Ural ST realizes 60-year-old 2-wheel ambition

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After Word War Two, the engineers at Ural dreamt of tearing off the sidecars and building high performance solo motorcycles. But, Soviet police were afraid of the proletariat evading them on vehicles faster than their own sidecars and banned the production of two-wheelers. Finally, 60 years later, the Ural ST realizes that dream.
The name “ST” stands for Solo T, with the Ural T being the company’s
new no-frills, one-wheel drive sidecar. Like that bike, the ST makes
use of traditional Ural values — flat-twin engine with roller bearings,
low center-of-gravity, shaft drive and solid frame – but reworks the
rest to better suit the specific needs of a two-wheeler.

Gone are the leading-link front forks, which are too rigid and steep,
replaced with 41mm Marzocchi telescopics with a hefty brace over the
chopped front fender. New triple clamps rake the front out to 26° with a trail of 70mm, allowing a lower stance. The front brake disc, four-pot Brembo calipers
and braided steel line are taken directly off the T, which weighs
245lbs more. Without the sidecar making things lively, there’s no need
for a steering damper on the ST.

At the rear, there’s new, softer Sachs shocks now mounted at an angle
as opposed to the near-vertical items on the sidecars. On this
prototype you can still see the original mounts about an inch and a
half behind the new ones. The 3.89 final drive and rear disc come
straight off the now defunct Ural Wolf cruiser. Visual upgrades come in
the form of a chopped rear fender and a deleted grab handle, which is
no longer required to get the lighter bike on its center stand.

The EPA-compliant 750cc horizontal-twin delivers 40bhp at 5,600rpm,
38lb/ft of torque at 4,600rpm and is now located centrally in the frame
(sidecars mount their engines a little to the right for better weight
distribution). Without the weight of the sidecar to haul around, the
electronic ignition-equipped ST is able to run leaner jetting resulting
in improved fuel economy. Expect around 40mpg. The engine is now
protected by crash guards on both sides. The gearbox is the same
four-speed unit with Herzog gears that’s found in the T, but here drops
the now unnecessary reverse gear.

Ural estimates that the ST should be capable of around 100mph and,
thanks to a relatively short wheelbase of 1470mm (20mm shorter than the
Triumph Bonneville) and an extremely low center-of-gravity is described
as “nimble” and quick to turn.

Ural has built motorcycles without sidecars before of course, but they’ve either been solo versions of bikes built for sidecars or the Wolf, which was an unconvincing, Harley-style cruiser. The ST is the first bike from Ural designed specifically to work well as a two-wheeler.

At 460lbs (dry) the Ural ST is a little heavier than the competition
from Triumph (440lbs) and Moto Guzzi (401lbs). At 40bhp it’s also less
powerful than the 67bhp Bonneville or the 48bhp V7 Classic. It does,
however, have one important thing going for it that those bikes do not.
Ural has been producing fundamentally the same bike, a reverse
engineered BMW R71, since 1941 and continues to produce motorcycles by
hand at its second factory (dating from a positively recent 1942) in
Irbit, Russia. The Ural ST may be a new model, but it’s not a retro,
it’s a realization of a 60-year-old dream built using essentially the
same components that would have been used back then. The Ural ST isn’t
a modern bike trying to recapture a bygone era, it’s a bike from the
past being produced right now.

The Ural ST you see in these photos is a prototype. To help facilitate completion of the new model, Ural has stated that any rider in the greater Seattle area can go ride the ST and give development feedback. Expect a different
seat and other detail changes by the time it goes on sale early next
year for around $8,000. Look for our review in the next few days and a
film shortly after that.


  • nollid51

    You would think their production costs would be a lot lower from producing these things for 60 years. How can they keep a straight face when they ask for $8000 dollars for something that probably costs next to nothing to make?

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      Because Urals are hand-made, for start. Also, because they’re built by hand, they’re produced in very low numbers, which means the raw materials, production and shipping costs are actually quite considerable.

