Wednesday, November 23, 2011

What is he talking about?

Well, I just realized I talked a lot about my decision to get a Ural without really explaining what a Ural is.
I could explain it all detailed, with dates and such, citing numerous sources. Ya know...all scholarly. However, lots of others have done that. I'll give you links later if you want to go look at them. Here is the Monster-notes version.

The year was 1939. The Soviet Union had just entered a little dust-up with Finland and they found a lot of their equipment (tanks, trucks and even motorcycles) to be woefully inadequate for the battlefield. By the time they ended that lil skirmish, World War II proper was gathering steam with the Germans teaching the world a new word....Blitzkrieg.
They see us rolling...all over Poland.

Papa Stalin was both worried and impressed by how quickly the German forces where able to scoot around Poland and the rest of Europe. He mentioned to the Red Army Command that he sure wished that the Motherland had some better vehicles. So they went on a shopping spree. The Red Army managed to get their mitts on about 5 BMW R71 sidecar rigs through the Grey Market called Sweden.  They loved them. They did everything they wanted a military motorcycle to do. They where tough, fast (relatively), and able to handle the worst terrain. There was one lil hiccup.
BMW was a German manufacturer.
As in 'The Enemy'.
As in...they probably won't really be willing to ship war materials to their soon to be invadees.
So while the Generals where scrambling to figure out another option, a Russian engineer (Let's call him Ivan) said...
"No problem...I can make copy."
So with a flurry of wrenching and lots of squinting and Vodka...Ivan made copy.
Lots and lots of copies.
Lots and lots.
Well done Ivan....Well done indeed.

Within less than a year, they had a factory turning out hundreds of bikes right in Moscow. They called their copy the M-72. They even made the sidecar wheel drive, with a engage-able locking differential. Something the Germans added to the R75 they replaced the R71 with. As the Germans got better at blowing the crap out of countries, Papa Stalin got worried that Moscow was lil too close to the border. So they moved the factory up near the Ural mountains in Siberia to a small town called Irbit And they got down to to business of really working at making sidecar rigs.
They even built another factory in the Ukraine near the Dneper river to make EVEN more rigs.

After the war, the Soviet Union continued to make them off the same mold in both factories. In the '50s the factory in the Irbit began making some rigs for local use, while the factory in the Ukraine continued to make rigs for the Red Army exclusively. In 1953...they started exporting. In the '60s the Irbit factory was re-geared for making just civilian rigs.

The Irbit Factory is STILL making them. Sure, they have updated a lil, but mostly they are making a 1939 motorcycle still. Over and over.
So, a Ural is less a sidecar, and more a time machine.

If only we could hit 88 MPH!!!

I promised ya links.
Factory Site.
Another write-up.

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