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Which Bike? Comments and Questions on what is the best bike for YOU, for YOUR trip. Note that we believe that ANY bike will do, so please remember that it's all down to PERSONAL OPINION. Technical Questions for all brands go in their own forum.
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Old 28 Nov 2007
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Russian combos in the desert

Does anybody have experience of using Russian built combinations with drive to the sidecar wheel, Urals and the like, in the desert. It sounds like it might be great fun two wheel drive in soft sand but is there a catch. I would like to hear of anybodies trips and experiences using these bikes.
If gaffer tape doesn't fix it then you haven't used enough tape
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Old 28 Nov 2007
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3-4 years ago some guy was racing with Ural. It was not easy. He raced by day, was slow and when he finally got to the end of stage he fixed the by almost all night. Not reliable. Personal experience i don't have.
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Old 28 Nov 2007
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An Ural combo is very heavy. I don't think I want that in soft sand.
But then, I found this website of someone who did ride in the sand with an Ural:
Jan Krijtenburg

The bike I ride now is a 1978 Honda CB400T
http://jkrijt.home.xs4all.nl/ (my personal homepage with trip reports)
http://www.krijtenburg.nl/HU_BoZ/ (The HU Motorcycle Travellers Community in my area)

Last edited by jkrijt; 28 Nov 2007 at 15:09.
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Old 28 Nov 2007
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It’s funny that this thread came up today. I’m just back home after working on an Ural that we prepare for a trip to Morocco.
The new Urals with 750ccm can not be compared to the old one. They are much more reliable (parts from Denso, Keihin bearings from SKF and so on) then the old ones.
Urals need more attention then most modern bikes but it’s a simple bike and it easy to work on, it’s made to work on.
It’s one of the few bikes you can get with carbs next year.

It will probably be slower then ordinary bikes, but you will also be able to carry more water, petrol and food.

I have never tested the Ural in desert conditions but I think it will handle nice and most people will probably find it easier to drive in soft sand then a regular bike with luggage. The 2WD is awesome and virtually nothing stops that bike as long as there is room for it, and room is usually not a big problem in the desert.

For some examples check this:
Ural Motorcycles Europe | Downloads

….or maybe this Uraltoons:
Ural Motorcycles Europe | Cartoons

Few months ago:

Playing in snow:

But to use a new Ural would be to simple, so we are modifying a very old Ural with a 650 engine (the one with a really bad reputation) and we have removed the sidecar.

Originally Posted by Aijala View Post
3-4 years ago some guy was racing with Ural. It was not easy. He raced by day, was slow and when he finally got to the end of stage he fixed the by almost all night. Not reliable. Personal experience i don't have.

It’s many ways to read that story.
Two teams started in Paris Dakar a few years ago. One of the team was Harley Davidson with an ultra-modified rig and a crew. The other team was a guy driving a standard Ural, guess his budget was a bit smaller then the HD-guys but what does a single guy need.

The HD-team had to quit because of technical problems and the Ural guy crashed at the same stage. The Ural guy continued the stage but was to tired to fix the bike. The funny thing was that the Ural lasted longer then the HD.
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Old 28 Nov 2007
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Ural fix, guaranteed

Throw away the useless Urinal, sorry Ural engine, and fit a BMW engine in, then you can have up to 1000cc of oldstyle boxer reliability,
its still gonna be heavy though, so pick your route, and carry sand ladders too, they dont weigh much, are available in alloy ( ask the 4wd boys) and add a winch too......... honest, seen it done on one, came in handy too as the lad riding it ditched it in a dyke in lincolnshire, he just connected up the winch to a rope sling,stuck his ground anchor in the top of the bank, rolled a fag and with a HUGE GRIN proceeded to haul himself out!

PS it was snowing at the time too!


Last edited by Martynbiker; 28 Nov 2007 at 17:26. Reason: more info
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Old 28 Nov 2007
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I have seen these bikes with a sidecar rigged for sleeping, to call it a camper might be exagerating a little. I have also seen them sporting diesel engines. Not fast, but with tremendous torque and range ( cheap to run also). Mostly twins, I think just by extending the frame a little the Yanmar 3 cylinder engine used in micro JCB's would go and be much smoother. I am fairly certain that the sidecar could be made to be extending, to give sleeping room, without being bulky when in transit. Bit like a lift up camper roof, but slide forward bit for your feet.

Last edited by oldbmw; 28 Nov 2007 at 18:31. Reason: Typos
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Old 28 Nov 2007
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If you area able to swap the engine you area more then able to fix all the problems it is possible to get with an original Ural-engine.

The new engine is powerful and will run on pretty bad petrol. It’s smoother then a welltuned R80 :-)
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