Motorcycles with sidecars are arguably seen more often in films about World War II then they are on the streets these days. However one company is working to change all of that. Based in Russia, but with an affiliate importer and distributor in the United States, Ural Motorcycles is a company on a mission to bring back the sidecar. Ural motorcycles are manufactured at the Irbit Motor Works Factory in Irbit, Russia in the Urals. The bikes began arriving in the United States back in 1993, at first in the Pacific Northwest. But while the Ural brand is still a relatively new name on the U.S. motorcycle market, the fact is that Irbit Motor Works has been churning out motorcycles with sidecars for decades. But like many Soviet-era enterprises, the company struggled to remain afloat for a time until it found salvation by tapping into an aging population of American motorcycle riders who are drawn to Ural’s retro styling and the utility and stability of a three-wheeled motorcycle with sidecar.
Originally the bike that became what we know of as the Ural was modeled after a BMW sidecar bike that was produced in the late-1930s, and called the R71. The Nazis provided the blueprints for that bike to the Soviet military when the two countries signed their nonaggression pact at the outset of the war. The Russians then began building their own version of the R71, the M-72, which they eventually used to fight the Germans when the pact dissolved. By the time the war ended, nearly 10,000 Ural sidecar models had been delivered to the front lines. Irbit continued building military models until 1955 and then shifted its focus to the civilian market. Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, it became more expensive for the company to produce bikes and sales fell sharply. In the 1990s Irbit shifted their focus to overseas sales. The imported sidecar bikes struck a chord with American bikers who liked the Ural’s retro design and even enjoyed the fact that there was a machine gun mount on the sidecar. The Ural has become particularly popular with couples that no longer want to ride on the same seat together. Today there are 48 dealers scattered across the United States who deal the 2012 Ural Tourist and other models produced by the Russian motorcycle manufacturer.
Closely based on Ural’s basic model, the T, the 2012 Ural Tourist is amongst the more affordable sidecar motorcycles the Russian manufacturer produces. The Tourist takes the basic framework of the T and equips it with such items as leading link forks, an electric starter and a kick-starter, electronic ignition, and a spacious trunk for storage. A versatile sidecar-equipped bike, the 2012 Ural Tourist boasts classic retro looks and comes in either red or black. It's powered by the same stout and reliable Boxer engine that other Urals are equipped with. Air-cooled and elegant to behold, the Boxer was designed to be a workhorse of an engine during the Soviet era and thus generates an abundance of low-end power with little need for maintenance. The Tourist also has great stopping power thanks to Brembo full floating disc brakes out front. Meanwhile the Sachs suspension helps absorb bumps and irregularities in the road. The heavy 40-horsepower Boxer engine that powers the 2012 Ural Tourist juts out sideways from the frame. For riders who are looking for an affordable means of entering into the world of sidecar motoring the 2012 Ural Tourist could be the ideal choice. With its classic-looking retro styling, adaptability, and selection of accessories, the 2012 Ural Tourist is a great bike for riders who want to share in the fun. The 2012 Ural Tourist is street legal in all 50 states. However it should be noted, that because the vehicle is classified as a motorcycle, there is no seat belt provided or required for the sidecar rider.