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Old 05-29-2012, 10:27 AM   #77
Gnarly Adventurer
Dachary's Avatar
Joined: May 2010
Location: Boston
Oddometer: 313
So since one of the threads in the original post about a Ural failure was mine, I suppose I should chime in.

I recently bought a new Ural (bought new instead of used for the warranty, and for some of the improvements they've made in the past few years) and it failed on the way home from the dealer. Had to have it towed back to the dealer just 2.5 miles from making it home!

The dealer claims that the problem was a bad part - a part that Ural themselves outsourced and have had some quality control issues with. So I can't really blame that one on Ural. After replacing that part, the thing has run like a dream. Did a 300 mile day on it the day after bringing it home, which is a lot on a new engine that's still breaking in, and it just keeps getting better and better.

Am I expecting to have problems with it down the road? Maybe. I've been reading seriously about these bikes since January, when I went to look at them at the dealer the first time, and it seems that some people ride these things forever with zero problems and some people have significant problems that turn them off the bike. Since I've just got 500km on mine, it's far too early to tell whether my ownership will be relatively trouble-free.

That being said, yes, the service intervals are a bit irksome. It requires much more frequent service than our Beemers. But in the end, we kinda feel that the ease of service makes up for it a bit.

Reliability? I feel that with any bike you get, reliability is going to be a crap-shoot. We took our BMW F650GSes on a trip through the Americas and had some issues. Spent around $2,000 on maintenance and repairs during a 4-month trip, and another $2,000 when we brought them home to fix some issues from the trip. So yeah, that's a lot. And these are bikes that are lauded for their reliability. (And to be fair, in spite of the problems we had, we were pretty pleased with the way they performed on the road.)

I kinda think of problems with bikes as inevitable. It isn't "if" they're going to break down, but "when" and how you'll deal with it when it happens. So I don't see the Urals as any more difficult than any other bike, because they all have problems. (On our F650s, we've had gasket problems, fork seals have gone, radiator fan died, rear shock died - and we haven't yet encountered the "known" issue of the water pump going, although we do have a couple of spares in our spare kit. We also had some electrical problems that were *very* costly. So I'm liking the idea of a "low-tech" bike on which we can do most of the work ourselves.)

I wouldn't say a Ural is for everyone, because no bike is for everyone. Everyone has their own needs and desires when they buy a bike, and there's always the intangible "smile factor" that can't be calculated. But being more than passing familiar with the types of problems these bikes *can* experience (I maintain that things like "wrenching and modifications" sections of bike-specific forums aren't representative of ownership in general, because people *only* post in those sections when they're having problems) - we're intending to take our Ural on a RTW trip in the next year or two. We're fully prepared to deal with whatever problems crop up while on the road. After doing the research, we intentionally chose a Ural over hacking a sidecar to some other bike for a variety of reasons. It *is* the bike for us.

I'm sorry that you've had problems, but I don't think that is necessarily representative of the average ownership experience for these bikes. And I feel like throwing out the "It Didn't Break Thread" was a bit misleading, because that thread wasn't started "for self affirmation because with a Ural, that's something to celebrate." It was started as a joke, because a newb who had been reading the "hammering and wrenching" forum commented on all the problems these bikes seemed to have, and the point was that plenty of people never have problems with these bikes.

I'm sure that info about your bikes' failures will be helpful to some people who are considering buying. But I feel that your post here is slanted toward the negative while minimizing the positive. It's not objective. And as a result, it's not as helpful as it could be otherwise. It has sort of a "sour grapes" vibe that is clearly polarizing readers.

As far as your statistics for stating that Urals are unreliable compared to other bikes - I'd love to hear your stats. What numbers did you crunch to determine this? Where have you found the data that supports the "higher number of failures versus other bikes" assertion? If you're basing it on more than anecdotal evidence from reading a wrenching forum, I'd love to hear how the statistics break out.
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