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2012 Ural Yamal Limited Edition Sidecar Motorcycle

Posted on December 12, 2012 by Scott in Other. 39 comments

By guest writer Ian Lee.

The Yamal Peninsular on the northwest tip of Russia is cold. Mind numbingly cold. Temperatures of minus 60 degrees Celsius have been recorded there, even in summer the arctic winds will bring on a chill. It’s definitely not the sort of place you want to find yourself locked out without your keys. It takes a hardcore form of transport to get around such an area, one of these being the nuclear powered icebreaker Yamal, named after the peninsular which it sails around. With a giant set of cartoon jaws adorning it’s prow, most pictures tend to show the Yamal leading other icebreakers through fields of ice, showing what it takes to traverse these waters. When Ural were looking for a name for their new special edition, Yamal seemed the perfect moniker. We present to you, the ultimate ‘go anywhere’ bike and sidecar unit, the 2012 Ural Yamal Limited Edition, complete with sidecar mounted oar.

Now for a history lesson. Depending upon who you ask, there are two main theories as to how the M72 motorbike came into existence. One story tells of 5 BMW R71 motorbikes being bought in Sweden, shipped back to the mother country, stripped and every component copied to make the  M72. The other theory is that the plans for the Beemer were handed over to the Russian Defence Department as part of a pact between Germany and Russia at the time. No matter what story you believe, the BMW R71 was a counterfeit worthy bike, it being the inspiration not only for the M72, but also the Harley Davidson XA and the Chiang Jang CJ750.

No matter how it came about, the M72 was a hit with the defence department, 30000 units being supplied in the first 9 years of production. Over the years the M72 changed from being a military unit to a more civilian friendly unit, until eventually the Russian state sold it’s stake and the Ural Motor company was born. The new owners decided that the design of the bike was good enough to continue, but the manufacturing methodology needed to be changed. Better quality control and build practices bringing this 70 year old design into the 21st century. And that’s where our feature bike comes in.

The 749cc BMW derived engine puts out 40hp@5600rpm, with an almost matching 38ft-lbs@4600rpm. Because simpler is better when you take the rough road, twin 32mm Keihin carburettors are fitted, economy allows 165miles from a tank. The clutch fitted is a dry dual disc setup, running power to a 4 speed transmission, with reverse gear for when you get stuck. And this bike is built for taking places where you are likely to get stuck. As with lots of other Russian machinery, two methods of starting are available, both electric and kick, just to be sure.

Interesting roads require adequate suspension, Ural decided that front and rear fitted Sachs hydraulic shocks are able to take the stress of where ever you are tempted to test this bike. The front leading link suspension harks back to the bikes original incarnation, the Brembo floating disc brake setup definitely does not. The rear end and the sidecar are both drum braked, again going with an easy useable idea. These units aren’t built for speed, so braking capability is more aimed towards stability at low speeds, for which drum brakes are adequate. Due to the bike being built on the same platform as Ural’s Gear-up model, on demand 2 wheel drive is fitted standard to these ‘in your face, where the mud at’ machines.

Finished in a shade of orange that would come in handy to alert rescue helicopters, the bike is nearly all go and no show. Sidecar mounted foglights, crashbars, rider as well as passenger windshields, crashbars and more crashbars keep you safe on nearly any shortcut you wish to take. The only break from this style of the bike is the ‘grinning jaw’ decal fitted out on the sidecar, a homage to the Yamal icebreaker from which it gets it’s name. Tires are a nice and tall 19” front, rear and sidecar, aluminium rims steel-spoked around cast aluminium hubs.

If you are planning on touring anywhere the roads are rough, then this bike is for you. Even more so if there are no roads, as testified by the oar that comes as factory equipment when you buy this bike. It is a bike that is been 70 years in the making, and as Ural themselves say ‘there are many places in Russia where only horses and Ural motorcycles can be used to transport gear where you need it’. This is the ultimate ‘that track looks interesting’ touring unit you can get your hands on from factory, surpassing even it’s namesake in ability. Whereas the Yamal icebreaker can’t go on land, the Yamal motorbike must have come with an oar for a reason…

  • “What’s wrong with this bike Turkish? – Nothing, Tommy, i am just not sure about the colour!” It’s a shame that the Yamal jaws are only at one side of the sidecar. Nonetheless a well equipped bike. Scott, you forgot to tell about the paddle “that you can help yourself in distress at sea, too.” 😉

    • “Whereas the Yamal icebreaker can’t go on land, the Yamal motorbike must have come with an oar for a reason…”

      • Hah, sorry. Forgot to look up ‘oar’, stupid german me!

  • Now&Zen

    You’ve got to just love this thing . Functional , usable , repairable ( by almost anyone ) and the thing really can go almost anywhere . And ….. if like what can happen so quickly and easily in the Russian interior , you suddenly find yourself surrounded by water ….. disconnect the sidecar ….. pull out the oar …. and you’re off ! ( thats what the oar is for .. somebody forgetting to read Ural’s press release in full 😉

    Customs are all well fine and good . But this gentlemen ……. is a Motorcycle ! Designed to be Used , not stuck in a garage/living room to be stared at day and night

    Put aside the cafe/bobber/custom what ever ….. buy one of these …….. and Ride !

    • “Whereas the Yamal icebreaker can’t go on land, the Yamal motorbike must have come with an oar for a reason…” Somebody forgot to read the article in full 😉

    • Andy

      This reads like ad copy, and not in a good way.

