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Two … Er, Make that Three-Wheel Tuesday Review: 2010 Ural Patrol T

Alex Kierstein June 8, 2010 Two-Wheel Tuesday 17 Comments

Last week, Hooniverse reviewed the 2010 Ural Solo sT, Ural’s newest product, and this week we’re looking at an updated version of the Ural that started it all – the Patrol.

While the Solo broke new ground for Ural, the bread-and-caviar of their product lineup is the iconic Patrol. No one is going to claim Ural has the brand recognition of H-D, but if someone thinks “Ural” the mental image is usually a sidecar rig in olive drab – like our tester here. What should also come to mind when you think of the Patrol is a grin the size of Russia itself, because it’s that much fun.

Fun doesn’t necessarily mean easy, and to properly drive a Ural with a sidecar you’d better be awake. The Patrol’s controls are simple (just like a motorcycle!), but the asymmetry of the sidecar rig requires you to be fully engaged and using your brain. Contrary to what you might at first assume, right-hand corners are quite difficult, as it unweights the sidecar, and forces you to slow WAY down and manhandle the bars. After time it becomes second nature. With only the left wheel powered under normal operations, acceleration causes a tug to one side and deceleration to the other – it’s spooky at first but then it becomes second nature to properly pressure the bars during a shift. In less than two hours I found myself blowing around sweepers with my passenger leaning halfway out of the sidecar. It requires you and your passenger to work together to fully exploit the Patrol’s handling, which is especially rewarding. It’s also worth noting that the sidecar is a remarkably comfortable place to ride, and because you sit up relatively high in the sidecar it gives you a much better forward view than you’d get on the back of a 2-up bike. The seat was comfortable, with plenty of leg room, and conversation with the driver was easy at anything under freeway speeds. Get a windshield and a warm blanket and even your date/spouse/great aunt should be pretty happy.

Unusual handling characteristics are a small price to pay for the Patrol’s capabilities. This thing can go places that would embarrass many traditional offroad bikes. Flip a lever down by your right foot (after inching the bike forward an indeterminate amount, maybe 6 inches) and the 2WD shaft engages with a solid thunk. Now gravel roads and muddy tracks are yours to assault indiscriminately. Despite the extra weight of the sidecar (all metal, as is basically everything on a Ural) and a passenger, the Patrol clambered up steep gravel roads with no drama whatsoever. The second we returned to IMZ-Ural’s HQ, we peppered the kind and patient staff with questions about what sort of racks, panniers, and jerry-cans you could affix to the Patrol. Of course, pretty much anything is possible, and your head will probably swim with visions of remote expeditions and all the neat tools you could carry in the sidecar’s spacious trunk (which swallowed two helmets and two bulky jackets with ease). The fact that the trunk didn’t lock was particularly disappointing, though, so bolting on some sort of aftermarket lock or a padlock shackle is recommended if you’re going to be parking it with anything of value inside.


Trail riding (albeit in an older Ural sidecar motorcycle) is a piece of cake! Click above to watch the video on Youtube.

The Ural’s broad and easy torque delivery helped out a lot, and the Patrol pulled along decently enough to merge onto the freeway, where it was very stable at around 60. Mechanically it’s identical to the Solo except for the 2WD switchgear, so as we mentioned in that review the motor compares favorably with some other competitors more sophisticated powerplants. Likewise, Denso electronics help with reliability. Long hills require more patience than the Solo and probably a downshift; higher speeds require a different motorcycle. Even so, both my passenger and I were amazed by the compliant suspension, which dampened bumps without being bouncy. The leading-link front fork, despite looking like a wheelbarrow part, performed admirably. Despite modern Brembos up front, the same units found on the Solo, the brakes on our well-worn factory tester had seen better days. Long pedal travel for the dual rear drums confounded efforts to stop for sudden yellow lights, but on the other hand, given a proper amount of space they work just fine. Our short wishlist for the Patrol includes a rear disc option, which given Ural’s understandably tiny R&D budget is likely a long long way off. Hopefully the aftermarket will step in for those who want to heave out the heavy anchors and stop on a dime. The brakes certainly didn’t wipe the stupid grins off our faces, and because you have to think ahead for any maneuver on the Patrol, we simply got used to slowing down early.

So who’s the Patrol T for? It certainly helps if you’re a bit of a nonconformist, and you should definitely have an appreciation for a simple yet robust mechanical system. While the Solo’s price and capabilities flummoxed some Hooniverse readers – who asked “why not just get a Kawasaki KLR for less money?” – the Patrol is more confident of its unique position in the marketplace. If you can find a better 2WD sidecar motorcycle, you should buy it.

