The 12 Rides Of Christmas: 2011 Ural Patrol

Deduction is boring. Deductions are linear, direct, rational, safe. Like inserting a pre-cut piece into a puzzle, they’re what fits: the only thing that fits. Deductions are why people buy base model Toyota Corolla sedans.

Inductions on the other hand, are muddy and imprecise. They require a leap of faith. A conclusion of best guesses based on hope that your theory will pan out.

2011 Ural Patrol

In March of 2021 my wife and I surmised that buying a slow, heavy and antiquated motorcycle – a relic of engineering from at least three generations prior to ours – would be an excellent idea. Our fuzzy logic is why we now own a 10 year-old, orange and silver, 2wd Ural Patrol. If two wheels move the soul, surely something with three wheels will move two soulmates, right?

The funny thing about piloting a sidecar rig is that it doesn’t behave like anything else on wheels. It pulls to the right during acceleration, tugs to the left under braking and regardless of how steady your throttle hand is, refuses to track straight and true. It feels as if it’s actively plotting against you.

2011 Ural Patrol

If you dare to ride alone, without any ballast in the chair, it takes on an even more murderous bent. Turn to the right while carrying a little too much speed, or do so abruptly, and the hack will flip from one side to the other, taking you with it.

Urals are neither quick nor fast either. Powered by a 750cc, parallel twin engine, there were (maybe) thirty-nine horsepower available when our Ural, Boris, was first bolted together a decade ago in Irbit, Russia. On a flat stretch of road, Boris can hustle us and his 350kg of mass along just fast enough to be in everyone’s way on a rural highway. This means, instead of getting lost in the ride I constantly check the mirrors. And those vibrate as much as the speedometer needle, so I never really know how fast we’re moving nor what is closing in on us. Probably Corolla sedans!?!

And then there is the fact that Urals are quite notorious for their build quality and reliability. Every odd mechanical sound – and there are many of them, constantly – causes a minor puckering in the posterior regions. You never know when something in either the engine or driveline may decide it’s had enough and abandon ship. Forums are littered with horror stories. I typically comfort myself with the words of Sir Stirling Moss and remind myself that “to achieve anything in this game you must be prepared to dabble in the boundary of disaster”.

2011 Ural Patrol

The funny thing about owning our Ural is that none of that matters. At least not in a negative way. The noise and chatter of impending doom and disaster fade behind in a sea of laughter and smiles. Running out to grab groceries (Urals have a large trunk) immediately becomes an adventure. Heading down an ATV trail feels like we’re on our own Dakar rally and nobody, not even previously held up traffic, can pass us and our orange relic without sharing in our glee. With years of shared adventures on the horizon, our theory has checked out, our reasoning was sound. At least so far.


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