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Ural Loyalty


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#1 Blue Ridge Wheeltor

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 11:12 AM

A while back I posted a thread on Ural Loyalty. At the time, my friend (a Guzzi owner) theorized that loyalty was thin, and should a quality manufacturer come up with a suitable alternative then a lot of Ilya's base would disappear. He stopped by this morning and got quite a kick out of the responses and the tire thread unrest, and made a few observations. Keep in mind, this is from a non Ural owner looking in.

Quality: The bikes have gotten better, but the incidents of poor quality control still exist and are unacceptable. Some owners seem to justify it by expressing their enjoyment in "tinkering" (repairing) with the bikes faults.

Cost: Prices are increasing, especially for parts, at a higher rate than for a lot of other companies. Buying a new bike is still a major investment for a lot of people. Besides, what good is a cheap part price if you can't get it (tires anyone?).

Warranty: Because of the sparse dealer network, most owners do their own repairs even during the warranty period. It looks good on paper and is helpful in many instances, But the time involved in the repairs, and sparse dealer network almost translates to a parts replacement warranty only.

"A true Russian Bike". Less so, with parts being outsourced.

"Simple to work on". Yes, but it needs to be worked on more often.

"Only bike with a reverse". True.

"Only production sidecar rig". True.

"Unique design. Retro Look". True.


He reiterated his stance that if a quality manufacturer produced a reasonably priced, retro looking, simple design sidecar rig, it would strain our loyalty. I like my Ural, but he makes some good points.
Sept. 8, 2006-March 26, 2007     4997 KM

#2 Dubliner15

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 11:21 AM

I'd like to see a Honda Retro rig, similar to the M72 - even if it didn't have a boxer motor I'd take a close look at it.

I think IMZ are in a very tight spot - it wouldn't take all that much to send them under. They rely upon the loyalty of their customers and the uniqueness of their products. I hope this is sufficient to see them survive.

Quality will certainly help customer loyalty.

From a Dnepr driver.... for what it is worth.

Dub
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#3 Ragman

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 12:14 PM

I still intend to get another Ural, even if another maker builds a copy. They will not make it as tough, though it would probably be much better mechanicals - tough is what I need, which is why I have the equipment that I have - I am no interested in  buying comfort (my butt can definitely confirm that) because comfort usually breaks. The Ural is tough, but mechanically iffy, just like all the machines from my youth - I broke my teeth on less than perfect machines, so I am comfortable with this thing.

The next one I get is going to be a Gear Up (that is a truly crappy name) and may be an older one. It will be used by my Lady, to give two rigs on a ride, instead of just one - Though only 105 pounds soaking wet, in full gear, and on the shy side of 62", she is doing great with the rig.. she hasn't ridden it solo yet, but her rig would have a sidecar full of gear all the time, so she maybe would not need to ride solo anytime on mine.

The fastest my rig goes is 55, and then only rarely - I don't need speed, so maybe it will last a long time.  I will probably start buying major spare parts in the next year - to offset immediate large payments when it breaks down. A final drive in the shed would be a useful thing to have, I think.
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#4 RedMenace

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 01:27 PM

View PostDubliner15, on Dec 16 2006, 11:21 AM, said:

I'd like to see a Honda Retro rig, similar to the M72 - even if it didn't have a boxer motor I'd take a close look at it.

I think IMZ are in a very tight spot - it wouldn't take all that much to send them under. They rely upon the loyalty of their customers and the uniqueness of their products. I hope this is sufficient to see them survive.

Quality will certainly help customer loyalty.

From a Dnepr driver.... for what it is worth.

Dub

A fast, reliable retro looking rig can be easily put together right now from a new Triumph Bonneville and a new Steib or any any of the many retro style sidecars currently on the market.

Yes you would need to put it together, rather than have a factory built rig, and yes it probably would cost a little more(but not a lot more than a new Patrol). You would have a better dealer network, better reliability, more power, more aftermarket support...

If you buy a Ural, you are either buying it because that is what you want, fully aware of it's limitataions, or you haven't done your homework.  

