Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Russians are coming!

Well, actually its just one Russian, a 1996 URAL Sportsman Sidecar Motorcycle.

From the craiglist ad: 1966 Ural Sportsman 2 wheel drive. 750 cc engine upgrade. Batwing windshield, sidecar windshield. Leg guards and hand guards. Harley solo seat. Chome sidecovers and chrome sidecar bar. Current tag. 5125 km. Black with white pinstripe.

I found her on craigslist, presently owned by a gentleman by the name of Phil, who lives in Edmond, OK. Many emails later, we've agreed to a swap. I get the URAL and he gets Maria, my 2004 R1150RT Beemer.

The URAL (its pronouced ooo-ral, not you-ral) has over 3000 miles on her odometer so it's pretty much broken in based on what I've read online and from manuals downloaded from sidecar sites.

Phil is sending me more recent pictures but here's one he had from before he had her engine upgraded from 650cc to 750cc. It's got on whats known as the "batwing" fairing which I am counting on for wind protection during the upcoming winter rides.

click for larger version

She's a beauty isn't she? The URALs are made in Russia from back in the 1940s or so depending on which story you want to believe. Some say the Germans gave some to the Russians before they went to war and the Russians duplicated them to the last bolt. Some say the Russians bought them on the sly, duplicated them down to the last bolt and used them against the Germans during WWII. Here's a blurb from wikipedia: LINK

Regardless, they're basically modern versions of the BMW R71 Sidecar Motorcycle used by the German Army prior to and during WWII. So I am not straying too far from my Beemer loyalties.

The plan so far is for the two of us to meet somewhere between here and Edmond, OK. Phil is going to trailer the URAL while I ride Maria to the rendezvous point. It's been quite a while apparently since Phil has been on two wheels, he rode a Goldwing before, hence the trailer to take Maria home. If we both still agree, after doing a checkout of each other's motorcycle, then the deal will be done.

I will, after hopefully sufficient practice in an empty parking lot and neighborhood streets, ride the URAL back home to Denver via state and county roads, avoiding the expressways. These motorcycles are heavy and you're lucky to go 65 mph on them without problems! So, not speed demons but they're reputed damn near unstoppable off-road!

I am really going to miss Maria I think, specially her superb wind protection during the cold months. However, you may have noticed I don't ride her as much anymore now that Brigitta, my 1987 R80 Beemer is in the stable. Phil's mechanic sang his praises in terms of how well he kept his URAL in great shape and his expertise with the machine. This said a lot to me and went a long way to making up my mind about the swap.

So that's the news. More pictures as I get them from Phil. Of course more as I become the owner and start exploring the mountain roads with her. The URALs also hold a reputation for being fun on snow, yes snow! I hope to increase my riding days count since while still nothing to be careless about, I at least won't fall over when I hit ice while riding this rig! Oh the possibilities are endless in terms of exploring trails where I've had to turn back on Brigitta.

The best part is once I am comfortable and safe on this rig, I'll be able to take my sons for rides with me, hopefully teaching them the joys of exploration via motorcycle. I know my loving wife might even be talked into a ride or three as well.

Still working on a fitting name for the URAL, any ideas from the peanut gallery? I must ask Phil if he's named her already.


Allen Madding said...


KTDID bought one not long back and loves it. Hope you enjoy!


Mike Simmons said...

It looks great! Looks like it could be in an Indiana Jones movie or The Great Escape. You'll be riding a classic - enjoy.


Arizona Harley Dude said...

A good Russian name like Manshuk,, or Marina,, or even Princess Eugenie Shakovskay, a pilot from WWI, would seem to be fitting names for the new ride.

I look forward to reading about the new adventures as you learn to ride, handle, and enjoy the Ural.

PS: I've seen pictures with a ski under the front tire of a sidecar rig just in case.

Electra Glide In Blue said...

If its a boy I would go with Boris.

If its a girl I would go with Natasha.

Hope your deal works out, you've been looking for a hack long enough.
Good luck!

irondad said...

I guess the cool thing is that you get to embark on a new adventure. That's always fun.

As to names, I like Electra Glide's suggestion of Natasha.

I also like Natalia, too! You could also name the bike and sidecar separately.

What was that cartoon? Boris and Natasha?

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Charlie6 (Dom):

I leave you alone for just a few days and then I found out you're buying Russian surplus military vehicles. You absolutely amaze me. I know a guy around here with a Ural 650. He got his up to 65mph by driving it off a church roof.

If I had money to burn, I'd own one of these in a minute -- just because of the way they look.

Do you really think it is a good idea to ride this machine back any great distance with no hack experience? Even if the hack wheel is powered, I understand there is a great deal of drag on these things and a tendancy to "fly" the hack on right turns.

If I lived closer, I'd follow you with my trailer -- just for laughs. Please keep us posted with this. This is adventure of the highest order. And I am so jealous.

Fondest regards,
Jack • Reep • Toad
Twisted Roads

dave said...

Very nice, I remember being very impressed by the URAL at the MC show last January. Not sure if they're the same ones that they're exporting to Vietnam & Malaysia but somehow the build quality seems bettter.

Martha said...

Wifey also likes Natasha...

No boys allowed in the garage...I'm surrounded by the human type, I need the garage harem to be of the female type!

Canajun said...

Definitely Boris.

Hope the deal works out. Enjoy!

Charlie6 said...

Allen, glad to hear KTDID likes it, I am pretty sure I will too.

Mike, wait till you see the more recent pics the owner sent out, she looks awesome...thanks for reading this stuff.

AZ Harley Dude, thanks for the ideas re names....

Electra Glide, the deal should go through....I'd give it 99% probability of success...Phil and I have communicated a lot and know what each other wants I think.

Irondad, yes, it's going to be quite the adventure I think, learning to ride this rig. Boris and Natasha are from the Bullwinkle cartoon series I believe.

Jack, yeah see, you have to keep visiting more often to catch my wayward'll be glad to know that I found out tonight that Phil has decided to trailer the rig all the way to my home, I pay for gas. Sounds like a great deal to me! So, my first ride on this rig will not be a 600+ mile ride, I'll be around to torture you with my prose a while longer.