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Old 03-30-2011, 04:03 AM   #1
Steppy OP
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Location: Bunbury, Western Australia
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Riding a new Ural T across Australia - The complete Story.

Delivery, Preparation & Shakedown Ride


I flew in to Armidale, NSW, at 0955 on 2nd Sep 10.
Jon Taylor, the Ural importer, was in Sydney to assist in the launch of the latest service agency so his wife Vicki gave me a lift to Super Moto for the handover.

This was my first look at MY bike and it was pretty impressive. The black satin paint with red pinstripe really suits its dated styling.

The fun started when we tried to register the bike in my name.
Because I’m from interstate the Road Traffic Authority (RTA) needed to register me before they’d register the bike.

I fronted up with my WA drivers license only to be told I needed a letter from Jon and Vicki saying I was staying at their place. (They needed somewhere to send the speeding fines. On a Ural?) Simple, except Vicki had gone off to do her own thing and wouldn’t be home until 1630hrs. Greg from Super Moto lent me some dealer plates so I could get to the farm in Kentucky, 40km south of Armidale.

Getting the bike going for the first time was interesting. As I rode it off the concrete slab down a fairly steep incline the bike went over the edge first which meant the bike was leaning to the right. Heart rate went up and the right foot went out. The next few kilometers was spent trying to recall what Jon had taught me in March when I spent 2 days test riding a Tourist…bike steers left on acceleration so counter steer right…bike steers right on deceleration so counter steer left…when approaching left hand corners, slow down, accelerate through the corner and let the bike steer itself…decelerate into right handers. I didn’t go over 80kmh this day and crawled around some corners.

The trip back to Armidale the next day was much less stressful and a little faster.

At 0930hrs Friday 3rd Sep I fronted the RTA with said letter.
“Pity you didn’t have a NSW license.” said the lady. “I used to!” said I. “Any idea what the number was?” said she. “5221XP.” said I. (I got my license in NSW in 1978 whilst serving in the Army. I moved back to WA in 1986. I can remember my old license number but not my current WA license.) “Why didn’t you tell us that yesterday?” said she. “Nobody asked!” said I. 5 minutes later I had my Customer Reference Number and was on my way.

Friday afternoon was spent fitting the front and rear carry racks, spot light, Oooga horn and reverse shifter leaver. The latter required a trip into Uralla to locate a gear puller so I could get the old leaver off. Many thanks to the guy at Motor Mates. What a difference this piece of kit makes. No more fiddling about with my right heel or bending down to change the selection and it adds years to the already dated look of the bike.

0900hrs Saturday 4th Sep I took off with the bike fully loaded for a trip taking in Tamworth, Manilla and Bendermeer. The best part of Tamworth for me was a visit to the Motorhouse Museum. It houses a private collection of bikes, BSA, Ducati,Harley, Honda, Kawasaki, Laverda, Norton and Triumph. Unlike a regular museum it’s not a representation of motorcycling history but of one man’s love of bikes.

It was at this point that the UDF (Ural Delay Factor) kicked in. Wherever you go with a Ural people want know: “How old is it mate?” “Did you restore it yourself?” etc. the ensuing conversations can add hours to a short trip. It’s such an issue that Jon provides new owners with a bunch of pamphlets to hand out so you can get mobile again ASAP.

The ride from Manilla to Bendermeer included approx 30km of unsealed roads with hairpin bends and was a hoot. I crossed 9 causeways, all with flowing water of various depths. The extra wheel certainly makes this kind of thing fairly straight forward. The bike performed faultlessly. It threatened to rain all day but held off.

I was back at Kentucky by 1500hrs and fitted the oil cooler ready for it to be connected on Monday when the bike gets serviced.

Today Jon and I fitted the jerry cans, pillion foot pegs and trunk lock.

Tomorrow it’s back to Armidale to have the bike serviced then I’ll be heading for Sydney via Williamtown air base where I was based for 6 years at the Army Parachute Training School.


Armidale to Narooma


Monday 06 Sep 10 - Woke up to find the lambswool and swag covered in frost. Had a very chilly ride into Armidale to get the bike serviced. All went well after a slow start. Got a call from the bike shop in Bendigo that’s supposed to be doing the 2,500km service next week. His mechanic has been hospitalized indefinitely in Melbourne. Hope he’s OK. Will have to source someone in Melbourne for the service.

