Riding the new 2014 URAL Gear-up 2WD

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totalmotorcycle
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Riding the new 2014 URAL Gear-up 2WD

Unread post by totalmotorcycle » Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:28 am

Riding the new 2014 URAL Gear-up 2WD

I had an opportunity this weekend to go out to the 2014 URAL Factory Demo Tour here in Houston, Texas and ride me a Ural! :cowboy:
2014-URAL-Riding.jpg
My on the 2014 URAL Gear-up. My insanely trusting instructor David in the sidecar.
The event was hosted by URAL Russia and Golf Coast Motorcycle (formally, Golf Coast BMW) and both of these sponsors put on a lavish Russian event complete with authentic Russian foods, sweets, drinks and, yes, even Russian motorcycles!

There were around 7 URAL motorcycles with sidecars there, 3 where official demo bikes (a 2014 URAL Gear-up, 2014 Tourist and 2014 Patrol) along with 4 other URAL's own privately. Around 60 people were there coming and going and URAL was giving out free stickers, pens and other swag as well; so over all, it was a popular event.

For 2014, URAL improved their entire line up by adding 3 important things:

1. Fuel Injection
2. A Hydraulic Steering Damper
3. Three Wheel Disc Brakes

While these seem quite standard on many bikes today, it's a big step for URAL as all URAL's are hand built using time honored traditions and characteristics (which is a nice way of saying, they are built very-old school).

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I was #17, my wife Andrea #18 and a friend (another Mike, which unfortunately ran out of time to ride) was #19 to ride. (I'm sure Andrea will post a little review of her own as well; so I'll concentrate on my experience below).

The URAL's are surprisingly rugged in construction. You might have seen videos of URAL's going full speed over rivers, across the desert or even through a mountain of mud with a .50 Machine Gun strapped on it... well, let me tell you, that's not CGI but a fact.

As I never rode a sidecar hack before my demo ride consisted of a 25 min training on and off-road with the URAL getting to know it and how it handled with the sidecar some muddy off-roading and then around the neighborhood streets.



A LITTLE ABOUT RIDING A HACK

I was quite fortunate, my instructor, David (from IMZ-URAL) was, honestly, one of those really gifted instructors who took the time to demonstrate and explain while being able to listen to and watch you. So learning the URAL hack was as simple as turning the key (then depressing the kill switch, then pulling the clutch in, then making sure it really was in Neutral, then using your right hand to pull back the parking brake, then pulling the reverse gear, then putting it in 1st, then going in reverse....) :laughing:

Actually, it wasn't too hard to ride, and here are some of the tips he gave me (that I could remember)

1. Braking is about 50/50 front/rear
2. Don't engine brake too much
3. Don't WOT or slam the throttle shut too much
4. Your lean angle is around 20° when making a right turn before it flips over on you
5. The gears are straight cut gears so try and try again if it didn't go in the 1st time
6. Don't take right turns too sharp or the side car wheel goes up (5-10mph max with no ballast or passenger in it)
7. Riding a URAL is "hard work" but very rewarding
8. Rear shimmy is expected on braking and accelerating.
9. The 3 axles are in different order so you'll feel "3 bumps" going over 1 bump.
10. Left turns are like power slides if you go fast enough
11. There is an additional 4 feet of "motorcycle" to your right.
12. Counter-steering doesn't work* (*unless you your lean angle on a right turn is between 2-18°)

Riding the URAL is a very unique experience and one I cannot attribute to another vehicle I've rode on before. It's quite agricultural but yet you are more in-touch with the machine and it's characteristics. You feel more like you are a part of it's mechanics and more in-tune with what it is doing than a typical bike you sit on a go. A URAL demands your attention and concentration (which I assume does get much easier as you go but never fully goes away David said) and riding it is a very rewarding experience, especially since you can bring another 2 others to enjoy the ride!

It's shutters, it shakes and it shimmies but it will produce many smiles per mile.

A fast tractor. Yes, that's what I'll call it, a fast tractor or at least that is what it feels like. Starting off on the URAL you can feel the tractor like torque pull you without even using the throttle. Effortless torque, right there at idle. In fact, the bike will accelerate on it's own torque if you let it.

