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Discussion in 'Hacks' started by NumberCruncher, Apr 8, 2018.
Yep, heard that many times in this forum!
I got into sidecars after 50 yrs of riding motorcycles and that was late in life. The initial experience is really hard to get used to as you drive the sidecar rig, not ride it. What that means is that you steer the sidecar and push steering and lean ( as on a 2 wheel motorcycle ) doesn't do much of anything. You can lean or move your butt off the seat a bit and that might help keep the car from lifting in right hand turns etc but in reality on anything but the lightest sidecars it has minimal effect. One of the first things I had to unlearn was putting my left foot down at stops. You may have a strong case of buyers remorse, but stick with it and most come to enjoy the sidecar life, but it is not for everybody and it is almost impossible to figure that out until you spend a few miles on the rig.
When first riding the rig, spend some time in a parking lot, large field or whatever else you have that you can practise turns, braking, gear shifting, etc at low speeds in safety. Use ballast in the sidecar, 60-100 lbs or so, no passengers at this stage. Slowly work your speed up so that you gain some confidence and then go out around the neighbourhood where you live. You are more lane bound like a car/truck and it is not as easy to avoid man hole covers etc, so get used to the width. I find it is very similar to the car that way. You will have to get used to the sidecar combination, moving around under you as the camber in the road changes, dips in the road etc, as all 3 contacts with the road are in their own plane and the action is more side to side than up & down. Takes a bit of time to get used to it.
I took it fairly easy for the first 500 miles, and worked my way up to 2 lane highways, 4 lane highways and so on. Wind is a big issue and depending on how strong it is you will want to slow down. I found it took me about 500 miles of riding the rig, before I was comfortable with adding a passenger. The rig does handle much better with a passenger ( mine is set up for that load & a loaded bike ) so it handles a bit differently unloaded with just me on the bike. I no longer use ballast and drive accordingly, staying in my comfort zone. Good luck in your search.
Most fun I ever had with my pants on was riding a Ural.
Yeah, there’s a learning/unlearning curve. Put dang near 40,000k on a Ural and sold it in less than a week when I moved on to another sidecar rig.
Stupid Russian POS never once broke down or left me on the side of a road, of course I got a lot of experience in routine maintenance. They aren’t for everyone, if you think you want one look around and you’ll find a used low mileage used one being sold by someone suffering buyers remorse.
I asked myself frequently for the first 30 days “what in Dogs name where you thinking”!?
I bought a used Ural about a year and a half ago. I love driving it. Think 1955 Technology and that is close to what you have. It really likes to go slow. 25mph can be totally enjoyed, where on a Touring bike 25mph is what you do before you get to 75mph. I have put about 1500 miles on it since getting it, and have plans for more moto trips this summer.
Ask the n00b questions. I have been riding 2 wheels for 50 years. I got my 2017 Ural Gear Up in September. It is the most fun I have had on a bike! I have gotten myself in situations where I needed the 2WD, reverse and the shovel! Good thing it's included. My latest mod is a 3000 pound winch! I got kicked out of an empty parking lot for practicing flying the chair. You are correct. Even an afternoon isn't enough to really get a feel for it. If you find a good deal on a used one, go for it but if you can swing the price of a new one, it comes with a two year, extendible to three year warranty.
Ignore the "don't buy a Ural" rhetoric. They can as good a daily driver as any other vehicle of similar technology. I owned a BMW/Dnepr conversion for several years. I drove it year round in Maine. Most fun driving in the snow you can have with your clothes on. I sold it because I wanted something I could take on the turnpike if I wanted. I am currently driving a 75 R90/6 with a Ural sidecar. It will cruise at 80 mph. I sure do miss reverse, though. Like you, I had over thirty years experience on two wheels, but always secretly wanted a sidecar. I finally got one. It took me a year to get comfortable with aggressive right turns. I find the work involved in driving a sidecar quickly, to be what makes it fun for me. When I am too old and feeble to handle my sidecar, I'll get a sportbike.
This is the key. Urals that get ridden every day are largely trouble free. Urals that sit in garages get... grumpy. I dunno if I'd shell out for a new one but a Ural makes a dandy one-person car replacement year round. I used mine like a friggin' pickup truck and commuter for 3 years around town every day. My corporate headshot to this day was taken leaning on the nose of the sidecar in a suit.
My experience: my first 33years of riding was totally 2 wheels. For the first For the first 15 some road but mostly dirt racing. After that point (my knees gave out) I switched to road 100%. The next 15 or so was dedicated to touring on two wheels. Had always been intrigued by the rigs so I decided to try that out. Have now been riding rigs for 15 years. Still ride on 2 but getting less all the time. Two years ago took a long trip with a friend to Nova Scotia on 2 wheels and during the trip decided it was my last long distance trip on two wheels. The older I get the less I like horsing around a heavy tourer in the garage, parking lot etc. Just got back from an extended trip with boss monkey on my LT rig and after 2500mi was fresh as a daisy. The rig has given me more confidence to keep riding into my later years. The boss monkey much prefers this also. As far as the handling I equate it to playing tennis and racquetball, both use a racquet but totally different swing etc. Switching back and forth between 2 & 3 wheels has never really bothered me, my brain somehow seems to switch over which is amazing considering how inadequate it seems at other times. Take the sidecar class, you will find out if you will like it before an investment.
Evergreen does not have a training program in Spokane but Spokane Motorschool does. I am setup for a two day, $125 course for next weekend.
