Sunday, September 24, 2006

Ural Motorcycle featured in New York Times

From Siberia With Sidecar: Riding a Red Army Time Machine - New York Times

This is pretty straightforward, "warts and all" article on the Ural, which is one of my favorite motorcycles out there. Yes, the Dragon has that 70's/80's kid's perverse fascination with Eastern bloc tech, especially the stuff that's based one a solid basic design and hasn't really been allowed to become barnacled over with useless "bonus" features. The Kiev 120mm cameras are a perfect example of this. My main bone of contention, is that everyone knows Walter Mitty reveries about the Ural are based on Steve McQueen's ride in "The Great Escape," not "Hogan's Heroes."


The plucky Ural has attracted a devoted, if tiny, worldwide following from riders drawn to its go-anywhere, do-anything toughness and the ubiquitous sidecar. Urals also offer a unusual two-wheel drive ability; with a flip of a couple of levers, the wheel on the sidecar joins the motorcycle’s rear wheel in delivering power. Together, they can pull a Ural out of terrain nasty enough to snag a four-wheel-drive truck.
“People used Urals as work-horses,” said Madina Merzhoyeva, one of eight employees in Ural’s American office in Redmond, Wash. “To haul stuff around, commute, haul potato sacks on farms — young families could afford Urals as their inexpensive but practical transportation.”
Among motorcycle journalists who have some history with Urals, the view of the new models mimics what many of my old neighbors in Detroit say these days: “Oh, it’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be.”

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