2020 Ural Gear-Up 2WD Adventure Sidecar - A Ride and Test Report in Three Parts

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by mikepa, Mar 28, 2020.

  1. mikepa

    mikepa SideCzarist Supporter

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    2020 Ural 2WD Adventure Sidecar Test and Ride Report in Three Parts


    Part Two - Lots of Photos, An Urban Ural’ing Experience (photos are commented):



    Welcome to part two of my Three-Part personal evaluation and ride report on the 2020 Ural Gear-Up:

    2020_Ural_GearUp40.jpg


    As always, I’m doing my best to be objective. I’m reviewing this 2020 model against the three 2006-2008 model year Gear-Ups I owned back in the day, and in the context of currently owning four BMW-powered adventure touring rigs (one with a Ural sidecar mated to it!).

    We had a nice break last weekend from our normal spring pattern of overcast and rain, and a sidecar is made for a passenger, so it was a great time to see how the Gear-Up performed “two-up” (and before you rain fire and eternal damnation down on me, under WA State’s stay home order (at least we have one!), we’re still encouraged to get outdoors, observing all recommended precautions and keeping physical distance. From what we know,l the virus hasn't mutated to airborne viability, otherwise, herd immunity might be the grim future or our generation . . . .

    My wife, Aillene, dons her gear. Yes, we are ATGATT riders:

    2020_Ural_GearUp41.jpg


    So we could keep physical distance and not enter any business, a lunch, snacks and beverages were packed:

    2020_Ural_GearUp42.jpg


    The Gear-Up started right up. Though new the fuel injection system has transformed the motor’s performance, it’s still a bit cold-blooded. Though you don’t’ need to set a choke or throttle advance, I found it best to start the bike immediately and let it warm while you’re donning your helmet and gloves.

    It’s so cool to back out of a garage when you’re sitting on a motorcycle, and never have to put your feet down either! A three-point turn, and we’re headed down our Olympic Bobsled Run of a driveway, headed for Carkeek, one of Seattle’s most underrated saltwater parks. After a three-point turn, we had down our Olympic Bobsled Run of a driveway:

    2020_Ural_GearUp43.jpg

    2020_Ural_GearUp44.JPG

    2020_ural_GearUp45.jpg


    A huge fun factor about sidecars that motorcyclists don’t generally experience, is miles and miles of smiles. Whether in a car or truck, on bicycle, a motorcycle, or just on foot, people (and dogs) love sidecars. A lot of smiles are directed your way when piloting one. And that all gets kicked-up a notch when two-up on a wonderfully retro/modern Screaming School Bus Yellow Ural Gear-Up; those smiles are amplified with friendly waves from young and old. We waved back to most everyone we passed in our neighborhood. People were out, physically distanced, but collectively enjoying the simple pleasure of Seattle Sunshine.

    As previously noted, a huge difference in piloting the 2020 Gear-Up is the throttle-body, closed-loop fuel injection upgrade, first introduced in 2019. The motor pulls cleanly and steadily at throttle even when two-up. With my older Gear-Ups, 2nd gear was your only friend, the gear with the most pull. With the 2020, your new friend is 3rd gear, and they're all good, definitely a great leap forward.

    Does it have the power and acceleration of my German rigs? No. But I had to forgive the rather miserly performance of the Ural motor because of cool other features like reverse, 2WD, robust performance off-pavement, and a leading link front end. No more! It’s not an Autobahn-burner, but as a daily driver, an errand runner, or an escape-the-rat-race machine, the new Urals no longer have to apologize for feeling under-powered, there’s enough response at the throttle to keep it interesting and fun.

    Though short, the fairly steep, twisty and pot-holed roads leading to our ocean-side parks are a good test of how the Gear-Up steers. Unless the front end is properly designed, hanging a sidecar on a motorcycle results in significantly increased steering effort, as the bike can no longer lean into turns, and goes from being counter-steered, to being direct steered.

    Tough to capture the beauty of the Olympics overlooking Puget Sound with a small point-and-shooter, but hopefully, you'll get some idea of why we headed for Seattle's Carkeek Park:

    2020_Ural_GearUp46.jpg


    Aillene unpacks lunch. Love backing into a parking space!:

    2020_Ural_GearUp47.jpg


    Enjoying the simple pleasure of a lunch "al fresco":

    2020_Ural_GearUp48.jpg


    The Gear-Up has always had an optimal front end, called a leading link fork. Improvements have been made in bushing and bearings, and the steering effort with the weight of a passenger in the “chair” is reasonable and predicable. On a beeline road with little crown and constant speed, the rig drives straight. The front end is now equipped with a steering damper, so it’s possible that the trail has also been reduced, though that’s a guess on my part.