    • Ceolwulf

      Modern production methods and equipment also significantly lowers costs. I would expect considerably more labour goes into one of these than most of its competitors.

  • Ilya Khait

    Wes and Grant, thanks for the feature.
    Those who are interested in participating in the development of this project, please send e-mail to David George at david@imz-ural.com and schedule your test-ride.


  • IK

    I think, Grant, you overstretched authenticity theme a bit. Nowdays Urals are essentially built from the same components (forks, shocks, brakes, controls, electricals etc.) as other bikes on the market, except, of course, authentically Russian tubes and sheet metall. So the real question is, if low-volume Ural can sell the bike profitably for $8K or less, why somewhat higher-volume Guzzis and Bonnies are so expensive? :-)

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      I didn’t mean that Ural built all of the ST from scratch under the factory roof, (they used to, though). I’m still betting Ural pays more for the same shocks, electricals, etc., than Moto Guzzi or Triumph simply because Ural buys in such lower quantity.

      That said, Ural isn’t paying for modern tooling to be developed or new facilities that aren’t in the middle of nowhere. Not to mention that Ural has a virtually non-existent marketing and advertising cost in comparison to either Triumph or Moto Guzzi. Those hidden costs have to be covered through the cost of the machines.

      • IK

        Sorry, Grant, but looking on the V7 or, let say, Scrambler, you wouldn’t say they build their bikes with significantly more modern tooling than Ural.
        Also from what I know, combined sales of Guzzi and Aprilia in 2008 in the US (on-road segment) were 1200-1300 units compare to Ural’s 400-500. Which raises the question, does Guzzi/Apprilia spend too much on marketing and advertising, or is Ural too smart? :-)

  • Roman

    Thanks for the write-up. Too bad they’re not offering test rides closer to Philly, I woulde’ve jumped on it. West Coasters get to have all the fun.

  • Hiwatt Scott

    This bike needs to sell for about $5000 to make any kind of sense to any one not possessing some sort of soft spot for Russian motorcycles.

  • http://myroyalenfields.blogspot.com Jorge Pullin

    Thanks for the update. How true is the story of the ban on solo motorcycles? There certainly were solo Ural motorcycles in the USSR in the 1960′s. Was the ban perhaps during the first years after the war? It is an interesting story, do you have any more info about it?


    • IK

      It’s 100% true. You could only get motorcycles with under 350cc engine. Only IZH, Jawa, CZ and Voskhod – all of them 350cc or smaller – were legally available to the general public. Of course, you could take the sidecar off a Ural …

  • barry c

    Ural only sells 800-900 sidecars, and around 25 solo bikes a year, worldwide. And don’t forget they are built in Siberia, shipping costs must be considered. Google map Irbit, Russia, you’ll get the idea.

  • Clifton Palmer McLendon

    Surely Ural can do better for a name than ST.

    When George Eastman wanted to name the camera he designed, he made up a distinctive name that was easily said and spelled: KODAK.

    Here is a distinctive name that is easily said and spelled, sounds Russian, and is an inside joke among Urallers as well: ARPOK.

    Let’s get Ural to call the new machine the Arpok.

  • SPR

    4:50pm 9/17/09 I just took a ride on the prototype Ural ST. Now I’m no professional test rider or anything, but I wasn’t going to turn down an offer to take the bike out for a little pleasure cruise. I found this motorcycle just down right pleasant. I had it on two different freeways at alternating speeds, and cruised some of the back streets in and around Kirkland and Redmond WA. Low speed stability is incredible, and it had enough punch to pass an irritating semi truck on the I-405. It wasn’t like the power of my big cruiser but I was definitely surprised. Seating position was comfortable for my 5’9” frame, even though I was slightly on my toes when waiting at a stoplight. The clutch was easy to hold at a long traffic light until I clicked it into neutral which was also easy to find. The shifting was positive (almost a clunk) but I knew I was in gear. Breaking is really good and it seemed to handle fine at all speeds. With the upright seating position, and the mid mount controls I would bet you wouldn’t get too fatigued on a long ride either. If I was going to buy another bike for commuting or putting around on the weekends Ural has got my attention. Or maybe I’m just easy to impress.

