If you think you’re seeing a lot of ads for Ural Motorcycles lately, you’re not alone. They seem to be advertising in all of the motorcycle mags, perhaps trying to get a bit of the retro market that Ducati, Triumph and many other companies are capitalizing on.
Ural motorcycles were essentially Russian copies of the BMW R71. They have a couple of different stories on their website explaining the possible origins of the first Urals. One says 5 BMWs were secretly purchased and carefully reverse engineered for use by the Russian army in WWII, while another version says the R71 drawings and molds were provided by BMW since the R75 was coming out and the R71 was being replaced. Whichever story or parts of the story are true, the end result is the Ural motorcycle, an old BMW built brand new.
The old as new idea is like the Royal Enfield Bullet, faithful copies of the 1955 Bullet built brand new in India, the Urals seem to be variations on the original BMW theme.
Except for a model called the Wolf, which seems to be a Ural engine in a newer frame, all of the other models are sold as sidecar rigs. Three are in their family group and two in their sport utility group. The sport utility group have the ability to engage a driveshaft for the sidecar wheel, giving extra traction in offroad or very poor conditions, kind of a neat feature and the kind of thing you would expect in an old military motorcycle.
A couple of years ago I saw a Ural display at the Cycle World motorcycle show in Cleveland. They appeared a bit rough around the edges, whether that is still true of the latest models I can’t say, they aren’t exactly common over here in the States.
There is a certain rugged appeal to these sidecar rigs, and the models with the sidecar drive wheel can be ridden in mud and snow when most bikes would be best left at home. If that appeals to you or you’re just looking for something different, you might want to check them out.
If you own a Ural, let us know about your experience with these Russian rigs.
Links: Ural Motorcycles