The Parsons' Ural & Dnepr Trips

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by gspell68, Sep 8, 2013.

  1. gspell68

    gspell68 Long timer

    May 8, 2008
    Georgia (The State, not the Country)
    Just because I cannot seem to find this article anywhere on the web anymore.
    It's the tale of three world trips on a 1WD 650cc OHV Ural, a 1WD 650cc Dnepr, and a 2WD 750cc SV (flathead) Dnepr. All the trips were made in the 1970's and early 1980's. (I read somewhere that Peter died in a plane crash.)

    And who says that Urals and Dneprs aren't reliable?!?!?!





    And a little bit better readable text of...

    The Motorbike Travels of Ann and Peter Parsons

    Peter Parsons is an oil engineer. But his main passion is motorbikes and touring. His wife Ann, too, is enchanted by the “travel muse” and shares with him the joys and hardship that involves.
    On his way back from England from the latest and, as he hopes, not the last trip, Peter Parsons visited the AVTOEXPORT in Moscow and described to the representatives of the Automotovela firm and our correspondent B.K. Tikhanov his travel impressions and how the motorcycles performed.

    9,000KM (5,400 miles) on a Ural M-66
    We decided to purchase the Ural M-66 for our first African trip because it had the qualities that I was looking for – rugged design, simplicity, and the ability to take the worst abuse that African roads could hand out.
    We crossed France and Spain with no problems and our African trip began with a rather easy road through the Rit Mountains in Morocco and the Atlas Mountains in Algeria. After we descended the Atlas into the Sahara Desert, the temperatures soared to 45 degrees Celsius (113 degrees Fahrenheit). We continued along the main route heading for Ain Saiah. South of that place, there were no paved roads. We encountered soft sands, heavy corrugations, jagged shale, potholes – everything that could possibly destroy a motorcycle, but it did not.
    As we continued south we were battling with terrible roads, high temperatures, and thick dust. Amazingly, the Ural did not heat up or break up. We were carrying 80 liters (21 gallons) of extra fuel and 20 liters (5.25 gallons) of water and 50 kg (110 pounds) of camping equipment, tools, and spares. With all this and the two of us, we were way over the specified load capacity, but it did not seem to bother the Ural.
    We left Sahara and spent some time touring West Africa. Through the entire trip, the Ural M-66 never let us down. And it generated great interest among the Africans. Before we left Africa, we sold it to a branch of the Gendarme Nationale in Cameroon. They found it ideal for police patrols in the Cameroon highlands.

    11,000KM (6,600 miles) on a Dnepr MT-9
    For our second African trip, we purchased a Dnepr MT-9 which was a logical step after the excellent performance we received from its compatriot. This time we decided to try a new model that had been highly praised.
    Our route this time was quite different. We decided to cross the continent from Ghana all the way to Kenya. During the journey we encountered every possible kind of road and climatic condition.
    Our main problem was the lack of petrol in Zaire and the thick mud which was so bad that it would build up between the wheel and mudguard and prevent the wheel from turning.
    We were plagued with heavy rains from North East Zaire, through Tanzania, and Western Kenya. The road were so ripped up from large trucks that there were potholes that were so large that our motorcycle would disappear into them.
    The Dnepr was heavily loaded, but its terrific low-down power always managed to pull us out of any problems.
    At the end of that trip we sold the Dnepr to a Dutch gentleman who shipped it from Kenya to India and then drove it back overland through Asia to Holland. Another success story for the Dnepr motorcycle.

