How Ural Came Up With The Yamal

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How Ural Came Up With The Yamal

Last year’s special edition Ural Yamal gathered much attention thanks to its flat orange paint and shark-toothed grin, but mostly for its inclusion of a sidecar-mounted oar. How did a Seattle-based company end up paying homage to an obscure Soviet icebreaker with a three-wheeled motorcycle? Here’s the inside story of how Ural came up with the Yamal.

“The bike was originally named the Taymr, after the northernmost peninsula in Russia,” explains Ural marketing director Madina Merzhoeva. “It was painted white, with the black bottom you see on the Yamal, but when it arrived in the crate from Irbit, it looked awful.”

How Ural Came Up With The Yamal
Ural Yamal (side)

Ural’s HQ is in Seattle, Washington (North America is its largest market), but the factory is in the tiny Siberian town of Irbit, Russia. That production facility is ancient and I don’t think they’d mind me describing it as “backwards” as well. Despite Madina and CEO Ilya Khait’s Russian birth, they often struggle to achieve predictable results from their team in Irbit.

“We couldn’t put it on sale like that, so we started casting about for ideas on how to fix it,” explains Ilya. “The factory mentioned they had a flat orange paint base laying around and so I started Googling and came across the Yamal ice breaker.”

How Ural Came Up With The Yamal
Ural Yamal (front)

The Yamal peninsula lies close to Taymr and the largest icebreaker ever made, the nuclear-powered NS Yamal, is named after it. It’s a neat looking ship, with a flat orange superstructure and black hull designed to slip through arctic ice sheets. A stylized shark mouth decorates its bow.

Equipped with an idea, a story and a whole bunch of orange paint, Ural was suddenly onto a visually-stunning special edition. But, it needed a little something extra to really capture attention. Something that could “troll” the Internet, according to Ilya.

How Ural Came Up With The Yamal
Ural Yamal (rear)

Shopping at a local WalMart, the pair came across a closeout sale on small wooden oars — $6 a piece. They picked up every single one at the store, painted survival instructions on the paddle’s blade (complete with humorous twist) and mounted it to the sidecar in place of the typical shovel. And that’s how the most popular special edition in Ural’s history was born.

More Photos: Ural Yamal >>

  • augustdaysong

    Looks nice, but reading all the horror stories about Ural I’d never have enough faith in their QC to own one

    • Paul Elliot

      Oh, come on! Be Adventurous! ;-)

    • Ilya Khait

      Sometimes it’s better to ride than read …

      • Jai S.

        It’s usually better to ride than repair.

    • runnermatt

      Maybe the updates rideapart recently covered will help with the quality problems. I haven’t looked into what those problems are because I can’t afford one anyway.

    • Zamboni9

      I own a 2012 Ural T. No issues. Grow a pair, sweetheart. I rode it from Minneapolis to Indianapolis in 95 degree heat. Ran 60mph great.

  • James Monroe

    I surprisingly saw one of these while riding around my town..Looks even cooler in person – wouldn’t mind owning..But paying for? That’s a different story ;P.

  • Mr.Paynter

    I will forever regret not owning one of these…

    Ural South Africa is really catered to touring retirees more than cool adventure bikes, I will never see one!

  • Mark

    I recently sold my Harley (I have owned and ridden Harleys for 44 years) and bought a Ural. So far, I could not be happier! It has put the fun and excitement that I felt as a kid back into riding. One thing it is not is boring which is what my big cruisers had become. If you are into an image then stick to whatever you ride, if you are into adventure and having some fun then give one of these a try. Not for everyone I agree. I think it is something you get after you grow up.

  • Brian

    what? no picture close up of the paddle to show the instructions?

    • Kr Tong


      • Wes Siler


  • Justin McClintock

    I’m definitely going to own a sidecar at some point, and I’d really like it to be a Ural.

    • thepierced

      Here, here. I have decided that my fifth motorcycle will be a sidecar. I’m on number two right now. I would love to own a Ural, but I suppose I would also be satisfied with an aftermarket hack.

      But there’s just something fun about that oar……