  • SGW

    IMZ’s first dedicated production solo was the M-52 of the late 1950s. They’ve sold both a Solo and Solo Classic in Europe and developed the Cobra, Voyage, Wolf and Retro solo. So that makes seven solo models prior to the ST (and that’s not counting solo versions of the M-63 and M-67 for RHD countries).

    As to fundamentaly the same bike as an R71 – WTF? Different frame, different engine, different gearbox, different wheels, different bodywork, but still fundamentally the same?

    As to IMZ building ALL their components, it’s never been the case. Electrics, tyres, bearings etc have always been bought in. They didn’t even make their own sidecar until 1947.

  • eric engler

    Some of these comments really miss the point. The general public doesn’t fully appreciate what Ural has been able to do in recent years. While Ural has been refining just a few models, the major manufacturers have been competing with each other, cranking out new models and color schemes every year. Check any source (NADA price guide, for example) to see how many models Harley is producing. Lots of models, but how different are they? Apparently riders want to see something new every year, whether the changes are actually significant or not. It is expensive and labor intensive for Ural to build so few bikes, but they take the time to build them well. Ural is now producing motorcycles which have a long list of high quality components carefully selected from many countries. The Ural is truly a Global Utility Vehicle. It is not designed to win beauty contests nor to run with the superbikes. It is rugged, reliable and now, with the ST, we are offered an honest highway capable ride. All this has been accomplished by dedicated and experienced technicians without the benefit of the modern facilites available to the big manuacturers. Would any of you care to relocate to Irbit in time for the Siberian winter and build a bike for me? Let’s give Ural the credit they deserve for launching an interesting new motorcycle at a time when the overall US motorcycle market is down so dramatically from previous sales levels. It takes guts!

    • IK

      In guts we trust!

  • Sidehackern8

    Another way of looking at it is, how much would you spend on a vintage Beemer that ran as well? A lot more than $8,000. Hey guys, how was it on dirt? I would love to get something “vintage” for fire trailing/ scrambler duty.

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  • sagerat

    I’ve got a 2004 Ural Tourist and 2006 Moto Guzzi Breva and a I had a ’75 BMW R90/6. For years I’ve lusted after a Ural Retro Solo.

    Now with that out of the way, I am very excited about this offering. Urals have come a long way in terms of quality. My buddy’s ’05 Tourist is better than my ’04 and a friend’s ’06 Gear Up has more improvements than the ’05 Tourist.

    Yes, the price is a skoosh high, but Ural doesn’t have the volume to get a lower price. To me the obvious rival would a Royal Enfield, but the RE is a chain-driven single cylinder. Give me a shaft drive boxer twin over a thumper any day in terms of ease of maintenance and smooth performance. Not a knock on the RE, which are neat bikes.

    Plus notice disc brakes front and rear on the Ural.

  • http://twitter.com/greatistheworld will

    It’s an old Mossberg pump of motorcycles.

  • ISellMotorcycles

    I agree completely with Sagerat. If I were looking to purchase a Ural, the Royal Enfield would probably be this bikes only competition. If not, please enlighten me. The price tag does not seem over done at all. Keep in mind that a Shadow 750 is $7999. I would much rather throw my money at a bike with some authentic vintage flair.

    This group definately missed the point. URAL IS MAKING A SOLO MOTORCYCLE!! Who cares how much it costs. Go buy one and quit making Grant and Wes defend themselves against these insignificant inconsistenses.

