Monday, September 23, 2013

As If I Didn't Already Want A Ural

Photo shamelessly swiped from Ural.  Please don't sue.
Speed. I kind of have a thing for it. When I was younger, I had every intention of drag-racing stock cars like an uncle of mine does. I ride a sportbike. I have owned a few sporty cars. I listen to Slayer when I ride my bicycle.

Despite how much I love to go fast, I want a Ural.  A big, clunky-looking, slow-moving hunk of ungainly, unreliable, mechanical crudeness.  I'll admit, I primarily want one so I can force my brother Noodles to ride in the sidecar wearing a mad bomber hat and armed with a Super Soaker. All the same, they look like they'd be damn fun even without a squirt-gun-toting monkey.

And now, as if they were building a motorcycle specifically with me as the target market, they've teamed up with Pendleton to build a seafoamy blue sidehack called the Gaucho Rambler.  And it comes with a Pendleton blanket.

Damn it, Ural.  How did you find my weak spot?

I can't afford this bike.  I don't care to tinker as much as most of the Uralisti seem to have to every time they open the garage door.  But I. Want. This. Bike.  My checkbook keeps poking me and telling me I should just get it, despite the fact that doing so is not in my own best interest.

Official details will be released on October 1, apparently.

By the way, my Ural-loving friends... I would sure appreciate hearing about the realities of Ural ownership. Talk me out of this.


Chris Cope said...

It's that whole unreliabilty issue that keeps me at arm's length. I love the look and idea of Urals. I love the romantic vision of loading a Ural sidecar with gear and setting off on a massive road trip. What I don't love are tales of the frame snapping and the whole thing falling apart. The same thing eventually killed my love for Royal Enfields, as well.

Lucky said...

Chris - Yes, it's the fear of important parts breaking in inconvenient ways that keeps me from rushing straight out to buy one. And, as you mentioned, the same thing keeps me from throwing handfuls of money at the Royal Enfield dealer and riding away on a bike that hasn't been up-to-date in 50 years.

But, good lord, are they pretty. I'm somewhat torn between lusting after a bleeding edge performance machine like the Triumph Daytona, and something my grandfather would have thought was pretty nifty, if slow, when he was thirty.

RichardM said...

At least you will eventually be able to fix anything on the Ural. I don't have one but at times I wish I did. 2WD, reverse, huge alternator, kick starter and a properly cooled engine (no messy antifreeze to add complexity). And you may be able to pass old VW busses and Priuses (or is that Prii?). How much more performance do you need? ;-)

Trobairitz said...

Cool idea- but like the Ural Yamal, unfortunately there will only be 50 made which will jack up the price the same way.

Coop a.k.a. Coopdway said...

I want one too and the only thing keeping me away is the cost. I'd be ready for one of the newer ones, don't care what's weak because I'll deal with it. They're still above my price point.

As long as I've got some with 2 wheels in the garage, I'd make room for one with 3.

mq01 said...

seaform, hmmm, i can picture it :D

but, i would really like to see a mad man named noodles bearing a frightening super soaker (and wide grins) in this one!

mmm... there's just something about a bike with teeth ;)

Lucky said...

RichardM - hmm, with a huge alternator, one could potentially power heated grips, vests... an espresso machine. And as long as I can pass a Prius, it's fast enough. And it gets bonus points for being far cooler than a Prius.

Trobairitz - This is true. The Yamal was also a super cool bike, though. And I see there are still two new ones for sale out on the east coast. One is in Maine. Hmm. That would be fun to bring home...

Coop - Yes, the problem of where to keep it is a big one. I have limited space in my stable, and like you, I'd want a 2 wheeled bike as well.

mq01 - That's not helping, that's just making me want a different Ural. ;) Me, Noodles and that bike would be three wide grins rolling down the road...

Unknown said...


I think Urals are meant for those who have lots of patience, time, tools and aptitude for mechanics and a proper place to work on them

Riding the Wet Coast

redlegsrides said...

Lucky, resistance is futile...come on over to the dark side....the water is fine.....

Yes, URALs have issues, as does every single thing made by man that involves more than one moving part....the beauty of URALs is that they're not hard to work on. I've been involved with URALs for a long time, not one incidence of frames snapping.....

Yep, slow and tractor-like, Priuses will leave you behind, as will heavily laden monster RVs pulling an equally large and heavily laden trailer. On dirt trails however, you can give dirt bikes a run for their money!

And yet, my URAL is my first choice....every time there is exploring to do, weather to brave, snow to conquer, smiles to generate and fun to be had.

You take care of your URAL, it'll bring you home, most of the time. :) If you don't have a trailer, cultivate friends with trailers....shit happens.

Oh, and their warranty service, best in the industry. Buy the extended warranty!!! It will pay for itself, trust me. Their quality has come up in the last few years, but they're not gas and go prepared to wrench on it.

So, in sum, if you don't like meeting new people and having complete strangers walk up to you and ask about the rig, don't buy a URAL.

If you hate having people on the street smile and wave as you ride by, don't buy a URAL.

If you're going to let a little snow or heavy rain or gale force winds stop you from riding, don't buy a URAL.

If you're ok with passing up on riding down that mysterious looking but somewhat rough dirt trail, don't buy a URAL.

If you think a 2500 KM service interval is too short and too much work (it isn't) then don't buy a URAL.

If being able to take along a passenger in good comfort, passengers such as a faithful dog, little kids and one's significant other, without worrying about them falling off the pillion seat is not important to you, don't buy a URAL.

If being able to park in spots where a two-wheeled motorcycle would topple over, don't buy a URAL.

If you ride like you're in a hurry, don't buy a URAL.

If you want something that gets great MPG ratings, don't buy a URAL. The only mileage rating they excel at is spg, smiles per gallon. Warning, your face muscles may ache due to the wide grin you'll be sporting while riding.

If you don't like to use tools or getting your hands dirty, don't buy a URAL.

Come join the story....Austin Vince and URAL

ps: when you go to the dealer, I get 5%. :)

redlegsrides said...

Oh, I forgot to mention, URAL is running a special financing deal....

Lucky said...

Bob Skoot - That certainly seems to be their reputation. I am curious to learn just how much tinkering is involved in day to day ownership.

Charlie6 - You know, someone else told me the dark side has candy...

Everything you said sounds like fun. Honestly, I've been sold on the idea of a Ural since the early 2000s. I'm curious, however, to know what day to day ownership is like in terms of the ratio of tinkering to hooning.

RichardM said...

It sounds like someone is mixing up a batch of Ural kool-aide...

Anonymous said...

Well, I guess sidecars might be a cool new way to pick up chicks, and what chick wouldn't want to snuggle up with a fuzzy, colorful Pendleton blanket?

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, I've got a pitcher of the URAL kool-aid made up just for you Sir...

Lucky, day to day URAL ownership? well, there's the service interval every 2500km, so if you rack up large number of miles on regular basis, you'll be doing lots of oil changes.

You carry tools (more than what's issued), to include a BFH (it's truly amazing how many wrenching tasks include the BFH) and spare parts to include spare air filter. This ensure that what breaks is not what you carry.

Do your tire pressure checks religiously, especially the pusher tire....lot of weight on that sucker.

Plan ahead, that pusher tire isn't going to last as long as the other tires.

Resign yourself to always be asked same questions about your rig. Yes, it's 2011, yes, they still make them this way. Yes, they come from the factory with the sidecar. It's a Russian knockoff of a BMW model from beginning of WWII. Yep, it's got 2WD and a reverse. The 2WD gets you about 100 meters further along the snowy trail before you get truly stuck.

Neglect your periodic check of your fasteners on the older models and you may find yourself missing stuff later on. The newer stuff uses nyloc nut fasteners which is a big improvement.

Put your dog in the sidecar, instant chick magnet. Just saying.

Yep, made in Russia...and it is pronounced "ooral".

If you get freaked when you spot oil seepage, this ain't the bike for you.

You have to know at what point you'll most likely have to put the fuel petcock into reserve. Switching over sometimes takes a second or three once you've flipped the lever, in the meantime, you're slowing down and that cager behind you is probably texting his mother.

Read online discussion forum on regular basis. Ask questions AFTER you've tried searching. Most questions have been asked and answered. Take everything you find/read with grain of salt. Model year counts when it comes to validity of advice.

Oh, get training on riding a sidecar rig, it's wildly different from regular motorcycles. I can provide links to online books. Do the exercises in "The Yellow Book", which a dealer should provide you. There's many ways to die, a sidecar comes with a quick one if you fail to negotiate a tight fast right-hand turn safely.

As a confirmed drinker and purveyor of the URAL kool-aid, I am of course biased. I'll finish off with this: Many URAL owners, who previously owned other bikes, find said bikes dusty and neglected once a URAL joins the stable.

Kathleen Jennette said...

Well, I never had one issue with my Ural and I absolutely loved it. As a matter of fact the only reason why I sold it was I bought the HD Street Glide Trike. I really miss the Ural because of the fun it gave me. If you want speed, forget it though. It runs at freeways speeds and I suppose on a good clip, it gave me 65-70 MPH. So you can't be in a hurry. I had the Sahara 2 wheel drive and took it in the desert and had a blast with it. Just had the normal service on it and when I had it serviced they adjusted the shocks for me. I got great mileage and had so much space to pack things you couldn't go wrong in any weather. i do miss my Ural and since I don't ride my Deluxe that much anymore I have been considering a sidecar for it, but when I look at the new Urals I am tempted. The one thing you must know is, its hard to ride one handed. The front will move to the left. I hear there are stabilizers now for it and the steering is much better. I am 4'11". Not a big person and mine in the rough was just fine. My neck hurt a little after a 300 mile day, but it hurts on 2 wheels too. I can't say anything bad about the Ural. A lot of people are turning to them because the sidecar is very comfortable (mine was) and long. So traveling with someone is comfortable. In California you do not need a motorcycle license for them, although I would suggest a good week or so to get used to the pull and push of the handlebars. They are a lot more basic, but you just need to choke and start it and have a blast.

Lucky said...

RichardM - I'm hoping for Cherry flavored, how about you?

Steve Johnson - Especially after a ride in a sidecar...

Charlie6 - Thanks for all the info! It's much appreciated. I've been digging around on the web looking up the things you've recommended this evening.

KT Did - Thanks for chiming in! It's good to hear what your experience was with them. It sounds to me like the people who have them just love them all to pieces. Good to know!

SonjaM said...

I kinda know that feeling. Alas, I don't have any talent to be a wrench monkey, a skill one would have to develop if riding a Ural. I like them very much though, and they always remind me of slowing down when the pace is too fast.

Lucky said...

SonjaM - It is good to have a reminder to slow down now and then. I found scooters were good for that too.

I've also heard that Urals make extraordinary mechanics out of ordinary people. I don't mind a bit of tinkering, but there is a lot to be said for gas-and-go.

I think I'm just going to have to go and sit on a whole bunch of bikes and make vroom vroom noises, and see which one elicits the biggest, dumbest grin. Because that's how the decision of which bike to get next is going to get made anyhow. :D