Tuesday, June 9, 2015

Communism and the Devil

Ural Motorcycle
Observation: Motorcycles made in slave states were completely devoted to military scouting operations or mopeds designed to move slaves from their dormitories to work at distances where a bicycle was impractical. Thus there is very little history of motorcycle excellence in either Russia or China, both of which have emerged from under the yoke of communism -- but haven't caught up when it comes to making motorcycles.

The Russians have been making versions of the Ural for 70 years now. They have had the opportunity to make it right now that they've shed the yoke of communism. How is that working out?

The Russian Federation's (as opposed to the old USSR) entry into the motorcycle market has come with the export Ural.

Log Item: A friend of mine made a decision to buy a Ural outside of my advice to the contrary. His came with a sidecar. I like sidecars, but they make a motorcycle drive like one of those CanAm spiders...more of a  small convertible car than a motorcycle. In the case of the Ural, it's an underpowered motorcycle (at 41 horsepower) that is way under powered when you add a side car. 

From the ugly tractor seat to the 1950's design, the Ural does have a nostalgic twinge. I remember riding in Muskovitch and Lada automobiles back when and they all performed in much the same way that the Ural does. Sort of like riding on a tractor. Naturally it incorporates a tractor seat for the driver to complete the vibe.

Ural Motorcycle with Sidecar
Uralistas are easily wounded if you criticize their products of the worker's paradise, apparently. I don't quite get it, but they are.

He and a Uralista friend called and came by first thing in the morning to extoll their bikes over the competition. I realize that you may find that incredible, but anyone dumb enough to buy a Ural is dumb enough to drive to my house and talk about how much cooler it is than my Ducati.

It's like buying and old Muskovitch, then comparing your old Muskovitch to a Ferrari and --- making fun of a guy who bought a Ferrari who paid less for his Ferrari in the process (more on that later). They argued that the 162 horsepower of the Ducati Diavel was just overkill. The same is true of the digital instrument cluster, which is emblematic of unnecessary expense. Maybe so, but it is the devil...

As a professional investigator and observer, I probed gently. Within the first few months and thousands of miles, both of them have had serious issues with their Urals:
  • Final Drive Failure
  • Broken Front Shock Absorber
  • Mirrors don't stay in place and pivot when the vehicle is in motion.
  • Broken Swing Arm
  • Worn out and leaking brake lines
  • Speedometer Failure (bouncing across the analog dial) 
  • Broken Steering Dampener
In fairness, these were covered by a "generous"  three-year warranty as both riders explained. But one fuel tank had to be replaced at about the 500 mile mark due to a break in a weld and the replacement tank turned out to have grit and debris in it that fouled the carb (no fuel injection). With warranty work like that, what good is it really?

What about the cost of the Ural vs the Ducati Diavel? 

I paid $400 less for the Diavel than the guy with the sidecar paid for his 2015 Ural Patrol 750. He boasted of his sidecar, which is cool up to a point. I think that P. T. Barnham was correct when he said that a sucker is born every minute. I seriously thought that he'd have paid somewhere around $5K for a new one until they started 'measuring dicks' and wanted to tell me what great deals they got.


  1. The problem is the Russian bikes run on Petrol and the US run on Gas. There may be some power lost in translation.

    1. I think that the Russian machines would operate on kerosine or paraffin and the Italian Stallion wants high octane...as machines imitate life.

  2. Just saw an episode of "Naked Speed" on the Velocity Channel, featuring their modifications of a 2005 Ducati Monster to obtain 200hp and they were shooting for 200mph at Bonneville. The dang thing had turbos, a couple of radiators and tubes all over the place, it was an eyesore when they got done with it. The best they could do was 156mph, as I recall.

    Doesn't your bone stock Diavel ( with around 125hp?) do around that right out of the box?

    1. The bone stock Diavel will do 170 out of the box. I've had mine over 125 mph. The shift ratio kicks it into 6th between 95 and 100 mph. It's pulling about 6000 RPM at 125 with a red line at 12000 RPM.

      The Monster's engine is substantially smaller than the Diavel 800 cc vs 1200 cc

    2. 0-60 in 2.6 seconds - with a 14 tooth primary drive sprocket (European configuration). It's faster off the line but has a lower top end by a few mph. US model has a 15 tooth sprocket for mileage concerns which shift the gear ratio too high. It's a modification that is coming the first time I need to take the scooter in for the next service -- or maybe sooner if I get impatient.

    3. Engines of old Discovery Channel Monster vs your Diavel pretty similar in displacement; they stroked and bored that 800cc unit out to well over 1100cc, along with all the other tweaks.

      I think the only reason they didn't get more performance is that they were not young Turks sitting on it at Bonneville. The first guy was old like me, grey beard, lost his nerve the first time he felt a wobble. Second guy was the guy who posted the 156mph, but he was no Evel Kneivel, either.

      Gotta have some scrotes to push these things to peak performance. That, or no brains. I think I met both criteria when I was 22.

    4. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the weight of the driver may have caused a problem for them too? However it failed, the Ducati Panigale R has 205 HP and weighs 150 lbs less than the Diavel. It will easily top 200 mph right off the showroom floor. If it's death or a record that you want, it may be cheaper just to move to a faster model than to put all of the effort in boosting the performance of a Ducati Monster with home tweaks.