  • http://www.f2motorcycles.ltd.uk David Angel

    I’ve been riding Urals (solo and with sidecar) for over 20 years. I also run F2 Motorcycles in the UK. Some of you may even have heard of me, but that’s not the point. I have spent 20 odd years dealing with, improving, preparing and selling Urals. I love the old bikes and I love the new bikes but there is a huge difference. In the old days Ural produced a bike for a price. A few years ago they stopped doing this and started producing bikes to a standard. The new Urals are a lot of money, but they are so much better than they were in the 1970s 80′s and 90′s. We used to joke that the sidecar was for carrying all the spares, now we use the sidecar to carry friends, dogs, camping gear, and just about anything except spares. Do you really want a $5000 bike you can never use and have to fix every time you ride it or do you want a $8000 bike you can ride everyday and not worry about every time you plan a tour ?? I genuinely miss the old Soviet style bikes and I still have an original 1970′s one for nostalgia, BUT, and this is the point, if I want to actually go anywhere I ride my new one. Honestly, pick a decent dealer who preps the bike well, hand over your money and start enjoying Urals as they should have been 20 years ago.

  • Dennis

    What’s a good price for the Ural Patrol ’09?
    A dealer 200 miles away from me quotes: $12,999.00 (msrp) plus, seat upgrade ($70.00), trunk(boot) lock $69.00, side panels for the hack ($140.00), and a “National” windscreen for the bike itself ($170.00).
    Opinions, please?

    I unsettled giving msrp for anything let alone an unknown (to me) bike of uncertain quality and esstntially no service availability to me should the unit require any (any?). Parts? Where will I get parts? How long will it take to get parts? Geesh! And the dealer wants full MSRP?

    Lastly, opinions about Ural dealer(s) in NYS?

    • barry

      Traditionally dealers sell Urals for msrp, thats just the way it is on vehicles with low volume sales.

      One of the real advantages of a Ural is that they are so basic, it can be serviced, and maintained by somebody with no mechanical experience. Unlike most contemporary bikes, there is no need to do major tear down to access the filters, valves, carbs, or plugs.

      Included with each bike are the service, and repair manuals, plus a cd showing service, and setup procedures.

      The bikes come with a full tool kit, Tire irons, pressure gauge, patch kit, and pump. The only additional tools needed are a hammer, feeler gauge, and carb sync gauge.

      Parts are readily available through many well stocked dealers. When I have needed parts. or accessories, they are at My door in 2 days.

      It costs me less than $20 to do a service, and takes a little more than an hour.

  • Peter

    As the owner of an ’08 Patrol, I’m pretty excited about the ST! I have just picked up a Suzuki GS500 so I can teach myself the ways of 2 wheeling but will want something a bit more along my aesthetic eventually and Urals are it. They’re handsome, rugged bikes with approachable designs for rookie mechanics like me, and from the review at the Soviet Steeds forum it sounds like this bike is just a good thing all around.

    One of the things I like about riding is in the right setting, at the right speed, and on the right bike it’s just like you’re time travelling. The ST is a perfect bike to do a little bit of that, to me.

    I have to say I’m quite surprised at the 40mpg estimation in the above preview. Rig riders get used to ~25-33 mpg and I really thought that losing the sidecar would put it up more than ~15-7.

    Anyways, I’m looking forward to getting one of these in a couple of years. Good luck, IMZ-Ural!

  • http://www.us-identification.com Scott

    Aah, the Ural sT!

    “it’s a bike from the past being produced right now.”

    Ural/IMWA: Unbelieveable dealer and manufacturer support; fantastic user forums like Soviet Steeds, RI, CURD (Canadian URal/Dnper); a President that posts comments to readers and forums; back-to-basics repairability; and a product that turns heads and causes so much public interest that they have a term- UDF (Ural Delay Factor) which is what happens when you simply go out for milk at the store. So many people see and love the Ural and ask questions about it, that trip to the local store takes hours.

    When can I buy one, Ilya?

