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Review of the 2006 Ural Patrol:
Birmingham to Buffalo River and Back!
Author: Alabama Patrol, 2007-02-15|
I bought a 2006 URAL Patrol fully aware of its perceived limitations versus the ´modern bike´ and exactly for the advantages that for me, make the Patrol stand head and shoulders over the rest!
That´s right . . .|
You definitely won´t blow by the crotch rockets, the cruisers, the choppers or for that matter much else on the highway. But they can´t carry 3 people and gear or go off off-road the way this little Russian machine can. Each Fall, I generally head up to the BWCA to canoe and camp with my brothers. Fall 2006, work and life just got in the way and the trip was cancelled. So, late October, when things slowed down and I saw a window of opportunity, I started looking for an alternative trip where my brothers and I could hook up at a mid-way destination to us all and get in a float trip and some camping. Buffalo River, Arkansas here we come. I decided that I would do the trip on the Patrol. I had run it in over the course of the year as directed by the manufacturer, had a solid comfort level with the rig and how it handled in both good and bad weather, so I started planning. This ride would be roughly 1000 plus miles roundtrip so I contacted another local URAL rider with more miles under his belt for information on how his URAL performed on long hauls. We balanced the carbs together, simple, but I had never done before so it was nice to observe and then do. Other than that, I made a list of things he mentioned could be maintenance issues on a long ride. I changed oil, trans, and final drive fluids, put in new plugs, removed the side car wind screen (no passenger on this trip - less wind drag with screen off). I took off around 5PM, figuring to get as close to Memphis as possible before calling it a day. The bike ran like a champ, but the weather turned and a cold front came in causing the temp to drop dramatically as I rode across western Alabama. I stopped short of Memphis around 8PM having done roughly 161 miles or 264 km at an average of 55mph, just was to cold.
The next morning at breakfast I met a great couple from Alaska, who had just come from the Buffalo river and loved the area, so I was stoked for my day 2 trip to start. Looked over the Patrol, had a little oil weeping seen low on the left exhaust. Traced it back to a loosening of the oil pan bolts, broke out the hex keys and tightened up, issue solved and it was an issue I had on my list from Mike, the URAL rider who helped balance the carbs before the trip. Off I go, so far avg 190km/118miles to the tank (4.5 gallons), about 26 mpg. I made a point to track my km using the trip meter and gas up between 190-200km and not tap into the reserve fuel. Got to Memphis and through without any troubles, but a whole lotta looking and horn tooting for the URAL. It´s one rig everybody loves to look at and people will come up to you no matter where you are to ask you about it. Once past Jonesboro, the ride got more interesting as terrain changed more and I went through numerous small towns getting a lot of looks and hollers from the local folks. Pulled over once in Salem and tightened those oil pan bolts again. Twice in 280 miles, not bad, but definitely gonna do some medium blue locktite to resolve later. I had used 3rd gear a good bit based on URAL riders feedback, but really found 4th to cut out a significant amount of vibration that I felt contributed to the oil pan bolt loosening. I also found 4th to really do comfortable cruising on the highways, easily hitting the URAL recommended 62mph max, 65mph no problem (remember the windscreen is off) and on the downhill 70-72mph with gravity assiting of course was not a stretch either. Again, this is not recommended by URAL or certainly by me for any extended period. Also, remember, I had no screen and no passenger only me at 205lbs and roughly 40lbs of gear in the sidecar. Add a passenger and you are lookin at 55-60mph at best and no more. As for the rest of my trip, suffice to say I made it fine, the rain came and Buffalo River hit flood stage for a couple days (no float trip), did a little camping, rented a cabin, spent some quality time with my brother and headed back to Alabama. The only other notable issues with this bike.
* get better seat / padding - when they say iron butt on a 1000 mile ride they mean it.
* get a throttle cruise control for use on rides over 200 miles. Hand and wrist fatigue is an issue on any bike, not just a URAL.
* engine access cap on left side loosened allowing oil to spray over engine and left carb. Again, this was on my list as an issue and easily corrected in a few minutes.
* 45 miles from home, exiting off for a drink, clutch lever started flapping loosely, NO CLUTCH function! Geared down listening to motor, pulled over cut engine. Quick inspection showed the pin holding the clutch lever arm at rear of engine had vibrated out or been broken - IT WAS GONE¿ Roadside fix - took smallest allen key of allen wrench set, slipped in place of pin, curled over with pliers - PROBLEM SOLVED!
The only other thing I will mention is that I took oil, filters, gas filters, extra tubes for tires (never had to use), complete tool kit including 2 ton jack, emergency lights, half helmet, full face helmet, 700 watt power inverter (use in sidecar accessory plug) for charging camera, phone, etc. and you damn sure can´t do that on your run of the mill mass produced Japanese or American bike! This URAL is built like a tank, runs like a champ, and quite frankly part of the charm is the little tinkering here and there that comes with this URAL free of charge!
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