Two Wheel Tuesday: Ural Patrol 750

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Ever wanted an authentic Russian motorcycle experience, but without the Russian traffic experience? This Sverdlovsk-made Ural Patrol 750 motorcycle with sidecar typically retails for $10K in the US, though with tax that usually comes out closer to $11K. IMZ-Ural, the manufacturer, makes only about a thousand motorcycles a year, and 97% of its production goes overseas. The prices for Patrols in the Russian and US-markets are surprisingly about the same, but it’s amazing to see a low-volume Russian manufacturer selling BMW-derived motorcycles based on a late-1930′s design. In the US of A. For Hyundai Accent money.

Years ago IMZ used to make thousands of motorcycles a month, but now its become a niche manufacturer of what are effectively retro bikes. Having said that, the current Urals are packed with foreign components (Brembo brakes, Ducati ignition, etc).  Decent examples of similar models are reportedly plentiful on the Russian market, and typically go for just a couple hundred dollars. If there was an automotive equivalent of Ural, it would arguably be the Hindustan Ambassador, though the Ural’s roots go back even further than the Morris Oxford’s.

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The Ural Patrol 750 has a 2-cylinder four-stroke twin carb engine, with a displacement of 749cc. The engine produces 40bhp, with power driven to the rear wheels via a 4-speed gearbox. The Urals now have Sachs shock absorbers, and Brembo brakes, in addition to other internationally-sourced goodies. The whole thing weighs about 740 pounds, which is somewhat less than I had thought, given that the concept of weight savings applied mostly to aircraft when this bike was first designed.

Still, ten grand is ten grand (one website even lists a 2012 Ural Patrol 750 as having an MSRP of $13,199.00) and lest we become desensetized to that figure, in the 2-wheeled world it could get one any of the following:

– BSA MkII Spitfire, 1966
– Ducati 200 Supersport, 1959
– Zundapp KS601, 1955
– BMW R90S, 1975
– Vincent Comet, 1950
– Triumph T120RTT, 1966
– roundtrip airfare to Moscow + a used Ural w/sidecar purchased at a Russian auto market
– ten IZH Planeta 5 motorcycles (remember Claudio’s ride in Long Way Round?)
– about two dozen used IZH Jupiters
– $10,000 in Pabst Brewing Company stock
– a 2002 Volvo S80

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As interesting as it would be to own one of these, but I think the Pabst Brewing Company stock is a safer long-term investment than paying that kind of money to be that guy. Classic BMW motorcycle owners might appreciate the Ural, and by” appreciate” I mean point out to you on every occasion that it’s really a BMW clone (cause you didn’t know that when you bought it, right?), but everyone else you might have to explain it to. Having said that, I’d love to try one of these, ignoring for a moment the fact that I’ve never ridden a motorcycle.

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So what do we think, is approximately $10K a realistic price to pay for a new one, given the alternatives?

[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]

18 Comments

  1. For a new sidecar motorcycle with a reverse gear and — on some models — 2WD, $10-$12K is reasonable. As I've heard it, to get similar kit on a comparable brand-new HD, Royal Enfield, Honda, etc. you'd probably put down $15-$30K, including the cost of the bike, and void your warranty in the process.
    Of course, you could go to the used market and get something with an expired warranty, but you'd still put down a huge chunk of change for the engineering to at least put on a reverse gear, never mind a 2WD set-up. (Unless you go with a big bike like a Goldwing or a top-dollar HD tourer, which have reverse I believe.)

  2. They are alluring but, according to my bike wrenching neighbor who has worked on a friend's, rather poorly built. In the 20 minutes that I stood in his driveway looking it over, it suffered three separate mechanical failures. To be fair, this was a mid-aughts model. My impression is that quality has and is improving with each model year.

  3. There are many good reasons these earned the nickname "Urinal." reliability is said to be greatly improved on the newest models, which I would guess now means you might actually (eventually) make it to your destination.

  4. You could buy two S80's for that money and still have enough left over for at least one transmission replacement.

    1. I thought the first-gens were pretty good when it came to transmissions?
      Whose slushbox is in those?

      1. The five-banger has the same Aisin-Warner as the S70's and S60's. You know, the ones that crap out? Yeah, that's the more reliable of the two. The sixes got a tweaked GM four-speed which can't handle the torque at all.

    1. I agree with you, "Three Wheel Tuesday" doesn't quite have the same ring to it. I'm guessing it's possible to unbolt the sidecar mounts.

  5. I wouldn't have one as my primary bike, but a Ural would be just the fun thing to have with two feet of fresh powder snow on the roads, as we had only a few weeks ago around here..

  6. the biggest bummer about Urals is that you can't sustain speeds of over 55 without blowing the engine up. how does that work in the US?

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