Names such as Harley-Davidson and Ducati for its superbikes might dominate certain motorbike markets. With loud engines and fast acceleration, they have a stranglehold on the minds of motorcyclists. However, other companies do exist such as Yamaha, Honda, and Ural. The latter, at first, is an oddity; Russian, retro-looking, and, in terms of pure engineering, doesn't beat its contemporary German and Italian rivals. They take their name from the Ural mountain range, the rough terrain the bikes can traverse without a problem. What this company does offer is a retro-looking modern motorcycle. The main selling point of Ural motorcycles is their dependability and more social nature.
Most common with a sidecar the company's bikes comfortably allow for passengers to travel and explore almost any part of the world.
What Is The Ural Motorcycle?
Most Russian exports such as Vodka and the Yugo have an interesting history. The Ural Motorcycle is no exception. A product of the Second World War, the Ural motorcycle began production in 1941. Based on the German-designed BMW R71 the model served valiantly on the Eastern Front. Ironic, as the model came to the USSR at the time of the non-aggression pact. Production increased to match the Nazi's invasion. In the 1950s the design rights fell into the hands of a Chinese manufacturer who would go on to produce the Chang Jiang.
Ural as a company still exists, selling under the name IMZ Ural their bikes are available worldwide. Rugged and stylish, and a retro look in keeping with their war-time predecessors. The model is most well-known with its attached sidecar, but not all the Russian-made bikes had them. According to IMZ Ural, their most affordable model is the CT which starts at $16,999. This entry-level bike leaves the factory with a 749cc engine and the company claim it is "happy cruising between 65 and 75 mph". As standard, the CT has a four-speed transmission, disc brakes all around, and a power outlet in the sidecar, the height of luxury.
The YouTube channel Rescue Story claims the bike has a 650cc engine that produces 36 horsepower. This particular example has a sidecar and green paint. It's left undated but with a little detective work, it more than likely is a Ural M-67-36. This left the company's factory in the 1970s and used a different cylinder head design along with a wider exhaust and carburetors. These modifications boosted power from the original single-stroke motorcycle's 28 horsepower figure.
How Hard Is It To Restore A Ural Bike?
The Ural has an incredibly simple design. Not only because of its advanced age but because this was the intention. The more simple the design the fewer parts to break on the battlefield. The YouTuber takes apart the Ural with ease. Removing the sidecar is just a matter of using a wrench. Draining the engine of oil is pain-free as is lifting it from the frame of the motorbike.
Creature comforts like the seat cover and windshield lift with as much ease as the sidecar. None of the nuts have seized or rusted away, a testament to the original design and its longevity. With every part down to the throttle removed the YouTuber strips the paint to the metal frame. At first, turning his attention to the fuel tank, it is rust and corrosion-free. A rarity for motorcycles found in bushes.
With the bare frame Rescue Story sets about repairing the few signs of wear and tear. Once sprayed in primer they leave the frame to dry. The restoration continues with the wheel's black paint and new tires. Each part of the simple body fits back on the frame, once more using the hand wrench.
How Is The Finished Motorcycle?
With the bike's frame repaired and resprayed. The drivetrain is the main focus. Once more stripping the bike by hand the motor comes apart easily. The engine black is dirty but shows minimal signs of degradation. All parts and most importantly, the two cylinders move freely. Removing the dirt is easy, treating the parts and then sanding away any blemishes makes the metalwork look brand new. Unlike on a car restoration the look of the engine matters for the vehicle's overall aesthetic. After all, the engine is there for all to see.
Once Rescue Story reassembles the engine, they mount the motor to the frame, rewire the lights, throttle, and fuel lines. When doing this work the sunlight captures Ural motorcycle's new dark gold paint excellently. A classy choice for such a legendary motorcycle. With a freshly carpeted and upholstered sidecar, the project looks like it came off the factory floor for the 2022 model year.
The YouTuber doesn't let his new bike roar along any back roads, on camera at least. However, the video closes with the bike in a grassy field and with it rolling through the field. From the engine comes a subtle hum, identical to those bikes used by the USSR during the war. A black leaf now decorates the fuel tank, a nice touch that breaks up the dark gold color it is now painted in. It slowly rides away into the distance taking the rough bumps of the field in its stride.