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, 17 Feb 2012 00:00:00 -0800
There's something incredibly British about The Ice Run adventure. It was an idea dreamt up by Tom Morgan, Founder-in-Chief of - get this - The Institute of Adventure Research, the 'research arm' of a group called The Adventurists. Brilliant!
Wed, 11 Jan 2012 00:00:00 -0800
Ural, the funky motorcycle sidecar manufacturer from Russia, is boasting a 39% increase in unit sales for 2011. Considering the company’s total expected output for last year was approximately 1,100 models, you won’t notice an influx of sidehacks dominating your local roadways, but this is really good news for the small manufacturer of eclectic two-wheelers, especially in the midst of a deficient economy. Ural recognized an article in the New York Times and a collaboration with bike builder James Hammarhead for some of the company’s increasing popularity.
Mon, 20 Apr 2009 00:00:00 -0700
John Gibson had a vision 15 years ago to sell ice cream from a motorcycle sidecar, inspired while running as he listening to motivational guru, Tony Robins. After years of experimenting with different bikes and setups, including using the Russian made Ural (he once owned a Ural dealership), Gibson, finally settled on the Honda 750 Shadow and the Harley-Davidson 883 Sportster. The Cool Cycles Ice Cream Company is open for business, the headquarters are located in Tacoma, WA where they will start selling franchises within a 100 mile radius, the Los Angeles area will be next and Las Vegas to follow.