Tag Archives: ural

Transport has been arranged!

A few weeks ago the project was progressing nicely, though I had no idea how the next step regarding actually having a bike and side car was actually going to happen.  And then one day a cunning plan utilising other bikes for a filmed training session, fell apart and it became clear that ‘now is the time’, and who knew that the Universe would agree entirely!

11081487_1073244209357467_8062980063058825023_nThere she was posted a few days previously – the perfect bike.  Registered in the the UK (in 2003) with a right side car and 2 wheel drive and a pre-modification model ensuring it really is the easiest to fix without a shred of software in sight!

Without the sufficient funds being raised yet, and Ural US being mysteriously silent, an epic effort was made, and thankfully no friends were lost in the process!  suffice to say, I saw the bike advertised on the Wednesday and the money was in the bank by Friday!  Was the Universe on my side? Hell Yes!!! I am completely humbled by the support I received in this process, not to mention extremely grateful!

At this point I have to say that mentally I entered into a state of limbo regarding the project.  It is a strange transition to experience between the planning something to happen, and a big shift forward in terms of it actually happening.  I’m not sure even now that it has fully sunk in.

The owner of the bike would not release it to me with out arranged training and so we arranged that he would drop it off at Motopodd Motocycles so that I could train on the bike before taking it home.


Rod Young at Motopodd did a wonderful job of taking me through the paces in an empty car park, and what a revelation it was.  You hear that driving a sidecar is very different from riding a motorcycle on it’s own, but nothing can quite prepare you for the sensation of that difference.  I got to fully appreciate why the previous owner would not release bike without training!  Suffice to say that I managed to have my first (an hopefully last) prang because I completely forgot the sidecar was there and scratched up a car on my first run around the block.  Pleased to note that the outfit won hands down without so much as a mark on it!

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Training in the car park before being released onto the road


The ride home was pretty hairy though as it was 5pm when I hit the M25 (London circular road). whilst it was nice that the traffic was slow, as the bike was slow, I was presented with a whole new problem of getting used to drum brakes.  With people trying to cut in, and random braking of traffic ahead, I have to say that I have never been more thankful for the existence of the hard shoulder where I ended up on a least one occasion!

Proud to Support Logo 2014
Raising Autism Awareness



I’ve now had the bike for over a week, and in that time I have been riding it every day.  As my confidence improves, so my appreciation for the choice I have made escalates.  It really is the right bike for the journey we are planning.  And the best thing about it, is that Sofia absolutely loves it!  A whole day out with a local biker group, and she didn’t complain about being bored once.  For those reading with kids, I’m sure you will understand what a huge win that is!

We still have some work to do on the bike, changing the colour being one of them, as army colours may not work out well for us in Africa.  Also making ready with storage space and spares.  We have the bike now though, and feeling like we are almost set to go!

Please donate and help us get the rest of the way – http://www.gofundme.com/africawithautism


Logo (left, full)

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OMG! What to Choose – BMW or Ural?

It’s no secret that I am coming into the motorcycling world a complete noob, not to mention no prior deep interest in mechanical terminology like ‘horse power’ or ‘cylinders’.   To me if a machine works, use it, if it doesn’t, get a new one.

Suddenly with this project, all this stuff matters, and not only that, advise given is to try out lots of bikes and get experience and build a preference.  Erm, with no license, this is hard to do.  So I have followed a journey on cold facts, and interestingly, in many respects, I am not sure that preference would have helped me make the right choice, only an emotional one.

The first thing I learnt very quickly was that the bigger the numbers the bigger the bike.  I also learnt very quickly that not all motorbikes have chains, like bicycles.  This was a fact I latched on to quickly, because I know about chains on a bicycle, and when it comes off, it can be a fiddle to get back on – heaven knows what that must be like on a motorbike!    The other type of motorbike has a drive shaft which sounds much simpler to me, safer, and less likely to go wrong.

So looking at bikes with drive shafts, I immediately honed in on two motorbikes that are designed as adventure touring bikes with this configuration – the BMW 1200GS and the Ural (all their bikes have this configuration).

BMW 1200GS with a sidecar attached

You really couldn’t get to bikes more opposite on the spectrum of what is available.  Its like saying that the choice is between a Bentley and Lada car (if Lada’s where still in production) literally.  The BMW 1200GS has every comfort and convenience accounted for on those hazardous roads around the world.  The Ural is a solid Russian bike that hasn’t changed much since inception in the 1930s, it was built to last.  It has only been in the last year or so that they have included fuel injection as standard, a modern technology that now means that ‘software’ has finally made it onto the Ural.  Thankfully the Ural, much like Skoda did in the past, has looked outside of its knowledge base for these upgrades, and in this case I believe that the fuel injection has been supplied by Ducati.

So there we have it. Large choice, suddenly diminished to 2 bikes.   I chose the Ural.

1- Sidecar fitting on the BMW changes the standard structure of the bike so that it is no longer supported by warranty.  This is actually a very important point.  I know many say that the BMW will never break down, especially to the degree where BMW would have to get involved.  Personally, with my daughter in tow, I’m not sure I want to take that risk and ride into Africa on belief alone.

The Ural on the other hand is specifically designed with the sidecar, and with the fuel injection upgrade, they now provide warranty cover.  All thumbs up with Ural.

2 – Fix-ability is a major issue with the BMW.  The motorbike has so much technology now that really you need to have diagnosis tools, software programming degree, and 5 years working in BMW to even have a chance of fixing anything more major than a flat tyre on the road.

ural gear up
Ural Gear Up

The Ural, however, is still as simple as it can be.  Not as simple as the carburetor version, but you still have a good chance off fixing most problems with the bike on the road, and if you can’t do it yourself, you can probably find someone with a spanner who can. Strike 2 to Ural.

There are other minor graces of the Ural over the BMW, but needless to say, to me, travelling with my daughter in some remoter areas of the planet, my confidence will be much higher with the Ural.  Ok, so it isn’t fast, it isn’t sexy, and it doesn’t have 5 suspension options controlled by a panel on the handle bars, but it works, it gets from A to B, is a lot of fun and if it lets me down, there is a real chance of being able to fix it.

Thank you to everyone who has given me advise over the last few months!  I really couldn’t have gone through this process with out your input.  If the sidecar wasn’t in play, I think the BMW would have been my top choice.