Saturday, March 27, 2010

All about Natasha and her kin

 This post will list the information I've gathered on my 1996 Ural Sportsman, Natasha, to answer the typical questions I get when UDF'ed (Ural Delay Factor) while riding this sidecar rig.

It's a Russian motorcycle, made in Irbit at the foot of the Ural Mountains, initially a copy of a German BMW motorcycle sidecar rig.


Ural is pronounced "ooral" by the Russians.

Manufacturer's website:

History, according to IMZ: LINK


  • Five R-71 BMW motorcycles covertly bought through Sweden by Russians, taken apart, copied down to last bolt and approved as M-72 motorcycle for Soviet military starting early 1941.
  • October 25, 1942, first M-72s sent into battle with Soviet Army, with almost ten thousand produced during the course of the war.
  • 1950, the 30,000th motorcycle was produced.
  • Late 1950s, the factory in the Ukraine dedicated for military production, the one in Irbitz for civilian consumption.
  • 1998, the factory is fully privatized.
Design really has not changed much since the 1940s.  More recent models have outsourced components such as Hertzog Timing Gears, Ducati Ignitions, Italian handlebar controls, Brembo Front Disc Brakes.

Over 3.2 million copies have been delivered world-wide.

Natasha was made in 1996 and originally had a 650cc engine. The previous owner had it replaced with a 750cc engine, a deep oil sump, a Harley Davidson solo seat which replaced the hard rubber "tractor" seats.

Max speed is 65 mph but these rigs prefer to run at 55 mph when run for extended periods of time.

Transmission: Four forward and one reverse gear.  "Loud Gears Save Lives".

Natasha has fulltime 2 wheel drive, in that both the motorcycle's rear tire and the sidecar's wheel are driven. Newer models don't have this, instead their 2Wd is manually engaged by the rider when in difficult terrain to get the rig unstuck, then disengaged once free of the obstacle as its difficult to steer with 2WD engaged.

5 Gallon capacity tank, about 35 MPG depending on whether or not the sidecar's windshield is mounted or not.

Natasha came with a Russian 35 amp alternator, which imploded, now using Total Loss Electrical System.

These motorcycles require regular maintenance, with service cycles every 2500-3000 kilometers.  Seem short to you?  Well, if you were a 40 HP engine, powering a drive train designed for 19HP, and pushing along about 1000 lbs of'd require short maintenance cycles too!  : )

While you can't neglect their maintenance they are also very simple in design and easy to work on for the most part.  I can usually, working slowly at that, swap out the engine, transmission and final drive fluids in less than one hour.

Rides pretty good on snow, and it traverses stuff which my car has gotten stuck in.
Read about the adventure of 4 Ural Riders in the 2010 Elephant Ride.

Training in sidecar rig riding is a must.  These beasts are night and day when compared to their two-wheeled counterparts.


Gary France said...

That was a really interesting post. Short, concise and factual. It left me with two questions. 1. If permanent 2WD is no longer a feature on newer models because P2WD is difficult to steer, then how do you get on with steering your rig? 2. I must have missed it, but where did the name Natasha come from?

redlegsrides said...

hello Gary

Natasha came from the Bullwinkle cartoon series, the bad guys were Boris and Natasha....

My fulltime 2WD has a differential built-in to the final drive on the motorcycle or pusher.

Gary France said...

Never heard of them so I guess that series never made it to the UK, but I just mentioned Boris and Natasha to my wife (who is an American)and it bought a big smile to her face.