On the Road, Continued
On top of those quirks, turning is yet another issue when it comes to sidecars. Left turns are relatively easy in spite of the relatively high amounts of steering effort required, but right turns demand a bit more caution, as the hack has a tendency to lift off the road if the change in direction is sudden enough. If the hack levitates, maintaining your path without drastic overcorrection should bring it back down to earth uneventfully.
If all of these odd characteristics sound off-putting, remember this: once you learn how to properly ride one, a motorcycle with a sidecar is tremendously fun. Despite its output of only 40 horsepower, the Ural T offers enough visceral sensations to entertain the most jaded rider. The engine produces great old world clickety-clackety sounds, there’s plenty of feedback from the handlebars (even if you have to wrestle them to coax this 739 lb bike around bends), and you can actually hold side-to-side conversations with the passenger tucked tidily inside the sidecar—much easier than yelling 180 degrees over your shoulder.
The Ural T’s outright performance is far from blistering; the “recommended maximum speed” is a mere 65 mph, and its handling characteristics tend to hamper your entry speed on turns. But that doesn’t mean you can’t use those dynamics to your advantage. In fact, I quickly discovered that lift throttle oversteer can initiate a mean drift, and if you’ve ever watched sidecars attack the famous Isle of Man TT race, you can see the tremendous potential for hooliganism these three wheelers have. Still, I generally felt uncompelled to push the limits of this rig’s WWII-era technology; the Ural T wants to ride its own ride, and respecting the signals it sends makes for the most satisfying sidecar experience.
The Bottom Line: Bargain Basement Fun on Three Wheels
The Ural T’s main selling point is its $10,000 price tag, and despite a few disappointing details (like its taped-on pinstriping and a few rough-around-the-edges metal finishes), this motorcycle sidecar offers loads of fun, and arguably one of the most entertaining ways to haul a passenger along the open road. Its relatively low performance threshold and quirky handling are certainly not for everybody, but it counteracts those qualities with loads of personality and charm.
It may lack the bells and whistles that adorn most modern bikes, but for a machine whose simple and utilitarian intentions have remained generally unaltered for several decades, the Ural T comes across as an honest, utilitarian, and thoroughly enjoyable ride.
2009 Ural T Specifications
- 749 cc "boxer" style air-cooled, four-stroke, twin carbureted engine
- 40 horsepower @ 5,600 rpm, 38 ft-lbs torque @ 4,000 rpm
- Starter: electric and kick start
- 4-speed transmission with single speed reverse gear
- Fuel capacity: 5.0 gallons
- Seat height: 30.9 inches
- Road clearance: 4.9 inches
- Front suspension: leading link forks
- Rear suspension: hydraulic spring shock absorbers, 5-way adjustable
- Wheels: 19" chrome steel spokes and cast aluminum hubs
- Finish: Matte black with maroon pinstriping
- Dry weight: 739 pounds
- Warranty: 2 years, unlimited mileage
- MSRP: $9,999