Russia, Kazakhstan, back to the UK on a wing and a prayer aboard an old Russkie Ural!

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by jayincanada, Sep 27, 2010.

  1. jayincanada

    jayincanada Adventurer

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    calgary alberta
    Lots of old Soviet nuclear stuff near Semey…

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    There wasn’t much left of this one. It had been vandalized and burnt, over and over again. I’m fairly certain those canisters are air filters.

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    My old Ural took a real beating on the Kazak roads. The mirror fell off in two pieces and the top of the tank cracked open, spraying fuel everywhere. I had to ride around for three days on a half full tank to avoid leakage. This is the welder used to seal the tank for around $5. The repair was very good and lasts to this day, but the welding machine was interesting. It had a hand crank at the top which varied the distance between the coils and therefore the voltage to the weld.

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    There was a 30 liter jug I carried in the trunk which got me through the long stretches without gas stations. 80 Octane was sold everywhere and the Ural seemed to run quite happily on it. I used it to light fires on several occasions and it is more like a light oily diesel than gasoline as we know it to be. When using it to light a fire, it the flame would sort of crawl rather than engulfing whatever it was poured onto. Surley it was watered down as well..

    Cow shit for heating and cooking. Very common in central Asia, China. Mmmmmm!


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    There must have been a fire sale on used train cars after the Soviet days as everyone seemed to have one as an addition to their home.

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    More social networking with a stubborn Ural in Kazak! The wire leading to the points had corroded and was completing the circuit intermittently.

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    The old fellow that owned this one and was quick to show me his ran superb. Which actually it really did sound healthy. 1962 M72 Ural flathead.

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    This was one of the GPS spots I wish I could have passed on. I met this fellow Constantine and his buddies drinking vodka and feasting on Sheslik by a fire out in a field. I was looking for a place to camp when happening upon them. So after the usual invite, we settle down for the night, etc. In the morning Constantine says we should go bath. Sounds great. After 20 minutes of unwanted exercise getting the Ural fired up, I follow him into the back and beyond to this little brick shack where he proceeds to strip. Inside is a pipe, with a big hand crank valve which he turns. Out of a pipe on top, water starts gushing out and after a minute turns warm and stinking of sulphur. He tells me the Soviets drilled a mile down to tap into this, although it does not go to any of the homes for heating. Matter of fact, he says it doesn&#8217;t go anywhere and the locals just use it for bathing.
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    Russkie homebuilt trike.


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    #41
    NaMi likes this.
  2. jayincanada

    jayincanada Adventurer

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    During the trip, at one point, I limped the bike into Irbit hoping to get new tires, original points, carbs, and a few other bits.

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    Here is the now ‘famous’ pic from the Ural plant.


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    Typical toilets that the workers use in the plant.

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    Here’s my Ural, leaking oil all over the factory floor.

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    I wandered around the factory for 6 hours until they kicked me out. Most of the plant is disused and the machinery hasn’t been updated in years.

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    From 10,000 workers to 200 today.


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    This is a French guy named Hubert, making his way about on a Ural for the last 6 years.

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    This is Hubert’s side car bike.

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    This is all the parts replaced in Hubert’s motor before he heads to Africa. This is 50,000 kms of wear. Not sure what to make of that….


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    I needed a new clutch cable, tires, a few spokes, and a kick start seal by Irbit. The spokes lady for the factory, a really hot gal with a moustache, comes out and tells me a mechanic may be available. Cool. In goes the Ural to the factory. After 2 days the mechanic says it shouldn’t be any problem to do these things, it will only cost about $600 usd. I’m thinking at this point were talking about 5 hours labor, tops right?

    So after telling them to stick it where the sun doesn’t shine, I found this biker named Antov who used to work at the factory. This guy is top notch. We replaced the tire, spokes, head stock bearings, and a number of other things and had a great time hanging out…


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    The tires really needed to be replaced by Irbit…


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    We sat around drinking beer and the boys were rolling on the floor with laughter, showing them pix from riding an Enfield around India…


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    There are old abandoned churches scattered about this region in many villages from the days when Stalin declared open season on religion.


