I read Doug's Kharkov factory story with interest, in part because of a bike I rescued from a Greenwich Village streetcorner last year (or was it two years ago?). You find the darndest things kicked to the curb here in New York City. I've since made it a long-term loaner to a friend, but the item in question is a blue 56 cm road bike with all XB-3 components. I threw a good set of 700c (it's definitely built for that size) wheels under it eventually, and was pleasantly surprised by performance of the rear derailleur, a crude looking parallelogram affair but with all the right influences. It shifts reliably, has a decent feel to the action. The derailleur hanger is integral to the frame, but is a separate piece welded on in a way that suggests "muffler shop"--but more on the frame (which really is pretty decent in its way) in a minute.
The centerpull brakes indeed have a Mafac-ish look to them, and work well enough. The steel stem is very appealing, quite a chrome ugly/beautiful elbow of a thing, almost like a '40s French constructeur item in it's knobbiness which suggests a bobbin for thread, but also sort of "atomic" at the same time. Lugwork is crude, but slightly ornate in concept--headlugs, that is. The headbadge displays a beautiful black swallow in mid-swoop against a pale blue background. I think the lettering on the downtube reads "Ctopt" (which, being Cyrillic, would sound nothing like what those letters imply in English) and there's a second word in smaller letters. Wish the bike were here in front of me, can't remember the second word now. One crazy thing is that the seat tube has both a red star (on a black field) and "Made In U.S.S.R" in english--where could this have been exported to that english would be useful? Seems a curiosity to me. Well, I threw those Rigida-rimmed six-speed wheels (yes, about 5mm too wide) under it, and found it to be a not-too-bad cottered-crank machine weighing, I don't know, maybe 25 lbs. It could stand an alignment, but it felt good on the road. Who knows what it's built out of, but the bike is not stiff like a Peugeot UO-8 or the like. I really got the feeling that I was riding a bike that could have been competitive...in about 1955. The style of the lettering, however, says '77 - '81 to me--in an almost "BattleStar Galactica" sense, I regret to say. I loaned the "Ctopt" to a friend who finds it racier than the Favorit with Esge racks and fenders that I gave him previously (now he is utterly Eastern-ly equipped--Favorit being Czech).... Not a bad fate I hope for a wheel-less Soviet bike that was leaning against a trash can on Bleecker Street. I can only wonder how it got out of the USSR and eventually to abandonment in NYC--but there are many people here who might have brought it with them, relatively recent immigrants from all the various Warsaw Pact countries. Or maybe Peter's onto something with the Embassy staff--the UN is located here, after all.
Thanks for letting me ramble--