Author Topic: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell  (Read 542 times)

Online Dirk_S

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Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« on: June 05, 2021, 10:00:49 AM »
    I’m sitting in my hotel room in Tannersville, PA, located in the Poconos, waiting for my scheduled Lyft driver to pick me up at 11am and taxi me to the only U-Haul rental nearby that’s offering a 10 ft box truck this weekend. For the second time in my 2+ month ownership of a 2015 Ural Gear Up, I will need to load the rig up and transport it more than 3 hours east to my apartment in New Hampshire.

    The first time I carried it on a truck was its maiden voyage to its new home (mine). I decided that method was the best decision after learning that driving a motorcycle with a sidecar isn’t at all like driving a motorcycle WITHOUT a sidecar. I actually discovered this nugget of valuable information after an initial attempt the previous day to drive it 3 hours south-eastward, and subsequently—and unintentionally—rode it into the left lane SEVEN GODDANG TIMES IN THE FIRST TWENTY-TWO VERMONT MILES (Vermont miles, at least those in the Burlington area, are of the up, down, left, right, and oh-so-quite cambered, all together per mile-type). I got to a point, after those 22 miles, where it was getting dark, the roads were foreign to me, and I began freaking out. Called a couple friends to see if they could pick me up, but nobody was available that evening nor the following day. After an unsuccessful attempt to get ahold of the previous owner and plea for him to take the Ural back, as this machine would surely kill me, I found a nearby hotel, called it a night, and carted the machine back on a U-Haul the next day (I never understood why he didn’t contact me back). A few hundred dollars lighter, a few weeks of one steep learning curve, and I learned how to drive it. It’s very fun—and demanding—to drive. I’ve driven it around town, practiced lifting the sidecar, bought accessories to add on, and even took it to Acadia National Park, where I utilized the rear rack on top of the spare wheel to cart some firewood back to my site:




I was also pelted with hail on that drive:




Interesting you might find, I bought the Ural with the curious musing that perhaps I can be just crazy/cool enough to replace my car, as I’m aware of a few others having done such. These people are my heroes—folks who think outside the box of typical Americana, people who adjust “normal lifestyles” to fit the needs and desires to make life a little more interesting. However, I have a few things working against me:
  • Yeah, I do my own maintenance service, and in the past I’d worked on my older bikes in trial-and-error attempts to get them to run and keep them running well enough to ride, but it’s not like I have years-worth of these experiences and gained knowledge, and my understanding of internals is still basic, with my experience level of working on motors is almost nihl.
  • I have no storage for my vehicles. Although that will probably change in less than a year as I’m planning a move next spring, everything is currently kept outside and covered when I’m not riding. This makes working on the bike(s) a bit annoying when the days get cold or wet.
  • I don’t quite have the funds available currently to own multiple motorcycles and a car. I bought this rig with some emergency savings, thinking I’ll make the money back in short order either selling the car or turning the rig for a minor profit (ahem...read further).
  • Without a car, if something happens where I can’t use my bikes for transportation, I need to resort to other means like renting, calling a taxi, using public transportation. There’s absolutely NO problem with these, but the brain must be retired and become accustomed to not having the immediate convenience of hopping into one’s car and going.
  • I still enjoy driving a car, especially my manual Subaru Forester. If I hated driving a car as much as I hate being around others who don’t drive their cars responsibly, giving up a car would be an easier decision. They’re just easier and safer, no argument. Driving a Ural in a sense is safer than a two-wheel Moto, but at the same time, I’ve learned that they can be more challenging as well, because lefts are not treated the same as rights, ups are not the same as downs, and driving a rig is, at least to me, more physically and mentally taxing than a two-wheeler, especially on long distance rides.

