Ural motorcycles is a Russian manufacturer based in Irbit, Russia. They are known for their two wheel drive motorcycle/sidecar combos which are modeled heavily on late 1930’s BMW’s. Said to be able to travel anywhere, with a small payload, these motorcycles look like they’d be an absolute blast. But, what if you wanted the pirated BMW R71 design without the sidecar? Ural has made versions sans-sidecar for years. Just no longer for you.
The Ural Retro Solo is one of only a few Ural motorcycles available without the iconic sidecar. It is still in production (2016) but is not available in the US or even in greater Europe. According to the European Ural website, Solo models were available up to 2008. In ’08 EURO 3 emissions standards forced an end to the Ural Solo sales in the EU. Apparently the addition of a sidecar allows the Urals to be reclassified into another bracket and skirt the strict emissions laws.
I reached out to Ural for comment and was quickly told that the US branch of Ural decided to focus on the sidecar models since the solo models were not in demand. Understandable, logical even. But it’s still a bummer.
There are plenty of great retro bikes out there, why be upset about the Russian one? Because I have no hope of affording a 1930’s era BMW. Even if I could afford it I’d be too scared to ride the thing for more than a few miles early on Sunday mornings. So why not just remove the sidecar and beat the system? Most Ural’s sold with a sidecar have a leading-link front end which really isn’t designed for use as a motorcycle. I’m not spending $13k for a motorcycle that doesn’t ride reasonably well or safely without the sidecar. I’m also not sure I’m smart enough to ride a sidecar rig without trying to lane split.
If you’re dead set on buying one you’ll have to head to Russia or Chile, the only two countries where the Solo is currently being sold. The bike lists for 559,000 Russian Rubles, or about $8700 USD. Or you could try to find one used since some were brought to the US before 2015.