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Transcontinental Ural Capers (Pics Added)

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by PatB, Jul 10, 2008.

  1. Well, it's three days since I arrived home from the Big Trip, and more than a day since I completed the coast-to-coast by giving the Ural a sniff of the Indian Ocean, so it's time to set down an account of the trip for posterity.

    I kept a journal during the trip and what follows will largely reproduce its contents. I'll be taking a leaf out of Chris's book and not trying to squeeze the whole run into one post, but breaking it into easily digested (and much more quickly written) chunks of a day or two at a time. I'll also look at collating my comments on the bike into a post for the Bike Reviews section, although it may prove to duplicate what's here to an unacceptable extent.

    Background and Preparation

    Having made the possibly rash decision to buy a Ural Gear-Up sidecar outfit in forest camo, the problem of getting the beast from the East Coast (where all the dealers currently reside) to the West (where MrsB, its new owner currently resides) remained to be solved.

    Specialist bike transporters are mainly set up for solos. Combos are so rare that the possibility of finding a shipper who could truly cope with one seemed remote. Car shippers were considered only briefly. Considering the horror stories that abound of the damage that they can do to the relatively smooth and resilient exteriors of modern cars, entrusting them with the care of an outfit with a profusion of fragile, sticky out bits seemed to be a recipe for tears before bedtime and lengthy, soul-destroying litigation.

    So there was only one thing for it. Either MrsB or I would have to fly to NSW and ride it back :shock: . As the one most experienced in nursing temperamental vehicles home, I drew the short straw :wink: and began to make preparations.

    A cheap flight and transport and accomodation in NSW proved to be the easy bits. More difficult would be the paperwork to allow me, as a WA resident, to buy a vehicle in NSW and legally ride it out of the showroom and back home. Considering we're supposed to be one country, you'd think it would be easy wouldn't you? Not so :evil: .

    I couldn't obtain NSW registration for the vehicle because I'm not a resident there. I couldn't obtain WA registration for the vehicle because it must be inspected for roadworthiness in WA. The only way to make it all happen was to obtain a NSW Unregistered Vehicle Permit to allow me to cross NSW and SA, then to obtain a WA Temporary Movement Permit to get me from the WA border to an inspection station in Perth. NSW are fairly generous with the time they'll allow on a permit (anything up to two weeks), but WA are a bit stingy, allowing only 48 hours, so a fast run from the border was going to be necessary.

    Even obtaining a UVP wasn't going to be all plain sailing. I still needed a residential address in NSW to put on the application form. Here I fell back on the collective generosity of Netrider and was positively deluged with offers of assistance in this regard. My sincere thanks to those who offered, and my everlasting gratitude to the NR whose address I ended up using. You know who you are and I owe you all :) .

    Legal technicalities aside, a route was plotted and a rough plan of attack worked out. I'd cross the continent in relatively easy stages, at least at first, allowing time to take it easy to run the bike in and perform servicing and (if necessary) repairs en route. I intended to do the run in comfort and budgeted for motel accommodation each night, although I'd take tent and sleeping bag, just in case I was met with a forest of No Vacancy signs at any stage.

    Once tent, doss bag, riding gear and enough bits and pieces to allow a reasonable level of civilisation to be maintained were packed, I'd run out of baggage allowance for the flight, so, for the trip home, I'd be reliant on the bike's (comprehensive) standard toolkit and whatever I could buy or otherwise obtain once in the East. Visions of roadside engine rebuilds in the middle of the Nullabor, using only two toffee spanners and a bent screwdriver danced in my head as I left for the airport.

    Saturday 28th June

    Caught Virgin Blue's midnight horror out of Perth and, amazingly, managed to sleep most of the way to Melbourne where I had an hour or two's wait for my connection to Newcastle. Slept most of the way on that one too.

    Had a rare moment of inspiration on arrival, and sorted out my hire car before heading for the baggage carousel, thus avoiding both the worst of the reclaim scrum and the lengthy queuing experience enjoyed by many of my fellow passengers.

