The Ural allows my family to explore this country together on a motorcycle. It also allows me to ride in the snow, something important to residents of Minnesota.
I started motorcycling on October 1, 2005, after two years of researching riding techniques, safety gear, crash statistics, and of course, motorcycles.
My initial motivations for motorcycling were self-centered. I wanted to go fast. I wanted to experience traveling in a more intimate way.
If I’m being honest, I wanted an easy excuse to be by myself.
I started riding with groups, and some of them had passengers. The couples who rode “2UP” seemed to have a lot of fun, too.
I met my (eventual) wife on an online technology community in 2004. We chatted online off and on, but it wasn’t until a regional meet-and-greet in 2009 that we met in person. I rode my FZ6 down from Virginia to Georgia to meet her.
That week set the stage for 2UP motorcycle touring, and became my new primary passion for riding.
I moved to Minnesota in 2011, as it was far easier for me to move there than to transport her children back and forth to her ex-husband. The riding season here is quite different from back home.
We’re lucky if we can go from March until October. The idea of the Ural’s three wheels and 2WD were appealing to me. I hoped I could ride a little deeper into the season. I researched Urals extensively, but was unwilling to spend that much money given the technological state of the Urals at that time. Carbs, drum brakes, a 650cc engine that was considered too underpowered to go much above 65MPH (I could spend up to 90 minutes a day commuting to downtown).
We stuck with our Yamaha FJR. We took fewer trips on the bike for fun, and I motorcycled almost exclusively for commuting. Motorcycling became a mechanism to go to work a few months out of the year, instead of something I associated with traveling with my wife.
My FJR sat unused for most of 2016, and I didn’t ride a single day in 2017.
Both of my wife’s sons came to stay with us full time in 2016. We wound up getting full legal and physical custody of them two years later. That made my wife and I reassess our high speed 2UP travels on my FJR, as we were unwilling to leave the youngest at home while we gallivanted around.
It was time to reconsider the Ural. It got fuel injection in 2014, a larger 750cc engine, disc brakes all the way around, and several other major improvements. The bike continues to improve year over year.
The Ural checks a lot of boxes for us. I can ride deeper into the season, and the three of us can go riding together.
I look forward to showing a new generation the excitement and adventure one can have on a motorbike — two wheels or three.