Howdy All, Some of you folks may remember that in 2008 I toured the USA on a brand new Ural "Gear-Up" a two wheel drive-camo colored sidecar motorcycle. On that rip I rode over 17,000 miles and if memory serves me correctly I covered 37 States and stayed with many ADV riders and Soviet Steeds riders who had answered my call for hosts. This summer I'll be doing the same type of ride but on the "Prototype" Ural "sT". This bike is a hand made one of a kind that was built to prove the concept and to figure out how to best put a production model in the works. The first load of production "sT's" are due to hit the States in very late July-early August. I'll be doing this ride to promote the bike at the dealerships that are on my route, I'll be giving a presentation at some of the dealerships consisting of a photo slide show and talk about my many Ural-a-ling adventures. I'll start this ride report with some photos of the bike as it was going through its growing pains, I was the first real test rider to take the bike out and give it a real trashing, this resulted in many changes that were incorporated into the prototype and now in the production bikes. This is a photo of the bike when I first rode it almost a year ago. At this stage the bike was pretty rough, rattle can paint and a mix-match of parts that Sergey the Master mechanic had put together just to get a rolling test mule. In these photos the bike had the same exhaust system as do the sidecar rigs. As you can see the mufflers hang quite low, after my corner carving this was to change. The dash was hand made from sheet metal, Sergey has no power tools such as metal cutting saws, or metal forming brakes, punch presses or other sorts of equipment used to fabricate such items. He has a drill press, a bench grinder and small welder, all of this work to include building the heat shields on the mufflers, building the brackets to hold the rear disk brake, the passenger peg-muffler hangers, the dash assembly, the rear disk mounting plate, etc was done with simple hand tools and the few power tools I listed. To watch this man work and build things from nothing is one of the most enjoyable and educational things I have ever had the pleasure of participating in. Here's some shots of the dash. Sergey hand made all of the mounting components used in this disk brake assembly. It was after riding the bike from Redmond Washington, IMWA headquarters up to the crest of Snoqualmie Pass and back that the NEED for an up-swept exhaust system was made clear by the deep gouges, scrapes and dents in the bottom of the mufflers from riding the bike hard in the corners. I purposely pushed the bike past the limits allowed by the low hanging mufflers to drive home the point that the bike had more handling potential then the stock exhaust system permitted. When I returned I talked to Ilya, the President of IMWA and Sergey and told them that we had to do something to get the mufflers up off the ground. In the following photos you can see how using string to hold the mufflers in-place, Sergey figured out a way to mount the mufflers using brackets made from old passenger foot pegs, pipe and flat stock laying around the shop. Here Ilya looks over the proposed pipe system. Here Sergey has built the muffler hangers. This photo shows the heat shields Sergey made. Here Ilya and Sergey look over the project thus far. Here's what the new pipes look like from the rear. The finished up-swept pipe system. After the pipe were built the bike under went much more tinkering, different shocks, different spring rates in the front forks, different tires and wheels, seats, handle bars, etc. This is what the bike now looks like, sorry for the bad photo I took a photo of the bike on the IMWA web page, I didn't think to take a photo of it before I started the work of setting it up for the up-coming tour. OK its time for dinner, I'll continue this a bit later showing some of the changes I have made to power my GPS, heated gear, mount the tank bag and saddle bags etc. Once all the prep work is done I'll take it for a shake down ride and post to this ride report. Stay tuned.