Saturday, August 22, 2015

2015 Road Trip Summary

  • 66 Days on the road
  • 35 Riding days
  • 6 driving days
  • 20 Camping nights
  • 16 Hotel nights (includes wedding, reunion and OR coast trip)
  • 30 Nights with friends or relatives
  • 12,003 km traveled on the Ural (odometer error corrected to match GPS)
  • Ural was in the shop for 12 days
  • 240.5 gallons of gas (31.08 mpg)

What worked well or glad to have

  • Heidenau K28 tire as a pusher
  • MSR MicroRocket iso-butane stove
  • Half cover for the bike
  • Small tank bag
  • TwinMax carb balancer
  • Extra fuel line
  • Magnetic parts tray
  • Reuseable shopping bags
  • Roadcrafter Light was ideal riding gear
  • Hammer
  • Folding cot
  • Ice chest
  • Li-ion battery and USB chargers
  • Roll of disposable shop towels
  • Amsoil synthetic oil
  • Closed cell foam pad used when working on the bike
  • Small tarp used when working on the bike (don't lose things in the gravel)
  • GoPro camera and remote powered off of the bike
  • Air compressor and tire tools
  • Mirrored visor plus clear visor w/pinlock shield
  • 20oz SS thermos
  • Crocs and running shoes
  • fleece jacket

Stuff that rarely/never got used and probably won't bring again

  • Oil drain pan
  • Front 10 litre gas can
  • Oil Filters
  • MSR multi-fuel stove
  • 120W Inverter
  • 1 Gallon insulated water jug
  • DSLR telephoto and prime lenses
  • Tail bag (useful but a lockable top box would be better)

Stuff that rarely/never got used but will bring again

  • Grease gun
  • Inner tubes
  • Spare glasses
  • Extra bulbs
  • Final drive oil
  • Ural specific spares
  • Cooling vest
  • Gerbing liner, gloves and controller
  • Cooking spatula
  • Cooking knife
  • Bicycle cable lock
  • FIrst Aid kit
  • Li-Fe jumper battery

Stuff that I should've brought

  • Shop hand cleaner
  • Nitrile disposable gloves
  • SAE allen wrench set
  • Spare metric hardware
  • Pacsafe maybe to secure stuff to/in sidecar
  • Two more USB ports in the sidecar to charge electronics
  • Small hatchet would have been useful as both a hammer and making kindling

Other things

  • The new FirstGear riding boots worked great
  • The Big Agnes tent was a big improvement over the Sierra Designs tent
  • I think my 40 year old down sleeping bag needs replacement
  • The Spot 2 is starting to fall apart
  • The Garmin GPSMAP 60CSx is no longer waterproof due to deteriorating gaskets
  • The iPad was used much more often than the laptop
  • Pre-paying for the Candian cell phone minutes and being able to make and receive phone calls/SMS was really handy

Now the big question. Would I take the Ural again on such a trip?

Pros: It was easy to pack up when camping. Having a passenger was simple. It was completely reliable on the trip up from Oregon. Mounted spare tire. Alternator capacity to spare. Easy to haul spare tires. Plenty of room to pack things such as the small ice chest.

Cons: 60 mph max cruising speed. Fuel consumption. (I was able to cover the same distance in half the number of days on the Beemer using 50% less fuel) No longer under warranty. Only 200 km range. Uncomfortable seat. Needs more locking storage.

So probably not. Depends on the length of the trip.



  1. Congratulations are in order decidedly. The thoroughness of your records is overwhelming for a scatter brain like me. But the conclusions are interesting.

    1. I msy do another post about the conclusions. The gas consumption was done using Pretty handy being able to submit fuel purchases using SMS messages.

  2. A serious indictment on Urals touring ability. Worse though are the mechanical issues you and Dom have suffered with your rigs. Tinkering on a rig is fun and useful, major breakdowns under warranty are annoying, but now that you are responsible it seems hardly worth it.

    1. The mechanical fragility seems to be the real weakness of the Ural. It's pretty easy to get used to the limited top speed but the continual concern on whether something is going to break is more worrisome.

  3. A good recap RichardM. Time for a URV to trailer the soon to be out of warranty rig, then ride the rig around the destination? Such thoughts have wandered into my head but for now, I've plenty of warranty time left.

