Winter got you down? Yeah, us too. Not all of us spend our winters jetting around to spiffy European press launches, you know. But we see a solution in sight, something that will get the eager buyer outdoors, and riding. Sort of. (We’re not sure if you’re riding when you’re on a sidecar rig, or driving?)
Semantics aside, this 2014 Ural Gear-Up (asking price, $14k) could be just the thing to get you out in winter, because it has A) three wheels, for more stability, B) two-wheel drive, to stop you from getting stuck, and C) a giant honkin’ windshield to cut down on windblast. Oh, and D), it was designed in Russia, where they actually ride these things in the winter (although that maybe mostly due to poor, vodka-fueled decisions).
In case you’re not familiar with the history of the Ural, these machines have been made in Russia since the 1940s, and are basically a rip-off of the classic BMW R71 design that the Afrika Korps hooned about the Sahara desert, until Field Marshal Montgomery chased them all back to Europe. These days, the bikes have EFI and are generally more refined. This bike, being a 2014, should have an EFI system instead of carburetor, but overall, it’s likely to be very similar to the Soviet machines that Uncle Joe loaded down with Mosin-toting partisans and sent blazing towards Berlin. After all, these motorcycles were marketed toward military users in the not-too-distant past, as you can see below.
(Sadly, it seems this particular example for sale in Penticton has no rocket launcher or light machine gun included with the deal).
Since the 1940s, this basic design has also been manufactured in Ukraine under the Dnepr brand name, and in China as the Chang Jiang. Here in Canada, Ural is the version best-known, though, and they do have a small but enthusiastic fan base, thanks to web forums and Facebook pages.
Like all Urals, this machine has an air-cooled flat twin engine; this particular bike sports the 750 cc version, which should feature some slight revisions (new cam, new airbox, new spin-on oil filter, new wiring harness, new dash). These bikes were never intended to be speed demons, and this one is surely no different; max cruising speed on these machines is best suited to secondary highways, not the four-lane, as they’re working pretty hard at 100 km/h, and handling can get sketchy if you don’t know what you’re doing. A sidecar is certainly a different beast from your standard motorcycle.
However, if you’re looking for a bike to survive the impending zombie apocalypse, this could be a good choice. Most problems are easily fixable, and the added complexity of EFI should also come with increased reliability, although there’s certainly no guarantee when you’re talking about Russian vehicles. The USSR’s fanatical pursuit of reliability in the armaments industry (AK-47, SKS, etc.) did not, alas, translate to the transportation sector, and Urals do have a reputation for breaking down.
That’s also partly because Ural owners do have a long history of using their motorcycles to do dangerous things, starting with the whole Great Patriotic War 75 years ago, and continuing today to the Ice Run, a rally that runs across the frozen wastes of Lake Baikal in the winter.
So, the big question is, how much potential breakdown silliness can you put up with, for the $14,000 price tag? If this sounds like your sort of thing, check out the full ad on autoTRADER (there are more photos there), and take it from there.