2006 Ural Tourist 750

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For about ten years I have followed the Ural saga here in America. Distributors and dealers have come and gone, but the Ural and the Ural faithful just keep motoring on.

The current distributor, IMWA, is dedicated to the success of Ural here in the United States. Tons of upgrades have found their way to American shores the past few years including the larger, more reliable 750cc engine, Keihin carburetors, Italian handlebar controls, Brembo front disk brake, Nippon Denso alternator, American wiring harness (made in Taiwan), electronic ignition, redesigned bench seat, and so forth.

So, after waiting for the Ural to evolve these past few years, we finally bit the bullet, sold the Bandit, and purchased a new 2006 Ural Tourist (sight unseen). We purchased the rig from:

Wagners Cycle Shop
991 Hwy 70
Bonnerdale, Arkansas 71933
Phone: (870) 356-2009
Email: Sales Email

I am often asked why I did not purchase from Ural Chicago, given that they are located practically around the corner from our home. It was a hard decision, as Ural ownership is not a "turn-key" affair. In other words, chances are, you or your dealer or going to get their hands dirty servicing the rig over its lifetime. So life is made much easier if you're on good terms with your local dealer. Three issues led to my decision to buy from Wagners:

  1. They know Urals inside and out. They've been a dealer for 10+ years and support the product and their customers.
  2. They perform a much more extensive setup than most dealers.
  3. They had the accessories I wanted.

With that said, especially now that Ural Chicago has Bob Lewis on board, I would not hesitate to purchase from them. The owners that I know of that purchased from Ural Chicago or very satisfied.

First Impressions

Mike Wagner delivered the Ural to our door. He spent about eight hours going over the bike, covering the normal maintenance, and gave me a couple of driving lessons. Mike actually removed the valve covers and adjusted the valves to show me how it was done. He also went through the carburetor adjustment and synchronization, again making sure that I knew how to do it. He did the same for the sidecar setup, and other basic adjustments. Pretty impressive delivery!

It was midnight before we took the Ural out for a spin. Started off with me at the controls (my very first time driving a sidecar rig). During that first, brief drive I couldn't help but ask myself,

"Self, why in heck did you buy this piece of {expletive delete}."
It was hard to steer, the engine sounded like a blender chewing on a barrel of bolts, and the transmission was about as smooth as 30-grit sandpaper rubbed across a porcupine's back. I spent the night tossing and turning wondering why on earth I spent the better part of $9,000 on this RPOC.

I woke up at the crack of dawn and Mike and I went for another ride. Magically, the ride went much better than the night before. For one, I could see. For two, I felt much more comfortable steering and driving the beast. Later that evening I took the wife and family members for rides, and after another day, I felt completely comfortable driving it.

We now have over 1000KMs and have completely fallen for this chunk of steel, aluminum, and rubber (not much plastic on the Ural). The whirring and tapping sounds are still there, it is still hard to steer in some situations, but it is an absolute blast to ride. The wife absolutely loves riding in the sidecar. She loves the Nomad and sitting back there on her throne. However, she can't see a thing forward, except my back. It's a different story of course in the sidecar. She can sit back, stretch her legs, and take in the sights.

So, would we do it all over and buy the rig again? Absolutely. No question.

Detailed Review

Granted we have only put 1100KMs (roughly 650 miles), but so far, we love the rig! So, here are a few details, good and bad about our Ural Tourist:

Appearance, stability, extended riding season, price, easy to service, practical, no plastic, rugged construction, sidecar comfort and storage

Low power, non-syncromesh gear box, noisy engine/alternator, heavy duty (stiff) suspension, frequent routine service

Of course looks are subjective, but we (and most onlookers) love the way the bike looks. It is like a vintage bike that was manufactured last week. It looks like it was built in 1942 by a meticulous group of Bavarian craftsman. It's only upon closer inspection that you realize it was built in Siberia by Olga and a few friends (joking of course). By the way, I am thinking about mounting a BMW emblem on the sidecar. It's a prestige thing.

We added a few pinstripes (and plan more), but basically the bike is just plain cool. The tonneau cover, windshield, chrome (steel) side covers, engine, knobby tires, all work together to create a visual image that is unique, yet very, very cool.

On the downside, the paint job is far from perfect and the chrome appears to be on the thin side. I was told up front that IMWA may not respond to warranty requests regarding chrome.

At a rated 40HP, you're not talking about a barn burner here. Plus, shifts must be made slowly and deliberately (throttle off, pull in clutch lever, count 1-2-3, shift, release clutch, apply throttle). I'm sure that more than one Ural has been rear-ended by tailgating jackrabbit drivers as the Ural slowly pulls away from a stop light .

With that said, the power seems sufficient up to about 55MPH (with or without passenger). This rig is NOT intended for freeway/expressway driving. City and two lane highways are where it belongs. I have found the Tourist to be almost peppy with the windshield stowed and no passenger. Oh, and plan for hills. Gravity seems to work against the Ural like no other vehicle since the 1960's 35HP VW Microbus.

