Ural....known reliability problems?

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by northern ON rider, Nov 5, 2006.

  1. I am wondering....the Ural bikes are known to be less than stellarly reliable...which isn't the biggest deal in the world to me, but in planning for a world ride in the next 2-4 years, and considering one as a possible ride. Since it will be me and the wife, and one bike is easier than two to maintain on the road, and we are a little bigger than average (500lbs+ together) ruling out two-up on a regular bike, this seems like the only single vehicle choice.

    So...what i'm trying to find out is what are the known maintenance/reliability issues with them (considering a patrol/gear-up) and are these easily repairable on the road or are they things that must be handled at a dealer/shop. Are they things like blown bulbs and bolts that need to be loctited or is more like droppin valves and cooking rod bearings.

    Further, what would be a sensible list of spares to have on hand for safety's sake.

    If any of you are thinking of replying to bash these bikes as I've seen in several other posts(you know who you are)...save it. I'm seeking knowledge, not bitchin'. This is as I said looking like our only choice if we don't want to wait 10 years to be able to afford it, or take two already abused bikes that may not meet the needs anyway. We know they're slow, we're planning to take our time.

    For those that are curious, we are planning on driving from NW Ontario Canada, westward to vancouver/seattle, then on to vladivostok, and on through to eastern europe and then north to norway and finland, across the water to iceland and then boat to Newfoundland/Labrador and drive back to home . Yes we are serious. Potentially on a Ural. Are we nuts? Most likely. can we do it? Definitely. Just want to know what to expect from the rig along the way.

    Well now I'm just rambling....okay...waiting for your input Mr. Cobb and others. :lurk

    Cheers from NW Ontario,
    Christopher :freaky
    #1
  2. Roadwarrior

    Roadwarrior Taking The Long Way

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    If it were me, I'd avoid the ural. The dealer netork is so scarce you would have to back a lot of spare parts. If you are really worried about wieght, tak a look at a Goldwing. they are very reliable, and I have see zillions of them on the road two up pulling trailers!
    #2
  3. AceRph

    AceRph Affluenza Free! Administrator

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    #3
  4. debueller

    debueller Has a thing 4Fungirl

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    I met a couple of guys on 2WD Patrols with sidecars, who were tottally trashing them during the dual sport poker run at the Odessa 100 desert race in E WA last spring.

    We talked for a while and the issue of relialability came up. Their biggest issue was the clutch. With a 4spd trans, I guess 1st gear is kind of tall for off road work.

    They wouldn't admit to any other major issues, I believe they were big fans of Urals and were reluctant to admit any other shortcomings. They did say the older ones had issues. (I don't remember if they were more specific)

    I followed them for a while on my XR650L through the scrub brush and tumbleweeds. It was very entertaining watching them mow over everything in their path on the single track course. It was a pretty impressive show. One of them got hung up on some brush and stopped suddenly them almost went over the bars. I was cracking up inside my helmet watching them. I love watching other people trash their $hit.

    BTW, about 2 months later while traveling over Clockum pass on my Uly (dirt road), one was hauling a** going the other way. I tried to flag him down so we could talk, but by the look in his eyes as he passed, I don't think he was seeing anything except the road ahead of him. I bet it was one of the same guys.
    #4
  5. davide

    davide Been here awhile

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    I'm originally from Italy and have seen the Ural or Dneprs touring all over Europe, especially in the former soviet provinces. Those things are unstoppable! They plow thru everything and when they strand you, somehow you can always kick them back into action + any half decent mechanic/welder/machine shop can figure them out. Parts are all over the world, especially in Eastern Europe, Africa (Angola, Ciad), Cuba, Nicaragua... basically any country where the Russians had any business during the 70s..... My advice? Buy a 750 motor with the Denso alternator... stay away from the 650 with a russian alternator, break it in properly, rejet and repipe, ride it without exceeding it's limitations and it will plug along for ever. Change oil, air cleaner, plugs every time you set the valves and be constantly on the look out for lose connections, stretched cables, lose bolts. Bring spare tubes, tires, cables, plugs, filters and oil. Run it at 55/65mph, stop every few hundred miles to check things out and you will be rewarded with a bulletproof machine.....
    #5
  6. CalCoastRider

    CalCoastRider Speed Triple rider

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    I was talking to the dealer (Modesto) and he was saying that there are some big changes for 07, but that's all I got from him. We were thinking about the Raven, but he made me inclined to take a position of wait and see....

    Anybody know what's up for 07 Urals???
    #6
  7. AceRph

    AceRph Affluenza Free! Administrator

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    I copied part of a post by a guy on the IMWA forum.

    and of the Russian Iron site:

    There were some pics posted too. Here's one.

    [​IMG]
    #7
  8. strokerdave

    strokerdave Been here awhile

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    If you're really worried about reliability and still want a sidecar why not just put a sidecar on another bike? Seems the easiest solution to me.
    #8
  9. Motorace

    Motorace Michelin Man

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    This is what I did. After 20 years of two wheels, I wanted to try something different and my wife was all for three wheels as she was not fond of riding herself anymore. The Ural was an option, but at the time the $$$ was not there for a new one, used ones were hard to find local and the nearest dealer was 300 miles away.

