Plumber´s nightmare, planned economy version

Imagine this: A bicycle factory in a country which is bankrupt, but doesn´t care to admit it. The only aim is to save more and more metal, to produce cheaper and cheaper, (cf. the official history of the Kharkov Bicycle Works: Kanevski, Privalov, A Pioneer of Soviet Bicycle Construction, Kharkov 1990), because customers have to buy what you build, whatever the quality – there are no imports and there is also no competition inside the country, at least on the level of the citizen without access to special services and shops.

What will happen? Quality will drop into a bottomless abyss, no modern components will be used, manuals and official publications will keep a certain oldworldly charm, like the manual for my 1979 KhVZ Start-Chaussee.

If you look at what pros or people with money/good relations rode, you´ll find info right on the cover of 1930s stalwart Aleksey Kupriyanov´s autobiography, Cyclesport, My Life:

Italian bikes.

Your wo/man in the street would cart his/her family about on what was called the fatherland´s quality (“otechestvennoye kachestvo”), meant completely non-ironic. (Arkhipov/Sedov, Cycle Sport)

Indeed, people who wrote/censored books seemed to think one might actually enjoy riding the fatherland´s products (Polishchuk, A little walk – on the bike).

In November 1994 I found this bike, complete with everything, Soviet sew-ups included, even a little pot of shellac came with it. All the components bear the brand XB3, which is short for Kharkov Bicycle Factory, Kharkovskiy Velosipedniy Zavod. Kharkov is a major city in the Ukraine. On the seattube you find a large 1980 Olympics logo. It says “1979g” on one rear dropout, meaning “1979 y(ear)”, so that´s one thing not to be disputed.

What can you say? Looking at this bike you´re just overpowered by the sheer lack of sophistication, by the complete absence of any refinement, by everything, really. You will find that the bottom bracket axle is about one half of a millimeter less in outer dia than the cranks´ inner, for instance. You will find that it is not possible to true the wheels because the rims are just too horrible. See for yourself:

The phrase “time capsule” can sound like a threat, can´t it?

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