The ride from Armidale down “Thunderbolt’s Way” was fine until I hit the Hunter Valley section. The road became very steep and twisty with the worst surface I’ve seen on a bitumen road. It was quite scary at times trying to negotiate off camber, hairpin bends on a steep, loose surface. Not enough brake and she’d run away, too much and she’d start sliding. Huge adrenaline rush.


I got to Williamtown Airbase just after dark and can’t believe the changes in the base or the area. I’ll go back in the morning to view it in daylight.


326km today – 836 total.



Tuesday 07 Sep 10 – Went to Williamtown Airbase and Raymond Terrace. Can’t believe how much things have changed. All the old Parachute Training facilities have been removed and the base is twice the size it was. Didn’t recognize Raymond Terrace.

Have decided not visit anymore of my old haunts. Leave the memories alone.

Wiseman’s Ferry was the next destination. Very similar roads as yesterday but in better condition. Had the ferry to myself apart from the decky who was all over the bike.

From the ferry I set the GPS for Nowra. So much for my resolution to not visit any more old haunts. The GPS took me down Silverwater Road to Egerton St where my old unit, 39 Air Equipment Platoon, used to be based. It’s all gone, replaced with townhouses.

Tonight I’m in Thirroul, just short of Wollongong.


368km today – 1204 total.



Wednesday 08 Sep 10 – First stop today was the Parachute Training School (PTS) at HMAS Albatross in Nowra. I spent 6 years at PTS when it was at Williamtown Airbase. I was treated a tour of the packing facilities and the training wing.

I called it quits for the day at Narooma at around 1600hrs and did some minor maintenance on the bike – clutch cable adjustment, check the oil, get the indicator on the chair working. The bike hasn’t used a drop of oil. By this the time my GS BMW had done the same K’s it had used over a litre of oil.

I should be in Melbourne by Friday so I’ll head up to the monastery in Bendigo before having to be in Melbourne at 0800 on Monday to get the next service done.


287kms today – 1491 total.



Narooma - Bendigo - Greensborough


Thursday 09 Sep 10 – Planned breakfast in Bega turned into maybe in Merimbula, to perhaps in Pambula, to eventually in Eden.

Crossed the border into Victoria today, and guess what? The rain started. The right handgrip heater stopped working yesterday. One of the wires has broken at the heating element, needs more slack. I’ll buy another set and sort it tomorrow.

The back tyre is fairly worn, must have copped a hiding on Thunderbolts Way, the road to Wisemans Ferry and Bulli Pass. Hopefully it will get me to Bendigo. I’ll be staying there for the weekend and can fit the spare. The front and car tyres are fine. Lunch today was in Bellbird, one of about 6 Bellbirds I’ve been through so far.

Riding this bike is total body workout. Because it doesn’t lean you are constantly subjected to sideways “G” forces. Consequently the abdominal muscles are in a constant state of tension and the core muscles get a workout. It’s like riding a Swiss Fit Ball. I also find that my seating position changes at every corner which prevents the “numb bum” issue you can get with solo bikes.

The small tank means I’m stopping every 100-150kms to refuel which also helps. However with the relatively slow cornering speeds in the twisty sections I’m averaging about 60kmh which makes for long days for few kms. Thankfully it’s fun!


404km today – 1895 total.


Friday 10 Sep 10 – What a day! Drizzling rain all the way to Sale.

Decided the rear wheel had to be changed and was getting ready to do it at the side of the road when a bloke walked up and started talking about the bike. “Nah Mate you can’t do it here. I’ve got a workshop you can use.” said Adrian. Turns out his workshop is behind the Sale Ambulance depot. Before I can get off the bike out walks Paul one of the Paramedics. Adrian cut some wood for chocks and to sit atop the jack whilst I took the wheel off, eventually. With Paul’s help it was all reassembled and ready to go within the hour. I can’t thank these guys enough for their help and kindness. If it hadn’t been for Adrian I’d still be on the side of the road scratching my head wondering what now?