    I found this nice used California Companion on Ebay, dragged my mom's old CB1000C (ten-speed!) out of her shed and had a local hack guru put it all together. Very reliable, inexpensive and a lot of fun.

    [​IMG]
    #9
  10. Kawidad

    Kawidad Long timer

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    I don't know squat about Urals, but logically with the route you have in mind, it sounds like a reasonable choice of bikes to me. Good luck, you have much bigger stones than I do. :freaky :D
    #10
  11. johnstokesII

    johnstokesII Adventurer

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    IIRC, in "The Long Way Round," when the photog's bike was fried by the welder, he ended up on a Ural. You might want to check with Red Menace, as well as Mr. Cobb

    Red Menace's website:

    http://adventuresidecar.com/index.html

    Given your route, a Ural, especially a new one, seems a rational choice.
    #11
  12. bajaburro

    bajaburro Ancient Adventurer

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    spent an afternoon once helping a guy at a gas station trying to start his!seemed to be a cronic problem with his.
    #12
  13. KneeDrachen

    KneeDrachen Long timer

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    i've done a ton of research on them, i assume you'll be going for a 750, not a used 650....the 750s are a MUCH better improvement over the 650 however the carbs do have a tendency to overflow and remember the driveshaft is not a sealed unit so any offroading is going to require a decent cleaning to maintain longevity. IIRC all the reading i've done they're pretty damn bullet proof as long as they are cared for. . .caveat though, they need to be maintained, it's a not a popeil "set it and forget it". . .:lol3
    #13
  14. davide

    davide Been here awhile

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    ... that's what I like about them, the fact that you have to be intimate with your machine and know what to look for or what to do after every ride. In fact, that's exactly what they are: machines, not appliances whose performance you take for granted year after year. In 2002 I ditched everything, loaded all my stuff and my 3 dogs in an old clunky VW bus and took off.... I drove it like it was still 1966, took my merry time, stopped to troubleshoot it, mantain it and never had a problem. Plus, old VW vans, Meridien made Triumphs and, I suspect, Urals all have one thing in common: they attract people who always have a story about the machine and often some insight into fixing the problem..... you are never alone out on the road on one of them.
    #14
  15. Sidecardoug

    Sidecardoug Pleasantly pleasing

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    Yup, that's the truth. The Ural world calls it UDF

    Ural Delay Factor
    #15
  16. mac62

    mac62 One more thin gypsy thief

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    I don't buy the "dealer network" crap. It's gonna be 2007 in a couple of months; most of the world can be reached by FedEx/UPS/DHL. A friend just returned from the Skeleton Coast in Africa and even the tiny food stands that pass for restaurants had the ability to take debit cards (took about 20 minutes for the transaction, but still). I'm pretty sure there is a dealer on every continent. Take the obvious consumables with you and if you nedd a new 3rd gear or some such, have it shipped.

    Your efforts would be better spent becoming the guy that can change a piston on the side of the road with a pocket knife and a soda can, than actually carrying the piston with you.
    #16
  17. mp183

    mp183 Been here awhile

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    I was born in Eastern Europe and traveled there in the 70's.
    Russian stuff was always garbage.
    The most reliable motorcycles were made in East Germany.
    I had a MZ TS-250 and that sucker just ran and ran.
    Left it with some family and it took 20 years of abuse before they
    killed it.
    Might be romantic to go 500 miles on a Ural but
    you are not talking 500 miles here.
    Think it over carefully.
    Might be the cheapest to buy but the most expensive
    to keep running. The overnight stuff eats up money pretty quickly.
    It's not exactly $10 shipping.
    Good luck.
    #17
  18. davide

    davide Been here awhile

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    You guys in Eastern Europe have a chip on your shoulder about Soviet era made stuff......
    #18
  19. out rider

    out rider You Go First

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    I have a 2003 Ural Tourist and LOVE IT. These bikes have improved even more from the time I bought. I researched these bikes for 2 years before I purchased. The dealer network is a bit thin, but then again my bike has never been back to a dealer. 24 thousand and some kilometers with no real problems.

    I will and have taken this bike on both long trips and over some 4 wd passes two years in a row in Colorado. One tuff machine that someone with limited wrenching ability can work on themselves. Buy the two wheel drive Patrol or Gear-Up model and you will be able to go to and thru even more then I do. Been out in 10/11 inches of snow and had a blast. County plow trucks and a few suv's were the only others I encountered that day.

    Don't let anyone who does not or who has not within the last 3 or 4 years owned one influence your buying. Get on the Ural web board for a period and see what current owners have to say. You will even see 2 different areas for 03 and older and 04 and newer models.
    #19
  20. UnderNewOwnership

    UnderNewOwnership Thread Slayer

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    Actually, it's quite true. Among the commie era bikes, East German stuff comes first at reliability and performance, with Czech a reasonably close second. Soviet bikes are a bit of a mixed bag.
    #20