Fun with a Ural sidecar outfit
In over 30 years of riding we have never had so much fun as we have had with ‘Boris’ our Ural outfit.
Yes, in the past, they have had deservedly bad press being nicknamed ‘urinals’ due to various problems associated with poor build quality and reliability. However, the ones being imported now are different altogether and improvements are being made all the time.
We have owned ours for 2 ½ years and have loved every minute of it.
We initially bought it to go down to the Lee Bay winter bash as we would never go to a bike do in a car and didn’t fancy the wintry roads on a solo! So in December 2003 we went three up from the Midlands to Devon, smiling from ear to ear. Even the editor’s Harley couldn’t manage to keep up with us – somehow he left on the Sunday morning about ½ hour before us and then managed to pass us later on as we stopped to put on our waterproofs – you work it out!
When we first bought it we thought it would be a winter hack but Boris gets used in all weathers and we have as much fun in the summer riding in t-shirts and sandals as we do battling snowstorms in winter. Also the twin-wheel drive came into it’s own at Into The Valley 2005 allowing us to easily get off the muddy field. Recently we did 1500km over two weekends going firstly to Lee Bay in Devon and then up to the Farmyard Party in Yorkshire and it ran like a dream.
It is a 750, 44 bhp flat twin, based on the Russian Military outfits and is known as a Gear Up. It was the demonstrator model from MPC motorcycles in Bitteswell, near Rugby, who we can highly recommend to anyone considering getting one. Mick the owner is an honest, straight-talking bloke, who knows these machines inside and out. He also insists on training anyone that wants to purchase an outfit as it is a different proposition altogether to riding a solo.
Boris does have some extras fitted which are deep sump conversion, spotlights, two into one exhaust, towbar, pushbike bell and rabbit squeaky toy (the last two are owner mods!). The machine gun mount comes as standard.
The towbar came into it’s own when we had to tow a mate on his Guzzi after the alternator failed about 6 miles from home.
We plan to have a disc brake conversion at some point and if anyone has one of the single wheeled PAV trailers that they want to sell, get in touch.
Top speed is about 75mph and fuel consumption seems to work out pretty good at 40-50mpg. You see so much more of our wonderful countryside at those speeds too. Not surprisingly, these bikes are not motorway mile munchers but that suits us just fine. A lot of people mistakenly think that having three wheels means that you will get stuck in all the traffic, but choosing the right route and being brave with overtaking means that we don’t.
In fact we often find that we are passing riders on solos that are sitting in queues – why?
The bike now has over 13, 000km on the clock. We have had a few problems in that time which led us to ditch the starter motor in favour of the kick-start and also we have fitted a Nippon Denso alternator, which we believe are now on new models as standard.
It is essential with these bikes to keep on top of your maintenance, which we found out to our cost recently when rainwater got into the gearbox via the speedo cable and then leaked onto the clutch plates. However, Mick came to the rescue and we were back on the road again very quickly and also became expert in taking the gearbox on and off. So, we learnt our lesson and will now be more diligent about the simple tasks involved in maintaining these bikes. (Our excuse?
We were having too much fun!) In fact we like it so much we’re going to buy the company – well at least another one is looking likely.
Beware! Riding one of these outfits is extremely addictive and ours gets used far more than our solo bikes, so much so that we are considering parting with some of them, as they are just not getting used, but the jury is still out on that one as we don’t like mentioning the ‘S’ word!
Everyone from kids to grannies smile and wave and want to chat about the bike, which we love, so owning one of these bikes is definitely not for shrinking violets. In fact we reckon that on Boris we spread a smile wherever we go!!
This was first written in July 2006 and featured in Road magazine published by the Motorcycle Action Group .
Since that time Boris was stolen from right outside our house in April 2007 ( and was burnt out.
However, if you’ve ever had a motorbike that felt like part of you then you will understand what we did next – we have spent the last one year and four months rebuilding, repainting and restoring Boris to his former glory and as I write this we are anticipating taking it out for our first ride )
I will post pictures of the rebuild sometime soon, in the meantime we have some serious Boris fun to catch up on.
- 2013 Ural Solo ST motorcycle review @ Top Speed
- Ural Sales up 39 Percent Along with their Cool Factor
- My experience with a Ural Sidecar Rig – Six Months and 10,000 Kilometers…
- Miles Holden Ural Solo Racer
- 2014 Ural Gear-Up Review + Video –