From Sale to Melbourne was crappy weather with strong winds and rain. Damn it was cold. Finally made it to Bendigo at 1830hrs.


438km today – 2333 total.


Saturday 11 Sep 10 - When I reversed into the car park this morning there was a “clunk”. Turned out the rubber flexible coupling between the gearbox and the driveshaft was flogged out. This meant removing the rear wheel, final drive and undoing the swingarm bolts to allow enough room to remove and replace the coupling.

The whole job took about 1.5hrs with the most difficult part being the fitting of the new coupling.

Name:  Flexible Couplings.JPG
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After the work was completed I went in search of the Buddhist Monastery at Eaglehawk near Bendigo. None of the locals had heard of it. A search of the web brought up there web site which said visitors were welcome between 1400-1600 daily. I searched the web site and couldn’t find an address anywhere. Bit too Zen for me.

So I stooped in Bendigo and did some rubber necking. They’re still using some beautiful old buildings.

Sunday 12 Sep 10 – Rode to Greensborough in preparation for tomorrows service. Bike ran beautifully despite everything I’ve done to it.


161km today – 2519 total.




Greensborough – Mt Gambier – Naracoorte - Clare

Monday 13 Sep 10 – Had the bike serviced at EuroBrit this morning and got some good news – when they drained the gearbox oil it was clean and free of any metal particles so the destruction of the coupling hadn’t hurt the gearbox - YAY, and the grip warmers are working again - Double YAY.

From EuroBrit I went to Vintage Tyres in Heidelberg West. Whilst I was in Kentucky a fellow Ural owner stopped by and told that he was running cars tyres from an Austin 7. This got me thinking as I knew I wanted some different tyres. Having seen the way the stock tyres were wearing in the middle I was reluctant to go with “normal” bike tyres as they would wear out too quickly. The Austin tyres appear to be perfect. Very square which means they present a flat surface to the road, and $50.00 cheaper per tyre than the bike tyres I’d been looking at. I bought 4.

Got to Geelong at 1400hrs and visited with Bob from work. I felt bad at not staying for dinner as Bob was preparing a meal when I arrived. After two and a half days of doing nothing I really needed to get some kays up and feel as if I was making progress towards my goal. I was also concerned about reports of rain in central Oz and it’s impact on the dirt roads.

Stopped in Apollo Bay for the night.

Thunderbolt’s Way and the run to Wiseman’s Ferry were training for The Great Ocean Road. What an excellent piece of road. With my skill at handling the rig improving and the engine loosening up it was a hoot.


219 km today – 2738 total.


Tuesday 14 Sep 10 – Breakfast was in Port Campbell then rode all day till I got Naracoorte in South Australia.

Had been hearing rumours all day of the Oodnadatta Track being closed due to the rains.

Got on the web this evening and not are sections of the track closed but the Great Central Road is completely closed. Will keep checking each evening to see if anything changes. May need to cross the Nullabor yet again.



418 km today – 3156 total.

Wednesday 15 Sep 10 – Left Naracoorte at 0800 and made good time. Enjoyed bacon and eggs at the bakery in Keith.

Spent most of the morning riding into rain which finally cleared about 50k out of Adelaide.

40k out I was powering up a hill in third (yes! Powering – it may only have 40 horses but they’re Clydesdales) as I crested the hill I changed up to fourth and BANG – no clutch tension. “CRAP” thought I. “Must have snapped the clutch cable.” “No problem as I have a spare.” I pulled onto the shoulder and checked the swage at the clutch lever – all OK. When I inspected the other end however all was NOT OK.


The cable was fine but the clutch release lever was hanging next to the gearbox. “CRAP” thought I. “If that’s broken I’m going to be in Adelaide longer than I planned.” On inspection the lever was undamaged. “HMMMM. Must be the pin that secures it.” To my surprise the pin was insitu.

When I removed it I found that although it was drilled for a split pin there didn’t appear to be one. It must have been working its way loose, released the lever and fallen back into position. 15 minutes later I was on my way again. First stop was to purchase some split pins.

From Adelaide it was 134k north to Clare. I got to the Post Office 15 mins before closing and picked up the spare coupling Jon from Ural Oz had sent there for me.


468km today – 3624km total.


