ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How NOT to buy a Ural Motorcycle Sidecar

Updated on May 9, 2012
Ah... the prize.
Ah... the prize.

This hub is a little bit about my experiences with a particularly “interesting” machine called the Ural and how I came to acquire one. It’s not the Central Asian mountains. And not even the great big Russian trucks. But a brand of motorcycle and sidecars. They are very stoutly built and really the only side cars you can get with two wheeled drive and reverse.

A Bit of History

There is an interesting history behind the Ural that most people don’t know about. Back in the 1930’s, BMW was like it is today, a maker of many things motorized. At the time Germany and Soviet Russia were friends of convenience. And the Russians were able to license produce a copy of BMW’s motorcycle. So, when they became not friends any longer, the same motorcycles wound up on both sides of the war. After the their victory over Nazi Germany, the Soviets took the production machinery as a war prize, and did not feel obligated to keep paying BMW license fees.

The Soviet system being what it was, they continued to produce the exact same thing over and over the decades. Which is great if you are a closed system and you are the only producer of a product. However, in the 90s when the Berlin wall came down, the instantly capitalist Russians suddenly found their bikes hopelessly antiquated.

Luckily for the company that emerged from post-communist collectivism, Irbit, they found that a small but persistent market existed for robust to the point of crude and nostalgic retro bikes in the West. And so a bit of Cold War history manages to live on.


How I Came to Own One

I had been considering ways of safely sharing my interests in motorcycles with my young daughter, and a sidecar seemed like a good way to do so. I also did not have much time to ride, my then current bike a Buell Ulysses (yes, I have a taste for eclectic motorcycles) spent a lot of time sitting idle. So, I was trying to sell it.

Ma' ol' bike...
Ma' ol' bike...

On a motorcycle internet forum there was a guy named Murphy who had just the Ural sidecar I was looking for, and who just happened to be looking for the same model bike that I had. Sounds like the perfect match right?

Let me tell you something. Never buy a Russian motorcycle from a guy named Murphy.

It looked great, but it had this one little problem with the timing gears. Ok, Urals are tough right? I’ll take my chances and ride it home from Montgomery, AL. Its only an hour away. It was a fun ride and I almost made it. I got about 5 miles from Phoenix City before it rattled itself to death...

Oh Noes!!!!
Oh Noes!!!!

Pay Now and Pay Later

I managed to get it home on the tow-truck of shame. Spending more than I want to think about on new parts, taking the motor all apart, and tediously cleaning out all the little pieces of metal was … fun.

No really it was. It was interesting to get hands on something built by people who don’t think in terms of absolute precision or where every piece or component is designed to be just strong enough to do its job. If a similar failure had happened to a Western designed motor, it would have been junk. Throw it in the trash and buy a new one. But with the Ural, I was literally able to clean it up, put it back together, and it runs just like nothing had happened.

All fixed up.
All fixed up.

So this Ural has still provided me with some insight, along with some scraped knuckles. It has been, “interesting”. It still continues to do so.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)