Ural sidecar crosser, that's where the Russians come

Ural sidecar
ER Classics Desktop 2022

Ural sidecar

I'm not a big fan of competition machines. Whether on asphalt or off the beaten track. But sometimes there are exceptions. Then we usually sit in the corner from top fantastic to feeding the underdog. Such an underdog is the Ural sidecar crosser for this article.

Also interesting: Royal Enfield, an old racer

Previously we had the unique story about one of the first successful Honda racers

A machine that has since been reborn with total disregard for what the accountant at thought. It is unique. Honda wanted to buy the machine back. It is literally priceless. The machine is therefore not in a workshop, but on an altar.

Also interesting: Kawasaki H1-500: 'the widowmaker'

The Ural to this story is of a completely different order

We have given attention to the Russian tricycles, the M72s, Urals and Dneprs a few times over the years. Those are machines that meanwhile get recognition as classics and a good Russian tricycle is just a pretty good thing, but a bit rude thing. And if something breaks down, you usually make it trouble-free and cheap. In the quarter of a century that I drive Russian, I have always returned to my own strength.

The combinations were intended as basic transport in countries where until now horse and carts are realistic vehicles

The technicians could do more and better, but the Soviet planned economy forbade that kind of frivolity. Yet the Soviet citizens were just ordinary people: They wanted more. They wanted spectacle and sensation. Certainly to forget the war. Motorcycles were already held in 1945 and, of course, sidecars participated as well.

Later a distinction was made between terrain and regular competitions. And in the early sixties the Ural sidecar drivers were already forty horsepower strong. And then? Then it was time to conquer the world. System internal, trucks and army tents were arranged, the stuff was refueled and the convoy set off. To the capitalist west. Of course, a whole nest of seasoned communist equipment went along to protect the motorcyclists in peace and quiet 24 hours a day from reprehensible western influences. That was in 1971. The Russians took sixth place on their first free performance. And that was so good that in any case the drivers were not sent directly to Siberia. But more was expected.

Faster developments

But the developments on this side of the Iron Luxaflex, the developments went faster than under the inspiring leadership of communist thinking. Yamaha and Weslake set very new standards and the 'Russians' lagged behind, although they made their engines lighter and faster. The 650s grew to 750 cc, they got hotter camshafts and the suspension was also thought of. The result was that the considerably lighter Ural delivered up to around 60 hp. But the developments in the West went faster and even growing to 900 cc did not bring any relief to the Soviet riders. The bicycle section was meanwhile heavily dated and the weight was much too high.

How many of those machines have been made? That is unknown

And the chance that you will encounter such a brave roaring Ural sidecar crosser here in the west? You are more likely to catch a politician on a kept promise. Years ago there was a hard blue copy for sale in Amsterdam Noord. That was quite shortly after communism collapsed. Then a lot of things came from the former Soviet Union because they cost nothing there twice and because brilliant Dutch people thought they could get gold money for it. A 3500-pound armored V8 from old government stocks? It was for sale in Dinteloord for one guilder per kilo. What happened to the boxes full of Kalahnikovs we saw at a Polish classic fair? Maybe they ended up with the Mocro Mafia.

More was asked for the Ural crosser than I wanted to pay. Although I was impressed by the test drive. The combat rus sounded like a brontosaurus in the rutting season and had an impressive bottompower. The seller and I said goodbye as good friends. When I called about the thing again after three months, it turned out that he had left as old iron.

In the meantime, I found a real Ural sidecar driver at my main supplier Richard Busweiler who had not been reincarnated through the blast furnaces in a sandwich iron and a piece of decorative fencing. That is literally a unique find.

The usefulness of such a thing? That is minimal. But the purchase of a new BMW GS, Honda six-cylinder Goldwing or a new Harley is of course a much more pointless promotion. But luckily I'm not tempted: the garage is more than full.

Yet it is beautiful to dream.


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