USCA Sidecar Forum

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suggestions for rigs

I am 57 years old and have not been on a bike in about 15 years. In fact, I finally gave my Triumph to my stepson a couple of years ago. My new interest in motorcyling came about when I saw a Ural sidecar rig. I definitly liked that older, classic look of the Ural and I know that is what I want in a rig. The first obvious choice would be a Ural, but I'm not sure of its dependability and I'm not much of a mechanic, especially out on the road. I have not seen a used one with more than a couple of thousand miles on it, which makes me wonder. But it is also the only bike with reverse, and it seems like that would be handy at times in a sidecar rig. Any opinions on the Ural? The alternative is to plut togetnher a rig. I like the classic looks of the Royal Enfield but am afraid of the same dependability probem being a design from the fifties, as well a probably being underpowered. BMW's, even used, seem overly expensive. I've seen some Kawasaki KZ's (police models) from the late seventies that look good and are resonably priced. Also, I've thought about Suzuki Savage but wondered if it would be underpowered, and how to cover up all that damned chrome. And, HD Sportsters? How would any of these work as a sidecar rig? Would anyone have another suggestion? As far as sidecars are concerned, I like the looks of the Ural type as well as the Cosey. Any suggestons here would also be appreciated. The rig will mostly be used around western PA for weekend fun rides and photographic excursions on secondary roads with occaational runs on expressways only as necessary to get where I need to go. I would appreciate any expert and experienced advice to keep me from having to do this two or three times befor getting right. Thanks. Doc.

Doc, You'll get a number of answers to your question and you should remember that they are all opinions, it's up to you to sort them out and decide which to keep and which to ignore. Here's mine... I've never had a Ural motorcycle but I've hung out with the Ural group for a while. They seem to fall into two catagories, folks who have their Urals up for sale and folks who share a sort of perverse pride in constantly tinkering with their bikes to keep them going. To my mind, they are just fine for their intended purpose, low speed transporation on bad roads. They do require a lot of attention but they can be made to run. They aren't fast (sustained freeway travel is supposed to be possible with the newest models) but they are very simple and easy to fix. If you go with a Ural, hook up with the Ural message board and follow their advice for stuff to do to you bike as soon as yuou get it. You will probably want to clean and tighten all the electrical connections (and maybe apply a little dielectric grease), replace as many of the Russian fasteners as you can, check EVERY nut and bolt on the bike for torque and above all follow the recommendations for break in. Urals are very particular about how they are broken in.Anything that you can think about that's negative about a Ural is true of the Enfield only in SPADES!I have a BMW/2 conversion bike with a Ural sidecar. It has an engine from a '74 R90 in it and it is a fun rig to ride that gets a lot of positive comment. It is not however a bike that you can comfortably take out on the freeway for extended trips. It tops out at about an indicated 68 mph and when you're going that fast, it is stable on the road but requires your full attention. A few hours of riding like that can wear you out. Still, it's hard to beat for the sort of thing you described. It's great around town and really dependable. By that I don't mean that it is the sort of rig I'd want to cross the desert on but rather that you can depend on it to act the same way each time under the same conditions. If you know how your rig is going to function in a given circumstance, you get used to making allowances for it. I know that if I forget and leave the headlight on with the bike stopped for more than an hour, I will have to kick start the bike... that sort of thing. The rig is easy to work on and you can get anything you want in the way of parts. I have nothing bad to say about the Ural sidecar other than my trunk does leak a bit in a hard rain but new seals would fix that.What does it cost?? I hate to talk about that part but here goes, I bought the bike and sidecar for $5k (6+ years ago). I put about $3k into it before I got it to run and handle the way I wanted. Since then I've put that much again into making it look better and it's care and feeding over the past 6 years. I believe that you can get a reasonable BMW/2 conversion rig for under $10k that you won't have to sink a bunch of money into. BTW, the Cozy sidecar is a small and not really well made copy of a Steib, for that matter, that description could fit a Ural sidecar as well but the differece is that the Ural is a substantial device, made to take a beating. By comparison, the Cozy is lightly constructed and poorly finished with a frame made of small diameter tubing.Save you pennies and buy the real thing, quality is a joy forever. But remember, that's just my opinion.

I have a mint Sportster for sale for $7,500.00 attached to a new 562 Sidecar with all accessories included. See pics at'ns Hacks. About $650.00 freight gets it to your driveway.