I decided to drive the Ural 500 miles to southern Pennsylvania to visit family and friends. It was a 13-hour ride, mostly on secondary roads and byways to avoid the freeways. The last three hours were in constant rain. It’s spring/early summer—rain isn’t a big deal. I spent a week putting smiles on loved ones’ faces, offering trips around the block in the car. Even took a couple pooches along for a ride (sadly no pics of them :( ):









It was during this time, though that I realized my shortcomings were catching up to me in the form of anxiety. I just couldn’t see myself without a car right now. I decided I’ll sell it, and maybe consider one in the future. Unfortunately, the Ural heard me say that one too many times, and on my way back home to NH yesterday, it broke down on me just east of Reading. Got the rig towed to a local Ural dealer here in the Poconos who are primarily a Harley dealership, where we discovered the rocker arm cracked, the pushrod de-seated and possibly bent, and who knows what else. After a stressful day of trying to figure out what to do, discovering ZERO one-way car rentals in the area, ZERO one-way U-Haul trucks available, I decided, once again, to call it a night. Was able to get a U-Haul rented for today thankfully, and now I’m minutes from hopping into a Lyft. The Harley dealership service folks were awesome people. Unfortunately, they quickly sold the one Pan American they received, which means I couldn’t check one out in person.

So, I’m back to the mindset of being a one bike-one car chap…for now. I’ll sell the Ural after it’s fixed, hoping-hoping-hoping the internals haven’t been too terribly damaged beyond bent pushrods. I may be crazy enough to replace a car with a sidecar one day—cars can be rented for long distance or funky weather travel, Lyft and Uber and other taxi services are available in most places aside from rural areas, trains and buses are options—but before that can be a thing, I need to gain more resources, knowledge, and patience to have and enjoy that type of existence.

I guess I’m willing to accept the loss of a couple thousand dollars to have gained the experience. I know how to drive one now, and would LOVE to own one again down the road, be it as a car replacement, or more likely as a second horse in the stable with a car sitting outside as a safe backup.[/list]
« Last Edit: June 06, 2021, 08:54:03 PM by Dirk_S »
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oldbike54

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #1 on: June 05, 2021, 10:39:01 AM »
       

                                                                                Ural Motorbikes

                                                       Making truck drivers out of sidecarists since 1939


 Dusty

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2021, 10:45:34 AM »
Well , at least your wife will get in it, mine would not:(🤔👍

Offline Caffeineo

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2021, 11:11:29 AM »
I kind of remember reading that the newer Ural's reliability has significantly improved. Sorry to hear yours was not one of them.
Just speculating here so take it FWIW. Having never ridden a sidecar rig I have done a little reading and am just wondering if there may be some type of alignment that may be off a bit making it more challenging to ride? Seems that whenever a sidecar rig is listed for sale some bit of extra credit is put on the rig depending on who installed the sidecar itself.... Obviously some being "worth" more than others. I know the Ural is made with them but just like MG what if yours was made on an off day and just not quite set up right???? Just a wild guess on my part as you said you kept ending up in the left lane..... Best of luck.
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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #3 on: June 05, 2021, 11:11:29 AM »

Online Huzo

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #4 on: June 05, 2021, 11:13:30 AM »

This guy has it sorted..

« Last Edit: June 06, 2021, 05:25:34 PM by Huzo »

Online Dirk_S

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #5 on: June 05, 2021, 11:14:02 AM »
Well , at least your wife will get in it, mine would not:(🤔👍

No wife—the pics are of family and friends enjoying the opportunity to cross sidecar riding off the bucket list! I tend to be single more than coupled, and the latest one didn’t like the idea of riding motorcycles at all, although she did say “maybe” to a sidecar ride.
« Last Edit: June 06, 2021, 12:50:37 PM by Dirk_S »
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Online Shorty

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #6 on: June 05, 2021, 11:32:37 AM »
Sorry for your troubles with your Ural. I will say this, but it may not help you. I have been running old junk unreliable motorcycles since the 70s. I could keep most of them running. NOT the Ural. One problem after another.  And, a few of my friends had similiar experiences with the Ural, or it's related bikes. One or two folks had some luck with the newer models, but one friend bought a brand new one, and it exploded a week after the warranty ended. I would NEVER trust a Ural as daily transport. IF it were me, I'd get out from under a newer Ural ASAP. . If it was an older  bike, I'd look into keeping the sidecar and putting it onto a Tonti Guzzi, or any other reliable bike with a standard type frame, over about 750CC. Dauntless Sidecar in Washington state has all the parts you need, but they ain't cheap. There are also sidecar specialists here on WG to help with any rig you have in mind. 



