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The Complete Motorcycle Compendium
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2004 Ural Retro with Sidecar
Ultra Harley Clone, uses S&S engines
Ural Russian, built in a factory near Moscow in the 1930s with help from the Germans. Then up scaled after the Soviets captured the BMW factory in Eisenach Germany and moved the machinery to a factory in Irbit USSR. Still building modern and retro looking motorcycles today.
IMZ-Ural is the only Russian manufacturer of heavy duty motorcycles and one of few manufacturers of side-car motorcycles in the world. IMZ-Ural is a conglomerate of companies producing and selling classic motorcycles both singles and side-car combinations.
The story of IMZ-Ural begins late in 1939, a secret meeting was held in the Defence Ministry of USSR and the matter under discussion was what a model of motorcycles was going to be the most suitable for Soviet Armed Forces. After long discussion the BMW R71 motorcycle was found to match the requirements most closely and 5 motorcycles of the kind were secretly bought in Sweden. Everything about the bike was reversed engineered and early in 1941 the first trial samples of M-72 motorcycles were shown to Marshall Stalin and decision was taken to produce them.
Nazi invasion was so fast that Soviet Government had to move the Factory from Moscow to Irbit, a little town on the edge of Siberia, an important Trade and Fair centre in Russia before Revolution of 1917. On October 25, 1942 the first batch of Motorcycles went to the front and during WWII totally 9799 motorcycles were delivered to the front for reconnaissance detachments and mobile troops. After the WWII the Factory was further developed and in 1950 the Number 30000 motorcycle was produced, and totally more than 3 million motorcycles mainly with side-car have been produced since.
There are a lot of places in Russia where only horses and URAL motorcycles can be used to gear-up where you need it. The export history of URALs started in 1953, mainly to developing countries first, including Governmental Authorities of various countries. But starting late in the 1980s deliveries started to developed countries and more and more URALs are there on the roads of all continents. URALs are a unique combination of price, classic styling and side-car, just like my “daddy’s bike”.
In the beginning of 1998 the business was bought by private Russian interest and it is no longer state property, bringing new ideas, new investments, new management, new production techniques, new design, technology and above all quality control of incoming, in-process and finished products.
Where other competitors have stopped production or are stuck in a rut of old models, IMZ have been given a new lease of life, with new models and an engine that benefits the standards required by the sporting and leisure rider of modern times. Whilst the outward appearance of the engine is the same as before, quality control techniques have use of better alloying and casting, better engineering tolerances, better paint and chrome whilst retaining the advantage of continuity with the inherently balanced design of a horizontally opposed flat twin engine with roller bearings in a solid frame.
URS Germany, 1960’s racers designed by Helmut Fath