There is a special category of bicycles, which over time turns into a legend: it acquires interesting stories and becomes a household name (e.g., “Ural” bicycles). So it happened with the products of the Penza Bicycle Plant. Bicycle Sura is known to many cyclists since the Soviet Union – it’s hard to find a family that would not have had this bike.
Today we will make a small excursion into history and learn why the Sura bicycle at a certain time enjoyed such popularity and what was the uniqueness of two-wheeled transport at that time.
History of Sura bikes
Penza Bicycle Plant (another name – Frunze Bicycle Plant or “ZIF”) is one of the oldest enterprises in Russia. The first batch of Sura bicycles rolled off the assembly line back in August 1928. It should be said that at that time Penza bicycles were less aesthetically pleasing compared to, for example, Kharkov or Riga copies. But it was more reliable and enduring equipment.
Of course, the years of the Great Patriotic War affected the specialization of the plant. In 1935 the production of clock mechanisms and gramophones was established. Of course, during the World War II the Penza plant’s main products were ammunition. In 1945, “ZIF” was awarded the highest government award for achievements in production.
The war passed, and Penza plant again set a course for the production of reliable bikes. Thus, in 1946 several thousands of two-wheeled vehicles were produced as well as 4.5 thousand tractor haymakers. Moreover, the enterprise even managed to assist the Belinskselmash plant in the production of potato planters.
Since the 1970s, PVZ began to develop dynamically in the production of two-wheelers. That was the time when the production of multi-speed male and female models such as Sura-5, Sura-6, Sura-9, Virazh, Diana, Prima, Temp, etc. was established. The products of the plant repeatedly won prestigious awards of that time.
At present, only pages of history remain of the Penza plant. In 2017, the regional government bought the machines of the former “ZIF” in order to restore production. In June 2020, there was a fire at the plant. We can only hope that there will be initiators and investors who will be able to restore the production of domestic bikes.
At one time Penza Bicycle Plant produced 7 models of men’s and women’s bikes, 2 teenage models, children’s and folding bikes. The model range also included a cargo bicycle, which, if necessary, “with an easy movement of the hand” was transformed into a road bike.
Frames and forks for bicycles Sura were produced in Russia – the remaining components for assembly came from China. In fact, the Penza plant made the most ordinary bicycles without any unique features, designed for the most ordinary citizen of the Soviet Union. The average cost of a city model in terms of today’s money is 2-4 thousand rubles.
By the way, even the most recent bicycles produced by the plant were distinguished by their rarity design in the spirit of the USSR. They did not have disc or rim brakes – the mechanism was a foot brake. Almost all models were equipped with a roomy luggage rack. The frame, saddle and handlebar designs were not much different from the models that were produced in the postwar era. Wheel diameter was standard for all adult bicycles – only teenage models featured slightly smaller rims.
It turns out that Sura is the most common bicycle and a reliable unit, which will be good for both adults and teenagers. It is noteworthy that in 2014 the Russian Post purchased more than 150 units of two-wheeled transport for its employees from the plant. The bicycles were given to letter carriers working in the periphery, who had problems with public transport.
As we have said, a wide range of models Penza Cycling Plant could not boast – in total there were about 11 models of “Sura” and a few units under another name. Let’s note a few models, which, quite possibly, someone of your relatives rode, and outline their main characteristics:
- Sura 112-541 Pollada. This is a women’s city model, not distinguished by any features. The bike was good for its price. In principle, a distinctive feature of all products directly from PVZ is availability. Right from the factory you could buy such a bike for 3200 rubles. Now, looking at modern carbon fiber bikes, one can only wonder how fragile Soviet cyclists could lift this machine – Sura 112-541 Pollada weighed more than 17 kg. And it is not surprising, because the bike was equipped with a steel frame and a massive foot brake. Nevertheless, this model was in demand largely because of its reliability and durability.
- Sura Vector. This model differed PVZ products from other factories. It was a three-wheeled cargo bike, which capacity was more than 150 kg. The unit was not in great demand, but it became a very useful acquisition for a certain category of citizens and representatives of some professions. The bicycle was equipped with a reliable front brake of V-brake type. The dry weight of the bike was more than 20 kg. And to buy this unit was possible for 11 thousand rubles.
- Sura Classic. The most ordinary bicycle with 28-inch wheels. The Penza bicycle factory produced this model in two variations: for women and for men. You can buy such a bike for 2,500 rubles. Weighs such a bike more than 17 kg, which seems strange for the modern cyclist.
As you can see, any unique technology products PVZ did not differ. The enterprise produced the most ordinary bicycles – however, for the industry of the time it is quite logical.
Recommendations for choice
Today PVZ is bankrupt. In 2017, at the initiative of the governor of the Penza region, the equipment of the plant was bought in order to restore the production of two-wheeled transport. However, that is where the enterprising ideas ended. You do not need to be a great expert to understand: if the machines of the PVZ will continue to produce 17-kilogram bicycles, then there will be little use for these products.
Nevertheless, there are people who still want to buy a Sura bicycle today. Someone needs a rarity bike in order to dismantle it into components custom models, someone is simply close to the history of the plant – in any case, look for a bike, most likely, at flea markets or in the villages, where some grandfather carefully kept in the garage of an old copy.
As for the choice, there are no certain criteria and can not be. The main thing is that the bike was in more or less presentable form and in good condition. That is as far as transport for disassembly. If you need a bike for a specific purpose (to go to the cottage, to get to work, or to ride in the park in the evening), it is worth paying attention to more reliable, lightweight and affordable bikes – for example, the products of another domestic manufacturer Nordway.
Sura bikes – this is an unpretentious and quite reliable creation of the domestic manufacturer. On such a bike is not terrible and on the field to ride, and in the woods for mushrooms to go. It’s a pity that the history of such a large and important for the country plant has gone into the past. Although … it is possible that Penza bikes in the future will again appear in families who love to spend time actively and prefer environmentally friendly transport.