Motorworld’s newspaper №87

Tracing its history to missile production during World War One on the basis of the evacuated Russo-Balt plant, Taganrog Instrumental Plant (TIZ) was in 1934 ordered to start motorcycle production, with Naum A. Gutkin set in charge.

Soviet motorcycle KhMZ-1M

As motorcycle production was halted in 1934 in Kharkov and the KhMZ-1M motorcycle documentation transferred to TIZ, specialists were sent to TIZ from other factories and new automotive and motorcycle major graduates actively sought.

Working out difficulties in establishing the new production, a series of a 350cc 6 h.p. KhMZ engine was produced, mainly for the use in stationary power plants, and sold through the local retail, but the 1M model didn’t start.

«Red October» L-300 from the collection «Motorworld by V.Sheynov»

KhMZ 1M did not satisfy Red Army, the primary customer, which demanded reliable powerful motorcycles capable to pull a sidecar. The light motorcycles L-300 and Izh-7 were the only produced in the USSR, making it obvious that Army and economy needed a medium 500-600cc motorcycle. In 1932, initial plans to develop a motorcycle based on the British 500cc flathead BSA-500 were rejected by the Moscow plant as a risky experiment in view of poor technological base.

Therefore, Heavy Industry Minister S. Orjonikize ordered on March 20, 1935 the Taganrog plant to design and launch production of a BSA-500 based new Soviet motorcycle. The outpit of 250 machines was planned for the year-end, despite the fact that the three “master copy” BSA-500 were shipped from England as late as in April.


In the meanwhile, a Mozharov’s follower Jakob V. Koganov was appointed as the chief engineer of motorcycles, and design and technology staff put together.

As the British specimen arrived in September 1935, the chief engineer’s office decided to develop an adaptation to local conditions, making a new design of the frame, front fork and wheel, and switching from British to metric parts. In the shortest time, before December 31, 1935, all drawings, process specs and BOMs were produced and orders placed witj suppliers. The machine was designated AM-600 (alphabetical “A”, “M” for motorcycle, 600 for the engine displacement).


In four months, five preproduction motorcycles were built, and then demonstrated in the city’s May 1 Labor Day parade. Then factory tested and presented Am-600 to the State Comission in Moscow on May 27. On the same day, Minister Orjonikize issued an order to produce all plant’s demands to make a production run of AM-600 possible this year. In just a few months, by October 1936, the first run of 200 machines rolled out from TIZ. At the same time, TIZ designers developed the sidecar.

The frame – separable tubular, with loaded parts forged. The fork – tubular parallelogram with single barrel-type spring. Engine – 595cc single cylinder, 4-stroke flathead, 16.5 hp at 3800 RPM. Later models were 18 hp. Gearbox – 4-speed, separate, driven by the engine and driving the rear wheel with roller chains.


The solo motorcycle’s dry weight was 185 kg. The top speed was 95 km/h. Being of an overall good design, the machine recurved no serious complaints, but rather appreciation from the Armored Vehicles Administration of Red Army.

Constantly undergoing improvements, AM-600 spooled numerous variants of parts, a pain even today for historic motorcycle enthusiast, as variants were often omitted from published catalogs.
Just a few examples: two types of cylinder heads – cast and aluminium; three types of the engine carter; four types of the timing mechanism cap; three types of fenders; two sets of electricals, a far-from-exhaustive list.


In addition to creeping changes, a major redesign was planned for TIZ AM-600 to put in electricals interchangeable with Izh-9/12 and L-8, a larger gas tank, a stronger 18 hp engine and other changes, but that was considered expensive and dropped, with just isolated changes piggybacked into the regular AM-600.

Popular in Red Army, this model fought in the Finnish and in the Great War against Germany with sidecars equipped with a hinge-mounted machine gun, taking part in military parades in the Red Square from 1937, with a special series of solo motorcyles with machine guns on the steering bars produced just for parades.

After the war-forced production termination in Taganrog the plant was evacuated to Tumen where TIZ-AM-600 production for Red Army was quickly back from the stock of parts despite enormous hardships, and continued in the evacuation until the mid-1943.

Based on the materials of the book Myatiev A.A. – «The history of Soviet motorcycles» (Мятиев А.А. – «Иcтория советского мотоцикла»).


Manufacturer Taganrog Instrumental Plant (TIZ)
Years of manufacture 1935-1943
Quantity produced, units
Today’s value
Type Single cylinder, 4-stroke flathead
Engine capacity, cc 595
Bore and stroke, mm 63 х 80 / 2.48″ X 3.15″
Engine rating 16 hp at 3800 rpm
Transmission 4-speed
Frame type Separable tubular, with loaded parts forged
Front suspension Tubular parallelogram with single barrel-type spring
Rear suspension Rigid
Brakes Drum type, on all wheels
Wheel size 4.00 х 19
Length, mm 2 170
Width, mm 830
Height, mm 970
Wheelbase, mm 1 420
Ground clearance, mm 125
Seat height, mm 700
Mass, kg
Gas tank size, l
Maximum speed, km/h
Range, km  280

* – Data on the results of the measurement of the “Motorworld by V.Sheyanov” exhibit.