Junak Motorcycles

Today in Motorcycle History

Interview with Konieczek of SFM

Interview with Zbigniew Konieczek, head of the SFM testing and research department.

Michal Stankiewicz: Who really created Junak? In those days, many devices were copies of Western ideas.

Zbigniew Konieczek: No, no. It was a Polish motorcycle from the beginning, developed in Warsaw in the design office of the automotive industry.

MS: Was the choice of the place of production accidental?

ZK: I don't think so. Before the war, the famous Stoewer factory was located in the same place, first producing sewing machines, then Stoewer-Greif cars, as well as tracked motorcycles for the Wehrmacht. During the war and shortly after, the factory was destroyed and plundered. After liberation, it was launched again by the Ursus team. Machines were brought from nearby factories.

MS: Was Junak immediately accepted on the market?

ZK: At the beginning, it "went like fresh rolls". There were almost no motorcycles in the country. There were only a few post-German and Polish pre-war ones. Domestic production was small, and besides, it was not on par with Junak. It was the only machine with a four-stroke engine. And it was a full-fledged motorcycle.

Over time, however, the price increased to PLN 24,000, which was a very large sum for those times. We started having trouble selling. Cheaper, two-stroke motorcycles appeared. So we started exporting, we even had a representative in the USA. All for nothing.

MS: Supposedly you sent special versions overseas?

ZK: 35 units were ordered by a merchant of Polish descent. "American" Junaks had chrome covers, additional lights, and bags on both sides.

MS: Was Junak really that good back then?

ZK: Just look at sporting successes. In 1962, our boys brought home six gold medals from the six-day race in Garmisch. Junaks were unrivaled, they left behind, among others: Moto Guzzi, Gillera and BMW.

MS: Were they already called "Polish Harleys" back then?

ZK: No. It started a little later, a few years after production ceased. Their owners restored them, pampered them, beautified them, and announced the virtues of the Junak to all and sundry. This is how a legend which continues to this day was born.

When it comes to comparison with Harley, our Junak is in a losing position, because Harley is still being produced today.

Interviewer: Michal Stankiewicz - GW(k)"Auto Moto" May 20, 1999.

Source: Marigan Junak Archive