Ural motorcyles-any good?

Does anyone have experience (good/bad/indifferent) of this make? I'm after a basic bike that I may be able to maintain myself, in the manner of the old VW Beetle.
Currently doing up an M66, was a runner when I first got it. reg'd 1974. From everyone I've ever spoke to, who've owned one, they have said they are fairly reliable, but parts are quite hard to come by, and expensive. They are easy to maintain yourself though, but as I said as long as you don't need any parts.
rock4180 said:
Currently doing up an M66, was a runner when I first got it. reg'd 1974. From everyone I've ever spoke to, who've owned one, they have said they are fairly reliable, but parts are quite hard to come by, and expensive. They are easy to maintain yourself though, but as I said as long as you don't need any parts.
Thought so, they're just starting out here in Oz. Thanks guys.
They are garbage. Reliable only in the sense that nothing usually actually breaks on them. The electrics are a joke and parts can be very hard to get hold of. I own a 1999 URAL (from new) and it is currently not running and unlikely to run anytime in the near future. I just dont have the time to do all the work it requires to keep it going. At its best, I was spending approximately the same amount of time fixing it as I was riding it.

The newer 750 engines are better in that they actually can cope with unleaded petrol without eating themselves but this is still not the sort of bike you would want to go anywhere on without a large toolkit.

If any kind of distance riding is in your future, dont get a Ural. Also dont be fooled by cheap prices - cost of ownership is sky high due to constant need to replace hard-to-find bits.

That said, they have an appeal all of there own for all the same reasons!

I once rode 800 miles in a day on a Ural - had to have it trailored back again though!
there for weirdo's
people who own catherams, recumbant bicycles etc etc :twisted:
The company that is the official importer do an option where they can strip the bike and basically replace certain components with BMW parts.....as mentioned it is virtually a WWII BMW by design.

The people who I know that have bought these,have bought them for a specific reason.

The sidecar unit is sought after for people doing big distance rides in adverse conditions,the peeps who do the run up to Nordkapp when its snowing often use these bikes due to their ability to just keep going in snow.It is one of very few bikes that can do this straight from the box....obviously worth replacing certain parts with newer type items like LED lights and Batteries.

If you fancy an older machine that is easy to keep going,try and get hold of the globetrotters favourite.....an old BMWR 80 G/S a BMWR 100 GS or the rather nice BMWR 100 GSPD ( big fuel tank ),I have a GSPD myself and think they are great bikes and having owned newer BMWs would not go back and get a newer one again.

The urban myth that you can stip these bikes and completely rebuild them with basic tools are true,reliable and robust and they have been around so long that parts are no problem...nor mechanics to fix them.

If the attachment works..here is my bike,and no they do not all come in such hideous colours.


Try it, but don't expect too much. It is a bit like an Austin Allegro on two wheels. Mine never went wrong really, so nothing to complain about there but it was surprisingly fragile in some areas and needed constant tinkering. The shaft drive was a plus but it was big, bulky, didn't handle that well and dran fuel rather more than I would have liked. Unless you have a good source of spares I would be wary.
The two wheel drive sidecar version is certainly good in adverse conditions such as snow etc where you wouldnt want to take a normal road bike but reliability becomes even more of an issue. At least with the sidecar you can carry a lot of spares. I dont know about the current version but alternators and associated electrics have been a problem. Also some years the shaft drive is not as robust as it looks. I had the splines on two drive shafts simply wear out with sudden and total loss of drive. I have witnessed the final drive differential on the two wheel drive model break as a result of gear teeth shearing.

The 650 I have has had more cylinder heads replaced than I can count as a result of not-properly-hardened valve seats.

Beware the BMW part replacement theory. Some parts you can and some you cant. A BMW boxer engine flywheel/crankshaft actually rotates in the oposite direction to the ural, meaning if you want to swap drivetrain components you need to swap out the engine, gearbox and final drive alltogether unless you want to drive backwards. Why not just buy a BMW?

Also be aware that URAL use a mix of commonly avaialbale and less common bolt/thread sizes and a wide variation in metal quality.
My vote by the way for a basic - home maintenance type bike is to look elsewhere. Ideas:

Old British twin (Triumph etc)
EVO engined Harley Davidson Sportster (Leave Iron-Heads alone unless you really want a challenge)

A well maintained older "good" bike, or even a "doer upper" will be a far better investment than a new URAL.
Remember that depreciation on a URAL is almost total and almost immediate. I still have mine only because it isnt worth selling!


Book Reviewer
Cut out the middle man and get a Zundapp KS750.
Helped my mate convert his two wheel drive sidecar varient,however that was a NEVAL, if you remember them, (Same bike, different importer), by shoehorning a BMW 650 engine in to it.
Made a big big difference, suddenly this thing could be trusted to go further than the end of the road.
Could be worth thinking about
BMWR 100GSPD 1993 reg,originally came out in the 1980's so its basically a 30 year old design at least.

The last service on the bike I asked the mechanic to show me through it....and nice fella he was,he did so.

Absolute piece of p**s to service,you need nothing more than 3 different hex keys,2 sockets and a feeler guage to do a complete 10,000km service including gearbox,propshaft,engine oils,carbs,cables and adjusting the timing and valve clearences.

That is what you call easy maint.
You are talking about basically WWII technology that has been barely adapted for EU regs and standards.
Reliability & construction has improved, though the tank rage & power is still imo extremely poor.

There's a tremendous chap in the States who does some amazing rides
with his and now advises Ural on improvements.

here's some links to his ride reports

Ural-a-ling the USA, Mr. Cob goes on tour
Ural-a-ing the Moab

BTW he's extremely helpful if you have any detailed questions - just PM him thru ADV.
You should check through the reports for his vids which are quite astonishing.
Prerunning the Black Dog rally
If I had the time and spare cash I would consider buying a Ural outfit,
as they are the only ready to ride 2WD combo onthe market.

Though I just don't have the time to spend keeping it maintained & on the road.
Don't expect Japanese build or reliability - these outfits need constant maintenance.
The Chinese make a similar version - only built worse.
though you got to love there tag
When Uncle joe is looking over your shoulder you build it right :D
Dossbag said:
This is the only Ural you'll ever need!! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S6X12rwmJ0E

The real good stuff starts about the 2 minute point.
Thanks for the link to a great vid.

Interesting and sometimes bizarre comments on YouTube as a response tho... :)

The most pertinent is worth copying over:

"Don't be an idiot. I love my Ural and I'm American. However, Ural's build quality would be unacceptable for any American manufacturer. To make the Ural meet basic US expectations for quality, the electrical system was replaced by the importer, and the front brake and switchgear are replaced by Italian parts. Russian rubber degrades so fast that my '06 Ural already has new US hoses. But the basic Ural machine is very good, and I love it. Much better than other Russian vehicles."


"Most of you are missing the whole point! This is 30's technology. It's not meant to compete with the speed of Jap bikes or the off-road ability of the new ATV's......it's the nostalgia and history behind the machine that makes it fun to ride one. It's the looks you'd get riding down to the store to pick up a case of beer! It's not always about how fast it'll take you there!"

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