During yesterday's practice riding on Natasha, my new-to-me 1996 Ural Sportsman sidecar motorcycle, I had been having much trouble finding second gear and up. The rig is not that fast off the mark as it is and delays in finding the next gear would cause me to back up traffic behind me....not good.
I sought advice from Phil, the PO and from the online forums. That's where I saw the techniques used by others and the expression that generated the title of this blog.
Russian motorcycle transmissions are not for the faint of heart. They make grinding noises until well broken in....one wag said basically you're doing the final machining of the gears by shifting them!
The Urals come with heel-toe shifters and now I know why. I'd never used one before and yesterday the heel portion of the shifter had produced crappy results.
Armed with Phil's advice and techniques described in the Russian Iron and Soviet Steeds forums I went out this morning to try it again.
Right from the first use of second gear, the new technique worked! Still some small grinding noises even after waiting a full second between rolling off the throttle and engaging the next gear. However, I can now FIND second gear in a timely manner. I could actually almost keep up with traffic and not be a hindrance.
Here's what works for me: Get the rig going till its time to shift to second, pull in clutch, roll off throttle...engage the heel shifter with ball of foot and smooth and continuous push down until you feel the gear engage. Release clutch, roll on throttle and away you go! I can't tell you how happy I am that I've got the technique down, now its just practice and muscle memory development in order to find the dang heel shifter with my boot each time without looking down.
I went over to the nearby police station, up the nearby hillside for pictures of Natasha without her fairing and leg protectors. Too warm yet, will wait till first snow storm perhaps to put them back on. I think you'll like the way she looks.
Afterwards, I headed towards Quincy road to see how fast I could get her going in those long straightaways east of Gun Club Road. Takes a bit but I got her to 100 kph without any major issues. Sometimes, if the hill was steep or long enough, I had to downshift to 3rd to power up to the top but mostly I was in 4th gear.
Steering inputs are constant but small at higher speeds. You really can't let your mind wander. At one point, I found the rig had steered itself over the center line! She tends to pull to the left for whatever reason and you have to watch it! I gingerly forced the wheel over, after failing to move her by leaning (two wheel muscle memory reaction)and got back in my own lane safely.
Here's a couple of shots at another spot where I like to pose motorcycles. That's Quincy Road in the distance, heading east to Colorado's eastern plains.
Update: 29SEP09: Have become more proficient at shifting gears on Natasha, now using heel for up shifts and toe for downshifts....sometimes I even shift gears with no grinding noises! : )
Update:02NOV09: Per the 1998 manual (close enough to 1996 for Russian work), one must not exceed 12 kph before shifting into second gear! Holy crap, that's like starting to shift into second once you've barely got her moving! It's a limit of 9 kph before the engine is "broken in" at 2500 Km.
Service completed & some slight adjustments
3 hours ago