Ural motorcycles are made by IMZ-Ural, a Russian maker of motorcycles located in the town of Irbit in the Province Sverdlovsk, Russia. Traditionally, IMZ-Ural made heavy-duty sidecar motorcycles, but recently the company developed solo motorcycles for the western markets. The first Ural motorcycle was built in 1941, after the Soviet Union acquired the design and technology for BMW R71 to modernize its outdated fleet. Ural motorcycles have special off-road capabilities since they are built to endure the severe Russian climate and terrain.
During World War II, the Russians were preparing for a possible German invasion and needed a better military motorcycle. Ironically, the Germans had handed the designs and technology of a BMW sidecar called R71 to the Soviets when the countries signed a nonaggression pact in 1939.
The Soviets bought and reverse-engineered five BMW sidecars. They copied every detail to build their own engine and transmission. In 1941, they made the first prototypes of a sidecar called M-72, and Stalin himself approved the plans for mass production for the Red Army. Today, the factory keeps one of the five purchased BMW’s in its museum.
Ural Motorcycles Today
Most Ural motorcycles are heavy-duty sidecars designed for the difficult Russian terrain. Ural sidecar motorcycles feature an air-cooled flat-twin engines, four-speed transmission, reverse gear, spring shocks, drum brakes, and two-disc dry clutch. The manufacturer makes the engine, transmission, frame, wheels and sources components including the alternators, brakes, handlebar controls, and ignitions (Ducati Energia). Ural motorcycles have dealerships in many countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Spain.
Five main models are featured in the Web site of the official distributor of Ural sidecar motorcycles in the United States: Ural Retro, Ural Tourist, Ural Patrol, Ural Gear-Up, and Ural Taiga. The Taiga is featured in the beginning of this article, check out the other four below.