Moped "Rīga-12", 1973–1979, by Designer Gunārs Glūdiņš (1938–2020)
Moped “Rīga-12”, designed by Gunārs Glūdiņš and produced by the factory “Sarkanā Zvaigzne”, was an outstanding achievement of Latvian industrial design of the occupation period, which for many years was used throughout the Soviet Union.
“Rīga-12” was a modification of previous models of the series of mopeds produced by the factory and it was further developed afterwards, yet at the time that it appeared it represented a leap in quality and elegance in design. Its metal construction was light, the frame was painted bright red, with the mud-flaps and fuel tank in white, and the exhaust pipe and other parts were chrome-plated. The moped weighed only 54 kilograms, it could reach a speed of 50 km/h, and, for the first time, a paper filter was used. In the film “A Present for a Lonely Woman” (Dāvana vientuļai sievietei, dir. Ēriks Lācis, 1973), the protagonists used this newly designed vehicle and, in the improvised ad inserted in the film, it was praised as ideal for both everyday use and touring the countryside.
After graduating from the Rīga Industrial Polytechnic School, Gunārs Glūdiņš worked for several employers, including, starting in 1969, at the “Sarkanā Zvaigzne” factory. In his free time he studied drawing and painting at the Trade Union Cultural Centre, and his teacher there, the renowned water-colour painter Eduards Jurķelis (1910–1978), urged him to enter the newly established Metal Art Section of the Art Academy. Upon graduating Glūdiņš became the chief designer at the “Sarkanā Zvaigzne” factory and participated in developing the design for most of the mopeds, sports motorcycles, etc. In addition, he also did contract work, designing the popular transistor radio “Spīdola” (1971) at the “VEF” factory and the production line for a chocolate-glazed dairy treat loved by Latvian children to this day. In 1992 Glūdiņš developed the graphic design for the Latvian police transport markings, which are still in use. Glūdiņš also took an active part in the founding and workings of the Latvian Designers Association.
While the “Rīga-12” moped is no longer used as an everyday mode of transportation, it is coveted as a collectors’ item. The beautifully designed moped can be seen at the Rīga Motor Museum.
Rönicke, Frank. (2011). Motorräder des Ostblocks: Bulgarien, Polen, Sowjetunion 1945-1990. Stuttgart: Motorbuch.