    The hire car was a Hyundai Getz and, if I may be permitted a little car oriented aside on a bike forum, I was vastly more impressed with it than the Ford XR6 I recently drove. Panel fits, trim quality, ergonomics, visibility, lack of mysterious rattles and noises and general pleasant driving experience were all an order of magnitude better than the homegrown product. Tip to Ford and Holden; the Koreans are kicking your arses in the sales stakes for cars that people actually buy with their own money rather than their employers' because they've moved on since 1975.

    Anyway, in my surprisingly good cheapo Korean hire car, I headed up to East Maitland to meet the affable Peter Hogan, proprietor of Dbike Shop and enthusiastic sidecarrist. It makes considerable sense to buy an outfit from a dealer who knows what three wheelers are supposed to feel like. That way, you've got a fighting chance that it will be set up somewhere close to right as far as alignment is concerned.

    And there it was. My (or rather MrsB's) new pride and joy, resplendent in it's forest camo which an enthusiastic detailer had attempted (unsuccessfully) to render glossy by the application of what appeared to be several gallons of polishing goop. Ah well.


    First impressions were of size and solidity. A brief inspection showed the welding and foundrywork to all be to a much higher standard than I remembered on UK market bikes in the early 90s. Nothing visible really made me suck my teeth and worry about quality or potential reliability problems. Overall, it looked pretty good.


    Pulling out both chokes (or, more correctly, enricheners) on the Keihin carbs and prodding the starter button caused the engine to fire on the first compression and settle to a smooth, if somewhat high, idle.

    Quite reasonably, considering the trouble that a novice can find themselves in on an outfit, both the importers and the dealers for the Ural take some pains to ensure that anyone buying one has at least the basics of chairmanship before being let loose alone. Consequently, my first run was as a passenger in the chair as Peter took me to some quiet suburban streets where I could see how rusty my hackery skills might have become. The sidecar was very comfortable. Even at 183 cm and 120 kg in my riding gear, I fitted very nicely in an elbows out sort of manner.

    Swapping places, I found that I was rustier than a Lancia on a salt lake, and was very tentative indeed for the first couple of trips round the block. Even 40 km/h seemed terrifyingly fast and the whole plot seemed determined to drift wide on even low speed left handers. All perfectly normal for a novice, but I used to consider myself fairly hot stuff on a more vicious outfit than this one so I was a bit disappointed with my performance.

    However, a few more laps and things started to come back. Attacking left-handers with more gusto improved the feel of things considerably, although I then had a small problem with the width of the outfit, managing to clip a spoon drain at one point. However, I was improving, and even managed what felt to be a creditable throttle induced left-right-left through some traffic calming islands. Anyway, my performance was deemed adequate (or maybe just too terrifying :grin: ) and we headed back to the shop to do the deal.

    Payment made, I trotted up to the local Motor Registry (only 100m up the road, rather conveniently) to see about a UVP. I'd been dreading this bit and envisaging all kinds of bureaucratic horror to be endured. My time budget was worked out to allow me to return on Monday and even Tuesday to jump through RTA hoops to get my piece of paper. As it turned out, I was in and out in less than half an hour :shock: :grin: . Credit where it's due, they did an efficient, fuss free job. Even worded the permit to allow me to ride down into Newcastle before setting off for the West (ostensibly to allow me to reach my motel but, in reality, to get some photos of the bike by the sea :wink: ).

    Legalities sorted, it only remained for me to drop my hire car back at the airport, return to Dbike Shop chauffered by Renae (who somehow managed to cop my life story on the way and didn't appear to fall asleep at any point :grin: ) and pick up the combo for the brief run to my motel in Wallsend.

