It was sudden and unexpected, but it is unfortunately true. Beloved Hubert died on January 24, 2018 at the age of 71.
He was surrounded by his family and we’re told he did not suffer. It was blessedly quick. He had an aortic dissection and was gone soon after. His family and the Ural community are in shock but grateful for the life he gave us.
For the last 9 months he was living healthy, happy (off the road), and in harmony with his family including his wife, Lorraine, his daughter, Jessica, and her family including his new granddaughter, Eleanor.
Now his ride really is timeless as he sets off on his next adventure. We are so proud of the life he lived, always on his own terms and always honestly.
Ural Portland’s last demo day of 2017 was one to be remembered. Experienced riders, Ural owners, and first time riders shared a unique experience test riding 2WD Urals through the streets, and even off-roading through mud and rain!
We celebrated the last demo day of the year by documenting the experience and uploading the first video to our new YouTube channel! As the first of many videos to come, we plan on uploading everything from test rides to more informative videos, like how to change a rear tire, check your oil, and install accessories. View our channel here and make sure to like and subscribe!
“Hey dude, Ural wants me to go to Washington to ride their latest bike and hopefully find some snow. What are the chances I live to write about it?” — text message to Wes Siler, 35 seconds after getting the invitation.
“Hahaha, I mean, they flip super easy… but you don’t make things go boom so you’ll be fine. Sean Smith lives up there now so, if you break it, just have him come fix it.” — response from Mr. “I hurt myself a lot.”
The nature of my chosen profession means I don’t always make the safe choice, so naturally I was in. Whelp, this was going to be a good story, one way or another.
The Ural cT is new for 2015 and comes as a smaller version of the Ural T. It uses Ural’s classic 749 cc boxer-twin engine, which is electronically fuel-injected. Ural made some engine updates for model year 2014, nearly doubling the size of the airbox and moving to lower-profile cams with shorter durations, which brought the motor’s performance up to a whopping 41 horsepower at 5,500 rpm and 42 foot-pounds of torque at 4,300 rpm. While neither of those numbers are all that impressive for a 750 cc twin motorcycle produced in 2015, the fact that 90 percent of the torque is made from 2,300 rpm should tell you that you can still have a good time.
If it isn’t clear already, Urals are characterized by having a sidecar, or “chair” or “tub,” attached. They have one- and two-wheel-drive versions, though you only engage the two-wheel-drive mode in low-traction situations. The cT is a single-wheel-drive unit, which allowed Ural to mount the third wheel slightly forward, since it doesn’t need to share an axle with the main rear wheel. This position of the third wheel improves stability.
It comes as no shocker that the Ural comes in on the hefty side. Though, when you consider the third wheel, the tub, and the extra axle, brake, and suspension components, 700 pounds doesn’t seem all that outrageous. That’s about 30 pounds more than a Honda Valkyrie.
All three wheels get disc brakes, with the rear and sidecar brakes both operated by the foot brake lever. Since the two rear wheels are operating with very different loads and levels of traction, the master cylinders have adjustable pushrods, which allow you to adjust applied braking pressure to each of the rear wheels to help create a feeling of even distribution.
Another important difference with the cT is that the sidecar has been lowered by three inches, which gives it a much different appearance.
The biggest change of late is with Ural’s new steering damper. More on why a steering damper on a bike like this is important in the next section, but Ural swapped their ancient friction-type damper for a modern hydraulic unit similar to the one found on sport bikes, which has made massive improvements on controlling the yaw of the bike.
Riding a three-wheeler is nothing like riding a two-wheeler
The what of the bike? Yaw? What’s yaw?
It’s a three-dimensional world, and pitch, roll and yaw are the movements around the three axes. Pilots of airplanes, which freely move in all directions, are intimately familiar with these concepts. On motorcycles, we mostly think about the one that defines our fun in the curves: roll, which is leaning side to side. We may also experience some pitch, such as stoppies or wheelies. But although we experience both yaw and roll when we turn a normal, two-wheeled motorcycle, it is the roll we feel, mostly. The yaw is the movement around the vertical axis.
