Avtoexport - Soviet Bicycles

Avtoexport - Soviet Bicycles 1964 scan 1 main image

V/O Avtoexport was the Soviet agency charged with exporting bicycles (along with many other vehicles). I have been told that this rather beautiful item is their catalogue from 1964 - and, despite the lack of any printed dates anywhere in the document, I am inclined to believe this.

The derailleur bikes all share the same lug work, and I believe that they are all Kharkovs. They are the B-541 (scan 37), the B-551 (scan 39) and the B-34 (scan 41). The B-541 appears to have a Kharkov 4 speed pull-chain derailleur in the style of a Simplex Tour de France.. The B-551 and B-34 appear to have copies of the Campagnolo Gran Sport - and I assume that these are Kharkov models. There is some confusion about the B-551, in the specification sheet it is a 5 speed, whereas in the picture it clearly has a double chainwheel and front derailleur. Also notable is the fact that the B-34 runs 1/8” chain over a three speed freewheel.

I also note:

  • The children’s bikes that appear to convert from bikes to trikes (scan 5 and scan 7).
  • The fashion for fitting the front light so that it points up into the sky - presumably as a warning to low flying MiG fighters. This style was also widely adopted in the UK. (See scan 27, scan 29 and scan 35).
  • The use of double top tubes on bikes with quite small frame sizes. What can this be about? Were they trying to make bicycles or clothes drying racks? (See scan 27 and scan 31).

Browse associated derailleurs.

Kharkov derailleur (1st style) thumbnail