Like other Ural sidecar cycles, the Ural Tourist was built to go anywhere it wants to go. There are plenty of added-on sidecars to any type bike you want, but Ural builds the only sidecar motorcycle. The company, based in Irbit, Russia, has been producing these machines since before the mid-1930s, when the Russian military decided that a sidecar motorcycle, capable of carrying two men and a machine gun over rough terrain, would be ideal in the upcoming issue with Germany's invading forces. Copied directly from 1930s BMW R71 plans, the Russian motorcycles were made in Moscow until the German army chose the capitol city as their destination. They then moved production to the Ural mountains and, well, you can guess the rest. Ural began exporting its three-wheel bikes to the United States in 1993, finding a quirky group of owners that have kept it in business. No longer factory mass-produced, these sidecar motorcycles are built from the ground up, by hand, by a small crew of 150 employees.
The Tourist's power-plant is an air-cooled, 749 cc, horizontally opposed, two-cylinder, four-stroke engine, with an overhead valve, fueled by dual Keihin carburetors. The five gallon fuel tank (with a half-gallon held in the reserve) will get you a lot farther than you might want to ride in one day. Reaching up to 40 miles per gallon combined, the bike and sidecar can easily make it 200 miles between fill-ups. However, the front suspension is a leading link fork and the rear is a twin-sided swing arm with a spring preload shock. Between the weight and wonky handling of this bike, 200 miles will absolutely wear you out.
The four-speed transmission works with a shaft final drive, which can be manually changed to also power the sidecar's rear wheel. A Brembo hydraulic disc provides stopping power in front; an IMZ rear drum brake stops both the motorcycle and the sidecar. Even though Brembo has a none-can-be-better name in brakes, this is still not a combination that gives the stopping power this bike needs. Give yourself plenty of stopping distance. With a top speed of 60 mph down-hill, this shouldn't be too difficult.
With 4.9 inches of ground clearance, the bike isn't really all that high off the ground to warrant off-road driving, but still its reputation has been as an all-terrain vehicle. The bike gets along fine in snow, mud, dirt, or on pavement. Not known for its reliability, the bike comes from the factory with its own tool box. You will of course add to it as your ownership progresses. Its simple design makes working on it easier than one might think. Parts are plentiful and inexpensive. If you decide to take a trip, you will soon learn part of the reason it can carry 1300 pounds is because it needs to haul around a lot of spare parts.