Motorcycles with sidecars have the interesting phenomenon of experiencing yaw almost completely absent of roll — and it happens when you aren’t even trying to turn. Let me explain.
As I mentioned earlier, the Ural is a one-wheel-drive motorcycle, which means that the third wheel is essentially just along for the ride and to support the weight of the sidecar and your passenger and gear. Like all third wheels, the third wheel on a sidecar tends to be a bit of a drag. Since that third wheel is hanging off to the right side, the main part of the bike actually tries to pivot around the “dragging” third wheel. What does this translate to? When you accelerate, the bike rotates slightly around the yaw axis and pushes you to the right. Adding more weight to the chair or accelerating harder only exaggerates this effect because it increases the resistance of the dragging tire or gives the dragging tire less time to catch up.
Oh, but we’re not done yet. What do you think happens when you have this three-wheeled beast moving at speed and then try and slow her down? You guessed it: the effect works in reverse and the bike yaws to the left.
Also, I should probably mention that three-wheelers don’t turn like normal motorcycles… because sidecar. Instead of using countersteering to make the bike roll (or lean) to turn, you actually have to turn the handlebars to point the front wheel in the direction you want to go (yes, I know you’ve seen pictures with the chair in the air — I’ll get to that in a minute). Most people will equate this to steering a car, but if you’ve ridden a quad ATV, I think that’s a far better example, since you do actually hang off the bike in turns a bit to keep it from flipping. You just hang off on the opposite side you’re used to on a bike. Urals are often popular with people who do some off-road riding, which is partly due to their added stability, but also partly because they turn like a quad. Just point the front and give it some gas and that rear end comes swinging around. I swear, it never gets old.
OK, lifting the sidecar time. You’ve all seen videos of guys on a bike with the sidecar up in the air. Before my time in Washington, I didn’t know that “floating the tub” or “flying the chair” was initiated by turning right (into the tub) or that it was extremely easy to do. It is not caused by using countersteer to turn left, as I had assumed though, as you can also see from the video, once the tub is up, the guys who are good at it can turn both left and right while keeping it in the air.
Finally, the last difference in riding a sidecar is that you do not want to take normal cornering lines. I was glad the Ural had some understeer because it meant I was at times forced off what would have been a normal line, and a normal motorcycle line would have put the sidecar off the road. You have to keep in mind that, while sometimes it may be out of your vision, you’re riding a motorcycle the width of a car and need to leave room for that sidecar to pass. The Ural team shared plenty of stories of people hitting cars, fire hydrants, light poles, and other obstacles by taking turns too closely.
Testing the Ural cT
The Pacific Northwest is a perfect place to ride a bike like the Ural cT. I was hoping Seattle in February would mean snow, but unfortunately I tend to bring Southern California weather with me wherever I go and I was treated to sunny skies and mild temperatures. My first day, we took I-90 southeast with Snoqualmie Pass as our destination. Ural was nice enough to lend me their man-of-many-traits, David, as my tour guide. He knew of some dirt roads we could get on and had some ideas where we might find some snow. My brother lives in Seattle, near Ural HQ, and since sidecars are meant for sharing, I convinced him I wouldn’t kill him if he was willing to come along for my first Ural ride.
With my brother in the tub, the yaw effects were greatly exaggerated, compared to my little test ride the night before. I don’t know which is a better term for piloting the Ural cT: riding or wrestling. Regardless, riding with a passenger really opened my eyes to one of the beauties of the sidecar: it’s social.
Through town, Thomas and I talked at semi-normal volumes about his first experience with any sort of motorcycle and with my first experience riding a sidecar. Things got a little noisy on the freeway, but it was still nice being able to look down to see if he was having a good time and it was way funnier to put the third wheel over the lane divider bumps to give him a little butt massage — even though the tub’s seating position gave him two free hands and the perfect angle to punch me in the ribs.