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    After Irbit, the rain started for the next 5 days. For a few days I would only ride until 2pm, then make shelter along with a good fire in the woods. Staying wet and riding into the night is awful out here since places are so far apart. Russia is great for wild camping this way, as there are many small roads and lots of space. Finding a good hotel in Russia is a bit daunting at times.

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    This is one thing I do like about the side car, there is always a work surface available for dinner!

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    Here is the Ural doing what Urals do best, fetching firewood for the evening. It really felt like snow at one point in the Ural Mountains. A large bonfire was needed all the time to stave off the rain and cold temperatures. It really made things bearable. That and packets of 3 in 1 instant coffee….The 6x8 tarp was a lifesaver.

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    Finally leaving the rain behind, a welcome change!

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    #42
  3. jayincanada

    jayincanada Adventurer

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    It is common practice here to mark the side of the road where someone bought the farm. Usually it is accompanied by a steering wheel, picture, flowers, or some other parts from the wreckage.

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    Not sure what to make of the marketing…It’s just…different.

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    Back into civilization, towards Germany and England.


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    I holed up in this very fine motorcycle clubhouse outside Riga, Lativia with the very hospitable members of the Shadow Unit. We worked on the Ural in their workshop. The alternator was getting noisy. I wanted to do this before getting into Europe where the parts would be less common and everything far more pricey. Turn out the helical gears on the front of the motor were a bit sloppy, making lots of racket. I figure it would be ok if left alone, but we pulled gears from another Ural and it the bike was nice and quiet after that. Parts for Ural bikes are vitually worthless in these parts. I actually had just stopped to replace the clutch cable somewhere, but these guys went above and beyond with drink, food, and a warm place to stay. Thanks again guys, had a really great time in Riga!

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    Great trip it was, but also really nice to get back to England to see my daughter. She loves scooting around in the sidecar around the villages!

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    That’s all folks! Made it back in one piece and just scooting around the UK at the moment with my Ural hack! I have it for sale on Ebay at the moment. She’s running great still after over 14,000 kms. And most amazing of all, doesn’t use any oil! I really wasn’t expecting much out of the engine but the old Ural surprised me. I did keep the oil changed and ran it between 60-70kms/hr the whole trip. Nice to be ‘home’.


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    #43
  4. pictish

    pictish Been here awhile

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    saw the bike on ebay did wonder about the story behind it pity it cant be registered over here due to sidecar on wrong side, but no doubt someone will snap it up for parts or as a offroad play thing. good luck with the sale
    #44
  5. WaywardSon

    WaywardSon Long timer

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    Excellent report and pics of a part of the world most of us will never see. Nice job...and thanks for taking the time to bring us along:deal
    #45
  6. Duckworth

    Duckworth Taking the high road

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    Outstanding!:clap
    #46
  7. nightflyer

    nightflyer Hors contrôle

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    thanks for posting this RR... :clap

    Exactly the trip I am planning for 2012, buying a Ural locally and heading the same way. Maybe one day I will come up with an original idea!!!!
    #47
  8. Francis P Monaco

    Francis P Monaco n00b

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    Agreed. That's a side of Kazakhstan that I'm sure most people haven't seen; I'm glad that at least here, when you think of that country, Borat isn't the only thing that comes to mind! The country, problems and all, has some nice scenery and appears to have many warm and kind people.
    #48
  9. OldLemmy

    OldLemmy Adventurer

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    Great RR:clap
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    It &#1084;&#1086;&#1090;&#1086; my friend,Ural- Solo 750
    #49
  10. rtwdoug

    rtwdoug prominent underachiever Supporter

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    great trip!

    I met Hubert last year in Siberia, glad he's still doing good.

    When you registered the bike in RU, was it in your name? and was it a temprary reg, or what? I had heard I could only do it temp, for 25 days, then I would have to renew it. But like you, I hadnt found any real information on this.