    Needless to say, my first trip did not go particularly smoothly. I was tired and any unfamiliar vehicle demands full possession of all one's faculties, let alone a vehicle with the foibles of a combo. Without a passenger, the chair was sitting too high and pushing the bike right, the rapidly loosening new engine developed a 3000 rpm idle and, not knowing the area at all, I got lost. I've said many rude things about WA's signposting. However, I take them all back, because NSW is far worse. It might be OK if you live there and have some familiarity with suburb names and relative locations but for a stranger it's pretty much impossible to avoid several hours of aimless wandering in a quest to find your destination.

    After several stops to rest a hot smelling engine and a number of hairy moments involving falling left handers and a nervous throttle wrist, I eventually found a road name that looked familiar and, by good fortune, managed to follow it in the right direction to the Hotel Formule 1.

    Knackered, dehydrated and wondering seriously what I'd got myself into, I staggered up to a room that was about the minimum size you could put people into without being accused of crimes against humanity, poured several litres of water down my throat and crashed out for a solid 14 hours.

    To be continued.....
  2. Well glad to see you've made it back :woot:

    ...but still much to read :popcorn:
  3. Good stuff Pat. Eagerly awaiting the next installment.
  4. I've been looking forward to this story :)

    Congrats on making it back btw!
  5. Re: Transcontinental Ural Capers

    Top write up M8 :applause:
    Catch 22 alive and well eh :roll:
    Ooh they’re not in favour right here right now ask “DadAgain†:LOL:
    :LOL: :LOL:
    Pics next post eh?
  6. Sunday 29th June

    Catching the redeye had taken more out of me than I expected. Must be getting old. However, fourteen hours kip saw me much restored and so , after breakfast at the motel (which wasn’t really worth the $7 I paid for it, though the cheap and adequate room made up for that a bit), I wandered out to the bike in a much more positive frame of mind.

    First priority was to improve the handling, especially on left handers. From the dealer, the suspension units (five of ‘em, basically interchangeable, although I’m not sure whether the spring rates are all the same) were all set to minimum preload. This was fine with two guys of comparable size on board, but with just my ample frame on the bike and noone in the chair it led to the outfit adopting a perceptible list to starboard and consequent reluctance to turn left without feeling as if the sidecar was about to come up (which is no big deal with a bit of practice but is rather disturbing when you’re (re)learning). Out came the huge tool roll and, two minutes with the C spanner later, the bike was sitting up on max preload at both ends, the chair remaining on min.

    Next job was a quick trip to Supercrap to lay in emergency supplies for the big run. I’m no fan of SC but I’d passed a branch during the previous day’s wanderings so it had the major virtue that I knew where it was. On the way, my growing familiarity with the outfit, combined with the suspension adjustment made the run far more pleasant. The idle was still sky high, but at least it went round corners without the sphincter twitching moments of the day before.

    Pulling into the car park, I experienced the widely recognised Ural Delay Factor for the first time. In the five meters between the bike and the door of the store I found myself talking to two or three interested folk, giving them a potted history of Urals in general and this Ural in particular in answer to their questions as to what it was and how old it was. This was to become a constant theme over the course of the week and I got my spiel down to a fine art by the time I reached home.

    Supercrap provided oils, fuses, wire, tape (both gaffer and electrical), cable ties, funnels, drain pan, clean up stuff, a big rechargable hand lamp and a few other odds and sods of tools and emergency repair stuff that seemed likely to be handy at the side of the road, along with a big box to put it all in and a small tarp to both retain any spills in an environmentally responsible manner and to provide me with a smooth, cleanish work area to keep tools and parts out of the dirt. That’s the great thing about combos. You can carry all sorts of crap that would be completely out of the question on a solo, making you, potentially, much more self contained and self reliant. And when heading out across the middle of nowhere, on an unknown bike of uncertain reliability, being self contained and self reliant is as near to warm and fuzzy as you’re gonna get.

    Back out to the bike, and I decided that I couldn’t live with the idle any longer and so broke out the tools again to turn the idle screws out by 180 degrees each. Much better. Lacking balancing facilities I trusted that equal adjustment on each side would keep me somewhere close to even.

