Just thought I'd add my $0.02 for the perspective new Ural owners. These are not American bikes, or Japanese or German, they're Russian, and for the most part very utilitarian. They require a lot of maintenance, but it's not difficult maintenance.
I've had my '06 Gear Up for five months now and there's a little over 6000kms on the clock. I've had it off road and I've had it at highway speeds for 2-3 hours at a time. One big difference between John and I might be that I bought the last one the shop had, it had been the demo bike and the dealer had put 400kms on it. This may be one reason that, for me, the bike has been relatively trouble free. Any problem I've had has been fixed on the side of the road, these include:
1) Clutch pivot pin backing out resulting in a loss of the clutch while coming off the highway.
2) Loose battery connector causing me to stall out just as John described.
3) Clutch was grabbing at idle while in gear, adjusted the clutch cable.
4) Smashed side light lens from a rock (not a factory issue)
5) The oil pump stopper at the top of the engine backed out once.
6) After the bike sat in heavy rain a couple times it bogged down shortly after
starting. I'm told this is due to water being sucked in past the air
filter. After getting the lap blanket and covering the seat (and
subsequently the intake box) this hasn't been as much of a problem.
7) Crud in the fuel lines caused the float needle not to seat, resulting in
issues at idle and leaking gas. I replaced the fuel lines with ones provided for free from my dealer and cleaned the fuel filters.
8) Rear brake was running really hot, I was told to back it off and that the
housing should only be warm to the touch, not hot. I've backed it off quite
a bit and need to start tightening it up so that it's usable again.
Unlike some, bikes are my only mode of transportation, not an easy thing to get away with in Canada. The wife has a minivan but she needs it during the week. I sold our F150 in order to get the Ural, and I knew going into it that it would require a lot of hands on and routine maintenance. As a backup I have a '74 CB550Four, but that's not going to help once the snow flies, and it hasn't been ridden since getting the Ural.
These bikes aren't for the faint of heart, but for what it's worth, Ural's aren't the only bikes coming out of the factories with problems:
That's my rant. Couldn't be happier with Earl the Ural and looking forward to when the snow starts flying up here.