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Offline cookiemech

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #7 on: June 05, 2021, 11:56:41 AM »
I've had two Urals, a 2014 Gear Up that I (cosmetically) rebuilt from the ground up, every nut and bolt, every bit of steel media blasted and painted (because of the awful Russian powder coating that wasn't done right, leaving sheets of the stuff to come loose, with nothing but rust underneath). Spent a lot of time and money making it roadworthy, and mind you, it only had about 3500 miles on it at the time! After I'd had enough of its problems, I took advantage of a special offer to trade it on a new 2020 Gear Up. I put over 9000 miles on the new one the first year (and that's with seven other motorcycles to ride, so that held down the mileage). Night and day difference. The new one has proper Japanese fuel injection, uses essentially no oil at this point, pulls strongly, and just runs beautifully. Now they're using paint rather than powder coat, and the quality seems better. Metallurgy and build quality are much better than before, since production of the stuff that really matters (drivetrain) has been outsourced to other countries.

The poor soul who currently owns the one I traded has encountered numerous serious problems, like blowing out the ECU (twice!) on one throttle body (yes, that era of fuel injection, 2014 to 2018, uses two throttle bodies, each with its own ECU). Also had a broken lifter, which ate the camshaft. Bad metallurgy.

As good as my current Ural is, I could never in good conscience recommend owning one unless (1) you have other reliable daily transportation, (2) you are sufficiently affluent that it doesn't matter if the whole works takes a crap, (3) you are a competent and patient mechanic with plenty of time, and (4) it is garaged when not being driven. The stupid things are not very water resistant, and I don't mean just the tub (which collects water at an amazing rate when driven in the rain). The newer electronics and wiring are vastly better, with the fuse panel now protected behind a sidecover rather than right out in the weather behind the headlamp. But they will still corrode their electrical connections faster than other motorcycles of the modern era.

Online AJ Huff

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2021, 12:00:40 PM »
Cheers to you having far more courage that I. I envy that. 🍻

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Offline LowRyter

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2021, 12:15:06 PM »
I remember when Carl Allison's Ural hack blew up.  It was never right from new.
John L 
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Offline guzzisteve

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2021, 12:47:05 PM »
Sorry for your loss but you could have had a Guzzi rig, don't believe in 3rd world con it's good stuff.
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Offline bigbikerrick

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2021, 01:05:05 PM »
Sorry to hear about your problems with the Ural. I would say that as a first sidecar rig t learn on, the learning curve of the Ural is a little steeper than most. It takes "work" to ride it well, and some time, and miles before you actually enjoy it. I think its like an air cooled VW in alot of ways. They need to be sorted, kinda like some Guzzis, but there is no doubt they have a special charm,and character.
  I purchased a nice , well sorted 2014 gear up from a gent that was a land speed bike builder/ racer using old dual engined Triumphs, in the Phoenix area, so he had the bike well sorted, and maintained for the 8K kilometers he put on it. I have put about 3k km. on it in the past few months and so far it has been a real pleasure. Its easy/simple to work on like a Guzzi, and I like that. Mine has Keihin carbs and they are very easy to tune/jet.
  I am still a Ural newbie, and learning alot about them. Time will tell, how the whole experience works out. If the darn thing blows up like Carl Allison's I figgure I can always use the bike as "lawn art" and hook the tub up to a  Tonti Guzzi! :grin:
Good Luck,
Rick Duarte



« Last Edit: June 05, 2021, 02:10:47 PM by bigbikerrick »
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Online Dirk_S

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2021, 11:56:37 AM »
Appreciate the responses and support.