    One complaint some might voice is a rather choppy ride. A sidecar is a rolling mix of compromises to begin with, and the Gear-Up is optimized for rough road operation. The suspension is robust, relatively stiff, and has short travel; it’s designed to take punishment, and this translates into a ride that is predictably harsher than a standard street bike. However, it’s a surprisingly comfortable ride for the passenger. Unique to Urals, the sidecar has a dual suspension system. The suspension at the wheel is a normal trailing arm and shock absorber, but unique to Urals,the suspension at the chassis has the sidecar body shock-isolated as it pivots at the nose, and rides at the rear on two “snowmen”, or rubber shocks. My wife’s daily driver is a Toyota FJ Cruiser, and she says for her, the Gear-Up’s ride is comparable:

    2020_Ural_GearUp49.jpg


    We hit another short/twisty/rutted road winding down into Golden Gardens and Shilshole Bay Marina:

    2020_Ural_GearUp50.jpg


    As this rig is brand-new, I’m going to give it a few more miles before taking it on the freeways, I’ll cover the ride experience on both interstates and dirt roads in my next report. Even though bigass “adventure motorcycles” have been the large displacement growth category in recent years, truth is, motorcycles and sidecars spend most of their lives on paved freeways and highways going from cities to towns.

    Drivability in an urban environment matters, and the Gear-Up does just fine in all respects. The motor pulls strongly enough and cleanly, a passenger is protected and comfortable, with three-wheel disc brakes, it stops with authority. The transmission has straight-cut gears, so yes, selecting gears is a bit clunky, but it evens out a bit with time. With a heel-toe gear selector pedal, you have options on how to execute a shift. One of the Ural dealers even offers a “Twin Stick” tank shifter, allowing right-handed gear selection and reversing on two under-tank mounted shift sticks!

    Before heading home, we pass through Seattle’s delightfully Bohemian Fremont District, where one can see The Troll, Waiting for the Interurban, and an old friend, possibly the world’s largest statue of Lenin – Russian meets Russian:

    2020_Ural_GearUp51.jpg


    Last week, Fremont's The Troll was wearing a huge face mask, guess some hoarder stole it!

    2020_Ural_GearUp52.jpg


    One of Seattle's most-photographed artworks, "Waiting for the Interurban", now with a somber request from Seattle's nurses (my wife, Aillene, is a registered nurse):

    2020_Ural_GearUp53.jpg


    Gear-Up Meets Lenin:

    2020_Ural_GearUp54.jpg

    Russian meets Russian:

    2020_Ural_GearUp55.jpg


    I have a sidecar in Japan, one in Germany, two at home. I don’t have room for another. The opportunity to do an extended test ride of the Gear-Up was an unexpected one, one that I gladly accepted. I’m impressed, it’s come a long way. I won’t have it long enough to comment on long-term reliability, and the dealer network is sparse, but I’ve heard the customer service is exceptional, and it comes with a two-year warranty. Compared to the cost, time, and hassles of building your own or commissioning a build from a non-certified facility, the Gear-Up is a compelling package for anyone considering a sidecar for the first time, or, lives in a rural area where you could experience it’s full potential.

    In summary, one no longer needs to make excuses for the Ural’s powerplant. It starts. After a brief warming period, it pulls cleanly. There is enough power to move you and another (two-legged or four), along nicely. The brakes can lock all three wheels. The ride is perhaps a bit choppy for the rider, comfortable for the passenger, and the suspension works as intended off-pavement. You get a locking trunk, miles of smiles, a reverse gear, and 2WD drive. All in all, it’s a remarkable package for the price.

    Until my final chapter “Highways and Dirt Roads” in ride report, I’ll leave you with a few more Seattle city tour photos:

    2020_Ural_GearUp56.jpg

    2020_Ural_GearUp57.jpg

    2020_Ural_GearUp59.jpg

    2020_Ural_GearUp60.jpg


    Be well!
    #21
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  2. windmill

    windmill Long timer

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    #22
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  3. rg sw wa.

    rg sw wa. Long timer Supporter

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    Mike, another great write-up with pics. At the bottom of your driveway what gear were you in and did you have to shift up or down as you went up the driveway at what speed ?
    #23
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  4. GR8ADV

    GR8ADV Safety Second!

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    Great stuff Mike. A lot of love being given to reverse. Any chance of a video of you backing up your driveway?
    #24
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  5. davide

    davide Been here awhile

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    You take beautiful pictures! Keep it coming and thanks!
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  6. Berardi3

    Berardi3 Been here awhile

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    How Does she like The Shuberth? C3
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  7. mikepa

    mikepa SideCzarist Supporter

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    The Schuberth's are our favorite helmet. A "flip-up" or modular helmet is inherently noisier than a full-face in my experience, as there are more seams and crevices that generate wind noise. I have an Arai, Shoei and two Schuberth's, my wife has two Schuberths. They're the quietest modular helmet we've ever owned, The latch is far easier to used than a strap and D-ring, of course they've always had the internal sun visor, and though alone in this, now have a Pinlock shield in the box. If I could only have one helmet, it would be a Schuberth, and the C3 is a good value in their admittedly expensive line-up.
    #27
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  8. Berardi3

    Berardi3 Been here awhile

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    Thank you for your Feedback will order one as they are on sale @ Revzilla
    #28
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  9. mikepa

    mikepa SideCzarist Supporter

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    Hope it works out for you. I know that some people fit better in certain brands than others. Good luck!
    #29
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  10. Berardi3

    Berardi3 Been here awhile

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    I ordered one !!!! can't wait
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  11. Tall Man

    Tall Man 129% of people exaggerate.

