Mailing List
Get the latest news by email.

Your email:

New Members

In order to serve you better, select your area code in the drop down list below.

Aller à la version française

2009 Ural Gear Up 2x3 Test


by Luc Brière ,

It’s early on Saturday morning, I’ve got the left choke pulled back, the right one too, and I push the starter – and the monster starts straightaway. I let it run a bit before releasing the chokes and setting off to pick up my buddy Gilbert, who graciously accepted to play sidecar passenger for the day.

There is plenty of room for two full sized adults in the Ural. This is hardly surprising when you consider that the original model was developed to carry three fully equipped soldiers, or act as a mobile base for a machine gun, first for the German, then for the Russian armies.

I shift into first gear, a noisy “clunk” confirming that the gears are indeed meshed, release the clutch smoothly, and we are off! I turn left, leaning into the sidecar, declutch, and wait for the engine revs to slow down a bit before shifting into second. In the interim both cylinders favour me with a backfire, just as second gear engages with another telltale clunk. At least waiting for the engine to slow down eliminates the whining of the transmission gears rubbing hard against each other. I twist the throttle and the Gear-Up drowsily picks up speed, fast enough to turn right and force the sidecar wheel over the sidewalk without making contact (Gilbert is not in it at the time) – yep, it’s gonna be a beautiful day.

After an initial failed attempt at importing a Canadian version in 2001 and 2002, the Russian-made Ural are again available here, at Euro-Moto in Laval. Four models, adapted for the American market (where they’ve been around for several years) offer a choice of one- and two-wheel drive, with a civilian or military air. Our ride, the “Gear-Up” was decked out in camo colours, presumably so that hunters can’t spot you in the bush – unless it is to fool the Russians in our Arctic!

Something familiar about the drive train

The air-cooled, 749-cc flat twin that breathes via two poppet valves per cylinder is good for 40 hp and 38 ft-lb of torque. According to an old (er) BMW specialist, this puppy has a lot in common with the “/2” Bavarian mill of the 1950s. Featuring electronic ignition and “modern” Keihin carburetors, this contemporary incarnation starts up every time and settles down to a nice, slow and steady idle.

US anti-pollution standards require lean carb settings, hence the backfires on cold start-up that you have to put up with. However, another of the Ural’s yesteryear traits is the fact it loses rev slowly when you cut the throttle, a sure sign of a rather heavy flywheel. That mass of steel stores energy and gives it back when you need it most, such as when running slowly in traffic or going up a steep hill. As for the lethargic acceleration, the combination of 40 hp and 545 kg of loaded machine (335 kg for the bike, plus my 100 and Gilbert’s 110) ensures relaxing performance, to say the least. Michael Schumacher may be afraid of hurting his neck if he makes an F1 comeback, but not us on the Ural!

Not the simplest of designs at first sight. In fact, these machines are a collection of discrete components put together without great attention paid to integration or style. Just get them going, and when they break, rip off the broken bits, bolt/weld/rivet/tape on the new stuff, and get the thing back in the battle!
1 - 2 - 3 >>