The improvements IMZ have made to the Ural are going a long way towards making those limitations more acceptable, but it is what it is.
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#5 Ed Paynter

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 01:32 PM

This is strange thread, but then Russian Iron is turning into a strange group.

I am amazed at the content posted here and on other sites by supposed Russian Iron "fans".  The simple truth is... without Ural, in all of it's various importer incarnations, there would not be a Russian Iron market in America.  The entire DNEPR market grew as an offshoot, as a low cost alternative, to the Ural.   Like it or not the fate of DNEPR is inextricably linked to Ural.  If you succeed in making one fail, the other will surely follow and the rigs will disappear from the highways, into obscurity, like so many other interesting old things.

I don't understand how anyone who claims to be a fan of Russian Iron can continue to attack the only legal source of DOT approved Russian rigs in the country.  It is obvious that many who post here want to see them fail, which completely baffles me.  Others seem to have the goal of getting them banned from the American highways.....how sad would that be?

The rigs are an anachronism.....in spite of all improvements, they are an ancient, out-dated design.  They were made obsolete for their original design purpose within a few years of their first appearance, by jeeps and other low cost troop carrier alternatives.    They now survive solely on the strength of their image in minds and hearts of the owners and by virtue of owner loyalty.

Anyone who really thinks Europe, Japan or China or ANY motorcycle manufacturer will design and develop a similar product with an annual global sales market of a few thousand units is totally out of touch with reality.   You constantly hear someone say the alternative is a Honda or Harley with a sidecar, but we all know it's not even close.  They are an entirely different beast, functional, capable and efficient, but with none of the charm, the soul, of the originals.  To design a new motorcycle/sidecar combo with the simplicity of the Ural/DNEPR, with an accessible flat opposed engine, with a reverse drive gear, with 2WD capabilities, then meet new global EPA requirements and market it for anything approaching the current price of a rig, is not only impractical...it's impossible.  Not gonna happen.

Face it....NO ONE wants this market.   Russian Iron owners are the tattered, frayed edge of the lunatic fringe, the 1% of the 1%.  Most motorcycle owners don't even take us seriously.

Most of those who are true fans of Russian Iron, those who were instrumental in creating the original owner support network, those who attempted to improve the image of Russian Iron in the eyes and minds of American motorcycle owners,  are being driven away from this site.  

They are labelled  "cheerleaders", pawns of the importers and their loyalty to the brand is somehow twisted into something negative.  I don't understand this kind of thinking.   I spent countless hours and wasted lots of dollars in two separate attempts to prove that a Russian built sidecar motorcycle could survive one of the toughest tests of endurance that any motorcycle can be subjected to.....an Iron Butt run, running a motorcycle for 1000 miles non-stop in 24 hours.  The bike proved that if properly tuned and maintained, it could do it.

Now some of those who claim to be true Russian Iron enthusiasts, experts on their history, privy to insider information, knowledgeable on all aspects of the rigs, have become, in essense, their worst enemy!  
What's the point?   What are we trying to accomplish here?  Where is all this going?

It's been said before, but it's no less true today......these bikes are not for everyone.   They're still not quite ready for prime time and if you expect turn-key reliablity when you buy one, you're going to be disappointed and maybe out raged.  
Don't even bother.  Spare yourself the grief.  

You need to have realistic expectations of what you're getting into.
A Ural rig is only as reliable as YOU make it....if you cannot grasp that concept then don't buy one.

It takes a rare individual to own Russian Iron and be pleased with it....some would own one without a warranty, without a dealer network, without an established parts market, without an importer provided source of tires......without a safety net.  They love it for what it is.

It seems there's no place for cheerleaders on this forum any more.
Time to move on..........

ed
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#6 Dubliner15

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 01:36 PM

I like the Bonny for what it is - but I prefer the military style look of these rigs.

Any replacement would have to look the real deal.

I've kinda wondered why some enterprising soul hasn't bought up all the bits and pieces from KMZ, built a new set of frames to handle modern motors and started flogging them.

Dub
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::::::::::::::::::::::::::
1990 Dnepr OHV 'Fidelma' - K750 tank, K68 carbs, five coats of black paint, lots of tinkering and some expert advice.
1991 Dnepr OHV 'Brandbilen' - work in progress - RAL 7021 make-up on an underused pig.