Off-road, the social nature was only amplified as we could hear each other’s laughter as I clumsily taught myself how to hustle a three-wheeler down a very beat-up dirt road, plus the occasional shouted expletive as I sent his side into a crater-sized pothole. While the Ural certainly doesn’t perform like my off-road weapon of choice (the KTM 350 EXC-F, in case you’re wondering), it certainly is the only off-road bike I would consider about taking a passenger on — let alone want a passenger on.
We finally found snow as we neared Snoqualmie Pass. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the fields of fresh powder I had been dreaming of on my flight to Washington, but was instead weeks-old snow-colored ice. By that point in the day, David and I had switched so I could get a feel for the two-wheel-drive Ural Gear-Up, and David soon got stuck riding the cT up a snow-covered dirt road. Putting the Gear-Up into two-wheel-drive mode kept me from suffering the same fate but, with the only other option being to leave David behind, we turned back towards the pavement.
The following day, Thomas and I set out in the cT for a little sightseeing and to take some pictures. The Ural is quite the crowd pleaser, and there was no shortage of smiles or thumbs up as we passed by. Riding the cT around town felt like far less of a wrestling match, since the slower pace and stop-and-go nature didn’t require me to pull on the bars as hard as freeway riding did.
Maneuvering the cT around town is surprisingly easy, once you get used to the idea of cranking the bars and trusting that you won’t flip. Handling is much sharper than expected, and I even found myself weaving through traffic with ease, as long as I made sure to keep an eye out for how far the tub was sticking out.
Ural cT highlights
The minor upgrades Ural made for the 2014 model year have made a huge difference in making the Ural easier to ride, both on and off road. The hydraulic steering damper does wonders to help keep the yaw under control.
While the power figures may not look all that impressive on paper, the Ural doesn’t feel lacking until you try to get up to Southern California freeway speeds (read: 80-plus mph). The motor almost has characteristics similar to a dirtbike, with a huge kick of power as soon as you drop into the next gear.
I also forgot the beauty of riding something with some trunk space. Whether it’s a Ural or a Honda NC700, you just never realize how nice that space is to have until you’ve experienced it and then given it up. Wanna bring a jacket so you don’t have to wear your big goofy Rukka one in to dinner? Bring it. Wanna bring your camera bag? Grab that too. How about a bottle of whiskey as we head home for the night? Yup, got room for that, too. The trunk on the cT held an incredible amount of stuff, and I found myself using it every single time we took the bike somewhere.
Normally, riding a bike that feels like a 1970s BMW would be kind of boring. The Ural, however, is incredibly engaging and makes riding something slow and tractor-like fun. My two days on the cT both wore me out and put a huge grin on my face.
Urals make riding with a passenger fun. I’ve spent plenty of time riding with a pillion, but I never really enjoy it. I’m glad the passenger got to share the experience and I’m glad to have someone along, but I don’t enjoy having someone on the back. On the Ural, outside of the yaw effect being more abrupt with a passenger, I can genuinely say that having a passenger made the whole experience more fun.
The cT accomplishes Ural’s goal of creating a bike for a younger, more city-based rider. Side by side with the Patrol, it’s noticeably smaller and it rides as such. I can’t wait to get one in Southern California.
Ural cT lowlights
To be honest, my complaints are pretty few and far between, given what I was expecting. Obviously, the thing rides and has the characteristics of a vintage bike because… well, it basically is one.
It would be nice if they could re-work the engine a bit for a little more top speed, seeing as Thomas and I had a hard time keeping up with traffic on the freeway when headed uphill. Other than that, most of what I would normally call flaws felt like character, given all of the weird forces at work. Given the bike’s characteristics, I don’t know that I would want the engine to perform like a modern bike’s. The Ural cT puts you in such a slow-poke mindset that the engine and handling just seem to fit.
I equate it to driving my roommate’s massive SUV after getting out of my little hatchback. His Volvo drives like absolute shit, but it puts me in a mellow mood because it’s so slow to do anything.
Unlike my roommate’s massive SUV, the seat on the cT got uncomfortable really quick. I was dying to get off it after an initial hour-long stint on the freeway.
