Ural sales up 39% in 2010

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“Urals are low-tech as they are based on 70-year-old technology,” says Madina Merzhoyeva, the better half of the team that runs Ural. “They are heavy as hell, thus you can only drive them at 65mph. they do have an electric starter now, but also the kick-starter — just in case. Disk brakes were adapted 20 years behind the industry and only for one of the three wheels. Urals are expensive too.” But in a year that saw motorcycle sales industry-wide plummet yet again, Ural sales are up. And not just a little bit, 39 percent year-on-year. Why?

“There are certain things you can do on a Ural which you can’t do with other motorcycles,” continues Madina. “You can drive them all-year round, on road or off-road. Snow, dirt, it doesn’t matter. You can drive your kids to school, go grocery shopping, cruise around the city or make a cross-country trip. You can fix a Ural on the side of the road, they are that simple.”

“But, who would have thought any of of this would attract customers these days?”

“We realize that we have seen some of the best results in the motorcycle industry in terms of growth over the last year, but our goal was to get back to the level of sales we had in 2008. We feel somewhat disappointed that we didn’t reach this goal and fell short of our pre-crisis results by 18 percent.”

“Ural is probably the only company in the industry which does not offer neither retail financing, nor flooring options to its dealers. But, we’re working with several lenders on retail financing. As for flooring – we offer great product, creative marketing, very flexible ordering process, and one of the best margins in the industry. We think it compensates very well for the lack of dealer financing, if you really dig into the numbers.”

Ural is also announcing new colors for its Patrol models, the orange, blue and desert camo you can see in the gallery.

“We believe, there are very few motorcycles out there which are as simple, fun to ride and at the same time as practical as Ural,” concluded Madina. “And this is what customers are looking for now.”

  • ike6116

    You watch the rest of the motorcycle industry rather than taking this to mean they should make rugged dependable motorcycles with high utility will take it to mean that they can skimp on technology and still sell bikes.

    • Steve

      Well, can’t they? Didn’t Suzuki make a bucket of money off the original Bandit 600 and 1200? Kawasaki apparently keeps in the black updating models such as the KLR and Concours once per decade. How long has the Hayabusa run, most of a decade with little change? I happen to like bikes that will do many things well, run a long time, and be generally low maintenance with good reliability. Bleeding edge tech bikes built with design factors of 1.01 win races. For my daily ride I’m happy with older, better proven tech. Manufacturing companies make their real money from early and late majority consumers. We need the innovators and early adopters to try and prove or disprove the new tech, but the pace of progress in motorcycle technology may have outpaced the innovation adoption curve for the last decade.

      • ike6116

        Carburetors simply shouldn’t be sold on anything produced in the modern era designed to move humans.

        • Ilya

          Well, some Ural owners ride with their dog in the sidecar. Is it OK to use carburetors in such cases?

          • ike6116

            NEVER!

        • markbvt

          Why not? Some of us like carbureted bikes. I have yet to ride a fuel-injected bike that has as smooth a roll on from closed throttle, for example, as my carbureted bikes do.

          I don’t really care whether a bike is carbureted or fuel-injected, as long as the fueling is well sorted. And it rarely is — but with carbs, at least I can tweak it myself for a few dollars worth of jets.

          • Steve

            Once upon a time, before the smog regulations got so strict, well set up carbs gave a great ride. My old Bandit 600 had carbs and were wonderfully smooth, esp off closed throttle as you mention. My 01 VFR with fuel injection on the other hand has crap fueling off closed throttle. No matter how smooth you are it still jerks from closed throttle, even now with a power commander.

            So I have no issues with this bike because of carbs.

  • slowtire

    The rest of the industry is in the toilet, but Urinal sales are up 39%. What a pisser.

    • Ilya

      Wow! Why are you so pissed?

  • slowestGSXRever

    Stupid question of the day: Can you even ride one of these without the side car?

