Sheldon's 1998 Ural Sportsman - Week 4

5/16/98 Day 22 Dropped the Ural off at the Dealer to have the starter installed, and have the bike serviced.  I am also still waiting for the spare tire cover but that is not quite a critical part.  I am now in withdrawal.  This may be a very bad week for me.  Marlow is going to deliver the bike back to me, 110 miles each way, as it will take just about a full day to put the starter in.  And being a boat dealer he is swamped right now with fishing season starting and Memorial day coming.  He is going to try to have it back to me Tuesday but wasn't sure it would be possible.  I have to leave town early Wednesday morning until Friday.  So I may have a full week without riding.  We shall see if I survive.  I have become so very dependent on enjoying the Ural that I can hardly stand being away from the thing.

One thing interesting that Marlow told me was that he got a call from a group that will be doing a motorcycle rally in Duluth this summer.  They need to buy a motorcycle to raffle off.  They originally intended to give away a Polaris Victory but the factory wasn't able to guarantee that they would have one in time.  So they decided on a Ural after seeing mine running around Duluth.  I don't think I have ever met the people but they certainly are aware of me and even knew that I lived somewhere in Esko.  The Ural is probably the most visible motorcycle in this area.  Isn't it wonderful...

1971 Moto Guzzi Ambassador5/17/98 Sunday Day 23 of ownership and day 2 without the Ural...  I worked in the gardens, stared at the Moto Guzzi Ambassador in the garage, and cleaned house...  But I would rather be riding...  

5/18/98 Monday Day 24 of ownership and day 3 without the Ural....   The starter came in today so they will finally be able to get it together.  Unfortunately it won't be done before I leave on a business trip to the Green Bay Wisconsin area.  I was hoping to drag it along in the back of the truck, unload it there and put on some more miles but that is not going to work out.  So I guess I am going to have a full week without riding.  Argh.....  Today was a record high for May 18th in Duluth.  The official record was 85 degrees F. but I live in the country South of the city where it is always a bit warmer and we had 94 F.   And me owning two bikes and neither to ride.

5/19/98 Tuesday Day 25 of ownership and day 4 without the Ural...   Another beautiful day, no bike....

5/20/98 Wednesday Day 26 of ownership and day 5 without the Ural...   I am on the road today to Shawano Wisconsin which is near Green Bay Wisconsin.   The original plan was to take the Ural with in the back of the pickup and use it in the Shawano area.  At 42 mph the 600 mile round trip might be tough on both me and the bike.  Unfortunately the bike was not done in time.  I really didn't expect it to be.  Northern Sports had their work cut out for them on this scheduled service.   So here I am in my hotel room with no bike waiting for me.  Argh...

5/21/98 Thursday Day 27 of ownership and day 6 without the Ural...    Sitting in my Country Inn hotel room comforting myself with the Jacuzzi...  but not quite the same as a sidecar rig...   About the same time I am typing this Marlow should be delivering my bike to my house.  That is service, a 220 mile round trip for him to deliver it to me is "beyond the call of duty", and greatly appreciated.  Tomorrow evening I will be riding again...

5/22/98 Friday, Day 28...  Left Shawano Wisconsin at 6:00 a.m., stopped in Marathon City for a bit and arrived home about 2:30 p.m..  It has been a long day but I have been looking forward to getting on the bike.   It was parked in the garage when I got home and Son #1, his wife, granddaughter Amanda, and grandson Nicholas were there waiting for me.  Well, they weren't actually waiting for me...  I think they were more interested in my washer and dryer than me but at least it is nice of them to stop by.  We pushed the bike out of the garage and the license plate was laying on the hack.  It had finally come in but Marlow didn't install it for some reason.  When I went to put it on it turned out that the rubber plate that it goes on has holes drilled about an inch too far apart for the Minnesota plate.  I ended up cutting the holes wider and getting the plate on.

I closed the choke, turned on the key and hit the starter button.  IT FIRED IMMEDIATELY!!  The electric start is awesome, I just won't look quite as cool.   It always seems that kicking a bike implies a certain level of coolness that I guess I will have to go without.  I guess there are always tradeoffs in life.   <grin>

Took it out for a little ride and it felt wonderful...  Took a break to answer some e-mail then went out for a longer spin around the block, except the block ended up being huge.  I put another 70 km on it.  I now am at 1531 km (949 miles).   You must consider that this is at a top speed of 42 mph, probably an average speed of 35 mph.  That would then represent about 27 hours of riding.   Only another two weeks or so and I will be able to open it up completely.  At the 2500 km mark the dealer will remove the carburetor restrictor and off I will go...  A couple of things I noticed about the electric starter.  It seems that the top of the timing chain area is much noisier than it was.  The bike sounds like it is going to grind away to nothing.  I wonder if that is normal for these things.  Another thing is that when you press the start button nothing happens for about two seconds then it kicks over.  For those two seconds it seems like there is nothing going on.  I wonder why that is?

Received this answer from Ural tech support:

-----Original Message-----

From: Ural Tech Support
Sent: Friday, May 22, 1998 11:20 PM
Subject: E-start 

Dear Sheldon-
I've been perusing your URAL diary...Nice work!

Glad to hear you finally received your starter. You wondered about a couple of items, so I thought I would take the time to answer them for you:

1. re: additional accessory drive "gear" noise - Yes, the starter gensets do tend to be a bit noisier than their alternator counterparts. Like the rest of your rig, the gear needs some running in before it begins to quiet down. After break-in, it will still make some noise...Normal stuff. You will become accustomed to it. The only thing to listen for is a rubbing/chattering sound...This would indicate the lash may be set a skosh too tight.

2. re: Time delay at starting - This is normal for a starter/generator set.   As the unit has but a 1.33:1 drive ratio, it cannot rely on mechanical gear reduction to amplify torque the way an automotive starter does. As a result, you experience firsthand something electric motor jocks call "inrush current"...The additional current required to get the mass of the motor rotating takes a split second to build in the windings. I find I can get the motor spinning sooner by hitting the starter button twice. I can't quite explain why this works, but it seems to replicate a "soft start" feature often seen on electronic variable speed drives for electric motors...Must minimize the voltage drop somehow.

And finally a few extra "pointers"...

a) Your engine is very close to being broken in at 1500km. What it needs now is some extended running near your 42 MPH max speed. Please note:  

It's okay to take the rig up to 42 MPH, not 42 kph. Just watch your engine heat...If you pull up to a light and the motor idle is way down, then it's starting to get hot. You'll know when it's fully broken in, as the idle will stabilize on a warm motor.

b) at 1500 km, you're doing the job of breaking in the gearbox. Make sure you cycle it through the gears regularly. As it breaks in , you'll notice an improvement in shift quality. While the box will never "snick" into gear like a Japanese bike, it will eventually find the cogs with a minimum of protest.

URAL Tech Dep't.

An observation:  I have never received such wonderful information from any manufacturer, importer, or dealer of any car, truck, bike I have ever owned.  This kind of direct response, coupled with the Ural web site discussion area where tech support checks in daily, make owning such a rare beast a pleasure.  It builds confidence in the vehicle to have this kind of support at my fingertips.  If anyone reading this owns, or is contemplating owning a Ural, you should check out the discussion area at

Week: Intro, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22

You can e-mail Sheldon at

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And Sheldon's Deco Diary at:

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Last modified: March 22, 2011

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