Courtesy adclassix.com

Personally, I think the Patrol should appeal most to the outdoorsman. If you look at the I-H ad above, simply replace the Scout with a Ural and I think you capture the essence of the Patrol entirely. Our tester, which is the most basic trim that gets 2WD, started at $12,399. You can get a one-wheel drive sidecar, simply called the “T,” for $9,999, and there are also more expensive trim levels with different options. On the basis of the Solo sT review, I can forsee there’ll be some discussion of the value proposition of a bike costing twelve large, and those are definitely valid considerations. In my mind, thinking of it as a unique alternative to picking up an old CJ-5 for use as a third vehicle for weekend adventures makes the cost more palatable. But ultimately, no vehicle really compares to a Ural, so if you’re at all tempted I’d recommend finding a local dealer and taking one for a spin.

More information on all Ural products can be found at http://www.imz-ural.com. Thanks to Madina and all the staff at Ural in Redmond!

  • Mr. iT

    Also wish i would had a ride on it…

  • For all their quirks (or perhaps because of them), I'm fascinated by the sidecar Urals. In a sunnier climate (or if I were more resiliant), it'd make for an interesting daily driver.

  • I saw a brand-new Ural Patrol on the weekend that was painted in some kind of autumn camouflage. It looked 132 kinds of awesome. I'm curious about what it's like to ride in the sidecar, although I wouldn't be caught dead myself in it because I'm a control-freak rider and trust no one.

    • Madina

      Just stop by our Redmond office (15205 NE 95th St, Redmond, WA 98052) if you want to take a closer look at or a quick test drive on Patrol T. You can also check out our new solo while you are here.
      E-mail madina@imz-ural.com or call (425) 702 8484x 104

  • dwegmull

    I did not know a a powered side car existed! Just curious: does it have a differential gear when in 2WD?

    • Nope, so unless you're on loose gravel or dirt or something, it should be in 1WD.

    • facelvega

      No differential from what I've heard, which evidently makes it quite a handful offroad if the dirt/snow isn't loose enough to be your differential for you.

  • With all the dirt desert roads here that take you to interesting places, this rig would be a blast to own. I love the video of the comrades hooning the things in the Cascades, looks like they'll hold up to some pretty fun abuse. The price seems steep until you consider it's comparable to the side by side contraptions that are so popular these days.

  • Was hoping for more pictures of the GIANT CLAW.

  • First, excellent review.

    Next, I wonder how this would do in ice and snow? I mean, for 12 large it would have to be year-round transportation for me to convince the misses this is a need and not just a want.

    Finally, this brought a song to mind:

    Traveling in a fried-out Ural
    On a hippie trail, head full of zombie
    I met a strange lady, she made me nervous
    She took me in and gave me breakfast
    And she said,

    "Do you come from a land down under?
    Where women glow and men plunder?
    Can't you hear, can't you hear the thunder?
    You better run, you better take cover."

    • I_Tia

      Search "ural + snow" on Youtube. Its pretty amazing what this thing can do in snow.
      This one is Ural promo video called "Snow games". http://www.youtube.com/user/UralWebmaster#p/u/9/P

    • oldskoolkev

      Yeah, there are some great Ural-snow vids on you tube. Better start working on your presentation to the "Ways and Means Committee."

  • Jackmac

    Rommel, you magnificent bastard, I read your book!

  • 35mm

    "Sidecars are for bitches. Anyone who rides in your sidecar is automatically your bitch"

    Despite that, I used to work with a guy who had one and drove it almost as a daily driver (as close as a motorcycle can be in Ohio) and boy do I lust after that crazy contraption.

    • Let me say this for the sidecar – it's better than snugging up to the driver and throwing your arms around him (or hopefully her). Because if its someone of a gender you ain't all that into, it's just damn unpleasant. At least with the sidecar you can do your own thing. It's really comfortable and when my friend was driving I just sat back and took some pictures off the side. Plus, going around corners fast is quite interactive. It might be worth sucking up your pride and trying it out with the right person behind the handlebars.

  • jjd241

    Fill the side’r up with some camp’n and fish’n gear, point’er south and don’t stop until you run out of land! http://tinyurl.com/2sugz9

  • Jean-Philippe

    Hi guys
    I own(ed) some… Ural has a wiki, where I did a small thing in response to user Gavno: http://ural.wikispaces.com/hard+to+drive

    What's super-cool with those rigs is the dynamics, and I would like to point out that the beginning of the article is mis-leading: reading on this, you'll feel you need to be Stallone to 'manhandle' the thing properly trough the bars. It is not such, _and_ it is much more fun, the proper way:
    -To turn 'pannier side' you actually accelerate, because it drives you around the sidecar which is dead weight…
    -And the opposite is true: to go the other side, close the throttle and the free-wheeling pannier will tend to pass you, steering the rig the other way.
    It's supposedly counter-intuitive, but for the wrong reasons: flying the pannier wheel is far from easy, why is it that everybody is afraid of something you can keep in control by driving carefully? Gently accelerating obviously send you sideways, very naturally. 🙂 And you get to drive longer, because you are much more relaxed.

    As I said the first-ever time I tried my first rig: A combination is basically a vehicle which doesn't go straight when you want it to. Or turn when it's time to. Master it, and it's ultimate fun+originality.

    <img src="http://jean-philippe.wikispaces.com/file/view/en_Side800_1.jpg&quot; width="320"height="240">