Riding a Ural is an interesting experience. For starters, the Russian-made sidecar can trace its origins back to BMW’s WWII-era three-wheeler, and includes a near facsimile of the German company’s now iconic boxer-twin motor as its power plant. While BMW Motorrad has changed significantly in the decades since the Second World War, IMZ-Ural remains sort of stuck in time.
One could use pejorative comparisons to farm equipment while riding the Cossack motorcycle, and they would not be inaccurate. In our modern time of silky smooth gearboxes, stout motors, and powerful brakes, the Ural T sidecar lacks just about all of these superlatives — and yet, the brand has been booming.
Maybe it is the two-wheel drive off-raodability of the Ural’s design, which has struck a chord with the ADV crowd. Maybe its the machine’s “authentic” and low-tech pedigree, which appeals to motorcycle enthusiasts who feel constantly corned by the growth of rider aids like slipper clutches, anti-lock brakes, traction control, and their progeny.
Or, maybe it is the company’s obscure brand and its Soviet heritage, which resonates enough counterculture “fuck the man” goodness to lure in the skinny-jean espresso-sipping crowd. The answer is probably “all of the above” to be honest.
Harley-Davidson is further consolidating its business categories, as the Milwaukee brand announced last week that it would be discontinuing its sidecar line. Interest in Harley-Davidson sidecars has been waning over the years, and with the introduction of the Tri-Glide family of trikes, Harley-Davidson has seen its sidecars sales plummet. The 2011 model year will be the last year the Harley-Davidson sidecars will be available, and the company plans on shutting down production once the forecasted 2011 number of sidecars is finished at the factory.
This 1956 Ariel Square 4 features a matching Garrard sidecar (stocked with Champagne!). If you take a quick glance at this Ariel, you might notice something doesn’t quite look right. This is because tt the heart of the Ariel is a 997cc square-four engine, or “Squariel”, which was designed in 1936 by the unemployed engine designer Edward Turner.