The On-Demand Two-Wheel-Drive Sidecar

Ural Motorcycle — the Russian company built around a captured German machine from WWII — hits 2019 with some fairly major updates that bring the Gear Up into the 21st century. Most of the improvements are “under the hood” as it were, but the factory brushed up the looks and specific equipment for three submodels to make the “GU,” potentially, four rides out of one. Cross-country safety is increased with these models as they’ve been on the receiving end of a universal spare tire that will work in any of the three possible positions. This is the most thorough engine update in quite a while, so let’s check out what those clever Russians have in store for us.

Continue reading for my review of the Ural Gear Up.

  • 2019 Ural Gear Up
  • Year:
    2019
  • Make:
  • Model:
  • Engine:
    Flat twin
  • Displacement:
    749 cc
  • Price:
    16499
  • Price:

2019 Ural Gear Up Design

You could call it 'outdated,' and you wouldn't be wrong, but you could also dub it 'a charming classic' and be equally close to the mark.

If the design seems a little dated, that’s because it is based on an antique design, and looks much like it did in the ’40s when the Red Army and the Wermacht had their little tiff. You could call it “outdated,” and you wouldn’t be wrong, but you could also dub it “a charming classic” and be equally close to the mark. I prefer to think of it in terms of the latter. “Utilitarian” also comes to mind since form definitely follows function, and it starts off in earnest right out of the gate with an old-school fender support and leading-link front forks.

Laced wheels reinforce both the dated looks and the off-road capabilities inherent with this two wheel drive-capable three-wheeler. A single round headlight can rides atop those fixed front forks under a cowl that pulls double-duty as a housing for the also single, round instrument gauge. An analog speedometer is the dominant metric, but there are a handful of idiot lights set in the blacked-out face for low fuel, turn signal indicators, neutral indicator and parking brake light as well as a master caution for the engine and electrical system and an LED screen for the clock and odometer. The five-gallon fuel tank rocks a lockable dry-storage compartment that’s perfect for your handgun, er, I mean your small mobile devices and such. Yeah, that’s what I meant...

Rubber knee pads buffer the tank for the pilot’s comfort, and the bench seat provides a level surface with room to slide fore-and-aft for an extra dimension to your body English. Behind the pilot, there’s a pair of J.C. handles and footpegs for a tandem passenger, though that’ll probably be reserved for a second passenger since the primary spot for living cargo will be in the sidecar. Behind the side passenger is a trunk that provides some more dry storage with a luggage rack and full-size spare tire up top.

Dual LED foglights pierce the night from the nose of the sidecar, and there’s a second luggage rack across the top of the sidecar for 2.9 cubic-feet of lagniappe stowage. The base GU is available in a veritable rainbow of color with glossy, flat and metallic paint on the palette plus a white-and gray Urban Camo package alongside a Woodland Camo finish. All Gear Up models are equipped with all of the above plus a Jerry can and entrenching tool. The sidecar comes with a Tonneau cover that dries in the entire passenger compartment with a USB port to charge your mobile devices.

Sportsman SE Adventurer: Camp Wandawega

2019 Ural Gear Up
- image 804214

In addition to all this yummy-goodness, the factory offers three enhanced vehicle packages. First up is the Sportsman SE Adventurer: Camp Wandawega Edition with a Sportsman Camp Package that adds a low power-draw LED headlight and mug legguards to the ensemble. The sidecar adds a windshield and marine-grade waterproof cover with a 12-Volt power outlet that turns the machine into a campground generator. Color on this camp-tastic ride is offered in a choice between Forest Fog Metallic (green), silver or black.

Sahara SE

2019 Ural Gear Up
- image 804232

Next is the Sahara SE whose equipment package takes it places the others daren’t tread. The off-road gear adds an LED headlight with a Givi windshield for the pilot’s protection and comfort. There’s an extra little luggage rack over the sidecar’s fender and protective grilles over the headlight and sidecar spotlight to prevent rock/debris damage to your forward illumination.

