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2009 Ural T Motorcycle Sidecar Review

2009 Ural T Motorcycle Sidecar Review, Continued

About.com Rating 3 Star Rating
User Rating 3.5 Star Rating (5 Reviews)


2009 Ural T Motorcycle Sidecar Review
Photo © Basem Wasef

On the Road, Continued

Practice shifting enough, and you’ll learn to feather your steering according to your throttle input and keep the bike aimed straight. But wait, there’s another complication: braking. Hitting the front brakes tends to pull the bike to the left, which requires the rider to counteract with right steering. Augmenting your stops with the foot brake pedal alleviates the pull, but the drum brakes on my test bike had a bit of a pulse, which made me favor the front Brembos.

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.

Photo © Basem Wasef

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

Photo © Basem Wasef
  • 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
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 4 out of 5
2010 Ural-T Owners' Review, Member JohnMerrell

The Ural is a unique machine, as all sidecar rigs, but with a lot of character due to it's lineage and classic design. With that said, I tracked the development of Ural since 1990 when I first viewed one in Germany at a motorcycle show. They were poorly built and had many quality control and design issues. However, Ural took a serious look at these issues and took postivie action to improve overall quality, reliability, fit and finish and customer service. For example, many of the components, such as Ducati electronic ignition, Brembo front disc brake, Nippendenso alternator, Hertzog gears and bearings, Kehien carbs and Sachs shocks have significantly improved quality and reliability. Metalurgy issues have also been upgraded. So how good is the Ural today. I purchased my 2010 Ural-T and now have 5800kms on the clock. I performed the break-in process carefully, which is critical to the longivity of these machines; a fact based on the 1939 design. I have had a few minor issues primarily due to poor service I received at the dealership I purchased the bike from. Fortunately my experience is rare as most dealerships are very good. I had a few issues the first few weeks; a ground wire came unsoldered from turn signal switch, all four tires needed balancing, rear drive splines were dry and the sidecar light lenses cracked. The fix was relatively easy; I resoldered the ground wire, lubed the drive splines and had the tires balanced. My dealership mailed me a new sidecar light lense, but it was cracked in shipment; I epoxied both lenses and have ordered replacement lenses from a Russian Ebay source. During this time I contacted other dealerships and Ural headquarters in Washington state. These folks bent over backwards to resolve my complaints promptly; best customer service I've ever recieved from any motorcycle dealership(I've been riding over 40 years and owned many different machines). There is another ""quirk"" concerning these rigs; the carbs are set way too lean at the factory to meet EPA requirements. After I shimmed the carbs(a $6.00 kit from Crawfords') the rig really ""woke up"" and runs great. With that said, anyone considering a Ural must fully accept the design limitations of these machines. They are quite happy cruising along at 55-60mph, they get reasonable gas mileage at about 30mpg on high test fuel, they require more frequent routine maintenance(fluid and filter changes and valve adjustment) and you have to be more ""in tune"" with how it shifts, brakes and handles. Remember, this is sidecar rig designed for utility and owner performed maintenance. Most of us who own the newer rigs have found them to be most satisfactory for what they are. They're fun to ride, draw a lot of attention, are safe and reliability isn't a major concern. There are more examples of satisfied owners' on the Russian Iron and Soviet Steads forums. The most important factor is what year model Ural you are talking about. I would say prior to 2008 these rigs had a lot of issues. Since then Ural has done a very good job of improving on the overall quality and reliability issues of their previous efforts. Customer service is of the highest level; try getting a response from any other manufacturers' headquarters staff via email or phone. Most dealerships such as Mike's Cycles in TN, Gene Holopaws in FL and Terry Crawfords in MI are responsive and honest brokers. But don't kid yourself about the performance of the Ural. If you want performance you will be sadly dissappointed. The new Urals' offer the enjoyment of a design specific sidecar rig, capable of long leisurely ridden miles and the simplicity of owner performed maintenance. The newer Urals are also holding their resale value significantly better than the older rigs. With the proper attitude and understanding of these machines, you will enjoy not only the ride, but the scenery you ride through as you'll be traveling at slower speeds. If you see an unpaved road you'd like to explore or stop for a picnic, you can confidently go. You have a real reverse gear which allows you go manuver effortlessly. There is plenty of storage space in the sidecar trunk, and you passenger will be very pleased with the room in the sidecar. You can talk to each other, and your passenger can see so much more than if they were sitting behind you. A sidecar rig is more visable to other traffic and you don't have to worry about loose debri on the road; you might slide a bit, but you're not going to go down! It's not a high speed interstate machine. Many have attempted to increase the horse power to obtain higher speeds, but it's not designed to go fast, so you run into handling issues which are not safe. Accept the Ural for what it is designed to do, and you will not be dissappointed.

124 out of 125 people found this helpful.

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