Delivered the Ural to the dealership last night, and got a flatbed tow truck to help me unload the rig off the U-Haul. Got settled back into the house before midnight. On a Saturday night. Could’ve been worse. Now awaiting their full diagnosis—I reckon if the pushrod is bent, then who knows what all else inside around the camshaft is damaged.

While I won’t have the funds for a while, I’m entertaining thoughts on what bike would make a good pusher for my next sidecar, whenever that time comes! I like the ability to easily service the heads, so naturally BMWs and Guzzis come to mind. I’ve read from you and others that loop frames are reliable, but what for parts? I imagine some things might be getting more scarce to obtain?

Which leads me to modern machines. I wouldn’t want too heavy a bike, because the opportunity to occasionally remove the car for two-wheel driving is always possible, and I’m no fan of chunkers. Definitely would like something that can do highway, perhaps a little better than the Ural could muster, which was 65-70 mph max, Was thinking perhaps a V7 850, V85TT, or BMW R 9T. Clearance would be nice for some off-road capability. Easy tire changes too, especially since I doubt I’d be able to find anything quite as convenient as the Ural, which stocks the same 19” wheels all around (18” on the CT models). Reverse could be o tied, as well as a parking brake, though both sure were nice to have.
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Offline cookiemech

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2021, 03:35:03 PM »
I think a lot of serious sidecar people will tell you that you can't eat your cake and have it, too . . . the changes needed to make a sidecar rig handle well will make the motorcycle handle poorly if the chair is removed. There are those who do it, but it's not great.

So I'd suggest exploring that subject before picking up a rig and thinking you can just pull the sidecar and ride solo. Also, plenty of effort to do that, so unless you just do it seasonally (like some motor officers do in northern climates with their Harleys), not something you want to do frequently.

Online Dave Swanson

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2021, 06:42:41 PM »
I have been re-learning side car basics with my 36 VD.  It has been a barrel of fun.  I love sidecars, but the rigs take up almost as much room as a compact car.  And yes those right handers can catch you out until you start to jive with the setup. 

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Offline cookiemech

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #15 on: June 07, 2021, 05:03:15 AM »
So very beautiful, Dave!

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #16 on: June 07, 2021, 05:32:19 AM »
Well, you now have a great story to tell.  :thumb:
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Offline chuck peterson

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #17 on: June 07, 2021, 08:47:08 AM »
I’ve heard adventures begin when the planning doesn’t work..

Who was first to the south pole in 1911?

Rarely is Amundsen recognized for his over planned conquest of the pole. Planned, executed. Yup. They went, they made it, they made it back. No near death drama. The planning worked so well, there was no adventure to tell. Read, “The Last Place on Earth”, with the PBS program made from the book.

Contrast that w the death march brits, making the pole on their last legs, to find Amundsen flags. Turning around and knowing, knowing, they had neither time or resources or rescue, to make it back..see Captain Robert Falcon Scott.

Volumes were written about Scott’s “heroism “. Amundsen barely gets a notice.

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Online Dirk_S

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #18 on: June 07, 2021, 12:03:26 PM »
I think a lot of serious sidecar people will tell you that you can't eat your cake and have it, too . . . the changes needed to make a sidecar rig handle well will make the motorcycle handle poorly if the chair is removed. There are those who do it, but it's not great.

So I'd suggest exploring that subject before picking up a rig and thinking you can just pull the sidecar and ride solo. Also, plenty of effort to do that, so unless you just do it seasonally (like some motor officers do in northern climates with their Harleys), not something you want to do frequently.

