A few days ago the Ural Yamal was introduced and the usual press release was circulated to bring it to everyone's attention. As Urals go, it has everything you need, and would expect, if you're the type to go out in the uncharted territories, but it includes an accessory most of us don't usually look for, ... an oar.
As Ural explains:
An impasse may come in other shapes and sizes beyond weather and topography, so Ural throws in an oar with tongue-in-cheek emergency instruction to double as a defensive tool or your last hope of survival on thin ice... you never know.
Of course, The Kneeslider's library spans many years and I seemed to remember something in amongst those dusty shelves about a sidecar floating across a river and after a quick search, sure enough, there it was. The enthusiastic description from the old 1934 Popular Mechanics piece, says:
...the use of a sidecar as a boat has been found practical in Germany. Pontoons are fitted on each side of the car which is propelled by double ended paddles. Changing the sidecar into a boat may be accomplished quickly. German manufacturers are considering a plan for building sidecars equipped with rudders.
Well, I suppose, though I don't recall any that actually made it to production, but it wouldn't surprise me if someone, somewhere has one. The reference to Germany means there's probably a BMW somewhere in a museum with a quick detach sidecar and a set of optional pontoons. The photo in the old article shows it actually did work and back those many years this sort of multi-use inventiveness filled the pages of those old mags. It always makes me smile.
Now, I like Urals, they have that quirky off road style that makes you want to go off exploring, though in these days of satellite photos and GPS, is there any uncharted territory left? I can imagine those old explorers' clubs where meetings were held in wood paneled rooms with massive bookshelves and a large world globe, marked with little flags indicating the previous destinations of the various gentlemen members of the group. Sitting by the fire sipping brandy, you can almost hear one of them planning his next expedition, ... on a Ural Yamal, perhaps?
Yes, it could happen, but then, as his wife walks in, throws open the blinds and his daydreams are shattered, she might say, "Hey, why don't we hop in the Ural and head off for breakfast somewhere." As our intrepid suburban explorer grabs his keys, he smiles and says, "Sure, I know just the place."
Ural press release follows:
REDMOND, WA – IMZ-Ural, the Siberian manufacturer of motorcycles with sidecars introduces icebreaker-inspired limited edition Ural Yamal – the only motorcycle equipped with an oar.
Yamal, which translates as “the end of the Earth,” is a peninsula in Russia, known for being nothing short of inhospitable, barren, and perpetually frozen. It is also the well-known icebreaker that spends its time conquering the frozen Arctic Ocean, just north of Siberia – and a perfect namesake of this year’s limited edition from Ural.
Russian icebreakers are heavy, rugged, and focused entirely on their mission. Though their purpose may not always make sense, these vessels are unique in every way, and when speaking to the right people—absolutely necessary. Ural motorcycles are much like this strange genre of sea-going vessel: durable, dependable, and able to conquer what typical motorcycles cannot.
The limited edition Yamal is spec'd with its own double hull—of sorts—much like the boat: 3M coating is used to weather proof the lower portion of the sidecar body and the fenders for additional protection. The Ural Yamal is painted flat orange—to be easily spotted anywhere. Its sidecar is fitted with dual fog lights to defeat the long nights as you travel from waypoint to waypoint. Both rider and passenger comfort is enhanced with the addition of accessory fairing and windscreen. On demand two-wheel drive, knobby spare tire, and hand guards round out the mission capability of the Yamal.
An impasse may come in other shapes and sizes beyond weather and topography, so Ural throws in an oar with tongue-in-cheek emergency instruction to double as a defensive tool or your last hope of survival on thin ice... you never know. Add the unforgettable menacing teeth and you get yet another one-of-a-kind limited edition from Ural – a motorcycle that sure beats the norm.
The 2012 Ural Yamal Limited Edition —the only motorcycle equipped with an oar.
Total built for U.S.: 50
UPDATE: Kim Scholer, our intrepid Nimbus rider, left a comment below that linked to this image of a Rudge equipped with a real canoe sidecar. The paddle would be a necessary accessory, not just a decorative option like the oar on the Yamal, though if Ural takes another whack at it, they might come up with a more boat-like side hack. Oh, the possibilities!
On the other hand, this type of situation seems to be more of what Ural had in mind when they envisioned the oar. This photo of a river crossing, also courtesy of Kim, shows what seems to be one of his beloved Nimbus motorcycles, with a sidecar, sitting midstream far off the beaten path somewhere in Mongolia.