Sidecar Scrambling – VIDEO: Wilkinson Bros
Our Russian sidecar motorcycles aren’t just novelties meant for parading about (though they do this quite well). While often our basic transportation, we don’t mind getting ‘em dirty and turning ‘em loose off road. Some folks may deem them anemic, but we’ve found there’s plenty of spirit in the throttle to have fun. Case in point: the story and video that follows…
If you want to literally rip through terra firma or get all Cyril Despres with your handlebars, pick your motorcycle accordingly. If you want to smoothly skitter across the rough stuff, or single-track your way across America without a heavy, steel mechanical appendage, then don’t buy a Ural and scoff at it afterward. It wouldn’t be fair.
Now, if you don’t mind a little motorized whimsy, or would enjoy finding yourself laughing at the required methods of problem solving that comes with the non-traditional geometry of a sidecar motorcycle, well, you’re in for a treat. That’s not to say you won’t be gritting your teeth, hanging a leg off and throttling out of danger like any other adventuresome motorcyclist. Risks are always present; no matter how fun or funny things get out there, we gotta respect them.
To those who are curious about the bikes and their performance, read on further below. For those who are curious about the location, let’s just say it’s in Central Indiana and we were lucky to get a tour in some areas by a representative of the land.
Some readers may wonder whether we used 2-wheel drive on the Ural Motorcycles, or if it was required. If anyone is interested in comparisons or curious about capabilities, scan our notes below:
The Green Bike:
This is a 2000 Ural Patrol. It’s 2WD equipped, but we did not engage the sidecar wheel during this ride/video. The engine is 650cc, just fine for these rough and confined locations. When riding to and from on the main roads, 55mph feels like you might be doing the engine a disservice. It’ll do it, but any higher and it feels like you’re doing something it isn’t meant for. It was using standard issue tires (on 19-inch wheels), so throw a set of knobbier tires on it and you’d see some higher roosts and quicker hill climbs.
The Red Bike:
This is a 2010 Ural Red October. It’s a limited edition model made to be lighter and more road-going than its rugged sidecar brethren. It’s geared a bit taller, the tub is lower, has 18-inch wheels and it’s 1WD only. These factors and a 750cc engine gives it some long legs, but as you can see, it’s still a blast on loose surfaces and able to lug through/over obstacles. Since this is mainly a road machine, we’re running the square profile and relatively slick Block K tires on front and back; we’re surprised at the traction we get through the wet, soft, gravely terrain. If you like this model but want a newer version, check out the 2015 Ural cT model with EFI and disc brakes all around (though the stock gearing may be lower).
Overall, the Urals are a blast. They feel strong, even if a bit heavy. Weight distribution and body positioning are waaaay different compared to our lifelong upbringing on non-sidecar motorcycles, but it’s an enjoyable challenge. With the weight being 700+ pounds, you tend to remind yourself not to be in a position to have it roll over on ya. At off-road speeds of 50+ mph, right-turn puddle dodging isn’t as hairy as one might think, but still something to be mindful of (the chair lifts quite easily on the Patrol, much sooner than the lower Red October).
As for the football catch at the end of the movie, the answer is, “first take.” Kid you not, after establishing a round-about area for how far to ride out to, we flipped the cameras on and Casey threw a long ball as Corey ran a route in the Red October. Boom!
The apparel we’re wearing is by ICON Motosports and ICON 1000: Variant helmets, Turnbuckle Skelly gloves, Beltway and Akorp jackets, and black Elsinore boots. All work comfortably well; even well enough to throw a touchdown pass. NOTE: Corey is wearing a pair of 10-dollar jeans with hand-painted stripes (no prison time was required to own them).
Stay tuned for more Good Spark adventures!
I loved the video! I am interested in a Ural Patrol but am wondering just how durable they are. A recent back surgery has just about taken me off my PC800 and DR350SE. I just don’t have the leg strength anymore, but can’t stand the thought of not riding.
How are the Urals holding up ? Thanks, Gil
Thanks, Gil! We use the heck out of our Urals and have had good luck so far. Of course, having a good service source nearby would provide some peace of mind for maintenance and guidance; we use Heindl Engineering in Eaton, Ohio. Durability shouldn’t be an issue if you aim for a 2007 and newer. If you can swing the cost, 2010 and newer would be even better. Perhaps more of a concern will be how the suspension affects your back, but I’m sure you’re already committed to a test ride before you buy. Good luck!
Nicely done fellas! That’s entertaining. Makes a good case for a hack.
Thanks, Chris. We’ll keep an eye out for one for you. 😉 -corey
Hi Guy’s .. Good work .. Man you Guy’s air them chair real easy .. I have only done it once here in Oz but want to do it more .. Any help at how to train to keep the chair in the Air .. Ya a great site ….
P.s :: if over in Oz come see us and ride on the OTHER SIDE .. LOL ….
Hey, Robert. Lifting the chair can be an effortless transition on right-hand turns if ya just let it come on up, then keep it high to go straight. If the chair is low, it’ll just pull you back down into the right turn. Once you get up to the balance point, it doesn’t take much input to steer n’ lean accordingly. 🙂 Thanks for stopping by Good Spark Garage! -corey @ GSG
Really great riding.Love the way you handel them hacks.I have a bonnie t100.Thinking of putting a car on it.Would like your oppinion..I am 66 years old. thanks.Keep up the great work.
Hey guys….daves son here….fun video to watch, makes me want to go jump on and ride somewhere. I recantly grabbed a 2012 gear up. Me and my 11 yr old ” counter weight” went on the loosenut dual sport weekend, had a hoot. Went through creek crossing , water almost to the heads……had to use the shovel to dig out the pipe when we got stuck once……had to use the gas can when we
ran out on way back to the camp…..a real blast these machines
Thanks, Bill. Glad you found a Gear-Up and have already been able to log some adventures! Sounds like the LooseNut was a great event to test its capabilities.
I have a 2007 Gear Up. My wife and I have ridden the entire WABCDR and upper half of IDBCDR on it. First half of IDBCDR on our 1200 GS Adv. two up. Love the side hack and we get lots of people stopping to look at it. Only beef is first gear too tall for some back country so need lots of clutch slipping and revving on some hills. I have had no issues with the Gear Up mechanically but I did wait for the 2007 to come out before I bought one. No longer a local dealer here so I do the maintenance on it but it is a simple design so good to go. A good, reliable bike.