    As to indictment on a URAL's touring ability, yep, work will be required along with repairs but there's folks riding these rigs around the just takes "longer". :)

    1. Not a real fan of the URV concept. If I was driving somewhere then ride around, I think that I'd be more inclined to bring something small and light to run around with.

  4. Thanks for taking us along on this journey, Richard. Excellent and honest recap. Interesting, that fuel range made it on your list of cons. My Sporty only does 180km max, the Vespa maybe 220km on a good day but I never found it to be an issue. Seating on the other hand... very important when you spend the whole day on your hack.
    Don't throw the towel on the Ural too quickly, I still believe it is a true travel companion, even though it needed fixing... but you have the time now. Who cares if the bike is in the shop for 12 days... like Dom said: your journey will just take longer ;-)

    1. There were numerous times when I needed 200 mile range to reach between gas stations through some of the more sparsely populated areas in Canada. Even on the Alaska Hwy, so many of the old businesses are shut down now due to the decline in tourism.

  5. I think Arizona Harley Dude hit the nail on the head
    You and Dom are the only two guys I know personally, that own Urals
    When I first thought of getting into a sidecar rig, I devoured the ride report by Bugs on My Face on their trip via a Ural from Texas to the North Slope and back. I loved it But alas they had problems also.
    They then went and got a BMW 1200 GS and a really oversized side car, and circumnavigated South America. And I was sold.
    I don't want to discount Dom but you can certainly extend your trip12 without it being in the shop.

    Glad you made it home all right, will I see you during fair time?

    1. You can add s few more. CCJon want from Key West to Prudhoe and on the way back the engine blew in Idaho. Bruce W from Ketchikan rose to Fairbanks last January and blew the rear oil seal. There are exceptions but I think that they really are the exception.

      My mom is here visiting and her flight leaves right in the middle of Labor Day weekend so, no, we aren't going to the Palmer fair this year.

    2. All things, made by Man, eventually fail....URAL's stuff has gotten better but now they're dealing with QA issues I think. A GS rig would be nice but it can't do some stuff a URAL can. I've got a year and half of warranty left, time to get more riding in....

    3. One thing about URAL, they stand by their warranty with no hassles. I think had I been on a modern GS rig and it had broken, I'd still be in Alaska arguing long distance with BMW as to warranty coverage. ;P

    4. No question about that. I think a sidecar invalidates just about any warranty. I still think that their engine design makes them more fragile than just about anything else. A proper lublrication system will go a long way to improving long term reliability.

      And no argument about how they the company stands behind them and the warranty but they seem to fail prematurely due to QC issues and antiquated design,

    5. I agree that the Ural seems to have a problem with it's engine design, and adding a sidecar does invalidates the warranty. It just seems the main problem is the engine.

      I not a pro at this sidecar stuff but.

      Ara & Spirit have been on the road with a GS rig for 9+ years. His original engine died at 180,000 mi. He bought a replacement engine with 30,000 mi

    6. I believe that Ara tried a Ural for a while and had issues. Not sure what they were but they were sufficient to start looking to rebuild the GS rig.

  6. A very detailed recount Richard. I too am amazed at the detailed records you kept.

    1. You mean fuel and mileage? That was from using and it was easy to extract the data into a spreadsheet.

      Plus, it gives one something to do while on the road...

  7. Great summary Richard. So glad the boots worked out for you too.

    1. Thank you for finding them! They are working great and have been waterproof and breathable enough.

  8. Richard, what an epic road trip.

    I admire your adventurous spirit. The statistics tell the tale very eloquently.

    If there is one thing the Ural seems clearly to excel at is inspiring their owners to take incredibly inspiring road trips. Kudos to you and Dom.

    1. I don't know about "epic" but I enjoy road trips anyway I can.

  9. I like this post, especially the what went well. I think I might borrow that idea as I've been thinking a lot about what went well and/or what I wished I had done differently. BTW, I'd love to train a very special dog I know and love to ride with me in a sidecar!

    1. Thank you. I started to itemize what went well and not during the trip. Some things became obvious pretty quick such as which of the two stoves was more useful...