::::::::::::::::::::::::::

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#7 JohnBG

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 02:32 PM

Quote

This is strange thread, but then Russian Iron is turning into a strange group.Most of those who are true fans of Russian Iron, those who were instrumental in creating the original owner support network, those who attempted to improve the image of Russian Iron in the eyes and minds of American motorcycle owners, are being driven away from this site.

How do you mean?

Quote

They are labelled "cheerleaders", pawns of the importers and their loyalty to the brand is somehow twisted into something negative. I don't understand this kind of thinking. I spent countless hours and wasted lots of dollars in two separate attempts to prove that a Russian built sidecar motorcycle could survive one of the toughest tests of endurance that any motorcycle can be subjected to.....an Iron Butt run, running a motorcycle for 1000 miles non-stop in 24 hours. The bike proved that if properly tuned and maintained, it could do it.

There are a few folks here that are "cheerleaders". And I suppose that's OK.

But then there are some who are "apologists" that feel we have to adapt ourselves to the Russian way of thinking, forgive them for shoddy quality and not having tires available for three months and pity them. I can understand where they come from, but the point is if IMWA wants to be successful selling their bikes in the USA, then they need to understand the American way of thinking. And if you dare criticize the factory, you get treated as a heretic or infidel.

Ed, you're not the only one who has invested thousands of dollars and hundred of hours in Ural rigs. We all have.

You've run Iron Butts.

Cob and DaveO have modified their rigs and submitted them to feats of abuse that most of us can only shudder at.

Bill Glaser has on his own time, money and painstaking efforts, wrote an "unofficial" 750 on-line service manual, when IMWA still cant produce one after years of selling the engines.

Glenn Hamilton pays for this site and maintains it out of his own time and money.

I've tried to chime in and share my experiences with rebuilding, repairing and maintaining BOTH my Urals.

Everybody here shares the experience. We all benefit from it.

A lot of folks here have put in the time and efforts. Perhaps aside from Cob, who gets a little support from IMWA, have done this all for grins to share with others.

Quote

Now some of those who claim to be true Russian Iron enthusiasts, experts on their history, privy to insider information, knowledgeable on all aspects of the rigs, have become, in essense, their worst enemy!
What's the point? What are we trying to accomplish here? Where is all this going?

I personally feel that RIMC is the most comprehensive site for the understanding, maintenance, repair, and service of Ural motorcycles. Yeah, there's an occasional oil. And political flame wars. I don't mind that crap as long as it stays in the Rant & Rave and Whatever forums.

FWIW, I rarely visit the IMWA site. It's clunky, out-dated software-wise and hard to navigate. The content there is at times a bit of "idol worship" there. Theres been rumors that the dealership network is putting pressure on IMWA to dump the board. When that's gone, where are ya gonna go?

I feel that if you got a legitimate gripe with IMWA, like for example not being able to get tires, that you should have an environment to gripe and b*tch about it. Sometimes the griping and b*tching gets noticed and stuff gets done. RIMC allows us the ability to do that

Now on the other hand when folks start making blind accusations (or at least not share the facts they have) about the factory or have a personal beef with it's management and want to start a feces-flinging-fest, then that is detrimental and serves no purpose and should be taken somewhere else. Sorry Greg...

Those with intimate knowledge, as far as I know, haven't detriment-ed the board any. Cob keeps a tight lip, and whoever pointed out that we won't have tires anytime soon was correct, IMHO, for pointing it out.

Quote

You need to have realistic expectations of what you're getting into.
A Ural rig is only as reliable as YOU make it....if you cannot grasp that concept then don't buy one.

I don't buy that. The factory needs to own up to the majority of the reliability part as far as the new bikes. I think they have been taking steps in that direction and still have a ways to go. But in comparing my '98 to my '06 in the garage, I can tell they have made great strides.

All that being said, you can have the perfectly built bike, but if it isn't maintained properly or repaired right, then it's gonna be crap in no time. So the owner does bear some responsibility.

Quote

It takes a rare individual to own Russian Iron and be pleased with it.... They love it for what it is.