    More UDF, and then it was off to the foreshore to meet up with fellow Netrider MZ who was keen to check out the Ural. With suspension and idle sorted, the bike felt solid and reassuring, with no odd squeaks or rattles. The engine, whilst still feeling very new and tight, was very willing, with enormous torque at low revs and sufficient power to easily keep up with urban traffic. The gearchange was, again, new and stiff and required very positive shifting in the manner of a BMW. Gearchanges were also affected by the huge flywheel taking several seconds to spin down when the throttle was shut. Very much a case of throttle-two-three, clutch-two-three, change-two-three, clutch-two-three, throttle. Rush it and you’ll hurt it, not to mention embarrassing yourself. I really enjoyed the gentle run through the city centre and down to the coast in the vicinity of the Ocean Baths. Heads were turning in the approved manner and a couple of shouts of “Swap yer†were heard.
    I liked Newcastle. It was lively and bustling, even on a Sunday morning, which was quite a revelation to someone used to WA’s tendency to go to sleep at weekends. Plenty of attractive old buildings left too, again in contrast to the overdeveloped wasteland that Perth has become. I was particularly taken with the (sadly dilapidated) Ocean Baths, a huge deco structure that reminded me of English south coast seaside resorts. I took the opportunity to get a couple of photos of the bike in front of it to get a flavour of what Folkestone or Eastbourne might have looked like had the Wehrmacht ever got across the English Channel.
    More UDF ensued and I had a lengthy chat with an older chap who’d seen the pre-import outfit at the bike show in Sydney and so at least knew what he was looking at. Then I noticed a prominent headland to the south, with what appeared to be a road winding round it. It looked like a good, prominent spot to get some photos of the bike against a background of sea and coal ships as evidence of my starting point. Following the sea front south, sure enough I started to climb and eventually reached a turning that took me along a one way road around the headland. It all seemed very busy with pedestrians and traffic and lots of people seemed very interested in something going on out at sea, with much peering through binoculars and camera viewfinders. It was only after I’d been parked up for several minutes that I twigged that a couple of whales were frolicking out there. I attempted to get a shot of them, but didn’t have enough zoom on the camera or fast enough reactions to get anything even remotely decent. My best effort shows a tiny patch of disturbed water in the far distance.

    While waiting for MZ to arrive, I got chatting to a Scottish guy who plausibly claimed ownership of a GL1000 outfit. Certainly knew something about what he was talking about anyway. He gave the combo a very thorough examination and, as a result, so did I.

    Again, overall impressions were very good. As I noted before, welding and foundry work appeared excellent. Everything was properly screwed together, the electrics all worked (apart from the neutral light anyway), brackets appeared to line up properly (early bikes having some problems in this regard according to some web accounts), the floating caliper disc brake set up was beautifully engineered (although the disc itself did not appear to be the floater that it alooks like, being completely solid on its bobbins) and the Russians appear to have discovered nyloc nuts. I’ve already mentioned the size of the tool kit. It contains enough to enable the entire bike to be dismantled to its component parts. It also contains a puncture repair kit, tyre levers and pump, a pair of work gloves, pots of touch up paint for all four colours in the camo scheme, and a spare oil filter (supplementing the four additional spares that I’d bought). The sidecar boot is huge, with a substantial rubber mat on the floor and capable (as I found out later) of swallowing the standard tool kit, a 10 litre petrol can, two 5 l cans of oil, my camera case, a small briefcase and all my foul weather gear with space to spare. Then of course you’ve got the rack mounted on the boot lid above the spare wheel, and, if you’ve no passenger, almost unlimited space in the tub. This is a serious load carrier.