I may have jumped the gun but on Saturday I put a $1,000 deposit on a new 2018 Ural Gear Up. I insisted on a blue bike with silver engine and that meant a factory custom order (only in the sense that they mostly import every color other than Baikal Blue and almost all of them come with the black engine and drive train) and if I didn't get my order in this past weekend it would mean waiting for next quarter which means delivery at the end of riding season. So while I am committed to $1,000, if I absolutely hate riding a side car and convince myself it will be a three wheeled Russian coffin, I can politely ask for my money back or just walk away from it. They said the deposit is refundable minus the 3% credit card processing fee coming and going so I figure it is worth it. This way if I like the sidecar in general I'll have exactly the one I want on the way to me. And while this rig will cost me $16,000, it cannot be compared the cost of a bike as it is a bike and sidecar and the uniqueness of the Ural does appeal to me. The two year warranty does mean quite a bit to me so I don't mind new. And if I cannot get my $1,000 back I'll just walk away. It may be a $1,000 lesson but better than buying the hack and having to sell it in six months and lose five times that.
I am really curious as to how next weekend will play out. Part of me knows there is no way I'll be comfortable after just two days on a demo bike and I have to keep that in mind. At 48 years old I need to push my boundaries, not let them shrink in around me. I saw a really fun looking Ural video taken at the Black Dog dual sport some years ago. That is exactly the type of riding I'd love to do on this thing. In fact, I can use a Ural to combine ATV riding with dual sport riding on one machine.
The only regrets you're going to have is after you get comfortable with your beautiful blue earth pounder is that you didn't do it sooner
Fortunately that regret is quickly forgotten after a couple of rides
Unfortunately you will find yourself giggling like a little kid and you'll have a stupid shit eating grin on your face while riding
I recommend leaving the faceshield down for awhile so you can maintain your manliness
Congratulations NumberCruncher on becoming a Uralista
Take your time...you're not in a race
Stay safe...do not ride beyond your ability
All the best on your new Adventures
It will definitely take ore than two days to get comfortable with the sidecar but you'll love it ! I had one thing or another keeping me from buying a Ural for 10 years and I finally bought a new 2018 Gear Up this February and I can't believe I waited so long to have this much fun. Good luck , the wait will drive you crazy.
No you won't be comfortable after 2 days training, but you will have a reasonable idea of what to expect, and you will have firsthand knowledge of the exercises to practice to begin building your skills & comfort. Enjoy!
Which color for you? Any pictures?
I chose slate grey. I posted some pics and a short video of the ride home on soviet steeds. It was February 10 , my son's 15th birthday ,when we rode it home from the dealer. It was a 45 minute or so ride at 21 degrees without the wind chill factored in but he rode in the sidecar and had a blast in spite of the cold.
After your course, while you're waiting for your rig to arrive, just keep swinging by the dealer for "demo" rides! (Seriously - it will help you keep what you learned in class in mind and you'll get to build up your skills at least a little bit.)
For @NumberCruncher , let me make the same offer that @szurszewski made to you above. I live very close to @szurszewski , so, between the two of us, we have two very different sidecar rigs for you to spend some time on, and get a feel for.
I know you are already signed up for the class, which is good. I took my 2 day class a couple years ago, aced both sections of the class, and enjoyed the hell out of it.
BUT.....the sidecar rigs that had been donated to the STEP class were absolute pieces of sh*t. Nice that someone donated these things, but they were actually death-traps, from a mechanical perspective. All 3 rigs that had been donated were 250cc to 500cc mid-80's Japanese bikes, that looked to have homemade sidecars attached to them. Frankly, they were not safe to ride.
I can only hope that whatever sidecar rig you have available at the class you go to, is much better.
And, I see you already put a deposit on a new Ural rig.
But if you want to take a day, drive over to Olympia, meet up with @szurszewski and myself, we can arrange to meet you in a large parking lot, and have you ride our two different rigs. You have seen his K1200LT with Hannigan car. Mine is a Goldwing 1200 with Friendship 3 car.
It appears that your "special order" Ural rig may take some time before it gets here. In the meantime, drive over the mountains, and test ride our two rigs, and I bet we can have other Sidecar rigs from Western Washington join us, and show you what is available, and how to ride these rigs.
"And, I see you already put a deposit on a new Ural rig. Hmmmm....okay."
What a snide remark! You some kinda expert on Urals?
Oh my - with respect to all, and especially fhe OP, let's not start that here! He was already directed, I believe, to the pros/cons threads on Urals...
Coming from an ex motorcycle instructor, good on you for taking the course. The rigs you use on the course may not be anything like the one you have bought, but they will still teach you all the basics and that is no different than a beginners motorcycle class. You then go and practise what you have learned on your own rig. The controls, brakes etc are very similar between 2 & 3 wheeled, so you don't have to learn any of that, and you can spend the time on the handling and how to ride the sidecar rig.
In my own case there are no sidecar courses anywhere near where I live, so I had to spend some time doing slow speed work and work my way up to going on the highway. As you get more experience don't forget to periodically pull into a safe area and practise turns, braking etc.
I still ride both a motorcycle and a sidecar and it is interesting how the mind adjusts when one jumps from one to the other. It is still a wiser thing to just ride one or the other and I am getting really close to getting rid of the motorcycle, maybe this year.
Here's a pic of my gear up about 30 minutes before I left the dealership for our cold ride home.