  • Clay

    I guess I’m not getting the point here, for $3500 you can pick up a 78-92 R100T/S/RS BMW. Quality German engineering, plenty of parts and support, not to mention 65-75 hp and the ability to cruise all day at 100 plus with no reliability issues. Will the Ural make 200K miles with just a spline lube and normal maintenance? My R100 has. Still runs like new.

  • sagerat

    Well, the supply of used airheads is limited and while I love ‘em, let’s not forget they can have woes with splines, valves, and just the general wear and tear of a nearly 30-year-old bike.

    Cruise all day at 100 plus? Well, one I really don’t think that’s going to happen mechanically, and two, unless you’re doing laps of Nevada or Montana exactly where would you attempt such a feat?

    The Ural ST has enough oomph to go all day long at legal speeds.

  • Rob Bishop

    Listen to Dave Angel, he knows his stuff. Its been a pleasure being a customer of his in the past.

  • http://kayakcanoeandpaddle.com/canoes/ Canoe

    Sorry, you obviously don’t understand much about this. Take in some books and try again. — Leave Britney alone!

  • BN

    Had a test ride on prototype 5 March as a early birthday present of sorts. It was easier to ride than my 300 cc 360 lb cruser. The center of gravity is lower than on mu parallel twin. Great to ride on city street and gravel parking lot. The dual purpose tires did fine on pavement as well as gravel. Also shifts waaay better than the ’05 Tourist. I want one in red with the new style mirrors like on the ’10 Patrol and wind screen.

  • Brett Vegas

    750cc horizontal-twin delivers 40bhp at 5,600rpm, 38lb/ft of torque at 4,600rpm and is now located centrally in the frame

    How much that thing weight agin.

    That thing runs cool. Probly loader up all day.
    That reminds me, I gotta do the spline lube on the big blue beemer. The old man let it sit for 8-10years, some dings-n-scraches, but Its only got like 4k-5k miles. Had to go through the fuel system, all that stuff. Heh, the tank had about 1/16th of rust all over the inside. Put rocks out of the tumbler in it, shook it around, got almost all of it out. Aluminum tank.
    Runs like a dream, fun riding big cop bikes. Everybody is real polite on the road, I think it’s the square headlight. Kinda like having somebody come up behind you in an LTD, or an Impala.

    I’d pay 8k for that thing, think I got 20 in the bank. 6k in real money. Wouldn’t spend the real money, push the beemer in the ditch. Or heck keep it, for when I want to ride a cop bike.

    I’ll get back to work, but my boss is at a trade show, so I think i’ll just slack off for the rest of the week. Cats away…


  • sean

    I guess the thing that has me scratching my head is there is onlya 2K difference between the ST (8K) and the T (10K)? It is better looking than the wolf was and considerably cheaper which is a start. scoots4u claims to have the ST available for 7K. Bad economy?

    I guess I look at it this way…. Lot lot production or not, it is being assembled in a depressed country. It is cool in the fact that it is tested and retro today looks and performance. But the 2010 HD Iron 883 is pretty kick ass in it’s own right, and is the exact same price. Given the choice between the two I would take the HD. Drop that price down to 6K? Now you have me considering it.

  • fazer6

    I like it. A lot.
    I also like the Retro Solo, but was it not really a “solo”, and just a Retro with the sidecar removed? Is it’s 2-wheeled capabilty compromised?

    I am much more likely to buy this @ $7k than $8k, so I’m happy to see the price dropped, and I wish Ural and IMZ the best, and a long and continuing life.

  • Yossef ben Abraham

    Sou apaixonado pelas motos URAL, e estou importando uma GEAR-UP 2010. Também gosto da URAL-WOLF, URAL-PATROL e agora da URAL-ST. Essas motos são muito resistentes, confiáveis e feitas para durar por muito e muito tempo.
    Parabéns à IMZ-URAL por confeccionar motos tão cobiçadas e resistentes.