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 with 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.
Like all of Ural’s motorcycles, the 2007 Ural Retro 750 is powered by an air-cooled, 749cc, horizontally opposed two-cylinder four-stroke engine, with an overhead cam valve configuration and dual Keihin carburetors. This particular machine is available both as a solo bike and with a sidecar. The front suspension is a telescopic fork; the rear is a twin-sided swing arm with a spring preload shock. The four-speed transmission works with a shaft final drive. A Brembo hydraulic disc provides stopping power in front; a drum rear brake stops both the motorcycle and the sidecar.
It comes in black with white pinstriping that underscores its retro 1930s look. 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 interested in using the bike as an off-road vehicle, Ural offers an ""adventure package"" that makes a number of modifications, but the stock Retro is intended for city use. Its ground clearance is just 5.5 inches, and the sidecar also sits low to the ground.
The sidecar rig makes operating a Retro very different from riding a two-wheel motorcycle, and training is advisable. Women who have spent a lot of miles riding pillion behind their partners mention that riding in the sidecar lets them see the scenery instead of their partners’ backs. Owners appreciate the Retro’s old-fashioned charm and looks and recommend allowing extra time for every errand, because passers-by have so many questions and comments.