Air LE

2019 Ural Gear Up
- image 804225

Finally, and probably the coolest one of all, is the Air LE that looks like a Ural sidecar but is actually a wee, land-locked aircraft carrier. Think I’m kidding? Observe the hatch on the top of the sidecar’s nose. At the push of a button, the lid pops open to deploy a tiny selfie-drone that the passenger directs with the cockpit-mount controls. I’m thinking this is probably an industry first here; I mean we’re talking about a ground-traversing platform that supports flight operations, however small the scale and limited the range. If that isn’t enough to properly support your vanity, there’s a windsock pole that doubles as a selfie stick so you can get plenty of shots to share with the folks back home.

2019 Ural Gear Up Chassis

2019 Ural Gear Up
- image 804230
The sidecar has a preload-adjustable shock and dual-pot Brembo brake.

Like the rest of the machine, the frame is an exercise in pragmatism with tubular-steel members that make up everything from the double-downtube/double-cradle bike frame to the underpinnings for the sidecar. Even the front forks use heavy tubing for the standing part of the assembly with a leading link that articulates the front wheel and relies on a pair of non-adjustable, coil-over shocks to soak up the jolts from road and trail. A total of three, preload-adjustable Sachs shocks tame the motion of the swingarm and sidecar wheel with five levels preload from which to choose.

Symmetrical, 19-inch aluminum rims use steel spokes for strength to round out the rolling chassis. If you plan on using the Gear Up or one of its variants around town, the Duro HF-308 hoops are for you, but if off-road adventures are more your speed then the optional Heidenau K37 tires are definitely more appropriate. A four-pot Brembo caliper bites the 295 mm front disc with a single-piston HB big-bore caliper on the 256 mm disc out back, and a dual-pot anchor and 245 mm disc on the sidecar. ABS? Forget about it. Nothing but full-raw stoppage here to control the 730-pound (dry) vehicle. Additionally, there’s a parking brake for a little extra security when you need to park on a grade.

Front suspension: IMZ leading link fork
Rear suspension: Double sided swing-arm with two Sachs hydraulic spring shock absorbers, 5x adjustable
Sidecar suspension: Single sided swing-arm with Sachs hydraulic spring shock absorber, 5x adjustable
Wheels: 2.15 x 19 Aluminum rims with steel spokes
Tires: Duro HF-308, 4.0×19″
Front brake: 4-piston fixed Brembo caliper with 295 mm floating NG rotor
Rear brake: HB big bore single piston integrated floating caliper with 256 mm fixed NG rotor
Sidecar brake: 2-piston fixed Brembo caliper with 245 mm floating NG rotor

2019 Ural Gear Up Drivetrain

2019 Ural Gear Up
- image 804227
Major improvements for 2019 focus on the engine.

Most of the new-and-improved features are hidden within the boxer-twin powerplant. The outward design is as dated as ever with a flat-twin, opposed-piston configuration that leaves the pushrod tubes and spark-plug wires exposed on top of the heads that protrude well out from both sides. This new-ish engine sports enlarged cooling fins to more-efficiently deal with the waste heat, and the heads come capped with a freshly re-designed rocker-box covers for an updated look.

Inside the heads, the port geometry has been optimized to improve flow and the exhaust tract has been shortened so less heat transfers to the heads from the exhaust streams. As for the intake, a pair of new Keihin throttle-bodies manage the induction with a throttle position sensor and electronic idle control that allows for easy starts and a smooth idle. Secondary benefits of the new fuel-injection system include reduced emissions and a 31-to-37 mpg efficiency rating that gives the GU an estimated range of up to 185-miles.

It’s a square engine with a bore and stroke that both measure out at 78 mm for a total displacement of 749 cc and mellow, 8.6-to-1 compression ratio. New-and-improved pistons run with a teflon-treated skirt for reduced piston-to-cylinder friction, and the top compression ring bears a molybdenum coating within a hard-anodized top ring for an extra-long service life. A phosphate-coated wrist pin rounds out the improvements inside the jugs. Back in the engine case proper there’s an increased-capacity oil pan with an improved pick-up design meant to deliver more reliable oil pressure to the system.

