Ural Dalesman Sidecar Outfit | Classic or Custom

Steve Rose
By Steve Rose

BikeSocial Publisher. Has been riding since before Frankie said ‘Relax’, owned more than 100 bikes and has written for, edited or published most of the UK’s best known bike magazines. Strangely attracted to riding high miles in all weathers, finds track days ‘confusing’ and describes the secret to better riding as ‘being invincible’. 

 

Ural Dalesman Sidecar Outfit | £1750

www.ebay.co.uk/itm/2003-URAL-SIDECAR-OUTFIT-FOR-SPARES-OR-REPAIR

 

What defines a Midnight Special?

Late night classified-ad browsing, possibly with a little extra hop-based lubrication. Suddenly that obviously bad buy that we’d usually scroll past becomes an object of two-wheeled desire. Will we resist? Here’s how the evening unfolds. Experience suggests it’ll be a close call

 

Ural sidecar outfit buyers guide

 

11.46pm

It started off as a ‘that might be good in the snow’ thing as I watched my road outside turn white. That soon subsided. A sidecar in the snow might not fall over, but every other disadvantage is major, other than the ability to carry supplies, a spade and a St Bernard.

If anyone ever tells you that a sidecar outfit is the worst of all worlds… they are right, obviously. And that is exactly why every human being who loves going places and engines should try one.

A Ural sidecar outfit is the VW camper van of biking. Plainly ridiculous, laughably unreliable, slow, clumsy and, without doubt the most dangerous vehicle you can be in charge of that doesn’t need a runway.

Incapable of filtering, incapable of speeding and almost impossible to get around a corner, or even a turn left at a junction. But. But… But…, spend a while learning to do it and, there’s something about an outfit that’ll put one in your fantasy garage when you win the lottery.

Motorcycling is never as funny or as sociable as when done on three wheels. Pillions are a very active part of the experience as is camping equipment, as is, usually alcohol.

Still not convinced? Check out this video made by Ural in America where outfits have recently become just about the coolest thing around.

 

Ural sidecar outfit buyers guide

 

11.51pm

You’ve got to love the seller’s honesty. Sidecar owners are an interesting bunch.

I bought this outfit a few months ago on a whim. This is a brief description of how things have been since I mugged myself into buying the damned thing.

“The wiring diagram bears little relation to the outfit. It wouldn’t turn over on the electric start, so I had the motor sorted. It still wouldn't turn over which turned out to be several loose terminals/breaks in the wiring etc. With fresh gas in a temporary fuel tank it ran...and reasonably smoothly too Then I noticed that the head and tail lights had stopped working...

“So I spent another few days trying to puzzle it out. In the end I thought I'll slap it all back together and rag it round the yard for the crack.

And so I did.

“Except that now it p*sses petrol out of both carbs and what looks like a new fuel tap. Undeterred I got the evil thing going and wobbled round the yard on it, motor popping and backfiring like a flatulent camel, dripping petrol, no bloody lights....

So I'm I'm giving up to let someone else have a go. This could be an absolute bargain or a three-wheeled nightmare on Elm Street.”

 

Ural sidecar outfit buyers guide

 

11.53pm

To me, at 11.53 it sounds simple. Find a grown-up who can rewire it, strip the carbs and ultrasonically clean them, change the engine oil, put air in the tyres and laugh my way through all four seasons. Fit an enormous stereo and maybe a drum kit too, plot some routes that involve zero overtaking  and maybe do something daft for our holidays like a lap of the UK with a tent and a dog…and a drum kit.

 

Ural sidecar outfit buyers guide

 

11.55pm

Hold on Rosie. Remember the last time you had a Ural on test in 1997? It’s a Russian copy of a 1940s BMW left in the snow outside Stalingrad. Slow, wobbly, unreliable and dangerous. Yes, they’ve got better recently with improved suspension, an extra 100cc in the motor and this one has the Japanese carbs and alternator fitted that make a huge difference.

I do remember the first 50 miles being terrifying. How shutting the throttle and turning the bars to the right had it crabbing left across the road, in violent understeer. And how shutting the throttle and turning left had it going straight on, while lifting the sidecar wheel.

How you had to slow to almost a standstill approaching a left-hander and then put the power on to make it turn, while it still tried to lift the sidecar wheel.

The next 50 were not too bad because I had a passenger who’d lean and take part, making things much better and the last 50 being quite enjoyable till I broke it by riding half way home with the handbrake on.

I also remember the recovery man not being able to collect it because it was a sidecar and waiting three hours at the side of the road for a suitable replacement

 

Ural sidecar outfit buyers guide

 

11.58pm

Yes, I remember all that, but …but…but…wouldn’t it be a cool thing to have just for some fun on the right summer days?

£1750 isn’t a lot of money and I’m pretty sure I could get it for less. Just supposing it was bought, sorted and ready to roll for £2k, that’s got to be a cheap summer giggling around the lanes.

 

11.59pm

I can’t believe I’m still here. Repeat after me. ‘I must not buy a Ural combination. I must not buy a Ural combination.’

The saviour in the end is space. I’m about to move house into something a whole lot less roomy than our current gothic Lincolnshire mansion. Sadly, there’s no flipping room either in the new pad or BikeSocial’s secret lair.

Dammit.

 

Ural sidecar outfit buyers guide

 

Ural Dalesman Sidecar Outfit (2003) Specification

Price

£1300-£3000

Engine

749cc air-cooled, flat twin

Power (claimed)

48bhp @ 10,000rpm

Transmission

Four speed plus reverse, shaft final drive

Frame

steel – lots of it

Suspension

(F) leading link forks with preload adjustment

 

(R) Twin shock absorbers adjustable for preload

Brakes

Triple drum brakes plus handbrake

Tyres

3.50/19

dry weight

245kg

Fuel capacity

23 litres (5.2 gallons)

Top speed

65mph

Fuel consumption

40mpg 

 

 

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