Friday, September 25, 2009

Running the Ural out of gas, on purpose

Natasha, my 1996 Ural Sportsman Sidecar Motorcycle, comes with a 5 gallon tank according to the online manual I found for a 1998 model. She's also designed to get about 30 mpg, do the math, that works out to a max range of 150 miles.

To prove out this important range detail for myself, I'd been carrying about a half gallon of gas in a spare gas container stored in the sidecar's trunk. I was over 200 km on the tripmeter this afternoon when I took Natasha out for a spin after working at the airport. This was, by the way, my last day of work at the airport! I've found new work, and am going to start as a contract-to-hire for DISH Networks at the Meridian Business Center south of Denver.

I rode over to the DTC or Denver Tech Center to turn in my Cendant Data Center badge since I would no longer require access to the UAL portions of that facility. On the way there, Natasha started sputtering and losing power at around 225 km on the tripmeter. Aha, I said to myself, got to switch to reserve! I did so, while moving slowly in traffic and a few seconds later I was rewarded with a return of power at the engine.

I did my paperwork at the data center and headed south to check the Honda dealer for some mirrors, none to be hand. I want some with longer stems to get better views behind me.

I left the dealer and just wandered around the Centennial Airport area trying to run Natasha out of gas. This was to see how long I could go in terms of kilometers or miles before the reserve ran out.

Centennial Airport's Control Tower

I wandered for quite a bit actually, in fact, she did not start sputtering until I was close to my new work location near Peoria Street and E-470. I managed to chug my way into one of the employee parking spots! Hah! I looked into the tank and I could see the metal bottom (with some disturbing calcium appearing growths scattered about) with no gas swishing about as I rocked the motorcycle. I was out.

Natasha made it all the way to 266 Km before running out. I think I could have made it to 270 but will use 260 Km as my max range and 225 for when I should be thinking of turning the gas petcock to reserve. That works out to hitting reserve at 139.5 miles and a max range of 161.5 miles.

I know, not as good as Brigitta my R80 which regularly gets 40 mph, but then again she weights 532 lbs dry, Natasha weighs 700lbs dry, not to mention the 70-80 lbs of ballast additional in the sidecar. Makes a difference!

Just one more step towards getting to know Natasha. I am debating whether to continue carrying the spare gas can in the trunk (which has breathing holes) or mounting it outside the sidecar.


bobskoot said...


Everyone has their own method. I am lucky that both of my bikes have an LED which lights as a low fuel warning. When I got my bikes, the first thing I did on the first tank was to run them until the light came on. Then immediately filled my tank to determine the amount of gas used, and subtracting from tank capacity. I do it a couple of times to be sure.
Here in Canada they sell gas by the litre and I know my kms/ltr so it is easy.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Dandapani said...

The traditional Ural method is to fill up every 150 Km. On mine, I can go to ~200 Km before hitting reserve, but then again I have a custom "manual" petcock instead of the automatic that came with my 2006 Tourist. I might have cut the reserve tube on the petcock a little short... :)

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

So the Russian adventure continues... How are you adjusting to the handling characteristics of this machine? Are you doing anything dramatically different holding your position in 50 mph traffic?

I know that Ural makes a couple of paramilitary-llloking bikes, tha come with spare gas cans. Could one of these be modified to fit your sidecar?

And congratulations on your new job. Real talent is always appreciated someplace.

Fondest regards,
Jack • reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

Charlie6 said...

bobskoot - your method sounds good to mekk...I didn't do it because though the manual said it was a 5 gallon tank, it sure does not look like it. Now I know for sure. Not only that but got a good luck at the bottom of the fuel tank, looks good except for some calcium deposits.

dandapani - noted, every 150Km, sounds like a good guideline, thanks. I have the manual version as well, I hear the automatic ones are not that great. The one to apparently search for is the K33 petcock, thanks for the info.

Jack, to say she's wildly different would be an understatement. More on that in a future posting. Right turns are always carefully considered or you'll pay the price. On the positive side, I am down to 60lbs of ballast in the trunk of the sidecar instead of the original 120lbs. Haven't flown the chair yet!

Charlie6 said...

Jack, forgot to answer your other question. Presently carrying my spare gas container in the trunk as ballast. The Ural trunk is anything but airtight so I think I'm OK for now.

Am playing with idea of mounting the Kolpin carrier on the tub somewhere...LINK