Like any great off-road trekker, the GU comes with push-button and kick start, so you don’t have to sweat the power drain if you have to tap into the 12-volt system. Speaking of power; the mill grinds out a total of 41-ponies at 5,500 rpm with 42-pounds o’ grunt at 4,300 rpm, and by the time that filters through the dry standard clutch and transmixxer that offers four-speeds forward plus reverse, you can expect a max cruising speed in the neighborhood of 70 mph.

Like the brakes, there’s no fandanglery to be found on the engine, just honest power and true feedback. The bike’s rear wheel is always powered, but there’s an on-demand, two-wheel-drive feature that brings the sidecar wheel into the power loop and turns the GU into a terrain/snow- defeating monster.

Engine: OHV air cooled 2 cylinder 4 stroke “boxer” (flat twin), 2 valves per cylinder
Displacement, cc: 749
Bore and stroke: 78 mm x 78 mm
Max output: 41 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Max torque: 42 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm
Compression: 8.6:1
Fuel system: Throttle body EFI
Starting: Electric & Kickstart
Clutch: Double-disc dry
Transmission: Manual, 4 forward/1 reverse
Primary drive (rear wheel): Driveshaft
Final drive ratio: 4.62
Engageable sidecar wheel drive: Yes, driveshaft

2019 Ural Gear Up Pricing

2019 Ural Gear Up
- image 804226
MSRP starts at $17k with packages that can bump that to $18.5k.

Price on the base Gear Up starts at $16,999 with a two-year warranty that can be extended to three years for another $850. The base Sportsman SE rolls for $18,499 and the optional Camp Package adds $1,055 to that. For the Sahara SE, there’s the same base sticker, but the off-road-tastic package will set you back another $1,699. As for the Air LE, it starts out at $17,999 with a $500 deposit if you’d like to order one of the 40 limited-edition aircraft carriers.

Standard Accessories: LED Sidecar Fog Lights, Sidecar Power Outlet, Sidecar Tonneau Cover, Gas Tank w/ Built-In Storage, Jerry Can, Folding Utility Shovel, Luggage Rack, Universal Spare Wheel (Fits All 3 Positions)
Warranty: 2-years parts and labor unlimited mileage
Colors: Burgundy Satin, Slate Grey, OD Green, Urban Camo, Camo Woodland, Burgundy Metallic, Cascade Green, Grey Metallic, Bronze, Rainier White, Sahara, Taiga, Terracotta Metallic, Baikal Blue
Price: $16,499, Camo Colors: $17,999, Premium Colors: $17,499

2019 Ural Gear Up Competitors

2019 Ural Gear Up
- image 804209
If you're into sidecars straight off the showroom floor, Ural has the only game in town.

This is a tough one. It’s the only major manufacturer that specializes in sidecars (which is what you call a motorcycle with a sidecar; it all gets lumped together). Sure, Harley-Davidson has its Tri Glide and Freewheeler trikes that are based on a design at least as old as the Ural, but are markedly different in looks and attitude. Likewise the funny-backwards trikes like the Yamaha Niken and Can-Am Spyder; they both have three wheels, but the similarities with the Gear Up end there. Unless you go custom or kit, at the end of the day, Ural is doing something unique over there, and if you’re into sidecars straight off the showroom floor, Ural has the only game in town.

He Said

“I already know if I ever strike it rich, I’ll be buying one of these for my wife and fellow writer/rider, Allyn Hinton. With that in mind, I’d like to say I wish it had some ABS and/or rider modes/traction control available, but I realize that’s a big ask for a company that’s still running a reverse-engineered engine from the Third Reich. If I’m honest, I’m tickled that they’ve made the jump to fuel injection and electronic idling aids. Overall, I gotta say I’m digging this new set of sidecars, and the Sportsman package is probably my favorite.”

