Friday, September 18, 2009

From Russia, with love.

I heard from Phil, the Ural Sportman's previous owner at 09:30 AM today, stating that they were in the vicinity of Limon, CO! Wow, I'd not expected them to arrive till late afternoon, assuming an early morning departure from Oklahoma. Turns out they left yesterday afternoon after work, overnighted in Colby, KS and got to my house around 11:30 AM.

I spied their truck with trailer in tow, Natasha sitting sedately on the trailer, pull into the cul-de-sac and I rushed downstairs to greet them.

Here's Phil releasing Natasha from the tie-down straps as Sharon watches on

Maria meets Phil and Sharon

One last photo with Natasha

Maria, almost ready for her trip to Oklahoma, she looks weird on a trailer doesn't she?

Natasha and the wives

The guys and Natasha

Phil, Sharon, their two dogs and Maria left around 1:00PM I think, we chatted quite a bit and Phil and I briefed each other on the features of our respective motorcycles. I believe we each thought that everyone got a good deal out of this swap. I was hungry but took five minutes, and yes I was not fully ATGATT but I just went around the cul-de-sac a few times at a dead-slow pace.

The "training" I had gotten with Sanoke came through for me and I managed to do a few circles of the cul-de-sac and such with no issues and actually pretty smoothly. Note, I did this with no ballast in the sidecar yet!

Look at the wind protection afforded by the fairing and the leg protectors


Martha, aka my loving wife, sits for the first time in the sidecar, she's open to the idea of riding with me once I feel safe and proficient enough to take on passengers.

The girls in the garage, some repositioning is in order so that I can take either motorcycle out of the garage without having to move the other one out of the way first.

I spent perhaps two hours total the rest of the afternoon riding neighborhood streets and roads, getting a feel for the steering, the brakes, the rather stiff gear shift and just the overall feel of riding Natasha. I had a blast!

I'd placed about 120lbs worth of ballast in the sidecar to help keep from "flying the chair" as I did my initial training. That worked out well, never felt the wheel come up at all. Little by little, I worked on increasing speed and moving in heavier traffic. I had a bit of issues with finding second gear and I am sure was holding up the cagers who were behind me. Oh well!

Right turns were a bit more stressful than left turns as I worried about "flying the chair" but I soon got into hanging into the sidecar on right turns to help all wheels keep touching the pavement.

By the end of the training rides, I had gotten her up to about 80 kph, about 48 mph, and let me tell you, it felt pretty damn fast! She sure takes a long time to get there by the way but I think that will become faster and smoother with practice once I get the "hang" of shifting her klunky gears.

First impressions: Beautiful condition, thanks Phil! Simple design and everything is pretty accessible. Her boxer engine is damn similar to Brigitta's engine layout; no surprise since Natasha's ancestors were copies of BMW's R71 motorcycle designed back before WWII.

A few spots with light rust, nothing I can't fix and coat with anti-rust stuff for the upcoming winter riding. A little touch-up paint is in order, some rubber gasket/seal material for the trunk lid and the light mounts on the sidecar fender, one of which is slightly askew.

Definitely not a BMW in terms of construction, more like a tank. Thick steel sheets comprise the sidecar, and all support points for the sidecar are beefy and workmanlike. Nothing delicate about a URAL!

There's also something weird going on with the high beam headlight switch, it shuts the headlight off for no apparent reason. The first time it happened I thought the high beam portion of the headlight bulb had burned out but no. More investigation is in order. Low beam seems just fine except that its quite weak. Same goes with the turn signals, they seem "weak" but more examination is warranted. They all seem to work though so that's a good thing.

Very happy with this swap, I have to say, I hope Phil derives the same enjoyment from Maria, the R1150RT.

10 comments:

KEN PHENIX said...

EXCELLENT! I hate to see Maria go but I think I understand the beauty of the exchange. Enjoy Natasha!

Steve Williams said...

I have a secret lust for URALs. I see them around here several times a year when the WWII re-enactors converge on the local military museum. They are painted olive crab and look like tanks. They seem completely and absolutely utilitarian and something I could ride anywhere, anytime.

I've never ridden anything with a sidecar so I look forward to your reactions. Your new girl looks great in black.

Congratulations on the new addition!

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Arizona Harley Dude said...

Looks good on the trailer, but will look great in a snow covered side road with tall trees in the back ground. Looking forward to this winters reports.

Electra Glide In Blue said...

Charlie6,
I think you got a sweet deal. When riding Natasha you no longer lean into the twisties and curves or put your feet down for a stop. In no-time your forearms and biceps will doubled in size.
That is one good looking rig, congrats.
Ride Safe,
Electra Glide In Blue
p.s. I like that name "Natasha"

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

I was delighted to hear the Ural was delivered right to your driveway. This should be a great time for you. The new rig looks great and will become a fixture in the Colortado mountains and in certain moto-journalistic circles.