Using the throttle, the big bike shakes and shutters a little while the rear end shimmies side-to-side as you accelerate, it's quite a unique experience, nothing unsettling but very different. Picking up speed now you can't feel the weight of the bike and sidecar or it's bulk, it just happily start to move along, in fact, it's happy just to go and don't demand anything from you (like go faster, pull a wheelie or push that corner), it's just completely content. The engine isn't smooth, the bike isn't smooth, the whole thing feels very "agricultural" but that's ok, think of it as a tank on 3 wheels and nothing, I repeat, nothing (bigger than a small car) will stand between you and your destination. In fact, even rivers, mud, sand, foot deep pot holes, snow, ice or a hurricane will even slow you down. It's a pretty amazing rig. One of the interesting things is you don't need to put your foot down at stops and there isn't a side stand either.

Agricultural is definitely a key word here, but agricultural in a good way.

Shifting into 2nd and picking up speed you get all those shutters, shakes and shimmies and it's beginning to feel a little more "normal" as you get used to them, the tractor-like torque is like a giant wave, one that you are always riding the crest of off idle but well aware of it below you. After doing figure 8's, up/down shifting, turns, stops and more you are getting up your nerve and try using wide open throttle (WOT). Using full throttle producing some interesting results... yes, the bike goes faster... but it's like you just put warp drive on to a WWII battleship! Now I know what mixing WWII technology with Star Trek results in. I can hear Scotty in the engine room: Kirk: "Full power Scotty!"; Scotty: "But she cannot handle it Captain, she's gonna blow"

Like you just put warp drive on to a WWII battleship

So you shift into 3rd gear now and the bike is humming tank-fully along, mindless of anything in it's path, again, quite the experience and just like on a normal bike, the faster you go the more attention you have to be paying but on a URAL it's... encompassing. On a URAL it's fun but (as I would imagine) a bit like running a steam train, sensations are everywhere and the mix of excitement, mud, water, road, oil and gas are everywhere. Oh, I didn't mention we are now off-road with the instructor in the sidecar, riding it like a bucking bronco. I look over at him bounding around as we hit the many mud holes, a smile in my face as I go give it more gas and yell "You are inspiring me to be a sidecar racer!". :laughing:

Returning back to the dealership is fun and then, sadly, it's all over. I did get a chance to ride in the sidecar, which I definitely, highly, recommend if you haven't done that before. Seeing a rider and motorcycle in motion right beside it is a thing of beauty and something everyone can appreciate. Looking around at just 12" above the pavement with a 360° view is another reason. Oh, and I have to say, it's cool to ride in the sidecar, it's one of the coolest things about buying a hack is the option to have others experience doing it.

So well done and a BIG thank you to URAL and Golf Coast Motorcycles for a few great hours in the Russian sun, drinking, laughing and having a good ol' time while doing something unique and new.

Note that the URAL isn't for everyone; it's a fringe bike afterall and a very different riding experience. But like it's owners, it has character to spare, it's unique and will always put a smile on your face. Try one and get a taste of Russia.

Приветствия УРАЛ!


2014 URAL Models - http://www.totalmotorcycle.com/motorcyc ... 4-Ural.htm
URAL - http://www.imz-ural.com/
Golf Coast Motorcycle - http://www.gulfcoastmotorcycle.com/



URAL DEMO TOUR SCHEDULE -

Feb 8 – Raceway Ural, Salem OR

Feb 15 – San Diego BMW, San Diego, CA

Feb 22 – Sacramento Ural, Roseville, CA

Feb 23 – Triquest Motorcycles&Sidecars, Santa Clara CA

Feb 28 - Scooter & Autosource, Prescott, AZ

March 2014

Mar 1 - Go AZ Motorcycles, Scottsdale, AZ

Mar 7 - Storm's Seller Motorcycles, Grand Prairie, TX

Mar 8 - North Dallas BMW/Ural, Plano, TX

Mar 9 - Gulf Coast BMW/Ural, Houston, TX

Mar 16 - Holopaw Ural, St. Cloud, FL

Mar 22 - Motorcycles of Charlotte, Charlotte, NC

Mar 29 - Bumpus HD, Murfreesboro, TN

April 2014

Apr 3 - Reno Powersports, Kansas City, MO

Apr 5 - Unique Rides, Fort Collins, CO


Mike
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Re: Riding the new 2014 URAL Gear-up 2WD

Unread post by Shriker » Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:46 pm

Really cool seeing the Ural bikes. Very unique and rugged....though with modern peices like fuel injection and disc brakes (Brembos!)

Dave , the Ural rep was a cool guy as well and apparently a good teacher......Mike and the wife both came back in one piece after the mix of on and off road riding on the bike and in the sidecar.

Load of fun hangin' with Team Total Motorcycle.com !