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    Nicely done! I look forward to upcoming posts.

    The rider may discover that upshifting is best accomplished using the heel portion of the shift lever exclusively. The Ural's gearbox is known to respond best using this method; it also contributes to the longevity of the transmission itself. A firm press of your heel is all that is needed.

    Using the toe end of the shift lever to upshift is an easy way to locate false Neutrals.

    Further, as the gearbox wears in, finding [legitimate] Neutral between 1-2 should become progressively easier.
    #31
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  12. mr.spui

    mr.spui Been here awhile

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    It's a shame that mikepa continues to spread misinformation. "The suspension at the wheel is a normal trailing arm and shock absorber, but unique to Urals,the suspension at the chassis has the sidecar body shock-isolated as it pivots at the nose, and rides at the rear on two “snowmen”, or rubber shocks." Complete and utter BS! Dnepr and Izh come to mind as do several German sidecars. Concentrate on facts and stop providing PR to IMZ!
    #32
  13. brstar

    brstar Long timer

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    We talking current for sale sidecars here as I think Mikpa is?
    I know I sold my Chiang chair because of limited suspension travel even though the body was on separate springs like a Ural.
    No need to spit your beer.
    #33
  14. mikepa

    mikepa SideCzarist Supporter

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    I'm happy to be proven wrong, but as far as I know, in 2020, neither Dnepr nor Izh are certified for sale in the USA. If anyone can provide me with the contact information for either company, I'll check into it, and if wrong, I will happy to retract any statements I've made to the contrary. The Euro 4 and forthcoming Euro 5 standards are the world's most inclusive and stringent. Ural is the only sidecar manufacturer that that meets Euro 4 standards, and therefore can be sold in virtually any country.

    And, as there seems to be some confusion, when I use the word "sidecar", I'm referring to what the English more properly refer to as a "combi", specifically in my report, a motorcycle/sidecar, produced as a unit, sold by a certified vehicle manufacture, not a small business producing the "chair" or "tub" only.
    #34
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  15. sloMark

    sloMark Long timer

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    Random thoughts.....Great read. Thanks! I have a 2008 Gear Up. Owned it for 4 trouble free years after I got it sorted out. End of May I’ll be taking it to the Laurelfork area of WV for my 3rd ever off road trip (Canaan Loop, etc) with it. I’ve done that area numerous times on my other bikes. First time for the Ural. Only concerns are the low exhaust (Got a skid plate)and my buddies getting annoyed waiting for my slow ass. I’ve also taken it up to the ANF for a weekend, did well there, but we stayed pretty much on all forest roads. I’d love a new one, but just can’t get past the $18k+ price tags I’m seeing. Mine cost me third of that$. All I need on a Gear Up is the high exhaust, skid plate, and F/R bumpers for the tub.


    A couple dealers have told me (Of course) don’t take a new one for a test ride b/c then I’ll buy it. They’re that much better vs my 2008.
    #35
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  16. mikepa

    mikepa SideCzarist Supporter

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    I'm sure there are other dealers that carry what you're looking for. I happen to "like" Raceway in Salem, OR:

    http://racewayural.com/product-category/exhaust/
    #36
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  17. Tall Man

    Tall Man 129% of people exaggerate.

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    As a fellow Ural owner, I hope you'll agree that the "high exhaust" systems are little more than elevated muffler(s). There's plenty of plumbing that remains close to the ground, as the example of Raceway's own photo, below, illustrates.

    The few retail high muffler kits that are available are also priced very dearly, way out of proportion to the actual improvement gained, IMO. I know their pricing trends are a consequence, at least in part, of the small market that is served here, coupled with that market's periodic willingness to bear that pricing.

    [​IMG]

    I've seen just one proper high exhaust to date. It was a homemade 2-into-1 bodge, but the pipes were indeed no lower than the rig's cylinders at any point on the motorcycle.
    #37
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  18. windmill

    windmill Long timer

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    MSRP of my 2007 Patrol was $10k, MSRP of a 2020 Gear up is $17.5k. If you got a 2008 for 1/3 the price of a 2020 you must have purchased it used, or got a major discount for some reason?

    The quality and performance is so much better with a 2020, a direct price comparison, even taking inflation into account, is fairly meaningless.
    #38
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  19. windmill

    windmill Long timer

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    In a practical sense, if one stays reasonably within the abilities of a Ural off road, eliminating or raising the left muffler takes care of 95% of potential issues. That other 5% comes at a price of introducing new issues that cancel out the advantage for most folks.

    IMO, from personal experience, the raceway or GPR high mufflers is all most will ever need.
    #39
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  20. rg sw wa.

    rg sw wa. Long timer Supporter

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    I liked Raceway’s reverse gear tank shifter. It makes it easy to find neutral and shift into reverse.
    #40
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