      • I….was….thinking….the….same….thing, Andy….

  • blackbird

    I looked around on video sites but I was not able to fond any footage of the sidecar actually being used as a boat. I would be interested to get a user made review of the sidecars stability in the water. If anyone finds reviews or video of the sidecar actually being used as a boat, could oyu please post the link?

    • Now&Zen

      Haven’t seen any video’s as of yet on using the sidecar as a floatation device but from all the write ups ….. it functions . Not so much as a boat but rather a boat like device to get you to safer ground . e.g. I wouldn’t recommend intentionally jumping in the thing for a bit of a paddle .. except maybe once to try it out . Its more ‘ survival ‘ than recreational in its purpose .

    • Andy

      The problem with using the sidecar as a boat is that all the water is going to come rushing into the hole you put in the sidecar in order to drain all the rainwater out.

      • lol. That’s why the Russians invented the stopper.

    • Are you serious??

      • blackbird

        Yes Herr Hangaround, most serious. lol…

    • Not quite the same but worth a watch…

      • blackbird

        Awesome. Thanks!

  • Instructions on oar:

    In Case of Emergency:
    If you are reading this then you wandered out too far, and the ice didn’t hold – we’re very sorry.
    In an effort to make it back alive, you may want to follow these survival tips:
    * Abandon all hope – it will help you focus
    * Detach sidecar, jump in, and then paddle like heck
    * Rescue your dog – they’re better at finding their way home than you are
    * Should you find yourself sinking, use your seat cushion as a floatation device

    Now, in all likelihood, if you broke through the ice, everything would sink before you could even grab the oar, much less detach the sidecar. It’s cute and funny, but probably not as practical as the rest of the bike. One could, however, use the oar as a lever to get out of the mud.

    • Oldnbroken

      “Detach sidecar” I love that,always nice to see a sense of humour in a life or death situation. “Help I’m sinking someone throw me my tool box”. Maybe you’d be better off carrying a paddle wheel rather than a spare tire and instead off detaching the sidecar you could just swap the back wheel for the paddle wheel and open the throttle.


      • Oldnbroken

        Ha! The “Disclaimer” reads……

        Ural can not be held responsible for global warming
        Water damage not covered under warranty
        This vehicle is not a boat, nor is the paddle or any part of the motorcycle to be used as a floatation device
        Survival may depend on other factors. Your wife was right, who goes fishing in winter?

      • That might be quicker.

    • In case of emergency:
      *Take out of the sidecar a bottle of vodka…
      *…If the situation remains the same, take out the second one…

  • James

    I wouldn’t trust this to take me to the grocery store on perfectly flat newly minted black top let alone anywhere there are actual bumps which will cause this heap of sh*t to crumble to pieces immediately. Ural’s are NOT good bikes.. I would have one as a living room ornament however.

    • Andy

      The Ural works fine, but is a pain in the ass to work on. The Retro requires swingarm removal in order to get access to the battery. There is lots of flat head hardware and M8 fine threads. Certain parts tolerances on what should be high precision parts is a bit questionable. The bike is overweight and not particularly nimble. The trade-off is you get to not feel very bad when you hit it with a hammer.

      If you want to see some spectacularly bad motorcycle craftsmanship, find a Chang Jiang CJ750. If you want to have the worst grocery run ever, ride that Chang Jiang over 50mph until the motor locks.

      • I have a mechanical Russian watch in my collection that I swear I can hear the gears grinding and popping like a cartoon when I wear it. I’m sure their motorcycles (like any commy bike) is as “refined” as this watch. With all that, I still think they’re neat. But I’d take Japanese, Euro, or American if I wanted reliability.

        • Andy

          IMZ solved the gear grinding problems by giving up on making gears. The trans and the timing gears are made by Herzog GmbH since 2007 or 2008.

    • Mgmue mgmu

      Ever had a Ural? I do – an 06 Patrol. It’s a fine bike & a hell of a lot of fun. I routinely ride it down ATV trails, ride it sometimes in the winter snow for fun & all summer long it’s my main squeeze. I ride almost always on a dirt road when going for longer rides. Fragile? Not mine.

  • Стефан ‘Dobermann’ Петров

    In early 80’s my friend’s grandfather was an electrician checking the big power lines.There are no roads, nor people around most power lines and you know if something happens some one MUST to go or people will stay with no electricity.
    I remember my friend’s grandfather going to work on his company Ural every morning and sometimes in the night. I remember hearing it’s sound no mater the season and weather – winter, summer, autumn, spring.
    I remember when we were at least 4 kids sitting in the sidecar, with big grin on our faces and him driving us to the end of the street…
    Man, what a golden time…

    • Cool memory.

    • Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

    • That’s what sidecars are for, to give the neighborhood kids a ride and make them smile.

  • All it needs is a Maschinengewehr 42 to make it complete (it is a BMW copy, after all).

    • I’m gonna have a look in my storage, but i am afraid i’m all out of M42s. 🙁

  • Frank

    An oar? LOL, nice joke. Ural don´t want to make us believe that this heap of iron will swim? Maybe the oar it good for beating the sh*t out of the bike when it´s broken down again. Don´t get me wrong, I would love an outfit like that but I doubt that improvements in quality control are enough to prevent a major engine failure after just one season. A friend had one of these – a mess! YMMV though…

  • I’m thinking the oar I could use for smacking my husband on the side of his head for actually buying the thing!! Seriously he’s thinking about it……