Sheldon's 1998 Ural Deco - Week Ten

"Return of the Frog"

Day 48, Sunday March 14, 1999...  When looking  for a title for this week I was thinking about the Sportsman being back home.  I ran across the above title from a 1938 movie and it hit me that the Sportsman is the closest thing to a Frog to be found in the motorcycling world....   And it is even the right color.

10:00 a.m. Sunday dawned bright and sunny, about 20 f., and predicted to reach nearly 40 f. today.  Lisa was supposed to come over for dinner this afternoon but she called last night and can't make it, so instead I am going to run North to Grand Lake and install some software.  Had hoped to not do any work today, but this needs to be done, and besides, it is as good of an excuse for a ride as one can imagine.  I am going to take the Deco.  First I want to go over it from stem to stern checking all the bolts.  So it is off to the garage I go...

5:00 p.m.  Never got a chance to check the Sportsman's electricals.  Did 50 km on the Deco going to install the software and returning home.  When I returned home I got off the bike, never going in the house, and kicked the Sportsman.  It started on about the fifth kick.  I let it idle with the enricheners and choke on but it died a minute later.  Kicked it again and it started right up.  Turned the idle up just a quarter turn on the left and it idled fine.  This was the first time that I have been able to ride them back to back.  Idled for a while then drove off down the street.  About a half block away it started sputtering.  I went around the block and then pulled back in my driveway.  By then it seemed to be fine.   Drove away and it sputtered a bit then got better.  I think what had happened was that, since the bike had been sitting most of the winter, the battery is probably about dead.  With the 14 amp alternator they can barely keep up and they run terrible when low.  It did seem that it must be charging though.  Got out to the old highway and my smile was from ear to ear.  I do so love the Sportsman.  It is so very stable.  The bike feels like it weighs a couple hundred pounds more than the Deco.  Just feels that way, it is a little heavier but not much.  The Earles fork seems to really make a difference.  I do so like the feel of the Sportsman until you get up to speed.  At 50 mph it has much more vibration than the Deco and seems to be screaming in comparison.  There is a remarkable difference in the RPMs at that speed.

Both bikes jumped out of third gear half a dozen times today.  I do have to try to find out what is wrong there.  My last try at adjustment seems to not have made a difference.  Marlow was supposed to check that out but he never said anything about it.  Riding along, on the Sportsman, at about 50 mph the speedometer quit working.   I couldn't believe it.  I think these two bike are having sympathy pains.   They both jump out of third gear, both have broken speedometers, yet both are beautiful wonderful machines.  When I was riding the Deco, cruising along at about 45 in a 55 zone, a van passed me and the guy slowed next to me, then waved and moved on.   A couple of miles up the road he was stopped at an intersection, standing behind his van waiting for me.  I pulled in and had a nice UDF experience.  We chatted for about fifteen minutes.  He rides a Gold Wing but we know that now his mind will be rolling Ural around like a rock tumbler.  Poor guy will probably be able to think of nothing else.

I do certainly have a few things that need attention on these bikes but not tonight.   It was about 0 C. (32 f.) while I was riding and it sure could have been warmer.   I did get a bit chilled so I am going to crank the heat up in the house and try to relax tonight.  I may even play a video game.  Need to do some work on web sites but, again, not tonight.

One final observation.  I seem to get more waves and smiles on the Sportsman than on the Deco, so far.

Day 49, Monday March 22, 1999...  Rushed home after work, hopped on the Deco and went for a ride.  Put another 40km on her, with a smile on my face the whole time.  It was cool riding but I barely noticed.

Day 50, Tuesday March 23, 1999...  Woke up this morning with light shining in my eyes.  Ever have that instant panic realizing that something was very wrong?  I usually get up at 4:30 or 5:00 a.m., and the sun is not shining at that time of morning.  With my eyes as wide as saucers I looked at the alarm clock, which had never been set last night, and it was 6:03.  Usually I am out the door by 6:15 so I was really running late.  Ran to the bathroom, which is where I forgot to shave, and got ready in record time.  Dressed and out the door.  Looked at my watch as I was opening the garage door, only 6:15.  That was record time!   Realizing that I really had all kind of time, and it was 22 degrees, I decided to take the Deco to work.

Pulled it out of the garage and fired it up, then let it warm up while I put on jacket, gloves, cap and goggles.  Rode away into the rising sun.  The bike was running wonderful.  It just purred along, and all was right with the world.  Until:   Cruising along at about 40 mph on the frontage road the bike started to feel kind of squirrelly.  I was practically in front of a convenience store/gas station so I pulled in next to the air hose.  I thought I might be having a tire that was low, or at worst a bearing going out.  I looked at the tire and it was flat, so I started looking for the stem to fill it with air.  Couldn't see it so I rolled the bike forward to rotate it.  No Stem...