    Appearancewise, the whole outfit is well proportioned and generally looks “rightâ€. It’s certainly not graceful or beautiful but I’d regard it as very handsome for what is, after all, a utility vehicle. I was particularly taken with the solid, chunky appearance of the engine, with its substantial cylinder finning and total lack of tacky chrome covers. The only brightwork on the bike is the exhaust system and even that was already turning an attractive shade of blue near the heads. Maybe I’m weird but I really like blued pipes. I consider them an honourable scar.
    MZ managed to find me after I’d reported my location by mobile. We spent an enjoyable (well, it was for me) hour or more going over the Ural and discussing the merits of East German strokers. I also prevailed upon him to take a photo of me on the bike with the ever present coal ships in the background (although, now I look, they're not :oops: ).

    Eventually it was time for me to head back to my motel to exchange jeans for leathers, pick up the rest of my gear and hit the road in earnest. I’d booked the room for two nights but the smoothness of my dealings with the RTA meant I could get going the best part of a day ahead of schedule. Unfortunately I couldn’t get a refund on the room, but it was cheap enough that I wasn’t going to ulcerate about it.

    I tried to be clever in heading out of town and, after some more aimless wandering, found myself on the freeway. And me with a new engine too. Bugger. Still, a tweak of the throttle got us up to a reasonable distress free 80 which was enough to not be a serious danger. Finally reached a road junction I recognised and reached Maitland without further incident, where I stopped to fill up and let the engine rest for a few minutes. What with my getting lost antics and my trip to the seafront, I was surprised to note an odometer reading of 122 kms. As it read 25 kms when I first saw the bike, that meant I’d done nearly 100 kms to end up, more or less, back where I’d started.

    Target for the night was Merriwa on the Golden Highway but, having got moving westwards somewhat later in the day than I’d originally intended, I was doubtful whether I’d make it. Riding a still unfamiliar vehicle on unfamiliar roads in the dark really didn’t appeal.

    Trying not to hold up traffic too much, I kept to 70 if there was nothing behind me, with brief bursts of 80 if there was following traffic with no reasonable overtaking opportunities. Fortunately the road up the Hunter Valley is well provided with overtaking lanes and so I didn’t cause a really major obstruction.

    A lay-by at Greta provided the opportunity to rest the bike after a lengthy climb and also allowed photos of a reasonably decent view across the valley. Once again, I found myself explaining the Ural’s origins to an interested passerby.

    Turning on to the Golden Highway, another cooling break gave me a more industrial photographic background, appropriate to a machine with it’s roots firmly in Stalin’s era. In these paranoid times I’m vaguely surprised that the presence of a strange man with a camera and eccentric transport outside a major industrial installation didn’t spark a major security alert.

    One last stop for cooling and photography, followed by a brief ride blinded by the setting sun and it was dark. With the temperature dropping rapidly and no desire to meet any large wildlife I was grateful to call it a day at Denman, 50 kms short of my target.


    If anyone’s in the area, I can thoroughly recommend the Denman Motor Inn. Friendly, spotless and comfortable, with a proprietress who was most impressed with the Ural and insisted that I park it under cover in her own carport. For $75 it was the best value motel I was to see for the whole trip.

    After a shower and a change back to denims, I wandered out on foot to investigate the Chinese restaurant at the local RSL that my host had recommended. Found the place OK (my sense of direction must be improving). There I spent $30 on possibly the most enormous Chinese meal ever consumed by one person. Honestly, it was immense. A huge cauldron of soup, served at something approaching the melting point of lead, followed by a mountain of rice and Malaysian beef. The quality wasn’t going to win awards (though it was perfectly OK) but it was still damn good value.

    Eventually waddled back to my motel room and experienced no difficulty whatsoever in getting to sleep.

    Very sorry about the lack of included pics so far. I'll try to edit to include them tomorrow night. Out of time for now.
  7. Nicely done, Pat, and well written. :)

    I should revisit Newcastle (my home town) some time. I've only had fleeting visits now and then, especially now that my folks live half an hour south of Newcastle rather than actually in it.