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Re: Riding the new 2014 URAL Gear-up 2WD

Unread post by totalmotorcycle » Mon Mar 10, 2014 3:34 pm

Shriker wrote:Really cool seeing the Ural bikes. Very unique and rugged....though with modern peices like fuel injection and disc brakes (Brembos!)

Dave , the Ural rep was a cool guy as well and apparently a good teacher......Mike and the wife both came back in one piece after the mix of on and off road riding on the bike and in the sidecar.

Load of fun hangin' with Team Total Motorcycle.com !
Ahhh! So this is your nickname on the forum... :D

I didn't know what name you picked, but now I do. lol.

Can't wait to have some more fun times with ya.

Mike
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Re: Riding the new 2014 URAL Gear-up 2WD

Unread post by blues2cruise » Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:12 am

I was contemplating getting another motorcycle....but this time with a sidecar.

I am confused on your point # 6
6. Don't take right turns too sharp or the side car wheel goes up (5-10mph max with no ballast or passenger in it)
Isn't the sidecar on the right?

Also...you mentioned shaking and shimmying a few times. Doesn't sound like a comfortable ride for long distances. Do you think it's good for only short rides or would it be good for an actual road trip?
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Re: Riding the new 2014 URAL Gear-up 2WD

Unread post by Gummiente » Sat Apr 22, 2017 6:05 am

blues2cruise wrote:
Wed Mar 08, 2017 2:12 am
I was contemplating getting another motorcycle....but this time with a sidecar.

I am confused on your point # 6
6. Don't take right turns too sharp or the side car wheel goes up (5-10mph max with no ballast or passenger in it)
Isn't the sidecar on the right?

Also...you mentioned shaking and shimmying a few times. Doesn't sound like a comfortable ride for long distances. Do you think it's good for only short rides or would it be good for an actual road trip?
I worked at an Ural dealership for three years (2012-2015) and have been involved with them since 2005, plus I had a sidecar on my old Road Glide for 5yrs, so I have a bit of experience with Urals and sidecars in general. With regards to your concern about the sidecar popping up in a corner, this will only happen when turning to the right and can easily be controlled/avoided with proper driving technique. In a sharp right hand curve, centrifugal force causes the bike suspension to compress and the sidecar suspension to lighten as weight transfer occurs. In some cases this can cause the sidecar to lift and the wheel to raise off the pavement. A slight reduction in throttle, combined with shifting the driver's body weight to the right and applying a light front braking force will lever the sidecar back down onto the road without crossing over into the other lane.

As for the shaking and shimmying, these are normal comments made from people who are new to the sidecar scene. Sidecar rigs handle and operate differently than two wheelers and this can cause a bit of confusion for new drivers. When a rig accelerates, the rear wheel of the bike "pushes". The sidecar wheel is not powered and as such will act like it is connected to the other end of an axle, allowing the rig to "pivot" to the right. The driver feels the rig pulling to the right and either cuts the throttle and/or hits the brakes and now the weight of the sidecar forces the rig to slew to the left. In certain conditions this can cause the handlebars to wobble as the suspension tries to dampen out the effects. This is felt by the driver as a "shimmy" effect.

Experienced drivers use these natural effects to their advantage. When entering a right hand curve, a bit of acceleration actually helps make the bike steer better, as the rear wheel pushes the rig to the right. When entering a left hand corner, a slight reduction in throttle will set up the rig to slew a bit to the left which eases the transition through the curve. Also, sidecar drivers take corners like a race car in that they apex the curve to reduce centrifugal forces. Two wheelers stay in the same part of the lane around curves, while sidecars use the entire lane to their advantage.

All that being said, once a driver gets used to the unique handling characteristics of their rig they can scoot along quite nicely. They even learn how to deliberately raise the sidecar wheel to show off; when I had my Ural I managed to keep the sidecar wheel up in the air for 2km on one memorable occasion. When I had the sidecar on my Road Glide, I had many experienced two wheeled riders comment that they had a hell of a time keeping up to me on twisty roads.

To answer your question about short trips or long trips with a sidecar rig, they are most definitely suited for both. In fact, they are more suited to long trips than two wheelers because of their comfort, cargo capacity and stability in bad weather road conditions.
:canada: Mike :gummiente:
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Re: Riding the new 2014 URAL Gear-up 2WD

Unread post by blues2cruise » Sat Apr 29, 2017 11:08 am

Thank you so much for your in depth review. It's very helpful ... at this point in time, I'm still not sure what I want to do.
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