The yaw effect isn’t something I would call a good thing, but it’s hard to blame Ural for physics. However, if you aren’t prepared for all of the extra effort required, the Ural may not be for you.
At $12,999 the Ural cT sort of has the market covered when it comes to three-wheelers. DMC Sidecars will build you a sidecar for your motorcycle (I definitely want to ride a BMW R 1200 GS with a sidecar), but that’s going to run you at least $8,000, on top of the price of your motorcycle.
I suppose if you wanted to be nit picky, Rokon also sells three-wheeled bikes with sidecars. But I don’t know if I can compare a 220-pound, 7-horsepower trail bike to the Ural, no matter how badly I want to ride one.
Cozzi specializes in building sidecars for your modern Triumph, if that’s what you’re after, and Velorex makes a few different sidecar options for a variety of bikes.
By the end of my first day on the sidecar, my Ural tour guide told me I’d taken to it faster than almost anyone he’d seen. The key to riding a motorcycle with a sidecar is to realize that everything you know about motorcycles basically doesn’t apply and you need to both respect the sidecar and operate it under a different set of principles.
The changes Ural made for the 2014 model year have made for massive improvements. Fuel injection and a push button start make the Ural much easier for a wider range of riders and climates, and the move from drum to disc brakes makes them more appropriate for 2015 riding conditions and speeds.
More motorcycles should come with torque curves like the Ural. I don’t care what kind of power a bike makes, a flat torque curve starting at essentially the bottom of a bike’s rev range makes anything fun.
The cT fits in nicely with Ural’s lineup. It looks, feels, and rides much smaller than the M70, Patrol, or Gear-Up and is completely at home in urban environments. Urals no longer feel like motorcycles from the 1950s. Now they’re much more like bikes from the 1980s!
With that in mind, riding a sidecar is simply massive amounts of fun (as long as your name isn’t Wes Siler). I can’t wait to bug Ural to give me for a longer test in Southern California, where I know way more people dumb enough to respond “yes” to the text, “Want to go for a ride off-road in a sidecar?”
Adam Heller is one of our newest Ural converts. This mild-mannered teacher has a real penchant for getting dirty!
I remember how polite and enthusiastic he the first day he stopped in. He talked about his love for teaching, how much fun a Ural would be to use as a daily driver, and where he would explore. He selected a new 2015 Asphalt Gear-Up, it had just arrived and was still in the crate.
He’s definitely the coolest teacher in Portland.
Here are some photos from Adam’s most recent adventure. You might want to avert your eyes if mud offends you. There isn’t much of this Ural that isn’t covered! The rest of the story is Adam’s own words…
These shots were up in Forest Grove State Forest, just about an hour and a half from Portland (if you go the quick way, I meander up there a bit slower and more scenic).
The ground was muddy and fun and then I hit it deep and it got really interesting.
The mud came up past the foot pegs, half way up the engine. I managed fairly well though and trudged through it beautifully.
The next day I went up to Mt. Hood, but it was too warm to find any snow to really play in. However after being in conversation with person after person for 45 minutes in a gas station parking lot (as we all know too well – editors note: it is not uncommon to have long conversations any time you get off or get on your motorcycle, gas stations are the most infamous stoppers!), I’ve been turned onto a few good spots to check out around the mountain and further east next time I ride out that way.
This weekend I’m starting out with a nice easy ride up skyline to Dutch Canyon Rd. and on to Scappoose to help a friend of mine break into a ’73 Yamaha he just started on, then I’m thinking of seeing what trouble I can find out by the Bridge of the Gods.
Something new is hitting the road! Join us Saturday November 22, 2014 to demo the new 2015 Urals. Whether you want to see what’s new or try the motorcycle that you have always wanted, this is the day to do it! See you then!
Tomorrow, September 6, 2014, is National Ural Rally Day! First off register at nationalrallyday.com, then check out the Rally Days Rules and Scoring Summary. We currently have 5 Urals in the shop (for an easy 100 points) and we will have pie and coffee all day (50 points!). Of course, the more Urals that stop by the more points you can earn!