    By the sounds of things, you visited King Edward Park (the 1-way loop around a little headland), home of the famous Mattara Hillclimb event. :)
  8. Great write up Pat and the pics are fantastic. I was leaving my work in Osborne Park last Wednesday and found myself following a bike with a side car and fleetingly wondered if it could possibly be the Ural getting to know its new home in Perth. When I finally caught up a bit - it got away from me on the on-ramp to the freeway - (I was on my VL250) I saw that it was a shiny black sidecar ("Black Betty" was its name) and I figured it wasn't you afterall. I look forward to hopefully seeing you or Mrs B on these roads one day soon.
  9. Top foties Pat. Nice one. I couldn't make it out from the shots but does it have a kickstart as well? If so have you tried it? :)
  10. It has, and I have. It's tucked down between the bike and the chair and, of course swings out and down, as you'd expect on a lengthways engine. Rather awkward and confined, especially if you've got big feet. The gearing's not great either, so it's not fantastically effective unless you've carefully positioned the crank beforehand.

    Overall, good for emergencies and easing the engine over to set tappets, but not great for regular use. It would be a different matter with the sidecar on the other side.
  11. Definitely not the Ural then :LOL: .
  12. I was enjoying this until you mentioned that you stayed overnight in Denman; then I REALLY started to enjoy it, having lived there for 7 years and learned to ride on those roads in the early 70s :).

    Fascinating stuff, Pat, and if I may say so, very well-written: "A huge cauldron of soup, served at something approaching the melting point of lead".

    I must admit it takes some getting-used-to to see a disc brake on the front of a Ural :LOL:

    Waiting expectantly for the next instalment!
  13. Monday 30th June

    Up early and was packed and ready to roll by 6am. I had some difficulty finding my way out of Denman. When offered two possible directions to take, I will inevitably pick the wrong one :oops: .

    Still, it gave the bike some time to warm up, which it needed. I don't know if the Australian bikes are jetted as lean as the US market ones (for emission compliance) but, starting from all cold, this one needs a few minutes with the chokes on, until it fluffs and won't idle, then another few minutes with the chokes off before it will pull with any enthusiasm and without popping and farting under load. Not a major problem, but it does make getting underway on a cold morning a rather lengthy process.

    And this morning was cold. As I rode out of town I noticed a silvery sheen of frost on parked vehicles and the chill immediately started to strike through my clothing. My gear consisted of thick leather jeans, t-shirt, thick flannel, big wool jumper and DriRider with thermal lining, along with big socks under my boots and a big pair of winter gloves that had been in hibernation since leaving the UK 12 years ago. It wasn't enough. I should really have stopped and donned my big, lined, fluoro waterproof over the lot, but I elected to press on.

    As it was still dark, I got to try out the headlamp in earnest. Dip was quite decent (though not outstanding) but main appeared to throw all its light either side of the front wheel and not much ahead.

    The Golden Highway from Denman, heading towards Dubbo, is fairly twisty and appears to climb quite noticeably. In an attempt to not hold up the truck that inevitably appeared behind me, I found myself pushing the bike up to 80 and attacking corners, both left and right, fairly hard. I figured that, the ambient temperature being what it was, I wasn't going to overheat the 250 km old engine at this point.

    Eventually though, the cold got too much and I decided to pull over for a few minutes at Gungal, to allow the truckie to earn his living and let my fingers thaw. I'd forgotten the feeling of cold on a bike :( . I parked up in front of the church, and quickly found that the horizontal pots were just the right size to hold a glove each, as I rummaged for the camera bag. Got a couple of reasonable shots of dawn over Gungal.


    Gloves nicely toasted by the heat of the engine, the next few minutes were much more comfortable and I reached Merriwa in good time, where I rediscovered how astonishingly difficult it can be to empty one's bladder when everything is either numb or shrunken :shock: . Especially when the tag has broken off your fly zip, making adjusting one's clothing afterwards a bit of a chore.

    Refuelled, putting in 11.2 litres at 275 kms, giving a fuel consumption of 7.3 l/100km. Not too bad.

