Test Ride: 2019 Ural Gear Up

When many of us see a sidecar, we think of the slow moving, antiquated Ural. As you should because they’ve been in production almost unchanged for over 75 years. But what’s new with the latest versions of these 1930s BMW R71-based hacks that makes them worthy adventure steeds? Join me at 2019’s Overland Expo West to test ride this year’s models on and off-road with Tyler Blakley, Marketing Manager for Ural.

URAL riding 900BODY 

• Drivability

With its four forward gears and one reverse, the bike will comfortably cruise at 65−70 mph. The five-gallon fuel tank yields about 170 miles, but it also comes with a Jerry can to extend your range an additional 35 miles. And, if your route warrants it, there’s plenty of room to strap other fuel containers to this mule. Ground clearance is a respectable 6.8-inches, which seems about right for adventure travel.

In controlling this beast, your body position IS integral to the steering. You’re an active rider in changing direction far more so than on two wheels. For instance, when accelerating, the bike pulls to the right, when off the throttle, it pulls to the left. Turning is asymmetric in that left and right require distinctly different techniques. It can be a workout and requires plenty of practice to become proficient. Ural riding will do wonders for your upper body!

Though 41 hp with 42 ft./lbs. of torque doesn’t seem like a lot of get up and go, especially with a heavy sidecar attached, it does surprisingly well. With its air-cooled 749cc flat twin cylinders, and upright seated position, you feel as if you’ve stepped back in time to when we were not in such a hurry to get around. And being able to carry another (or fave pet) and/or a bunch of gear, easily makes up for the lack of speed. What you get is an experience that shows up in the form of a shit-eating grin once you’ve mastered its handling characteristics. A Ural is surprisingly unique from riding a two-wheeled motorcycle.

UralParked 900BODY

The Gear Up 2WD is 730 lb. bike (700 lb. for the “CT” model—no 2WD) that comes with a reverse gear. As I was told by Tyler, “engage it like a mad Russian,” meaning press down hard on the reverse lever with your right foot until you hear the “clunk,” then you are good to go. 2WD is rarely used and is engaged similarly to an old Jeep with a short-throw transfer lever. 2WD is only intended to be briefly engaged in certain situations, then back to one-wheel drive you go. All three tires are on a 2.15x19-inch spoked tubed wheels in the Gear Up edition.

The CT has 18-inch wheels and is one-wheel drive, but comes standard with a windscreen for the sidecar passenger. Stopping the bike is adequately done with modern Brembo disc brakes on all three wheels. Peak electrical output is 40 amps at 14vdc, 560 watts. If for some reason your battery dies, there’s a kick starter which could come in handy at times. And for 2019, they’ve made a few revisions to the cylinders, cylinder heads and the Keihin fuel injection system. All to better the reliability and efficiency.


• Graphics, Paint and Accessories

As far as aesthetics, I have never seen a motorcycle company offer so many options of colors/graphics, especially for a former Soviet-made machine. Standard you have three dark colors to choose (included in the MSRP), then a choice of two camo graphics (additional $1,500), or nine premium colors (additional $1,000). Check out the many options on their website for the full visuals.

How many times have you heard of a shovel and Jerry can being standard items on a bike? How about a spare full-size tire with a rear cargo rack? And let’s not forget the two LED aux. lights on the front of the side car. Then there’s the Tonneau cover for the sidecar when not in use or to keep the elements out. Those items are all standard with the Gear Up edition. All models come with a two-year warranty, unlimited miles. For an additional $850, you can extend that to a three-year coverage.

Tyler told me that Ural is also working on a two-into-one high exhaust because the two stainless-steel low-slung standard exhaust pipes usually get munched off road. They also offer a nose cargo rack for the sidecar, a windscreen for the operator and sidecar passenger, and they are working with Ram Mount as a potential accessory. Both models come with a sidecar-mounted outlets to charge electrical devices.


To further accessorize, I highly recommend Kalaber Creations out of Prescott, AZ, for their expertise in kitting these hacks out. I spoke with Kalaber’s Mark Tetreau about what they can do, and I think the better question is what they CAN’T do. Mark has been working on, innovating for and riding Urals for years. Not only has he been a Ural dealer since 2011, but he creates must-have accessories such as skid plates, winch mounts, bicycle racks, hitch receivers… and even two-seater sidecars with proper seat belts! Ask him about other real-world, purposely-built items he offers as well as customization to better your Ural experience both on and off road.


• Final Thoughts

In the past, I haven’t really given much thought about a Ural as an ADVenture bike platform. But given all the features this bike offers such as simplicity, stability, the carry capacity, and the sheer fun it is, this experience has changed my mind. Needless to say, this bike is now on my radar for possible future adventures. Something to think about.

MSRP: Gear Up 2WD—$16,999 | CT—$14,499




  • Cargo/human/pet carrying capacity
  • Nostalgic simplicity
  • Aftermarket accessories
  • Capability


  • Antiquated design
  • Relatively small fuel tank

• Specifications

Engine and Transmission:

  • Displacement, cc: 749

  • Engine type: OHV air cooled 2 cylinder 4 stroke “boxer” (flat twin)

  • Valve per cylinder: 2

  • Bore and stroke (mm x mm): 78 x 78

  • Max output (hp): 41 @ 5500 rpm

  • Max torque (ft-lbs): 42 @ 4300 rpm

  • Compression: 8.6:1

  • Fuel system: Throttle body EFI

  • Starting: Electric & Kickstart

  • Clutch Double-disc dry

  • Transmission type: Manual

  • Speeds: 4 forward 1 reverse

  • Primary drive (rear wheel): Driveshaft

  • Final drive ratio: 4.62

  • Engageable sidecar wheel drive: Yes, driveshaft

Chasis Dimensions and Suspension:

  • Overall length, inches.: 98.8

  • Overall height, inches.: 54.3

  • Overall width, inches.: 63.6

  • Seat height, (unladen), inch.: 32.0

  • Ground clearance (unladen),inches.: 6.8

  • Dry weight, lbs: 730

  • Front suspension: IMZ leading link fork

  • Rear suspension: Double sided swing-arm with two Sachs hydraulic spring shock absorbers, 7x adjustable

  • Sidecar suspension: Single sided swing-arm with Sachs hydraulic spring shock absorber, 7x adjustable

  • Wheels: 2.15X19 Aluminum rims with steel spokes

  • Tires: Duro HF-308, 4.0×19″

  • Front brake: 4-piston fixed Brembo caliper with 295mm floating NG rotor

  • Rear brake: HB big bore single piston integrated floating caliper with 256mm fixed NG rotor

  • Sidecar brake: 2-piston fixed Brembo caliper with 245mm floating NG rotor


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