changing tire1a.jpg (14039 bytes)Apparently the tire had rotated on the rim a bit and cut the stem off.  That is not good.  Had to get an innocent bystander to help me rock it up on the center stand, but then I changed the wheel to the spare, and took the bike home.  I didn't feel safe riding on the hills of Duluth with the wheel that gave me brake grief the other day.  Got the car and went off to work, arriving at 8:00.   When I got home I wiped down the bead with a rag, put in a new "American Made" (Hope we don't have to deal with donor organ rejection) inner tube with metal locking stem, then realized what this was all about. I was sitting on a cooler, staring at the Moto Guzzi, then at the Deco, then at the Sportsman, then back to the Deco when it finally dawned on me what she was trying to tell me. "Eureka", I shouted, and slapped my forehead,. As I picked myself up off the floor I said to her, you just want your whitewalls installed! Sure enough, that was it. I put the whitewall on the rear tire and she seemed much happier. I have a job to do tomorrow but Thursday I am going to mount the other two whitewalls and I am sure all will be well.

Day 51, Wednesday March 24, 1999...  Worked all day, then went to Christal Center to do some web site work.  Had to photograph the facilities, and staff, and get information to revise their web site.  Afterwards Christal and I went to dinner at Bellisio's Italian Restaurant.   First time I had been there, and I believe it may be the nicest restaurant in Duluth.  They opened for business last summer so it is surprising it has taken me this long to check it out.  Christal and I have been friends for some time, so afterwards we went to her house, sat on the couch and drank tea and chatted, and she braided my hair.  Felt kind of funny today running around with two braids, got teased about the "Willy Nelson Look", but actually got a lot of good comments on it, which surprised me.  I thought it looked very silly.  Didn't get home until after 10:00 so I didn't do any work at all.  Just had a nice relaxing evening with a friend.

ammo box1.jpg (12332 bytes)Day 52, Thursday March 25, 1999...  Had the usual hectic day at work.  I was at work at 5:30 this morning, so tonight I left at 3:45 and headed home.  Had to stop at the gas company and the bank, then it was home, on with jacket and a quick call.   Tomorrow my fellow board member on Lake Superior Writers, Mary Ellen, was supposed to drop by my office to have me sign some papers on grant requests.  I called her and asked if I could run by her house to sign the papers because I needed a destination for a ride.  Hopped on the bike and headed out.   It was 45 f. when I left home and 25 when I returned an hour later.  Bike purred perfectly and I even stopped off at Central Sales and picked up another ammo case to use as a tool box in the trunk of the Deco.

While I was at Mary Ann's I had the opportunity to check out an article that was in today's Duluth Budgeteer News about Lake Superior Writers.  It was a very nice article and if you would like to read the text check out the article.

I even managed to stop at the rest area at the Thomson Outlook.  Watched the shadow of Spirit Mountain reach across the bay with the sunset and took a few pictures.   If you come to Duluth for the NARMA Rally we will be stopping at this rest area on our tour.  Great view.

thomson hill 3-25-99c1.jpg (4324 bytes)Click photo for larger view

Came home and spent the rest of the night working on web sites.

Day 53, Friday March 26, 1999...   Worked and came home and went for a ride.  Stopped and rented some movies then just wandered around Cloquet.  Probably not exceeding 20 mph.  Not many miles but it was a nice ride.

Click photo for larger view

trio13 3-27-99a.jpg (8045 bytes)Day 54, Saturday March 27, 1999...   Slept in until almost 8:00 a.m. which is way late for me.  Then watched a movie, took a phone call from a customer who I told that I was taking a day off.  About 11:00 I pushed all three bikes out to the driveway and started fiddling with each of them.   Even snapped a few pictures.  Did my first fluid change on a Ural.  Up to this point they have all been done by the dealer.  Had a little problem figuring out the best way to measure the oil and Hyper Lube.  Also couldn't find either of my funnels with the long tubes.  Finally used a small funnel and a turkey baster to get the oil in the holes.  The Hyper Lube is about the consistency of honey and does not pour very well.  Others have told me to let it sit in a pan of hot water before using it.  Next time I will do exactly that.

Took the Deco to the video store in Cloquet and she did one of her "things" again.  She wouldn't go home.  She just wanted to keep going and going.  A twelve mile round trip lasted an hour again.  The Deco is purring so nicely.   The engine is just as smooth as can be.  It is a remarkable difference from the Sportsman which is rough and has never seemed quite with it, but I never had anything to compare it to before.

Judy came over tonight.  I had planned on barbecuing, then we were going to go for a hack ride.  But seeing as I had taken a day off I decided that I didn't want to cook, and the weather was threatening rain and high winds.  So we jumped in her new sporty red car and off to the Hong Kong Restaurant to fill up on lots of great food.   The home to watch a movie on Direct TV (The Negotiator).

I probably won't get much riding in tomorrow.  I have a board meeting at noon and I have to prepare for it in the morning.  So getting today off was a real treat.


Next week

Return to Table of Contents

You can e-mail Sheldon at

Check out Sheldon's Sportsman Diary

Check out the "European Motorcycle Universe"

Copyright 1989-2010, Sheldon T. Aubut, all rights reserved
Last modified: March 22, 2011
For questions or comments about this site please e-mail webmaster.
Hit Counter