiv and Leningrad factories were relocated to Gorkiy on the outskirts of the GAZ car/truck plant and renamed GMZ. During the war, motorcycles were produced at both IMZ and GMZ, however all sidecars for both the M-72 and Lend-Lease bikes were produced at Gorkiy. In 1952 500 M-72 engines were shipped from IMZ to enable KMZ factory in Kiev Ukraine to produce their first batch of M-72s. KMZ produced M-72 until 1956. A closely related model the M-72N was produced later.
In 1957 the Soviets sold the M72 production line(s) to PRC (People's Republic of China). The IMZ plant supplied M-72 military bikes to the PRC up to the transfer of M-72 production line in 1957 and continued to supply parts to the PRC until 1960. Production continued in China through the mid-1980s, making the M72 the vehicle with the longest production life, from The BMW R71 in 1938, to current day Chang Jiang CJ750.
M-72 motorcycles were predominantly produced with a sidecar attached, although some solos made appearances for escort duties and the like.
M-72 were produced at IMZ in Irbit from 1942 until 1955. A subsequent model, the M-72M was produced from 1955 until 1960.
The M72 is often referred to as "Ural" or "Dnepr". This is not correct as these names are model names, like "Camaro" or "Corolla", and they were first used after the M72 ended production in Russia. The correct name is simply M72. If needed use the prefix IMZ for Irbit produced models and KMZ for Kiev produced models.
- Мотоцикл М-72. Инструкция по уходу и эксплуатации [M-72 motorcycle, instructions for care and operation], Kiev: Машгиз, Украинское отделение, 1964
- Энциклопедия Мотоциклов. Фирмы. Модели. Конструкции. - За Рулем - Москва (2003)
- "Entsiklopediya Mototsiklov. Firmi. Modeli. Konstruktsii.", Za Rulem, Moscow (2003).
- "Encyclopaedia of Motorcycles. Firms. Models. Manufacturers. Za Rulem, Moscow (2003). ISBN 5-85907-340-2
- Historie der M-72 und ihrer Nachfolger. J.Pevsner und R. Rodenkirchen; Motorrad-Classic Heft 2/2000.
- History of the M-72 and its successors. J.Pevsner and R. Rodenkirchen; Motorcycle-Classic Issue 2/2000.
- Media related to IMZ M-72 at Wikimedia Commons