The transmission takes some effort and finesse to shift, compared to modern iron. It is not a syncromesh transmission, so you have to match the engine revs with the gears and still each gear change results in an audible clunk. One evening Luzimar and I ran some errands on the Nomad after having ridden the Ural all week. The Nomad's transmission seemed like it was an automatic in comparison to the Ural—you can almost will the Nomad transmission to shift.

The gas mileage has been surprisingly good. We are averaging about 31MPG with a passenger and sidecar windshield installed. Not bad.

And though this has nothing to do with the actual performance of the rig, elapsed times for trips to the store seem much longer with the Ural than other vehicles we own. This phenomenon is almost entirely due to UDF.

Reverse Gear
The reverse gear is just plain fun. More than once I have shocked onlookers as I motor out of a difficult parking place in reverse. And unlike the Gold Wing's reverse, this reverse is part of the gearbox—just like it should be.

By the way, you don't need a reverse with this bike. Just grab the front grab bar with one hand, the handle bar with the other, and you can roll it anywhere you want with very little effort.

The front Brembo disk brake is impressive. But the rear and sidecar drum brakes are poor. I am told they will improve as they seat. Plus, the long, downward travel of the rear brake pedal makes it very difficult to use.

The bike is built like a Russian tank. Problem with today's bikes is all the stinking plastic. Not the Ural. Even the side covers are chromed steel. The sidecar sits on a large tube steel frame. The leading-link fork can handle curbs, not to mention logs, rocks, and whatever else gets in the way. The tires are semi-knobbys that with the raised front fender, give the bike an aggressive look. A frequent onlooker question: "Where's the machine gun?".

Wow is it different compared to a two-wheeler. Way different. Not the same. Steering is fairly heavy. On well to moderately-well maintained roads, the bike handles very well. But the suspension is stiff and relays a heavy jarring on rough roads. However, on good roads the ride is a lot like a BMW automobile—firm and taut. The heavier-than-normal sidecar is well planted, even on right turns (that tend to raise any sidecar).

The ride from the driver's seat can be harsh. The new bench seat, designed in part by Rich Maund, is hard. That would be fine if the bike's suspension was a bit softer. But as is, I'm good for about 1 hour at a stretch. Plus, the hard seat acts like a direct conduit, collecting and transmitting engine and road vibration directly to the driver's posterior.

On the other hand, the sidecar is a blast to ride in, I even like it. It is very well suspended (it sits on rubber cushion blocks) so the ride is very smooth even over rough roads. The seat is more than adequate, and there is lots of leg room assuming your six foot tall or less.

Air turbulence coming from the sidecar is a common "problem" with most sidecar rigs. Not much you can do about it.

You won't find a more stable motorcycle for anywhere near this price. Water in a corner—no problem. Gravel or oil on the road—no problem. Gravel roads, snow, rain, whatever....it's not a problem for the Ural.

The words "motorcycle" and "practical" rarely go together. The words "Ural" and "practical" however, are like "apple" and "pie". For instance: Last week Luzimar and I rode the Ural to Home Depot for a few purchases including a 35 gallon trash can. We simply tied the large can to the accessory luggage rack and made it home without a hitch. Oh, we received a dozen thumbs-up from our fellow motorists and parking lot onlookers. The large trunk and sidecar provide plenty of storage for purchases and belongings. Plus, we figure the Ural will extend our riding season through the winter. Click the following to view cartoons that emphasize this point: A Trip to the Grocery Store and Perpetual Summer.

Do not purchase a Ural if you're opposed to frequent service. The service intervals are almost twice more frequent than the average Honda/Kawasaki/Yamaha. Most Ural owners learn to change the oil, adjust the four valves, adjust the carbs, lubricate, and tighten the bolts and nuts. The beauty of the Ural, is all of the above is VERY simple to perform. Oh, and parts are relatively inexpensive, and the engine uses standard car oil (Castrol GTX). A set of service videos are available that cover most of the routine maintenance items.

I have gone 1100KMs without a breakdown. Knock on wood. Urals in the past were widely known for their share of reliability problems. However, Ural has made great strides with the new engine, alternator, ignition, switches/electrical, and so forth. So the jury is out on this one. But so far, the engine purrs like a kitten (okay, hungry lion), and we've had no problems whatsoever. Knock on wood.

Bottom Line
I came up with a catchy advertising slogan for Ural. It goes like this,

"The Ural, a rude awakening. Sometimes it is good to be awake!"
To compare the Ural to a Honda or similar bike is just not fair. The Ural is rough around the edges. Its drivetrain emits more sound than the stomach of a fasting NFL lineman. The basic design of the Ural is about 60 years old. Sure it needs more frequent attention, but unlike a four-cylinder crotch rocket that takes the better part of a Saturday for a simple valve adjustment, the Ural is just plain simple. And yes it shakes a bit, and grinds a bit. But it does keep you awake. Our Nomad and similar bikes are so darn quiet and smooth, they're more like driving a Lexus than a motorcycle.

