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My Ural and Me

My Tovarishch

by Randy Patka

Ural Sidecar Motorcycle tourist model at Christmas I purchased my '03 Ural Tourist on May 18, 2003 at age 54, as my first ever motorcycle. I had seen this style bike appear in a few movies (notably the last Indiana Jones film with Sean Connery) and it looked like a great way to enter the world of motorcycles-albeit the lunatic fringe- in relative safety and comfort. The perfect "geezer cycle". It also is a stand-out rig that proudly looks like nothing else on the road. You will NOT confuse my bike with a Honda, or Yamaha or Harley. Even at a FAR distance.

In the past 12 months of ownership I have logged 22,185kms on the odometer. Most of this has been in and around the Chicago Metro area with many side trips through the surrounding 5 states. It has been the experience of a lifetime and my SOLE regret is not discovering this wonderful time machine sooner. Will it out race any Harley on the street? YES it will (only in reverse of course). Will it run all day on the superslab at 80? Not in a million years, unless you mean 80 kilometers per hour.

But this bike is designed for the sheer pleasure of the winding back roads of small town America, for the off road adventure where two wheels just can't travel, for the snow and winter thrill of being the only cycle on the streets. And yes, when it was -5F here in Chicago, I was INDEED riding around town on my noble Russian steed Tovarishch. A couple of the attached pics show the bike in its Yuletide costume, and show what it looked like ALL December long on my travels throughout the region, including the annual Toys for Tots run. Of course Rudolph's nose blinks bright red and Santa and sleigh light up as well. I guarantee you see THIS machine coming down the street at night. All without sacrificing the sidecar seat-which is probably the most comfy way for your guest to travel. No hanging on for dear life on the back seeing only your partner's clothes, but with your own windshield, stretched out and relaxed , enjoying the countryside as it rolls by. Or perhaps just cuddled up in warm clothes and taking a nap. Or enjoying landscape photography on the go, or even just reading a book. You can do it all in a Ural sidecar. And as the picture proves, it can even win a trophy in a local car and bike meet.

Ural Sidecar Motorcycle tourist model off-road and on-road winner at rally Mechanically I've been through a few alternators, and needed one engine rebuild/replacement-all under the generous factory warranty. And a few little electrical gremlins have raised their heads, but all have been traced to a simple wire connector or broken crimp or some such simple fix, and a few minutes with a tool kit and I was back on my way. There are no computer chips on a Ural, it is most reminiscent of a 1960 Ford Falcon as regards "fancy" engineering, and using just the supplied tool kit you can fix, replace or adjust near anything on the bike yourself. Parts are readily available and very affordable, home maintenance is the standard (remember "shade tree mechanics") you thought they were extinct? Nope, they're back wrenching on the Urals and smiling all the way to the bank. How about a COMPLETE new engine, with transmission, alternator, starter and carbs for under $2500? Yep, that's a Ural. Heck, a brand new 2004 Tourist is only about $8500 total.

The people you meet are always friendly and greet you with a smile, the Ural community is a great one to join, and even those folks who are afraid of motorcycles will jump in the sidecar for a ride. And what better way to take the kids, or wife or girlfriend or even the family dog out for spin? There is generous trunk space, the spare tire is right there in the event of a flat and even my cable drum brakes work just fine, thank you. Remember, you are traveling at the speed of dark, not light on a Ural. lol Cruising speed of 55-60MPH is more than enough for me. I want to enjoy the ride for a change and really see the countryside. Airplanes and 4 wheel vehicles are for when I'm in a hurry.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it! Just another satisfied nut case who owns and loves his Ural motorcycle.

Ural Retro, Classic looking sidecar touring bike Ural Tourist, affordable family sidecar motorcycle Ural Patrol, offroad ready 2wd sidecar motorcycle Ural Gear-Up, your street legal ATV or sidecar dirtbike Taiga
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