Ural Motorcycles today announced the first-ever Ural sidecar electric prototype. The concept was developed as a collaboration between Ural, Zero Motorcycles, and ICG, a Southern California design firm that's worked with clients such as Ford, Mahindra, Honda, and SpaceX among others.

There are no concrete plans to bring the electric to market yet. However, Ural does say in press material that a production version may be forthcoming following further market research, consumer and industry insider feedback. If the company does decide to pursue the project, expect at least two years in development before assembly lines and final design specs are green-lighted. It's going to be a while, in other words.

Ural Electric concept
The Ural Electric concept looks just about the same as any of the current models in the company’s line.Ural

The electric motorcycle segment/industry as a whole is a tricky one these days. Some are going at it full force, like Harley-Davidson with a production LiveWire debuting next year. Zero Motorcycles, too, has maintained a steady presence in the space for years now, every year showing further developments in battery and motor technology. Energica is another to keep an eye on, as it supplies the machines for the new MotoE championship in MotoGP next year.

Ural Electric concept
A low center of gravity and optimized stability promise to make the electric Ural a lot of fun to ride.Ural

But we can’t forget the likes of Brammo and Alta, both companies succumbing to the difficulties of cost of research and limited market. Perhaps the tide is shifting and Alta may yet find funding to pull through, but it remains a fickle market all the same.

Ural Electric concept
Ural teamed with Zero Motorcycles for battery and motor guidance on the project.Ural

Which is why Ural is treading lightly into the fray. Here’s Ural VP of Operations, and Project Manager for the electric concept’s development, Jason Rae:

“Proof of concept was the main goal for this project. We went through several iterations, searching for the best configuration of the electric powertrain package. One of the main challenges was to find the optimal location for the batteries while maintaining passenger comfort, storage capacity, and stability distinctive to Ural sidecars. The bike was tested intensively in a real-world conditions—in the rain and snow, on cold and hot days, on the highway and city streets. We accumulated a lot of data that will be used in the next phase of the project. Admittedly, I was apprehensive in the beginning that an electric Ural was something worth putting our resources into, but now I’m totally convinced and looking forward to development of our production intent prototype.”

Ural Electric concept
As battery performance improves, Ural is likely to be much more keen to make this a production model.Ural

The machine itself was designed around the existing one-wheel-drive cT chassis. That setup comes with an IMZ leading link fork, double-sided swingarm with Sachs shocks, a Sachs shock on the sidecar as well, 18-inch wheels with steel spoke rims, and Brembo braking calipers. Its 5-gallon tank is estimated to achieve up to 185 miles between fill-ups too, an important benchmark to note when thinking about the turn to electric.

Ural Electric concept
Range might not be there yet, but power and pull are increased over the gas-powered version.Ural

The ZF13.0 and ZF6.5 powerpacks operates the Z-Force 75-7 permanent magnet brushless motor, and as tested yielded up to 103 miles between charges. There’s an estimated 60 hp available at 5,300 rpm with the electric configuration, and 81 pound-feet of torque. These are markedly better than the petrol-powered version, which offers 41 hp at 5,500 rpm and 42 pound-feet torque at 4,300 rpm. Ural also notes that any forthcoming production prototypes will utilize newer batteries from Zero, so stand to have better maximum capacity and range. Zero design allows users to plug in for a charge to any household socket and get max capacity overnight. There’s also a new 6-kilowatt Charge Tank that decreases charge time by six times, providing a 0–95-percent capacity charge in close to two hours. As we noted above, every year the tech gets better and better.

Ural Electric concept
A quiet ride on a Ural may be available sooner than you think.Ural

Which is what makes this moment so interesting. Perhaps we’re finally reaching the threshold of performance where major manufacturers start to seriously consider adding EV bikes to the line. Harley certainly did and now Ural is making similar moves as H-D was back in 2014 with its first LiveWire.

Ural Electric concept
Having a friend join the ride is what makes these Ural models so appealing to some.Ural

We’ll give the final thought to Ural President and CEO Ilya Khait, who offered these remarks in a company release:

“We always knew our sidecar is the perfect platform to build an electric motorcycle because it can offer what regular two-wheeled motorcycles can’t: passenger comfort, stability, and safety, not to mention more space for batteries. We’re very happy with the results. At a glance it’s still a Ural, but the electric bike offers a totally new experience. It’s very easy to control, thanks to a low center of gravity and optimal weight distribution. It’s very stable thanks to its three wheels. It doesn’t have a clutch or gear shifter; twisting the throttle is basically all you need to operate the bike. And it accelerates very quickly—for a Ural.… Overall it’s a fun and very versatile vehicle that you can use almost like a car.”