We did a little research to help you out with some easy Portland Points!
Ural Motorcycles heard some folks wait to buy the new generation motorcycle the first year it is out in the market. Well, we have good news for you. Everyone who already bought, is buying and thinking to buy a 2014 Ural will automatically have the third year manufacturer’s warranty!*
That’s one additional free year of warranty to the standard two years. What we are saying here in plain Russian, er… English is – we want you to start riding now, why wait to enjoy good times? 🙂
Join us this Friday, May 9th for Ural’s Demo Day starting at 10am at Ural Portland. We will have 6 motorcycles, including the new 2014 models, on hand to take out as well as Ural Experts to answer all of your questions. Slots are filling up, give us a call at (503) 222-3779 or email us firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a time. You will need a motorcycle endorsement to drive, but everyone is welcome to try the sidecar. See you this Friday!
Ural motorcycles gained popularity and a loyal following among motorcycle enthusiasts around the world. Ural riders appreciate the bikes’ on- and off-road capabilities, ease of maintenance and certainly love the bikes’ classic appearance and feel. Ural is known for listening closely to customer feedback, and as such Ural has implemented a large number of changes and upgrades over the years.
Ural felt that the concept of a complete factory produced sidecar motorcycle has even bigger potential than what our previous models were able to deliver. So they began working on this project two years ago. The idea was to introduce a number of more advanced technical and functional features, while still maintaining Ural’s classic look, ruggedness and unpretentious character.
2014 marks the year of revolutionary changes for Ural motorcycles. With the introduction of a number of advanced technical and functional features, they’ve made Urals better, safer and more user-friendly, while still maintaining Ural’s classic looks, ruggedness and unpretentious character.
To begin with, they’ve fitted the 749cc boxer-twin with a new stand alone fuel-injection system equipped with an ECU for each cylinder improving acceleration and fuel economy. They increased breaking power by putting disc breaks on all three wheels. By replacing the friction-type steering damper with the new hydraulic steering damper, they made it easier for the rider to maintain a straight line of travel and improved the bike’s stability and rider confidence. Some appearance improvements include new kneepads and badges on the gas tank, improved preformed hoses for fuel lines, breather and reservoirs. The new dashboard with modern indicator lamps is more aesthetically pleasing and at the same time better follows the contour of the headlight and the upper triple clamp.
The four main areas focused on were:
Overall fit and finish
KEY DIFFERENCES AT A GLANCE (FOR 2WD models)
What It Was
Prior to 2014 all models of Ural motorcycles had been manufactured with carburetors. Carburetion allowed the user to make adjustments and accommodate different riding styles when necessary. While this is considered to be an advantage by some motorcycle enthusiasts, the benefits of EFI system are undeniable. Even though Ural could have continued with carburetion for a few more years, they decided it’s time to switch to EFI if they are to grow the brand and expand our customer base.
What It Will Be
2014 Urals feature the new standalone fuel injection system. This system has been developed specifically for Ural by ElectroJet, Inc., a Michigan-based engineering company, using components by Bosch and Delphi.
It’s a closed loop throttle body injection system utilizing individual ECU’s for each of the cylinders. This system precisely manages fuel delivery and ignition timing while simultaneously allowing the cylinders to communicate with each other for better idling and balance.
The most unique feature of our system is the individual ECU’s integrated with the throttle bodies. It’s a compact and redundant system which allows the motorcycle to continue running with just one out of two ECU’s operational. Our ECU also incorporates a PDS (pressure differential sensor) for more accurate and smooth fuel delivery, eliminating the need for additional TPS (throttle position sensor). The throttle bodies were specifically designed in a way to maximize performance while minimizing modification to existing engine components.
EFI is not the only piece of the puzzle. Ural completed the package with an all new air box and an improved cam profile.
The new airbox is almost two times larger in volume. This provides less restrictive airflow and better balance. The airbox inlet has been relocated to make the system more weather resistant and easier to service.
