Big Sur and a Ural T Sidecar

04/05/2013 @ 4:03 pm, by Jensen Beeler4 COMMENTS


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.┬áThe answer is probably “all of the above” to be honest.

Source: Taylor Morgan (Vimeo) via derestricted

  • Paul McM

    Even with its anachronistic design, uninspiring performance, and less-than spectacular reliability, I would rather pilot a URAL side-hack rig than the abomination of a trike that Bombadier is pushing. I test-drove two different Can-Am three-wheelers at the 2013 Long Beach show. Both had soil-your-trousers scary bump steer, unpleasant braking, weirdly vague power steering, and uninspiring acceleration. The two Can-Ams I tried both required constant steering corrections on a typical California road surface — that was very annoying after just a few miles. After our test group got off the Can-Ams, there were more than a few white-from-fright faces (and no smiles). I kept hearing the same two words — “Twitchy”, “Scary”. If someone wants/needs three-wheel stability, go with a sidecar rig. Right now the URAL is the only game in town, out of the box that is….

  • Jason

    I doubt it’ll ever appeal to the hipster crowd, as it seems only old men get really excited about it. I can’t go anywhere without getting cornered by gray haired dudes!

  • irksome

    Jason- Are they driving windowless vans and wearing clown suits?

  • Franxou

    I don’t get you, Paul, I rode one a couple years ago and I quite liked it, it was not scary at all? Once you get over the “never countersteer” bit it is pretty much like a 4-wheeler atv translated in street language. Right now it seems to appeal to those who can’t move their Goldwing around anymore and at least it let these guys keep on biking instead of just quitting the sport. I don’t like how expensive these spyders are though. And I have not tried the 2013 single-pedal brake, back then I think it had a lever.
    Anyway, have you ever seen the reliability issues of Urals? I like them a lot (2wd sidecar rig must be a blast to ride) but a brand new bike at brand new bike price should not need constant attention and repairs.