    Thanks, Doug
    #50
  11. kahlgryndiger

    kahlgryndiger Been here awhile

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    Great report and pics.
    I will do that one day with my IZH Jupiter outfit or Solo Planeta ...
    #51
  12. DaFoole

    DaFoole Well Marbled... Supporter

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    AWESOME report!!! :clap

    :bow
    #52
  13. wildehond

    wildehond wildehond

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    Thanks for taking the time to post this. I realy enjoyed the RR. :D
    #53
  14. hobo99

    hobo99 Adventurer

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    outstanding RR. The side of Russia rarely seen in the western world.

    Just out of curiosity, would you recommend ridding anything else threw Russia? ural's seem to be the norm.
    #54
  15. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

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    Awesome report and pictures. Thanks for the time and efforts to share with those of us that will never see this country any other way.
    I remember years back, a report on a lady named Carla that did the outer borders of the US on a Ural. I think she had to have the whole wiring harness replaced at one time during the trip. Interesting read also.
    #55
  16. jayincanada

    jayincanada Adventurer

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    Hmmm...This is likley worth a whole other thread.

    Tough question, depends on how much hardcore riding you want, where you want to go, your level of comfort with the mechanics, size of your wallet, and most of all, your riding skill. Alot of it is simply personal preference for many.

    I noticed a number of Russian 1800 wings out on the highways as well as sport bikes. When staying on the main roads and doing the speed limit in Russia it is easy and for the most part predictable. Read a nice RR on Brits with DR350's and they had an ok time from London to Vladivostock (Seen on the HUBB). Nice simple, cheap bike the DR350 and 650. Likely boils down to how much $$$ you want to spend.

    You know Charlie and Ewan seemed to have a relativley stress free journey with 2 trucks behind them...

    I did a few trips to S America with on old Japanese street bikes that I built from the frame up, alleviating many suprises during the trip. I don't mean built as in prepared for adventure travel, but just replacing all the bearings, bushings, seals, filters, connections, etc. Take an old XJ650 Seca, shaft drive with 20,000 kms on the clock. Get a spare regulator/rectifier, CDI unit, pulse coils, and ignition coils. Give it a good thick paint job with a wide brush and roller. Keep the oil changed, ride it nice. No problems at all...total cost under $700. Pretty stress free.

    I find it hard to reccomend modern machines due to the complexity of them. With all the electronics, sensors, injectors, fuel maps, special tires, rims, oils, filters, on and on and on....I find the prospect of riding one of these machines into the outback a bit frightening. I personally met loads of people in the Americas waiting on parts from LA or Munich. Guys feeding their GS650's fuel full of dirt and water. Bad performance, bad idle, overheating, stalling issues, poor mapping etc. Tubless spoked rims that bend/break and you can't fix them. $800 for a new rim.

    On a funny note, I seen a guy wearing a brand new $1200 BMW jacket and the zipper broke! :roflSorry, that just came to mind...



    #56
  17. jayincanada

    jayincanada Adventurer

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    Yeah, I rememer that write up with Carla as well. Funny as hell. It was on the HUBB, no? Back when Ural was sort of transforming their image to a more civilized product!
    #57
  18. TallRob

    TallRob Long timer

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    I would like a "Beware of Doug" T-shirt with a Photo of Doug wearing TP on his head on it.........That would RULE!
    #58
  19. Muskoka

    Muskoka Traveler Relations

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    The Shrek bike is great, what a hoot!





    I also have to point out the lovely Colorado License Plate! Cool to see someone from my home state represented in your trip, what a wonderfully small world we live in!


    Great trip report, thanks much for sharing with us!
    #59
  20. rtwdoug

    rtwdoug prominent underachiever Supporter

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    the COLO plate just means it was imported from the US, & they never bothered to register it in russia :D
    most of the wings, & alot of the sport & cruiser bikes are US imports, theres also alot of bikes imported from Japan.

    That place in Moscow is called Sparrow Hills, Its a very popular bike hangout. In june, the sun doesnt set til about 1am, & its crowded til then almost every night.

    Doug
    #60