Who here doesn't?

Quote

It seems there's no place for cheerleaders on this forum any more.
Time to move on..........

ed

Sorry you feel that way Ed. Your contributions are welcome here and would be missed if you bailed.

It's OK to be a cheerleader, just realize that sometime the home team loses a game despite how good the cheering section was.
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#8 Serious Black

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 02:46 PM

Everything that Ed said with 2 caviats. First, Dnepr IS linked to Ural but not like a Siamese twin. Dnepr is surviving fine here in Europe, growing even, without any dealer network or possibly even production. If they could get the Dynamit engine through Euro 3 by some miracle then that would be a good basis for recovery.

Number 2, Yes, I agree that we seem to be th '1% of the 1%' and in my experience serious motorcyclist take us very seriously. Mainly because they have difficulty understanding us. We were trying to decide whether Russian bike were cool, uncool or anticool. I prefer to think that they are so far on the opposite end of the coolness scale to a Hardley that they come right round again.

I like this site because there are all sorts here and debate, on all subjects, can get quite lively. The only thing you really need is a thick skin sometimes. RIMC is not sanctioned by IMWA but I would be very surprised if they didn't monitor the site for feed back. They will get an honest picture here.
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#9 soberjoe

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 05:09 PM

I got a Ural because it fit our need at the moment. During my ownership I have had a fun time playing with it and customizing it. I've owned many many bikes from many makers. I sold two Harley and bought the Ural. I figure the Ural won't fit our needs in a year or two and it will be for sale. Not really sure what I would like to ride next. Me, I'm loyal to riding not the builder of my bike. I do love the fact that here in America we do have choices and I love a bike rally where I can look at them all. Peace to you all, enjoy your riding time.

#10 gspell68

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 05:37 PM

Quote

It takes a rare individual to own Russian Iron and be pleased with it....some would own one without a warranty, without a dealer network, without an established parts market, without an importer provided source of tires......without a safety net. They love it for what it is.
That's what we like to refer to simply as a Dnepr owner!!!! :unsure2:  :blink:  :angry:
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#11 madoc

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 05:40 PM

The problem nowadays is that fewer and fewer people are prepared to understand, let alone fix, their own vehicles.  I learned the basics of my mechanics from my dad - reckon that's dying out too.  
However, motorcycles are now an image accessory and not a form of daily transport for many riders. Buy a new spangly one and sell it when the warranty expires (or hire one).

The sidecar was once a common site across Britain as the transport for many commuters and families but became pretty much obsolete as cars became cheaper and more available. Nowadays, they are pretty much useless in the gridlock .

However, the old British motorcycle industry is still going strong here (and I am not talking about the stuff coming out of hinckley) but I am not sure whether it will live beyond the old chaps that were brought up with them. Too much fixing required.

Other motorcyclists look upon sidecars as an oddity and their riders more so. A couple of companies have done their best to import russian kit into the country (neval for example) but sales were never great and I am not sure Uralmoto does much better .........

Personally, if I am going to ride a bike that requires a low level of constant care then I might as well ride something that is actually genuinely old. Hence the 45 year old M62.
The choice of the old russian is half because of the way it looks, a quarter that it's easy to look after and the rest because I can still get most of the parts for peanuts.

of course, there a teensy weensy bit of showing off. It makes me feel a celebrity as everyone stops and chats.

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#12 Marty Hamilton

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 05:59 PM

Well,

I have a notion that brand loyalty has little to do with cost/mile for most riders.  Buying a bike is more emotional than rational, unless one thinks that buying a bike at $8K to save $0.20 on a each commuting gallon of gas is rational.  A guy can buy a lot of gas for his SUV with $8K.  

Motorcycles are about having fun and if one's emotionally driven definition of fun is a questionably reliable Ural then one buys a Ural.  If the bike delivers the anticipated fun/mile then the owner keeps it and/or buys newer models provided they excite him/her emotionally. He or she probably, at that point, would be defined as loyal.

Like many of us on the board I've owned way too many motorcycles (accoding to my wife) covering most brands.   The ones that delivered the fun/mile for me I've kept - the others went to somebody else who was excited to buy them. None of those bikes were flawless and none of the new bikes are flawless regardless of who builds them.