Yup - very aware of that. I have a BMW mate with a rig attached to his 1200GS Adventure, and he’s stressed the time and care needed to pop the car off and back on.
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Online tommy2cyl

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2021, 12:30:42 PM »
1. Get a motorcycle you can ride/tour on that is reliable.
2. Buy a first or second generation Mazda Miata and enjoy a small vehicle that you can carry an additional person/cargo
    and can actually go around a corner.

Never saw the fascination with side cars.  Takes away the positives of both a motorcycle and small nimble sports car.  To each their own.
Some people enjoy the struggle.

Offline cookiemech

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #20 on: June 07, 2021, 03:55:35 PM »
1. Get a motorcycle you can ride/tour on that is reliable.
2. Buy a first or second generation Mazda Miata and enjoy a small vehicle that you can carry an additional person/cargo
    and can actually go around a corner.

Never saw the fascination with side cars.  Takes away the positives of both a motorcycle and small nimble sports car.  To each their own.
Some people enjoy the struggle.
You are EXACTLY right! I said all those things to my friend Carl, who is the most serious rider I know. Carl commutes 45 plus miles each way to work, every day, and never drives a car or truck to work. If weather is decent, he rides a solo motorcycle. If not, he uses a sidecar rig. We worked at the same place for many years, and he extolled the virtues of a rig to me many times. I rode a motorcycle many more days in icy weather than I should, but switched to a car beyond that.

Then Carl GAVE me his discarded Ural. I spent a lot of time and money rebuilding it and became addicted. Traded it on a new one (really, he was right about that one being a piece of crap). I love the new one (2020 Gear Up). 10400 miles on it as of today.

It's a toy. To think it's really serious transportation is silly. A Honda Fit costs less (well, they don't sell them in the US any more, but they did cost less than my Ural), gets as good or better gas mileage on regular gas (Ural specs premium), gets vastly better tire mileage, probably out-accelerates the Ural, holds more groceries, etc.

But cars of any sort are boring, until you spend something like $100K, and even then, you are isolated in a steel cage. I have plenty of solo motorcycles that are a lot of fun, but the Ural is something completely different. It requires a different skillset. It provides different entertainment. People in CARS wave at me! (Never had that happen on a solo motorcycle.)

If you look for practicality in motorcycles, or in sidecar rigs, you have to look really hard. Scooters might be practical. I'm not sure.

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #21 on: June 07, 2021, 07:42:33 PM »
Dirk, big bummer on the hack.  The 2nd picture with your glove, the Ural & hail had me laughing.  BTDT and it hurts.  🤪 
From the Deep Deep South out in left field.  There are no stupid questions.  There are however stupid people asking questions.  🤣, this includes me.  😉

Online Dave Swanson

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Re: Impulsive Decisions = Stories to Tell
« Reply #22 on: June 07, 2021, 09:00:19 PM »
I owned this rig for one year.  In my opinion it was a fabulous setup.  It was a 99 Ultra Classic with HD sidecar.  I had purchased it 2nd hand when it was 4 years old and it only had 1,000 miles on it.  The unfortunate original owner died of liver cancer. 

I purchased it for my wife who was suffering with MS but at the time could sit up in the sidecar unassisted.   She was a lightweight and I was able to pick her up from her wheelchair and deposit her in the hack.  I wanted her to have the chance to ride with me and she loved it, as short lived as it was.  By the next riding season her MS had worsened and she was no longer able to hold her head up.  I sold the setup for a slight profit and moved on, but I still think fondly of this rig for many reasons. 

Our lab Jake is photo bombing.  One of our most fondly remembered dogs.   

I would truly enjoy having this setup again.

Dave Swanson - Northern IL
1935 GTS
1968 V700
1973 V7 Sport
1974 Eldo
1977 Vert
1977 Lemans 1.2
1980 T3 California
1993 1000S - Sparklehorse
2004 V11S - Eraldo-ized
2015 Norge GT8V - Beetle-ized
2015 V7 Special - Beetle-ized
2016 Griso SE - Beetle-ized

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