IMZ-Ural (Russian: Irbitskiy Mototsikletniy Zavod) is a Russian maker of heavy sidecar motorcycles. The first M-72 model was finished in 1941.
Plans for the M-72 were later sold to the Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation, a Chinese industrial firm, to build the Chang Jiang.
It was started when the Red Army wanted to modernize its equipment after the suspension of the Winter War with Finland. The motorcycles used up to that point had not worked satisfactorily. First motorcycle was "modeled after a late-1930s BMW sidecar bike called the R71, which Nazi Germany provided to the Soviet Union after the countries signed a nonaggression pact in 1939." Five units were covertly purchased through some Swedish intermediaries. Soviet engineers in Moscow dismantled the five BMWs, reverse engineered the BMW design in every detail and making molds and dies to produce their own engines and gearboxes in Moscow. Early in 1941, the first prototypes of the M-72 motorcycle were shown to Stalin who made the decision to enter mass production. One of the original BMWs purchased through the Swedish intermediaries still survives and is on display in the IMZ-Ural factory museum.
In 1941, BMW began series production of the R75 and ended production of the R71. Originally, factories were to be located in Moscow, Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), and Kharkov, but due to the approach of Nazi German troops, the Moscow facilities were moved to Irbit (located on the fringe of vast Siberia in the Ural mountains), and the Leningrad and Kharkov facilities to Gorkiy (now called Nizhny Novgorod). Funny thing is that the only appropriate building in Irbit was brewery.
Initially, the "URAL" was built for the military only. In the late 1950s, the KMZ plant in Ukraine took over the task of supplying the military and the Irbit Motorcycle Works (IMZ) began to concentrate on making bikes for domestic consumers. In the late 1950s the full production of the plant was turned over to non-military production. In 1957, the M-72 production lines were sold to the People's Republic of China.
The export history of URALs started in 1953, at first mainly to developing countries. Between 1973 and 1979, Ural was one of the makes marketed by SATRA in the United Kingdom as Cossack motorcycles.
The main products today are the heavy duty Ural sidecar motorcycles designed for rough Russian roads, and the cruiser Wolf and Solo. URAL motorcycles are equipped with four-stroke, air-cooled, flat-twin engines, a four speed gear box with reverse gear, shaft drive, two disc dry clutch, spring shock absorbers, and drum brakes. Some newer solo models have been developed for western markets, and the company has developed an engine that meets the standards required by the modern sporting and leisure rider. Though the outward appearance of the engine is the same as before, new quality control techniques employ better alloying and casting, better engineering tolerances, and better paint and chrome while retaining the advantage of continuity with the inherently balanced design of a horizontally opposed flat twin engine with roller bearings in a solid frame. IMZ-Ural is one of few manufacturers of sidecar motorcycles in the world (it produces solo combinations as well as sidecars).
Like most motorcycle manufacturers, Ural now sources pre-made components in many cases — buying alternators from Nippon Denso, brakes from Brembo, handlebar controls from Domino, forks from Paioli, ignitions from Ducati Energia, etc. The company still makes the frame, the engine and the body parts.
The 2003 USA model featured a newly designed crankshaft and a disc brake in front. The crankshaft had a longer stroke which increased engine capacity by 15% from 650 to 750 cc (40 to 46 cu in). This also addressed weaknesses in the older five-piece, press-fit crankshaft. The old crankshaft was fine for the low-compression models made in the 1990s, but it did not hold up to the higher compression that it took to pass United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards, and the higher speeds on US highways. In 2004, the company fixed another weak point, the alternator attachment. The alternator is gear-driven off the camshaft. All pre-2007 UK model Urals were fitted with a Russian designed alternator. Post 2007 models are fitted with a Nippon Denso unit. In 2007, Ural switched to a Ducati electronic ignition and used new engine and transmission gears, designed by Herzog in Germany, making for a quieter engine and smoother shifting transmission. For the 2010 year, the rear drive was strengthened.
In November 1992, IMZ-Ural transformed into an open-end joint stock company "Uralmoto Joint Stock Company". At the beginning of 1998 the business was bought by private Russian interests and it is no longer a State Company. In 2000, the company was sold to three entrepreneurs and broken into three components with the power production facilities, and foundry and forge being sold off.
