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The revival of motorcycle culture in Kazakhstan

When FEMA was approached by Askar Ismailov to talk about the revival of motorcycle culture in Kazakhstan we immediately set up an online meeting. The meeting was very educational and at FEMA’s request Askar wrote an article, sharing the wonders of Kazakhstan.

In the heart of Central Asia, the vast and diverse nation of Kazakhstan has been quietly experiencing a renaissance of sorts, centered around the thrilling world of motorcycling. From the early days of the Soviet Union to the present, the country has seen a remarkable transformation in its motorcycling culture. This article explores the historical journey of motorcycling in Kazakhstan, the emergence of motorcycle clubs, and the growth of centers for European and American motorcycle brands.

During the Soviet era, motorcycles in Kazakhstan were primarily associated with utilitarian transportation, a means of efficiently traversing the vast landscapes of this expansive nation. The iconic Ural and Dnepr motorcycles were a common sight, primarily used by the military, emergency services, and ordinary citizens for daily commuting. However, recreational motorcycling and the formation of motorcycle clubs were virtually non-existent, as the communist regime had limited space for leisure activities.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, Kazakhstan found itself in the midst of a period of significant change and newfound freedom. It was during this time that motorcycle culture began to gain momentum. Enthusiasts began to organize themselves into motorcycle clubs, embracing the spirit of freedom and adventure. One of the earliest and most influential motorcycle clubs to emerge was the Kazakhstan Bikers. Founded in the mid-1990s, this club played a pivotal role in the development of the country’s motorcycling culture. They organized rides, events, and even charity runs, raising awareness of the motorcycling community across the nation. Today, Kazakhstan boasts a vibrant motorcycling community, with numerous clubs that cater to a variety of riders, from cruiser aficionados to adventure seekers. Prominent clubs include Chingizkhan MC, Wheels Brothers MC, Road Brothers MCC and many others. These clubs not only foster a sense of camaraderie but also work to promote safe riding practices and community engagement. These motorcycle clubs often host events that attract riders from across Kazakhstan and neighboring countries. Annual rallies, charity rides, and bike shows have become a fixture on the motorcycling calendar, drawing riders of all backgrounds to celebrate their shared passion.

As the popularity of motorcycling in Kazakhstan has grown, so has the demand for high-quality motorcycles, particularly those from European and American manufacturers. This demand has led to the establishment of specialized dealerships that offer a wide range of models to cater to different riding preferences. Major European brands such as BMW, Ducati, and Triumph have established a presence in Kazakhstan, providing riders with access to top-tier motorcycles. American giants like Harley-Davidson have also made inroads into the market, reflecting the global appeal of these iconic machines.

In recent years, Kazakhstan has gained recognition in the international motorcycling community. The country’s breathtaking landscapes, from the boundless steppes to the rugged mountain terrain, have become a sought-after destination for riders around the world. This has led to the organization of international motorcycle rallies and events. Notable travels such as Silk Road Adventure and WildPlaces.Kz bring together riders from various corners of the globe to experience the thrill of conquering ancient trade routes on two wheels. These rallies not only promote tourism in Kazakhstan but also enhance the country’s reputation as a motorcycle-friendly destination. With the rise in interest in motorcycling, the need for proper training and education has become paramount. Riding schools have sprung up across Kazakhstan to cater to both novice and experienced riders. These schools offer comprehensive training programs that cover safety, maintenance, and advanced riding techniques. They aim to instill a culture of responsible and skilled motorcycling among enthusiasts.

Motorcycling has evolved into a lifestyle for many in Kazakhstan. Riders often don distinctive gear and embrace the unique culture associated with their chosen style of riding. Whether it’s the leather-clad cruiser riders, the adventurous off-road enthusiasts, or the sport bike aficionados, each group brings its own style and ethos to the motorcycling community. Also, number of riders who are traveling abroad promptly increases. They visit Georgia, Central Asia, Europe, Mongolia, Africa, the USA. The lifestyle aspect is not limited to the road; it extends to events, rallies, and gatherings where riders can celebrate their shared passion and create lasting memories. It’s a culture that transcends age, gender, and background, uniting people under the common love for two-wheeled adventure.

While the motorcycling community in Kazakhstan is thriving and evolving, it’s essential to acknowledge the challenges and issues that riders face as they pursue their passion. These challenges not only present opportunities for improvement but also highlight the resilience and determination of Kazakhstani motorcyclists. The main two points need to be mentioned are:

  • Road Conditions and Infrastructure which require Investment in maintaining and improving road conditions, especially in rural areas. Also, development of designated motorcycle lanes and parking areas in urban centers.
  • Road Safety and Awareness, i.e. launching public awareness campaigns to educate both riders and drivers about road safety and the importance of sharing the road responsibly.

The global shift towards sustainability and environmental consciousness has not bypassed the motorcycling world. In Kazakhstan, just as in many other countries, there’s a growing interest in electric motorcycles. These eco-friendly and innovative machines offer a new dimension to the motorcycling experience. With the development of electric infrastructure and the availability of electric models from both European and American brands, Kazakhstan is positioned to be at the forefront of the electric motorcycling movement. In 2023, Kazakhstan has been considered for MotoGP. International Sokol race track near to Almaty now is ready for high performance and welcomes riders from all around the world.

Kazakhstan’s reputation as a motorcycling destination will likely continue to grow. International collaborations, such as hosting motorcycle rallies and events in partnership with neighboring countries, will foster cultural exchange and further strengthen the bonds between the global riding community. These events will not only promote tourism but also showcase Kazakhstan’s unique landscapes and the warmth of its people. Motorcycle clubs and riders in Kazakhstan will likely continue to play a significant role in charitable and social activities. Their contributions to the community will become more organized and widespread, improving the lives of those in need and showcasing the positive impact of the motorcycling culture. The journey of motorcycling in Kazakhstan, from its quiet beginnings in the Soviet era to the bustling and diverse culture of today, represents a unique and inspirational story. As the engines continue to roar and the wheels turn, Kazakhstan’s motorcycling community looks forward to the next chapter of its extraordinary journey. In the heart of Central Asia, the horizon is limitless, the possibilities are endless, and the road ahead is an open invitation to new adventures and unforgettable experiences.

Written by Askar Ismailov

Top photograph courtesy of Ural

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