She Said

My wife and fellow motorcycle writer, Allyn Hinton, says, “My favorite was the Patrol that was discontinued after 2017. Looking at the 2019 lineup, I do like the Gear Up with its off-road and all-weather capabilities owing to the on-demand two-wheel drive. Living in an area with very mild winters where we ride year-’round, I can see this replacing a four-wheeled vehicle.”

2019 Ural Gear Up Specifications

Engine & Drivetrain:
Engine: OHV air cooled 2 cylinder 4 stroke “boxer” (flat twin), 2 valves per cylinder
Displacement, cc: 749
Bore and stroke: 78 mm x 78 mm
Max output: 41 hp @ 5,500 rpm
Max torque: 42 lb-ft @ 4,300 rpm
Compression: 8.6:1
Fuel system: Throttle body EFI
Starting: Electric & Kickstart
Clutch: Double-disc dry
Transmission: Manual, 4 forward/1 reverse
Primary drive (rear wheel): Driveshaft
Final drive ratio: 4.62
Engageable sidecar wheel drive: Yes, driveshaft
Chassis:
Front suspension: IMZ leading link fork
Rear suspension: Double sided swing-arm with two Sachs hydraulic spring shock absorbers, 5x adjustable
Sidecar suspension: Single sided swing-arm with Sachs hydraulic spring shock absorber, 5x adjustable
Wheels: 2.15 x 19 Aluminum rims with steel spokes
Tires: Duro HF-308, 4.0×19″
Front brake: 4-piston fixed Brembo caliper with 295 mm floating NG rotor
Rear brake: HB big bore single piston integrated floating caliper with 256 mm fixed NG rotor
Sidecar brake: 2-piston fixed Brembo caliper with 245 mm floating NG rotor
Dimensions & Capacities:
Overall length: 98.8 inches
Overall height: 54.3 inches
Overall width: 63.6 inches
Seat height, (unladen): 32.0 inches
Ground clearance (unladen): 6.8 inches
Dry weight: 730 lbs
Fuel grade: 91 Octane, unleaded
Fuel tank capacity: 5.0 gals
Reserve: app. 1 gal
Estimated fuel economy: 31-37 mpg
Estimated range: 155-185 miles
Recommended max cruising speed: 70 mph
Max permissible weight: 1,325 lbs
Trunk volume: 2.9 cu ft
Electrical:
Alternator: Denso, Peak Output 40 Amp @ 14vdc, 560 Wt
Battery: FAYTX20HL (12V, 20A)
Headlight: H4
Spark plugs: NGK BPR6HS
Details:
Standard Accessories: LED Sidecar Fog Lights, Sidecar Power Outlet, Sidecar Tonneau Cover, Gas Tank w/ Built-In Storage, Jerry Can, Folding Utility Shovel, Luggage Rack, Universal Spare Wheel (Fits All 3 Positions)
Warranty: 2-years parts and labor unlimited mileage
Colors: Burgundy Satin, Slate Grey, OD Green, Urban Camo, Camo Woodland, Burgundy Metallic, Cascade Green, Grey Metallic, Bronze, Rainier White, Sahara, Taiga, Terracotta Metallic, Baikal Blue
Price: $16,499, Camo: $17,999, Premium Colors: $17,499

Further Reading

Harley Davidson TriGlide

2019 Harley-Davidson TriGlide Ultra
- image 792901

See our review of the Harley-Davidson TriGlide.

Harley-Davidson Freewheeler

2019 Harley-Davidson Freewheeler
- image 792879

See our review of the Harley-Davidson Freewheeler.

Can-Am Spyder F3 / F3-S

2018 - 2019 Can-Am Spyder F3 / F3-S
- image 795690

See our review of the Can-Am Spyder F3 / F3-S.

Yamaha Niken

2019 Yamaha Niken
- image 789390

See our review of the Yamaha Niken.

Ural Motorcycles

no article
- image 804197

Read more Ural news.

All images featured on this website are copyrighted to their respective rightful owners. No infringement is intended. Image Source: imz-ural.com, harley-davidson.com, brp.com, yamaha-motor.com

Press release
What do you think?
Show Comments
Motorcycle Finder: