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: 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: So we could keep physical distance and not enter any business, a lunch, snacks and beverages were packed: 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: 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: Aillene unpacks lunch. Love backing into a parking space!: Enjoying the simple pleasure of a lunch "al fresco": 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: We hit another short/twisty/rutted road winding down into Golden Gardens and Shilshole Bay Marina: 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: Last week, Fremont's The Troll was wearing a huge face mask, guess some hoarder stole it! 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): Gear-Up Meets Lenin: Russian meets Russian: 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: Be well!