Was it because of my early association with BMW motorcycles that I was drawn to Ural Gear-Up motorcycle, or was it because a Ural looks like it’s poised to conquer the Sahara? I’m not sure, and it doesn’t really matter. Bloodlines or aggressive posture aside, it’s really the adventurousness of the Ural that’s appealing. The can-do, pioneering attitude that’s ingrained in the American psyche and the urge to see what’s beyond the horizon makes the allure of this boxer-engined two-cylinder machine magnetic.
There’s an unintimidating simplicity and reassuring strength to the Ural Gear-Up. It conveys the sense that one can take it to the ends of the world and, in case of a break down, it wouldn’t require NASA-endorsed hardware to mend.
In this modern, hyper-connected, over-scheduled, tech-obsessed world of ours, would a Ural really be used to its full capability? Probably not, but the mere fact that it could be is all the rationale I need. Just look at all the SUVs on the road. How many of them actually see true 4x4 service? Only a tiny fraction. But that doesn’t keep them from being the best-selling model/class of vehicle in the United States, despite the rising cost of fuel and a growing awareness of environmental implications.
No, I believe that it’s because of our hectic lifestyle, not in spite of it, that we yearn for tracks off the beaten path, whether achieved or not, and that’s why the Ural is so relevant. It reminds us of simple pleasures, conveys the freedom that all motorcycles do, and exudes adventure and independence like few vehicles can.
Initially, my interest in Ural was for the 2013 Peking to Paris Rally – a grueling 7,600-mile race across Asia on mostly dirt roads. When that fell through, my interest became less ambitious, although no less earnest, and thanks to Sinless Cycles and Ural USA I’ve been given the opportunity to compensate for that disappointment.
In the couple weeks it’s been in my possession I’ve had the Ural Gear-Up out in blinding Rocky Mountain blizzards that sidelined all but the most intrepid SUVs. With the sidecar wheel engaged, my 3x2 motorcycle plowed through snowdrifts with such aplomb that Iditarod mushers would’ve considered trading in their dogs. And while I’ve yet to ride it to the slick rock trails of Canyon Lands in southern Utah, that’s on the books, as are other itineraries in the remote West.
It’ll have to wait a few weeks though, as I’m off to follow the trail of Mary H. Kingsley and J. Michael Fay and I’m told even there a Ural would be impractical. Hard to believe, but maybe that’s another challenge begging to be made. Here’s to the possibilities the Ural Gear-Up inspires!