A lot of manufacturers make sidecars for their motorcycles, including (at least until recently) Harley-Davidson. Ural makes sidecar motorcycles. The company, based in Irbit, Russia, has been producing these machines since the early days of World War II, 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 fight against Hitler’s invading forces. Based on a late 1930s BMW sidecar bike, the Russian motorcycle was made in the Ural mountains—hence the company name—for military use only until the mid-1950s. Ural began exporting its retro-styled three-wheel bikes to the United States in 1993, finding a boutique niche that has kept it in business. No longer mass-produced workhorses carrying machine guns—or loads of hay—over rough or nonexistent roads, Ural sidecar motorcycles are now made by hand by a crew of 150 people in Irbit. The 2007 Patrol 750 is one of the company’s two-wheel-drive vehicles.
Like all of Ural’s motorcycles, it is powered by an air-cooled, 749cc, horizontally opposed two-cylinder four-stroke engine, with an overhead cam valve configuration and dual Keihin carburetors. The front suspension is a leading link fork; the rear is a twin-sided swing arm with a spring preload shock—and it’s worth noting that these machines are notorious for their stiff suspension. The Patrol may not give a driver or passenger a soft, plush ride, but the suspension is ideally suited to Forest Service tracks, and your camping gear will fit into the sidecar. The five-speed transmission works with a crossover drive shaft; two-wheel drive, which also transfers power to the sidecar’s wheel, can be manually engaged. A Brembo hydraulic disc provides stopping power in front; the rear brakes for both the motorcycle and the sidecar are drums. Since the Patrol has a top speed of about 60 miles an hour, the brakes, though limited, are generally adequate.
It comes in just three colors: black, dark blue, and forest green. A multitude of accessories are available, ranging from a sidecar tonneau cover to a NATO luggage rack for the spare wheel. For those who are serious about using the bike as an off-road vehicle, Ural offers an ""adventure package"" that makes a number of modifications.
The Ural Patrol is perhaps not the most practical vehicle one could choose. Ural’s modern-day bikes are known for requiring almost constant maintenance, though the company has upgraded many components since 2001. Fans say that the maintenance is easy and parts are inexpensive, and a passionate corps of enthusiasts are ready to offer knowledgeable assistance. The sidecar rig makes operating a Patrol a very different experience from riding a two-wheel motorcycle, and training is advisable. But those who love these machines love them for their unique look, heritage, quirkiness, and romance.