The profile of the camshaft was revised for shorter duration to increase the low to mid- rpm torque.
What Is Does
The three main benefits of EFI are obvious: it is more user friendly, provides better fuel economy and reduces emissions.
While the deployment of EFI and redesign of other engine components increased the maximum horsepower of our 750 engine, the real story is torque.
For a motorcycle with the sidecar that weighs over 700 lbs., you need a lot of torque to overcome the moment of inertia. And we achieved just that. The engine now produces 42 ft-lbs of torque at 4300rpm compared to previous 38 ft-lbs of torque at 4600 rpm – that’s a 15% increase! What’s even more impressive is that 90% of max torque is achieved below 2300 rpms – and that puts the power where you need it.
What It Comes With
The engine now comes with redesigned front cover integrating a standard spin-on oil filter.
A new wire harness incorporates all new requirements for EFI utilizing high quality weather tight connectors.
The dashboard was redesigned to include fuel level warning and engine management indicator lamps.
What It Was
Since 2003 Ural motorcycles have utilized Brembo hydraulic disc brakes on the front wheel, and drum brakes for both the rear and sidecar wheels. The drum brakes required the rider to apply more force to the brake pedal. Also this configuration required more frequent maintenance and adjustment.
What It Will Be
Beginning in 2014 Urals will feature disc brakes on all three wheels.
The rear wheel utilizes a big bore integrated floating caliper by HB (Hayes Brakes) and a 256 mm solid NG rotor. The caliper also incorporates the mechanical parking brake feature.
The sidecar wheel is equipped with a two-piston Brembo caliper and a 245 mm NG floating rotor.
Both rear calipers are operated by their own Brembo master cylinders.
What it Does
The new system provides dramatically increased stopping power while requiring less rider effort. Having three individual braking systems provides for the highest level of redundancy and the ability to precisely tune the entire system.
What it Comes With
During the development of the rear disc brakes we completely redesigned all wheel hubs. They now utilize standard sealed bearings with additional protective dust seals.
The rear hubs no longer utilize cast-in drive splines. They are now equipped with replaceable hardened bolt-on spline flanges. The rear wheel hubs will no longer need to be replaced due to worn drive splines.
The parking brake actuation lever was redesigned and conveniently located to simplify rider operation.
The introduction of disc brakes allowed us to develop a new final drive housing, which is lighter and universal across the entire model line.
The front brake reaction link on leading link forks is now made by FRAP (Italy) and utilizes higher quality ball joints of increased strength.
What it Was
The current Urals utilize a mechanical friction type steering damper. This simple design, while adjustable, doesn’t provide consistent handling under different riding situations. Thus the motorcycle requires constant rider input.
What it Will Be
The new system incorporates an 18-position adjustable hydraulic damper. This damper specifications were carefully selected for use on our sidecar motorcycles and confirmed after extensive on- and off- road testing.
What it Does
Riding the bike, equipped with new damper, requires less rider input while feeling more “planted” and connected to the road surface. As an added benefit, the hydraulic damper reduces the amount of sidecar specific yaw (pull to the right or left when accelerating or decelerating). For newbies to sidecars, it eases the transition from two wheels to three wheels.
What it Comes With
In conjunction with the development of the steering damper we also incorporated newly designed upper and lower triple clamps (bridges). These bridges are now made from forged aluminum alloy which is both stronger and lighter. Additionally the upper clamp incorporates handlebar mounts. Fork legs are now secured with pinch bolts in place of the original factory tapered upper mount.
In addition to all the performance improvement the motorcycle has undergone substantial makeover.
The classic look of the Ural has been preserved but well refined. Some of the improvements include new kneepads and badges on the gas tank, improved preformed hoses for fuel lines, breather and reservoirs.
The new dashboard with modern indicator lamps is more aesthetically pleasing and at the same time better follows the contour of the headlight and the upper triple clamp.
The new front engine cover is slimmer and cleaner in appearance and incorporates the IMZ logo.
Some other small details also add to the overall appearance.
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