Fri, 07 Feb 2014
With the start of the Sochi winter olympics upon us, reports have gone rampant about the terrible conditions some athletes and media have experienced so far. Lost in all the hoopla is the participation of 20 red Urals in the Olympics opening ceremony. A spectacular procession of the legendary sidecar motorcycles across the ice of the Fisht stadium symbolized one of the achievements in Russia’s post-WWII reconstruction history and gave Ural a moment of recognition in front of an international audience.
Wed, 29 Jan 2014
For 2014 Ural has equipped its line-up of two-wheelers and sidecars with some very modern componentry. Ural models now enjoy the benefits of electronic fuel injection (EFI), disc brakes (on all three wheels) and an hydraulic steering damper. Ural claims the motorcycles have received “dozens of other upgrades,” but did not provide details as to nature of those upgrades.
Thu, 19 Dec 2013
A pair of Russian motocross racers took part in the Olympic torch relay this week, carrying the Olympic flame on their motorcycles on its way to Sochi. On Dec. 15, Russian sidecarcross racer Evgeny Scherbinin (pictured above) carried the torch into Kamensk-Uralsky, an industrial city described as the birthplace of motorcycling in the region.
Tue, 19 Nov 2013
Ural is recalling several 2012 sidecar models because of a risk of their rims breaking or fracturing. The recall affects all Ural sidecars manufactured between June 2, 2012 and Oct. 25, 2012, affecting the Ural Gear-Up, Patrol, Patrol T, Tourist and Tourist T.
Thu, 07 Nov 2013
Don Jackson, owner of Yesterday’s Rides Metalworks in Newberg, OR, and a marine veteran, has announced a crowdfunding initiative to raise money to complete the prototype of a motorcycle retrofit designed for persons who require the use of a personal mobility device. The retrofit allows the owner to ride their personal mobility device (wheelchair, scooter, etc.) onto a sidecar via a ramp, lock it in place, retract the ramp using electronic controls, climb on to the motorcycle and ride off. When the rider reaches his/her destination, the mobility device is right alongside, ready to unlock and use. The initial prototype is based on a modified Ural, which is already sidecar compatible.
Mon, 07 Oct 2013
Russian manufacturer of motorcycles with sidecars, Ural, is now taking orders for the limited edition Gaucho Rambler. To create the limited edition Gaucho Rambler Ural teamed up with world class woolen weaver, Pendleton Woolen Mills. The unique matte finished Pacific Blue color and sunburnt canvas upholstery for the sidecar are from the creative minds at Pendleton Woolen Mills as is the “Journey West” blanket with a limited commemorative label that comes with each bike. The limited edition Gaucho Rambler features Ural’s on-demand two-wheel-drive and each sidecar is accessorized with a passenger windscreen, a spare tire and a GSI Outdoors camp kit.
Fri, 14 Jun 2013
Sidecar specialist Ural Motorcycles took an important step forward towards increasing its reach in the U.S. market after reaching a deal with GE Capital to provide inventory financing to dealerships. Inventory financing (also known as floorplan financing) is a revolving line of credits dealers can use to help increase its inventory.
Thu, 18 Apr 2013
Ural is reporting today an 11% sales growth for Q1 over the same period from the record year of 2012. “It’s been a very long winter for the most part of the country, not surprisingly 75% of our sales during these months were models with on-demand 2WD, which is known for all-weather and snow capability,” says Madina Merzhoeva, Ural’s Vice President. “Sales were up every month of Q1, but March turned out to be a bit more challenging.
Mon, 28 Jan 2013
According to a Ural announcement the Russian sidecar manufacturer posted a third year of consecutive sales growth. Ural claims that the two previous years, 2010 and 2011 put the company in a position to enjoy a record year in 2012 of 30+% growth, more than previous record set in 2006. “We fell really hard in 2009, maybe harder than others in the industry.
Thu, 05 Jul 2012
Keep your bike close to you when you go camping with the MOTOTENT from motorcycle adventurers Lone Rider. Priced at £450, here's a round-up of the features from Lone Rider:
The MOTOTENT is spacious enough to shelter a dual sport bike as big a BMW R1200 GSA with all its luggage, to have room to work on it, and to be able to stand in the tent. The tunnel-shaped design allows a very quick setup of the tent when needed.