Over the past 15 months, our Ukrainian Dnepr MT-11 has proven to be a fun, reliable motorcycle. It gets a lot of attention wherever I ride it, especially in the snow. Unfortunately, the build quality, engineering and finish are rather poor, so it’s time for a complete tear-down. Instead of returning the Dnepr to its stock Soviet-era styling, I’ve decided to go back to the 1938 BMW R71 for styling inspiration. This Dnepr is a descendant of the R71, so the transformation won’t be that difficult.
Here’s the plan:
- I will NOT be doing a fake military bike. It will stay black with white pin stripes, but will be totally stripped, sandblasted and repainted.
- I will NOT be doing a fake BMW conversion with BMW badges. So many people take this route, and it’s just wrong.
- I will, however, use the 1938 BMW R71 as styling inspiration, but I’ll use Kiev factory badges.
- Fuel Tank: Replace fuel tank with BMW R71-style tank, using Kiev factory badges (got the fuel tank from India – looks great. Beautiful teardrop shape, and it will bolt right in where the old one is today)
- Headlight / Gauge: Replace Dnepr headlight and gauge cluster with BMW R71-style headlight with integrated speedometer – much cleaner design, less cluttered
- Paint: Strip “agricultural” paint job and repaint with black, nicer pin striping (will hire-out the pinstripe work – that takes special skills)
- Lights: Replace current sheet-metal fender lights and indicators with BMW R71-style round lights (both bike and sidecar)
- Sidecar Seat: Have the sidecar seat reshaped and reupholstered professionally to add style and comfort.
- Exhaust: Replace with stainless steel version of BMW R71-style fish tail mufflers and headers.
- Fork: Replace telescopic fork with leading link fork (found a new Dnepr leading-link fork in Poland – will have it shipped to US). The Dnepr’s telescopic fork is rather weak and low quality, with a lot of flex.
- Replace points/condenser ignition with maintenance-free electronic ignition
- Replace crude rims/spokes with modern rim/stainless steel spokes (will keep rims black to retain original appearance, but these rims will actually be round)
- Replace all wiring. I will custom-design a new harness with automotive-grade wiring and connectors. Discard battery toggle switch, original fuse panel, incorporate new fuse panel and hide inside side toolbox or similar.
- Replace all incandescent bulbs with LEDs, including headlight. The Dnepr has a weak 14 watt alternator, so LEDs will significantly reduce the load on the electrical system.
- Replace thermal flasher with electronic flasher for LEDs
- Carburetors: Already replaced Pekar K65s with K68s a few months ago, so that’s all set
I’m just acquiring parts now, so the project will pick up speed in March. I’d like to be ready to paint the frame, fenders and sidecar when the weather is warm enough, in May or June. Wish me luck!