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Despite news that Ural Motorcycles were to be making its debut in Malaysia soon, all seems to have gone quiet on that front. When we last met with Reed Motorcycle Company, authorised distributors for Ural Motorcycles in Malaysia, we were informed that the Russian-built sidecar rigs would be in by March.

However, at the Gaikindo Indonesia International Auto Show (GIIAS), we had the chance to get up close and personal with a selection of Ural sidecars. Recently introduced to the Indonesian market by Ural Motorcycle Indonesia, there were four models on display – the CT Daily Commuter, the Gear Up Hello Adventure, the M70 and the Patrol Touring Comfort.

It goes without saying that owning an Ural outfit calls for a level of commitment above and beyond the norm. Based on a BMW Motorrad R71 from the mid thirties, the design was licensed to Russia in 1939, and was produced for the Russian Army.

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With very few changes or revisions, the design has survived into the 21st century, a real retro bike from 80 years ago, not a redesign like the BMW RnineT or Triumph Bonneville T120. Quality of build has been sketchy over the decades, with many owners resorting to improvisation or hacks to keep their rigs on the road, or improve on the factory deficiencies.

Today, with interest in Ural sidecars coming from all over the world, notably from the US, the factory in Irbit, Sverdlovsk Orbast in Russia has ramped up production, and taken steps to improve quality.

We had a close look at the Ural sidecar models on display at GIIAS, and while the modern design touches of finite element engineering and CNC machining are notably missing, what could be felt was a sense of robustness. Nothing flimsy about an Ural, that we can vouch for, as we mounted one of the machines, and it barely budged under our weight.

Without expecting Honda levels of fit and finish, we found the Urals on display to be reasonably put together, with the paint finish being well within acceptance levels. The switchgear was quite chunky, and nothing bent or moved, if not designed to do so.

Everything else looked well assembled, although how long this would hold up under long-term abuse with that 749 cc flat-twin, we wouldn’t know. Power for the Urals – all of them – is rated at 41 hp at 5,500 rpm and torque is 52 Nm at 4,300 rpm.

With those kind of numbers, we would expect performance to be somewhat leisurely. Fuelling is by EFI, and power goes to a driveshaft via four forward and one reverse gear. Riders have a choice of kickstarting or electric, both of which are standard.

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The leading link front fork is a massive thing, probably designed to cross Siberia with nothing in the toolkit expect a pair of pliers and some baling wire. Dry weight for the Ural Patrol – the heaviest of the lot – is 331 kg. Which would mean all up weight could easily reach 360 kgs.

At least there isn’t the risk of the bike falling over, with the sidecar layout. The Ural comes in one- and two-wheel drive versions, with power going to the sidecar wheel via a power take-off shaft.

Accommodation is, as can be expected, distinctly basic and retro. We tried getting into the sidecar, and it was surprisingly easy to get into and out again. It just calls for a certain technique.

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Prices for the Urals in Indonesia is as follows – CT Daily Commuter at 325 million rupiah (RM99k), the two-wheel drive Gear Up Hello Adventure at 405 million rupiah (RM124k), and the M70 Retro and Patrol Touring Comfort, both at 375 million rupiah (RM114k).

In Malaysia, pricing for the Ural range of sidecar rigs is said to be RM80,000 to RM140,000 depending on model and specifications.