    • markbvt

      You can if you buy the model that doesn’t come with a sidecar, but the ones with sidecars are specifically engineered to have the sidecar attached. Front suspension, etc, are different.

  • Terry

    LUV the Ural. Been wanting one for a couple of years now. Just not in the budget right now. I think about it a lot in the winter when the snow has been flying for a couple of weeks, like now. I always get smart-ass remarks at work in the winter from my co-workers like “did you ride your bike today” or “where’s that bike of yours now, huh?” I’d love to walk in covered in ice and snow and tell them my “bike” is parked out back. It would be a fun ride. Glad they’re hanging in there.

    • Steve

      How do dirt bikes do in the snow?

    • 2ndderivative

      I get questions along the lines of “didn’t you ride the bike today?”, and they’re quite earnest about it. I actually have to explain to them that things tend to get a bit wobbly on two wheels with 15 cm of snow, or that no amount of heated gear (not that I have any) can compensate for a -30 windchill. I’m sometimes surprised these people manage to tie their own shoelaces, let alone get a job at a research institute.

      • http://www.thisblueheaven.com Mark D

        When people ask me if I took my bike in to work, I generally reply, “No; did you take your boat out this weekend?”

        Of course, I’m riding past Thanksgiving, and starting mid-March; those soft-ass sailors don’t go out until mid-June!

  • rider33

    It’s a simple bike, that actually looks like a bike, that you can fix by the side of the road with a Swiss army knife. You can also carry your dog, you wife, an enough camping gear to last the better part of a month. Given that there are next to no other bikes that can do that sort of thing, particularly with tank-like build quality,
    Is it really surprising that they might be going well?

  • Trev

    I love the idea behind the ural, but I wish they sold some non-sidecar bikes. Even if that is not their “thing”, I would probably buy one.

    Hell, I wonder how much fabrication would take it to cleanly take off the sidecar; so it could turn into a cafe racer/street fighter…… hmmmm

    • Chris

      They do sell a non-sidecar bike — it’s called the Solo T (or ‘sT’).

      • Trev

        Welp, I am as stupid as they come. Thank you for pointing it out for me.

        Let me guess, many people have already turned them into Cafe Racers?

      • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Wes Siler

        Indeed they do, and here’s a link to original photography, an original film and a review of it:

        http://hellforleathermagazine.com/tagged/ural-st/

  • Mr.Paynter

    I wish we had a proper Ural Dealership in SA!
    We have a bike-and-side-car enthusiast who brings in a few every year but rather expensively! I’d kill to go see them in person.

    I’m actually planning a trip to Cape Town so I can rent and ride a old Chinese People’s Army CJ750 with Side-car… just because I wanna know how they ride!

  • http://www.smartcycleshopper.com/author/doug-dalsing/ DougD

    A motorcycle that I can drive in the snow does sound enticing; bicycling in the snow to work is a bit of a drag. Plus the Ural is Russian-chic!

    Hey—wait a minute. I thought HFL hates anachronistic motorcycles!? Do you like Urals because of the aforementioned Russian-chic-ness?

    • stempere

      I don’t think anachronistic motorcycles have ever been criticised here, at least not one with function or at least a chrome weight ratio under 75%…

  • ErikT

    I imagine some of the increase in sales can be attributed to the fact they have increased the number of retail dealers.

    I love the idea, but I would expect old-world technology to be a little more affordable. They HAVE been adding modern brakes & suspension parts, but retail for a Solo ST is pushing $8k with destination & a few small options (paint, etc).

    • http://hellforleathermagazine.com Grant Ray

      Urals are handmade, each machine taking around 3 days to complete. Show me another low quantity OEM offering a similarly rugged product in that price range that isn’t spit out by robots. Enfields are made by the thousands and still cost almost the same money, just without the level of componentry.

      • 2ndderivative

        What do you have against robots? Your reactionary, oppressive anti-robot bias sickens me.

        • ike6116

          kissing the robots ass so they spare you when they revolt eh? Smart move.