Monday, April 08, 2013

Russian Bike with German Bones

The fun vehicles came out of their winter hibernation today as spring made its belated debut. I had been wondering if I’d see something to put in The Garage, when this unusual motorcycle and sidecar appeared in our office parking lot. Fortunately, I was also able to meet and speak with the owner.
Jim Macdonald, who lives in Frederick, owns this 2012 Ural and drove it to Columbia today.  The Irbit Motor Works builds the Ural in Russia and is one of the only manufacturers of motorcycles with sidecars in the world. According to this story by Andrew E. Kramer in The New York Times, the retro looking bike is “a heavy, 40-horsepower motorcycle whose two cylinders jut sideways from the frame. It is modeled after a late-1930s BMW sidecar bike called the R71, which Nazi Germany provided to the Soviet Union after the countries signed a nonaggression pact in 1939. When the Nazis broke this pact and invaded, the Russians used the bike to fight them.”
It’s also proven to be quite popular with older cyclists.

“Irbit found salvation in an unlikely niche market: older American riders seeking utility, not thrills or spills. Suddenly the sidecar, a seemingly anachronistic product evoking a World War II newsreel, had a new life among the late middle-aged.”

Jim admitted that his Ural is a fair weather toy. That’s why it was out being played with today.

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