Kalashnikov, the Russian conglomerate best known for the AK-47 assault rifle, is getting into the electric motorcycle game. The details are sparse, but it’s my sad duty to report that it doesn’t look like the bikes will come with banana-magazine range extender batteries.
Kalashnikov Group presented its new bikes at the big Army 2017 International Military-Technical Forum in Russia last month, saying the 50 of the police versions will be used by the Moscow police at next year’s World Cup.
All we know for now is that the police version of the bikes are supposed to have range of about 150 kilometers, or nearly 100 miles. We don’t know the differences between the military versions, other than the camouflage paint scheme and gun rack on the handlebars.
Kalashnikov isn’t the only electric motorcycle maker with dreams of military or law enforcement contracts. Virginia-based Logos Technologies announced last month that it has been awarded a second contract by the the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency to keep developing its hybrid-electric SilentHawk motorcycle.
The SilentHawk is basically the Alta Redshift MX (that I rode earlier this year) with a multi-fuel generator to recharge the battery on long missions. They’re also developing an all-wheel drive system, for reasons I guess I’m not off-roady enough to understand.
Anyway, back to the Kalashnikov (how often have you said that in casual conversation?).
It is made by subsidiary IZH, which has a history of motorcycle production dating back to 1928. Production hit its high point after Soviet troops packed up and moved a DKW motorcycle plant (along with its top executives and engineers) from eastern Germany to the Ural mountains as reparations for World War II.
A video on the Kalashnikov site gives little detail in terms of specs for the military version of the bike, but it does present some footage of a camo-wearing guy with a chunky watch riding the bike through some mild terrain. It also shows some not-so-dramatic scenes of the guy stuffing the charging cable into a side-case, which appears suspiciously like it might be filled with a huge battery.
The bike comes with a gun rack mounted on the handlebars that, while presumably handy in certain situations, could certainly do some damage if you’re not wearing proper head and eye protection ...
... such as sunglasses and a bandana. Sigh.
On balance it’s hard to say whether the Kalashnikov electric bikes are going to be any good. We don’t know what they will cost, weigh or how far they will go under real world conditions.
But for a company responsible for the creation of millions of AK-47s, it’d probably be foolhardy to discount them entirely.
This post has been updated.