    19,000KM (11,400 miles) on a Dnepr MT-12
    When we were planning our next trip we had to decide again what vehicle we should use. We knew that conditions in Australia and South-East Asia were very harsh. When NevAl Motorcycles started importing the Dnepr MT-12, we knew it provided the answer to our problem. It had the flexibility of being an on road bike plus the two-wheel drive that would make it unstoppable in the rough. These features plus the attributes of all the previous Soviet bikes made us decide to purchase the MT-12.
    We shipped it from London to Sydney right after we bought it and our trip began on a virtually new bike with the engine not run in properly. Of course, it was a bit risky also because a large part of our route crossed unpopulated areas. However, there were no unpleasant surprises except some problems with overheating, but it was also 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) in Central Australia and I was using the wrong oil which I realized later. Besides, the petrol in Australia was of a too high grade for the Dnepr, so when I realized that I had to add kerosene to it, the problem was solved.
    Our route through New South Wales, Victoria, and South Australia was quite straightforward, but when we headed north, the conditions worsened. We encountered large amounts of “bull dust” which had the fineness of flour. The air filter would have to be cleaned out about every hour.
    The day we left the town of Oodnadatta the clouds opened up with heavy rain. The condition of the road steadily worsened as the day progressed. By the evening the road was almost completely flooded. If it had not been for the two-wheel drive, I doubt we would have made it. When we reached the South Australian/North Territory border, we had to camp for five days to wait for the roads to dry out.
    From there we drove through Curtain Springs to Ayers Rock and then to Alice Springs…(text runs off the page)…North-West with temperatures in the 40 degree Celsius range. We encountered heavy soft sand from the West Territory/West Australia border to Hall’s Creek. From that point, it was more dirt and corrugations for over 1,500 km (900 miles) to Perth, the capital of West Australia. This was the end of our Australian travels.
    Incidentally, during these travels we met a man in an unpopulated part of Central Australia crossing the country on a Dnepr MT-9 with a dog in the sidecar. He bought the bike from an Englishman who had already used it for quite a while. He told me he had no problems with the bike. He’d been traveling for three or four months and seemed to be quite happy with it.
    We shipped our bike from Perth to Singapore and traveled in Malaysia and Singapore for some time. Then we came to Madras by sea and traveled all over India and visited Nepal.
    The big problem in India was the great amount of people, animals, carts, trucks, and scooters that clogged the highways and towns. It called for constant care and attention and damn good brakes which luckily the Dnepr provided.
    Constant stopping and starting, braking and crawling through the endless traffic jams never seemed to affect the Dnepr. The engine remained cool and in control through the worst than Indian traffic could offer.
    From New Delhi we headed north into the foothills of the Himalayas in Ultar Pradesh. We visited various hill stations always climbing high into the mountains. Then we headed south and east along the southern border of Nepal. We drove north to Pokhara on an extremely twisting and difficult road. From… (text runs off the page).
    Then we spent two months on the roads of “The Top of the World,” sometimes going 120 km (72 miles) straight up non-stop which is very hard on any vehicle, let alone an air-cooled motorcycle.
    We concluded our two continent trip in Calcutta and shipped our Dnepr MT-12, still in perfect condition, back to London.
    Mechanically, the Dnepr MT-12 is fantastic just as the two previous models, perhaps even better. No problems with the wheels. The frame is extremely good. I was quite happy with the whole construction. It did much better than you would think considering how much weight I had. We overloaded all the time but we needed it. And it’s still as good as new. Only a few scratches from Indian drivers. But that’s all cosmetic.
    The original Russian tires lasted quite well – about 10,000km (6,000 miles). Then I replaced them with American tires, but they lasted less than 5,000 km (3000 miles). I’m going to fit Russian tires as soon as I get them.
    The Dnepr everywhere attracted attention. Sometimes I could hardly get the machine through a thick crowd of people pushing and gathering around the bike. Local specialists talking to me in many places were impressed by the two-wheel drive and by all three wheels being interchangeable. And I like this idea – you won’t find this on any other motorcycle with a sidecar. And everybody like the idea of a big sidecar and that it was all steel.
    These are all practical ideas and good reasons why I decided to pick the Russian bike for the heavy conditions. It’s very practical. You normally want to make things as simple as possible, but they usually offer you something too complicated. That’s what I tell people asking me why I bought this bike and not a more fashionable, modern machine. I tell them that the bikes they mean might be impressive in England and France but it doesn’t help you if you get broken down in the middle of Africa or the Himalayas. You need something that is simple enough and you are confident you can fix with a minimum of problems. Everybody you see touring on motorcycles are not on complicated machines, they are on very simple things. Simple, practical, reliable. Just like the Dnepr. And it’s quite obvious that for the travelers and people living in places remote from good roads and service stations, the Dnepr is the best choice.
  2. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

    Dec 24, 2006
    Next to Rio Bravo
    This is good, very good.

    Thanks of posting up.