I checked the road conditions and most of the Oodnadatta Track and all of the Great Central Road remain closed to traffic. Once the rain stops it could still be several days before the roads are opened again. The weather forecast is for more rain on Friday.

Tomorrow it will have to be north to Port Augusta then south to Port Lincoln. Not what I’d planned but still somewhere I haven’t been before.


Clare – Coffin Bay – Nundroo – Cocklebiddy


Thursday 16 Sep 10 – Left Clare at 0800hrs and 8C and raining. Breakfast was at Gladstone then it was on to Port Augusta. The run down to Port Lincoln was cold and wet.

The hills around Clare are all of various heights and shapes whereas the hills around Port Augusta are all the same height and flat on top. This leads me to think that they were formed by the erosion of softer soils from between them. If they’d been formed by the action of tectonic plates then they would be of varying height and shape.

Decided not to stay in Port Lincoln so kept going to Coffin Bay. If I can average 400km a day I’ll be home on the 22 Sep.


581km today – 4205km total.


Friday 17 Sep 10 – Awoke to a strange world – everything is DRY!!!!!

And it didn’t rain all day. Breakfast was at Elliston. The Eyre Peninsula is a beautiful place with lots of interesting bays and islands. Would be nice to sail a yacht around here. Lots of paddocks with hectares of canola.

Stopped early at Nundroo. Swapped the sidecar wheel to the rear of the bike to share the load. Topped up the fluids. Gave it a general checking over.

Had just placed my order for dinner when a man staggered into the motel complaining of chest pain.

At this point I should reveal that I’m a Registered Nurse.

I made a quick assessment, (pale, clammy, SOB, tachycardic, crushing pain 9/10) while they called for an ambulance, 2 hours away in Ceduna. The Roadhouse had a Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) medical kit so I got the BP cuff and O2 mask.

The rubber hoses burst when I tried to take his BP. The O2 cylinder had so much dust on it I couldn’t read the markings and there was no regulator. The guy was allergic to aspirin. Spoke with a Dr from RFDS and got a phone order for some meds (at least they were in date).

With no diagnostic equipment it was back to basics, “finger on the pulse and an eye on the patient”, whilst expecting him to crash. When they got him on the monitor he had a very impressive ST elevation. Apparently he’d been laying in his camper van for 5 hours unable to move. Very lucky to be alive.

After all that I got a free meal.


546km today – 4751km total.

Saturday 18 Sep 10 – The universe was back to rights today with rain, rain, rain. Breakfast was at the Nullabor Roadhouse then it was on to the border where the rain stopped and I picked up an extra hour due to daylight saving.

Stopped 500m from Madura Pass to help a bloke pick up his shiny new Guzzy. He had no panniers and 4 bags stacked on top of each other on the pillion seat, topped off with a 5L fuel can. Reckoned it slipped out from under him on the soft shoulder as he tried to get on.


610km today – 5361km total.



Cocklebiddy – Norseman – Narrogin – Home


Sunday 19 Sep 10 – Breakfast today was at Balladonia after riding the longest straight stretch of road in Australia – 146km. Here’s something new – it rained this morning! It was cold I had the grip warmers on high for probably an hour. Stopped about 50k outside Norseman to refuel and noticed one of the nuts was missing from the right hand exhaust. Scavenged one from the boot lid. That’s the biggest problem with having picked the bike up from interstate. All the spare bits and pieces I would normally carry are in the shed at home.

Got to Norseman about 1300hrs and booked into the motel. I’ve noticed that the bike has started to use some oil the last few days. The oil I’m using is Mobil T 20W-50 for high performance motorcycles. I’ve decided to change to Valvoline All Climate 20W-50 Multigrade and changed the oil in the motor and gearbox, also gave the bike the once over in preparation for 250km of dirt tomorrow on the Hyden-Norseman Road.


438km today – 5799km total.


Monday 20 Sep 10 – Had the new tyres fitted this morning, I’ve kept the best of the original tyres to hang on the wall in my shed. The tyres look good, handled the dirt perfectly and are great on the bitumen.

One of the biggest problems out here is the dust clouds that are thrown up by passing vehicles.