You mentioned the Kawasaki KZs. If that style is to your liking I would bet the price would be pretty good. The older Japanese bikes are a pretty good bargain for what they are. I have had two XS1100 Yamahas with hacks mounted to them , still have one, and cannot really complain about them. Of course if you want to change the style on most sny of these type bikes it can be dione with a little bit of fender swapping and such.
The XS650 Yamaha is also a good bet but is down on power a little for too much super slab running. Good machine though that can be transformed to a neat retro machine fairly easy. I had one of these with a Velorex on it that took me all over the east coast.
Doc you have asked a tough question here. The answer will ultimatley have to come from you after mulling over the options, of which there are many.

Doc. I am 55 and just bought my first rig. I shopped and read as much as as I could about sidecars for the past year. I was set on the Ural, but as the year wore on I felt that the Ural was asking for trouble. The parts come from Russia, the overall quality has improved, power has increased,it has great retro factor, but it is an improved 1939 bike with 1939 technology. Probably an ok choice, my advice is to buy the latest technology you can afford. Jap bike, 900cc or better, well matched sidecar by weight. I can tell you there are rigs like that for sale. Was told by a Guzzi dealer to get used not new due to cost, you can always move up when you have some more experience. My opinion, good luck, Dennis

Hi Dennis;

I suspect your Guzzi dealer was right, as to buying used versus new. Of course, that's a subjective question that each person must work out for himself, but with the incredible advances in recent technology (disc brakes, electronic ignition, better fuel delivery), a good used bike makes sense.

Add to that the fact that many used bikes may have very few miles on them, relatively, and have already been subjected to that first one or two year huge depreciation in value; and I will seriously consider used for my next bike purchase.

And too though, while the Ural is a reverse engineered BMW (isn't it?) with 1939 technology, they have added many newer updates, like stronger alternators and such-like. I suspect that today, even with their limitations, they're well above the joys (!) we experienced with Brit-bikes back in the sixties/seventies. But even at that, if I were to consider the Ural, or the Royal Enfield, I'd go for the newest version available.

On the other hand, super-slab speeds have risen to new heights, so that a bike needs to be able to cruise for hours and hours at speeds in excess of 70 or even 80 mph, just to be safe in traffic (no one wants to get rear-ended by a car or truck speeding at 85 mph, but bikes simply aren't as visible to cage-drivers, as cars are, so I believe the bike needs to be able to keep up, if at all possible).

I can recall a time when 10,000 miles on an air-cooled motorcycle engine meant, for all practical purposes, 'worn-out'. Today, many bikes are capable of engine lives in excess of 100,000 miles, and even at that, may have had only two or three spark-plug changes and a carb-sync a few times.

We live in great times for motorcycling, don't we?

Hey....have a good one and we'll catch you later!


If you are interested in the retro look you might want to consider the Kawasaki W650 - the Triumph look-alike. I just mated my W650 to a Velorex 700 sidecar and the combination works very well. I remember when I got the W650 people used to walk over in parking lots to compliment me on my restoration skills, of which I have exactly zero.

I have a used 2000 Ural which I enjoy riding, working on, and working on... But they can be like a Red Headed Woman with a hang-over at times... (The bike I had set-up for over 2 years so it's got a few bugs) And it gives me an excuse to get out of house after dinner...

The parts are here in the states. And with the IMWA comes with a 2 year parts and labor, un-limited mileage warranty I think it's a good deal... I am thinking about buying a new Ural, so I wrote the company about how I could obtain warranty work locally; they sent me a form that would pay a local bike shop to do the work; have to get approval if over certain $ mark... (There is no IMWA dealer within 8 hours drive of me) In the spring I may trade the one I have in for a new one...

There are a few spare parts that I would recommend that you carry/have on hand, because the dealer network is still in development, if I knew more about motors, think I would try for a part-time dealership.

And also I would recommend that you try to get one with the "newer" 750 motor!!!

I like the looks of the Reto Model only change I would make would be to remove the rear seat. I know I'm going to get blasted by a dealer for saying this but the New Reto model with sidecar is due into port sometime this month... So I don't belive they will be on the dealer's floor until Feb. or March... The Solo's got here last part of Oct. or 1st part of Nov. and they are hitting the floors now. (The transportation system can be slower during winter months.)

I would also recommend that you join the Web Board @ and ask any question you may have about the bikes...

I would also suggest you visit there are owners in your state who will be more than will to talk to you about the bike. And maybe take you on a ride...

"Through the Grace of God long time friend of Bill W."