The Ural will take you places you never thought you would go on a motorcycle. New housing tracts under development take on new meaning when you have a Ural. We use the Ural to do 90% of our errands and shopping. I have not driven my car one time since purchasing the Ural three weeks ago. Not once! Come rain, snow, mud, housing tracts, the Ural will plow through it all. I can't wait until winter. (Okay, I can wait, but I look forward to it.)

We love the Ural. Is it for everyone? Probably not. But it is a ton of fun and that is what bikes are all about!

Wish List

If I could reengineer the Ural, here is what I would change (in order of priority):

  1. Modern, synchro-mesh transmission
  2. Disk brakes at rear and sidecar
  3. More compliant suspension
  4. More power, perhaps just another 10HP
  5. Fuel injection


One of the deciding factors for purchasing from Wagners is their outstanding inventory of Ural and aftermarket accessories. Since we ordered the accessories with the purchase of the bike, Mike Wagner installed them for no extra charge. We added the following optional accessories:
  • Deep Oil Sump
    The Ural is an air-cooled engine that relies on a splash-oil system to help keep things cool. The deep sump adds one additional liter of oil volume and includes deep fins to help cool its contents. Some vendors sell an extension tube. The jury is out on whether the deeper sump and the longer oil pickup tube are warranted.

  • Rear Luggage Rack
    The rack is perhaps the most practical accessory we purchased. It provides a huge platform on which to carry stuff, like that 35 gallon Home Depot trash can. The Gear Up and Patrol models come standard with the rack.

  • Windshield
    I like the Nomad's flat, simple, classic windshield. Wagners offers the similar National Cycle Dakota windshield ($200 including the installation kit). It keeps the windblast off the chest, with very little turbulence over the top. However, you still get a lot of air. I am working on various deflectors to see if I can tame the buffeting. I almost wish I had purchased the standard Ural windscreen. Perhaps in the future.

  • Running Lights
    Always wanted them on the Nomad, decided to go with them on the Ural. Wagners installed the National Cycle lights and wired them into the high-beam switch. Wagners sells the lights for $200. Holopaw sells similar running lights for $100. Supposedly, the Holopaw lights are easier to install.

  • Routine Maintenance Items
    Wagners includes about $70 worth of routine maintenance items with each bike they sell. Items include oil filters, fuel filters, tire tube, valve adjusting bolt, etc. I also ordered a few extra supplies.

  • Driver Seat
    As soon as I get some cash, I plan on sending our seat to Rich Maund for some adjustments and a better cover.


I stole the following from the Ural Web site:


A Few Pictures










Our license plate holder. You can't see it, which was by design!




The following are a few links to Ural and Ural Dealers:

  • Ural North America
    Are you interested in a Ural? The official Ural site provides info, brochures, a great web board, and even movies and animated cartoons.

  • Wagner's Cycle
    Originally Wagners had a store in Indiana, not too far from our homestead. But Mike and Felicia decided to move their operation to Arkansas. A little longer drive, but well worth it. They're considered one of the finest Ural dealerships in the United States. Both Mike and Felicia know their Urals (and bikes in general) and support the Ural community in many ways.

  • Ural Chicago
    Ural Chicago is less than 10 miles from the house. They're a great bunch of guys and offer Chicago a top-notch Ural dealership. I was impressed they remembered my name on my second visit, and called back several times to check in on our Ural-buying decisions. Plus, they recently hired Bob Lewis, a reknown Ural wrench. They're located on Ogden (34), in Westmont.

  • Dauntless Motors
    Thinking about purchasing just the Ural sidecar? Dauntless is the place. Jay and company are more than happy to answer any and all questions. They also manufacture/sell the mounting hardware to mount the sidecar to your bike.

  • Holopaw Corvette Ural Dealer
    Another Ural dealer with a great reputation and sells accessories nationwide.

  • Ural Northwest
    Another Ural dealer with a great reputation and sells way below MSRP. If you're looking for the best price, NW maybe your best choice.

  • Crawford Sales Ural Dealer
    Ural dealer of the year for 2005. Great reputation and sells accessories nationwide.

The following are a few links to Ural-related web sites:

  • Ural History
    A PDF file containing text and images that describe the history of the Ural.

  • Russian Iron
    A great forum for Russian bikes, including the Ural.

  • Rich's Cycle Upholstery
    Rich Maund produces beautiful and comfortable seats and leather accessories for bikes, including the Ural.

  • UK Ural Riders Association
    Site includes maintenance information, gallery.

  • Ural History
    An owners web site that includes several pictorial Ural how-to articles.

The following are a few links to retail-related web sites:

  • Chaparral Racing
    A great source for inexpensive parts and tires.

  • JC Whitney
    A great source for just about anything for motorcycles and cars. One of the advantages of living in Chicago is access to their huge showroom and warehouse.

The following are a few links to information-related web sites:

Replacement Parts List

There are a number of Ural replacement parts lists on the web. Here is the one that I have compiled:

      Ural Replacement Parts Cross Reference


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