Mike Saunders' 49cc Ruckus, the Ural may not be the most suitable rig for MY trips. I know that some have travelled all over the world with their Ural rigs and emphasize that if Urals are used within their design envelope, they will run forever.
Dom has pointed out in a comment on my last post,
"All things, made by Man, eventually fail."When buying any sort of used vehicle there is always a risk on how it was treated by the previous owners. Raceway mentioned that some of the parts have evidence of "misuse" such as extended driving on pavement in 2WD and flying the sidecar with hard landings. I'm fairly confident that it wasn't me and pretty sure that it wasn't the previous owner but there is still before then. Only time will tell how well the replaced components last. Before, it was always difficult to shift into 2WD. Now it easily "clicks" in and out. Since I didn't have it from new, I didn't know what to expect. I remember that there has always been a lot of play on the sidecar splines but since I didn't have anything to compare it to, I assumed that it was normal.
Riding in very cold temperatures like I did last winter is probably outside of the design envelope as well but now that I no longer have a commute, that may not happen very often. At least one can hope.
Back to suitability. I had absolutely no issue with with the cruising speed of the rig. Especially after I discovered that the speedometer and odometer ran low (or slow) when compared to a GPS. The speedometer error is not consistent but in the past, cruising at 100 km/h on the speedometer was almost impossible to maintain and the engine sounded really strained. On the GPS, that equated to almost 70 mph. No wonder the engine really sounds strained. This fits with antidotal observation. Last May when I rode out to Nenana with the casual BMW group, George mentioned that I was going significantly above my claim of 55 mph. Maintaining 90-100 km/h on the GPS wasn't a problem and felt fast enough.
Engine reliability seems like it should be okay if one follows the general recommendations given by some other long distance Ural riders. Such as don't shift into 4th unless you are above 50 mph. The engine actually sounds really nice between 4000 and 5000 rpm. On the way down, that's also when it was burning oil. On the way back, no problem and 3rd gear at 4000 - 5200 rpm was common. Higher RPM allows the rod bearings to get more oil.
With the new rear brake shoes that happened to come with the final drive, braking is decent. There was the weird "clicking" that I though may have been the head bearings but it turned out to be a loose brake bolt. I'm going to check alignment to see what Raceway set it to as it handles pretty nice right now.
Tire wear is much more reasonable than I had expected. The K28 that I have on as the pusher was brand new when I installed it at Iskut, BC, and now has 9,981 km on it. It is pretty well worn but not completely worn out. The sidecar has the old pusher on it and now has just short of 19,000 km on it. It still has enough tread to get through the next winter. I don't think the tires get a lot of wear in the winter even as the pusher. I was happy to have the K37s installed on the front and pusher for the first quarter of the trip. The traction improvement was noticeable on the dirt, mud and gravel.
If you look at my posts early in the trip, I worried a lot about what was happening inside of the engine. The valves wouldn't stay adjusted, excessive oil consumption, higher than expected cylinder head temperatures, etc. Part of that concern was due to the lack of any service facilities in that part of the road system. I'd probably be concerned no matter what I was riding or driving. After passing the border into Canada, I knew that the next dealer was in the Vancouver area and the next dealer that would honor the extended warranty was somewhere around Bellingham, WA, or Spokane, WA. I had a hard enough time finding anyone in rural BC that knew how to weld the stainless steel exhaust system. Both repairs only lasted a short time before partial failure of the welds.
If it sounds like I'm not sure it's because I'm not. To be cont...