We’ve pretty much concluded at this point that the next big trip is going to be a RTW (or as much of it as can be navigated with dogs) with the dogs. We’ve pondered various options, and neither of us really likes the idea of a trailer for the dogs – so we’re going with a Ural! Plenty of people travel with dogs in a sidecar, and we both feel that buying a rig that’s designed to be a sidecar from the ground up is a better option than trying to hack one of our F650s for a sidecar, so Ural it is!
In December, we popped over to Ural of New England to have a browse, familiarize ourselves with their bikes, find out more about maintenance and whatnot and figure out if a Ural was the way we wanted to go. While we are a bit turned off by the maintenance schedule (it seems the Ural requires a LOT more maintenance, more frequently, than our BMW) – we’ve officially decided it’s the way we’re going to go. So today we went back to Ural of New England to shop for a Ural!
When we got there, we thought our criteria was fairly simple. We were looking for a 2WD Ural (for a RTW, we’ll encounter plenty of places with bad roads or no roads – like Mongolia – plus with the dogs we’re expecting we’re going to have to go off-road to “hidey camp” a lot more often). That limited us to the Gear Up or Patrol model. Aside from that, we weren’t particularly picky about color – the only other thing I really went in knowing that I wanted was the sidecar tire/luggage rack for carrying a spare tire and luggage on top.
After spending two hours at Ural of New England, we’ve now settled on getting a bike with a rather lengthy list of add-ons and customization:
- Nose rack for the sidecar
- Fender rack for the sidecar
- Spare tire/luggage rack for the sidecar (the only thing we knew we wanted to begin with)
- Bench seat for the bike instead of the saddle seat
- Bar risers for the handlebars
- A small windscreen for the bike
- Windscreen for the sidecar
- Upgraded cover for the sidecar
- Relocated exhaust (it mounts much higher on the bike to enable you to do deeper water crossings)
- Upgraded mounting for the sidecar
- Upright gear shift lever next to the gas tank in addition to the normal shift down by the pedal
Some of these, like the bench seat and the bar riser, were ergonomic considerations. We’ve done enough riding to have a decent idea of what we want re: ergonomics. Others, like the racks on the sidecar, are for storage. With the loss of motorcycle panniers from losing one F650, and the addition of the dogs in the sidecar, we’re going to have to reallocate some storage and add more stuff to accommodate the dogs. So storage is a big concern for us.
And finally, there are things like the relocated exhaust and upgraded sidecar mounts that are performance-related. We’re actually going to put a ton of miles on this thing. We’ll take it all over the place, on good roads and bad, on water crossings, through sand, up mountains – we wanted the right setup to withstand the type of travel we intend to do.
So now we’re waiting on a quote for all this jazz. Ural of New England has to check their inventory tomorrow and let us know what they’ve got available – be it 2011 models or 2012 models, Patrol or Gear Up. We could have a new Ural as soon as within the next few weeks, or we may find that we need more time to line up the model we want (or the financing, if our plan doesn’t work out).
But we’ve taken a very concrete step toward buying the Ural for the next big trip, which is really exciting!
We’ve considered getting a used one, and Dachary has done a fair amount of shopping around, but Ural has mad a number of non-trivial mechanical improvements up through 2010, and they’re all things we want. So, if we did get a used one we’d probably end up spending the difference in price between it an a new one on the mods, and not have a warranty to back it up. It just makes sense to go with a new one.
As for price, with all the additions we want we’re looking at approximately $15,000. Unfortunately, even if Ural was willing to sponsor us for an RTW adventure (we haven’t asked) we can’t guarantee (at this point) that we will take a Ural. While we love the idea, there’s no way to tell how the dogs will feel about it until we actually start taking them on journeys. If they decide they hate it… well, we’ll have to figure something else out.