Congrtatulations. I am so jealous. I didn't realize you were trading the newer BMW for this bike. Is the hack wheel powered? It sounds to me like you might have a loose connection on the lighting going into the battery. Should be short work for you.

How I wished I lived next door to go on the next few rides with you.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Charlie6 said...

Ken, thanks for checking in and reading this stuff.

Steve, give in to your lust...they make sidecars for scooters too!

AZ Harley, yep, for once I am looking forward to the first snow storm....should be quite excellent. The PO tells me the rig is a hoot to drive on snow!

Electra Glide, oh yeah, my arms are feeling it already. You have to "muscle" this rig sometimes. No effete and subtle changes of ones weight whiles seated!

Jack, yeah...something in the switch itself I think actually. If I wiggle it, it sometimes comes on while in the HighBeam setting, sometimes not. I don't foresee major surgery. Re your wish to be closer to me for riding together, I could make a crack about your spider-laden garage but I won't. It sure would be fun to have you as the monkey....that's what you call a sidecar passenger, BTW.

Charlie6 said...

Jack, yes, it's fulltime two wheel drive...there's a connection between rear wheel and the sidecar's wheel and a differential. It's supposed to help with the left turns, right turns are another story.

If you "fly the chair" all the power is transfered to sidecar wheel according to the manual and you can cause damage....I don't want to fly the chair at all so it's all good.

Felicia D Landes said...

Hello Charlie and Welcome to the Land of Ural!! My partner, Mike Wagner and I were Phil & Sharon's Ural dealer and also became close friends. We've been selling Urals exclusively since 1995, personally delivered to 38 states to date and mail order parts to 19 countries ! It will take you a couple months to fully acclimate yourself with side-hacking after coming off a two wheeler. A beginning rider actually learns quicker, no bad 2-whlr habits. :-) Please try to get used to piloting the rig without ballast after a week or two. We suggest learning without and getting used to what you are riding off the get go, just take it easy on r/handers. Practice flying the chair in an open field or parking lot so you will get used to the sensation and control of same. Start out in a large r/hand circle, go slow and gradually make the circle smaller and smaller. This will eventually start to bring the chair up, slowly so you can get an idea of the center of balance and how to handle it. When you are more proficient at it, going down a straight away, quickly turn the bars hard left and back again, this will bring the chair up. After a couple months of riding, try powering "on" into a r/hander while applying the front brake (gently). This is a more advance riding technique and will keep the chair down while in the turn. For now, remember that's a 250# sidecar you are steering with the bike - to make it easier, learn to push into a turn rather than pull. Hence, r/hand turn, push the left handlebar away from you into it and vice-versa for a left hander. If you have any questions, please give me a shout. Best of luck to you ! Felicia, co-owner, Wagner's Cycle Shop

Charlie6 said...

Hello Felicia and thanks for writing in and all the information. There appear to be two camps re using ballast. I am scheduled for the basic rider course for sidecars put on by ABATE of colorado on 10-11OCT so will ride with ballast till then.

I've not "flown the chair" yet, probably due to the ballast and because I am "cautious" on righthanders....I do lean into the chair for right hand turns and curves and it seems to help.

I'll see what the instructor says re balllast, I imagine one of the tasks during the training is to fly the chair to get a "feel" for it and dealing with it.

Re flying the chair though, my Ural is a Sportsman as you know with full time two wheel drive. The manual specifically says to NOT fly the chair more than a few seconds. What is your experience with this? What happens, when most power is transferred to the sidecar wheel and then it touches ground again?

The manual also states one should keep about 100lbs of ballast in the chair, or is that CYA talk by their lawyers?

Felicia D Landes said...

I didn't know ABATE offered a sidecar training course ? The norms in the industry are MSF and Evergreen, course the best of the best is done by Vernon Wade in Oregon.

You are correct about not flying the chair with the Sportsman's 'live' final drive. What happens is when the chair comes down, the s/car wheel is spinning faster than the rear wheel of the bike, hence bent driveshaft to car and possible some gear damage in final drive.

Ballast - we've got a Chicago customer we sold a new Tourist to in 2003. He has permanently attached an 80# weight to the sidecar axle. Funny, after all these years, he should know how to ride without it !!

I'm surprised the seat belt in s/car issue hasn't come up yet. You'll hear pro's and con's on that one as well. Basic rule of thumb for most riders is 'no'. Reason being, the last thing you want to be is strapped to the bike/sidecar if an 'event' should happen. We all know you want to get away from it.

Have fun, enjoy the UDF (Ural Delay Factor) !