At least the truckies slow down. The car drivers just power on through. I find the best thing to do is to pull over, switch off the motor and wait till the dust settles.


I thoroughly enjoy my rides on these types of roads. Unfortunately they’re becoming harder to find. Every time I ride the Hyden – Norseman Road a little bit more has been sealed. So much for progress.

Continued on to Narrogin before calling it a day. Guess what? Didn’t need to top up the engine oil this afternoon. Might be on a winner here.


484km today – 6283km total.


Tuesday 21 Sep 10 – Breakfast was at Williams. I suppose I should explain my ongoing updates re breakfast. When I’m touring I only eat twice a day – breakfast and dinner. I never eat breakfast where I’ve spent the night as I like to get some k’s covered before I make my first stop of the day.

Rode through to Bunbury today and was home by 1200hrs.
Checked the engine oil again today and the level hadn’t changed.


172km today – 6455km total.


Highlight of the trip - the bike running again after I’d repaired it in Bendigo.

Lowlight of the trip - not being able to ride the Oodnadatta Track and the Great Central Road.

Cheapest Fuel – Sydney $1.10L ($4.89 Gal) E10 Unleaded (10% Ethanol).

Dearest Fuel – Border Village SA $1.68L ($6.14 Gal) Unleaded.

Steppy screwed with this post 12-01-2012 at 02:26 AM Reason: Try and add some more photos
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Old 03-30-2011, 02:34 PM   #2
Steppy OP
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Raedy to Rock and Roll!

The Beast.
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Old 03-30-2011, 03:47 PM   #3
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Nice ride Steppy. Pity that you've only used a couple of snaps.

And, 5 months after the trip, it's still raining out there.
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Old 03-30-2011, 03:56 PM   #4
TouringDave
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Steppy, welcome to the wonderful world of Sidecars!

Great RR. Any more pics?
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Old 03-30-2011, 04:25 PM   #5
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hows them austin tires? got a pic? not a whole lot to choose from for urals. been droolin over the Hiedenau's k37's. perfect multisport, but damn expensive. $140 ea. but all reports are they wear like iron..
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Old 03-30-2011, 04:31 PM   #6
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Great writeup! Someone please make the rain go away...
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Old 03-30-2011, 09:21 PM   #7
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Re photos.

Hi Folks,

I have quite few photos but for some reason I can only post 1 at a time.

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Looking south from Thunderbolt's Way in the Great Dividing Range, New South Wales
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Old 03-30-2011, 09:22 PM   #8
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Another photo

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Wiseman's Ferry NSW
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Old 03-30-2011, 09:25 PM   #9
Steppy OP
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Replacing the rubber coupling in Bendigo

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A perfect example of why I bought a Ural. Old technology, simple to work on. Even for a nurse with limited mecahnical skills.
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Old 03-30-2011, 09:27 PM   #10
Wolfgang55
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Like the ADV & the tiny issue fixes.
Any more pix?
Your auto tires, sound most interesting. Any more info on those?

Well done.
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Old 03-30-2011, 09:28 PM   #11
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Clutch release lever

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Not where it's supposed to be!
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Old 03-30-2011, 09:32 PM   #12
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On the dirt.

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The road tyres are Excelsior 3.50-4.00/19 and came from an antique tyre supplier. They are for an Austin 7 and are excellent on the highway. Although they handled the dirt OK I'm changing to Heidenaus for future offroading.
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Old 03-30-2011, 09:36 PM   #13
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Road train coming at ya!

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At least the truckies sloww down to reduce the dust. I always pull over and shutdown the engine. Protects the engine from dust I've seen too many fools overtake in the dust whilst unable to see what's coming.
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Old 03-30-2011, 09:43 PM   #14
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Map of the journey

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Ural travels so far. More to come.
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Old 03-31-2011, 07:32 AM   #15
Lacedaemon
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Eh? Breakdowns?

Seems like the Ural is having more than it's share of breakdowns (the transmission coupling especially).

I appreciate that Urals are easy to work on, but how do you pick your spares?

My fiance really wants a gear up, and I am inclined to see that she gets one, but what are we getting ourselves into?

It's a really cool bike, and Australia seems to be a great place to have one. I am jealous! (Even with the roadside fixes!)
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