I will acknowledge that some of us, including me, buy "reliable" motorcycles to do a specific thing e.g. to travel the world, or compete in the Iron Butt Rally.  I have a couple of bikes like that and I view them as tools to an end, even if uninspiring.

My shop sells BMW.  They can become expensive if one loads on all the options, and things can and do go wrong with them, but we have lots of repeat customers because the brand excites them in ways the competition does not.  Conversely there are many interested riders who take a demo ride and say "it just doesn't give me the chubby I need".

I consulted a lot of sidecar folk before buying a Patrol.  I could have easily added a Ural sidecar to a GS or a Triumph Tiger or some such.  If I did that I'd lose the essence of the GS and the Triumph.  It would have cost me much more to acquire, and few dealers get excited about servicing a modified bike even if it is their brand.  

I'll be a loyal Ural owner if it delivers the fun per mile I expect it will, regardless of the cost/mile.  If it fails, then I'll find the bike a more appreciative owner.
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#13 Tud

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 06:52 PM

View PostBlue Ridge Wheeltor, on Dec 16 2006, 12:12 PM, said:

He reiterated his stance that if a quality manufacturer produced a reasonably priced, retro looking, simple design sidecar rig, it would strain our loyalty. I like my Ural, but he makes some good points.

Have you mentioned to him that jealousy doesn't become him?  Maybe you need to stop riding with him for a while so that people will look at his bike again.   :unsure2:

#14 DirtyDR

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 07:27 PM

I have to admit that I really enjoy this site and would miss it for the resource and the entertainment value. I bought the URAL fully knowing what I was buying but having never driven any sidecar rig or having even heard a URAL actually running before. I love this thing for what it is, even though I haven't quite figured out what that is. I have owned many bikes in 40 years of riding and as far as reliability some were worse and some were better. The first bike I actually bought was a 500 Kawasaki 2 stroke triple so I guess I have always been a glutton for punishment. I have a 2003 R1150GS and a 1985 Kawasaki Police special in the garage and I choose to ride the Patrol because I want to. For any of you who are familiar with them I also own two ROKONS so I know what a lack of factory support and poor quality issues are truly about. I guess that's more than 2 cents worth but it is what it is.
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#15 sprintstrider

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Posted 16 December 2006 - 07:34 PM

"This is strange thread, but then Russian Iron is turning into a strange group."

Totally, I resemble that remark.....Since the 2nd week of Nov when it got cold, I am up to 276 times that someone has called me crazy for riding my sidecar rig all year...



I love whatever and rant and rave as well. Thanks for having such a good site.


I bought my Ural because I wanted a bike I could ride in the salty snow, not feel to bad about getting the "chrome" corroded. the price was right, and so far it has actually taught me to be a better motorcycle owner.  I took for granted how much stuff my gramdpa and dad had to do to own a motorcycle. Would I like to have a dealer closer. Sure. Would I like tires when I need them. duh!

But the number one reason I love my Ural....those moments when I am riding in a blizzard and a big SUV goes buy with 2 kids in the back with their faces plastered against the window waving with big smiles. I wave happily back.....and then I see the worried look of the soccer mom as she thinks..."my kids will never have a motorcycle, they are so dangerous."


As far as Ural a company goes.....I agree with the fact that they are in a tough market that no one wants. They certainly don't have the budget of the "big 4" (or ten or whatever) that sells a bazillion bikes every year. I'm willing to give them a bit of a break....as long as they continue to do a good job with customer service...and that is another strength of RIMC...here's where you will find out the truth about customer service when something breaks and what the marketing dept tries to cover up with fancy brochures. So far, I am not disappointed and have spoken my pleasure with Urals. I guess I am a cheerleader.

I will not hold my breath to see anyone try to break in to the sidecar rig market......I tried to get our local tech school where I teach the MSF class to pay for part of certification and let me teach 3 or 4 sidecar STEP classes next year. You know what they said......"We are not interested in paying for any part of the certification or letting you use the facilities for sidecar classes. There is just not enough interest."

We will always be a different breed :unsure2:  :blink:
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