    The sun was well up by now, and the air temperature was decidedly more pleasant. Traffic was light, the bike was going well, and I was really starting to enjoy myself. It was holding 80 quite happily with no signs of distress, the handling was feeling very solid. The leading link front end, in particular, showing a huge improvement over the teles of my previous combo. Steering input received an instant response, rather than experiencing a noticeable lag as the forks unwound as I was once used to.

    I made another couple of stops to let the still new engine cool, avail myself of the facilities as it were (bloody cold, still, at least I was obviously remaining adequately hydrated), examine the interesting and surprisingly civilised enviro-friendly composting toilets that the NSW authorities appear very keen on, and to photograph a very impressive rock formation, standing isolated in the middle of a paddock. Never underestimate the sheer grunt of a growing tree :shock: .



    I rolled into Dunedoo at about 9am and went looking for breakfast. I found it at Dunedoo Pie Shop, where, for $12, I received a bucket of coffee and an only marginally sub-lethal dose of cholesterol. The perfect supplement to a cold morning on a bike. Definitely worth checking out if you happen to be in town.

    As I ploughed through my mountain of bacon and eggs and rapidly regained feeling in my extremities, I watched the bike receiving a gratifying amount of attention from passersby. Then I had a bit of an apprehensive moment when the local copper turned up and paid it some attention too, to the extent of coming and finding me :shock: . Not that I and the bike weren't 100% legal, but I was expecting to have to produce all my documents. But no. He was a very amiable chap, genuinely interested in the outfit, having seen a write up on the Urals in The Land or some similar agricultural journal. Rather appropriate for a Russian tractor :grin: . I explained the nature of my trip and we chatted for a while, discussing whether the 2wd Ural is likely to compete with the quad for ag use (probably not, mainly due to price), parting on good terms, with a cheery "good luck".

    Warm, full and with the blessing of the local constabulary I headed on for Dubbo, hitting town at 11.30 and being immediately greeted by a need for evasive action to avoid two dogs shagging in the middle of the road :shock: .

    Stopped off at Supercrap to pick up a 10 litre fuel can, a fire extinguisher (known too many Eastern Bloccers spontaneously combust to take chances) and some clear, windscreen washer hose for a carby balancer. They didn't have any hose but pointed me next door to Clarke Rubber where I got a few metres. Over to Woolies for a snack and some red food colouring and I was all set to do the first 500 km service on the bike at a clock reading of 462 km.

    I found a pleasant spot next to a park by the river, laid out my tarp workshop and spent a largely enjoyable couple of hours draining, refilling, tweaking and fettling, in between answering questions from the floor :cool: .

    Servicing this bike is a piece of the proverbial, using only the tools that come with it (although a decent socket set would make some tasks easier). Oil drain plugs for engine, gearbox and final drive are all identical magnetic units. All came out without difficulty, all bearing a luxuriant growth of metallic fluff, as expected with a new bike. No big chunkies though and the oil from the engine and gearbox still appeared to be oil rather than black water. The final drive yielded a small quantity of strange black goo though, rather than the expected EP90.

    The oil filter gave me a bit of a moment. Coming out, the old one fouled on the exhaust balance pipe. Quite why the balance pipe couldn't be 10 mm aft I don't know. I had the choice of dropping the downpipes off, or distorting the filter to get it out and distorting the new one to get it in. I chose the latter but wasn't terribly happy about it.

    Refilling was a bit awkward. Engine and gearbox fillers are both on the left. This is fine for a LHD outfit, but hinders access on Aust market bikes. Funnel access to the engine is moderate, but the gearbox requires the LH carb intake elbow to be removed to get the funnel even close to a workable angle. Even then, you're stuck with a very slow maximum pour rate. I need to see about making up a special funnel for future servicing.

    Filling the final drive from a bottle of gear oil with its own spout is easy though, and I liked the fact that it's got its own little dipstick attached to the filler plug/breather.

    Among other things, the service schedule specifies checking spoke tensions, so a musical time was had, pinging all the spokes and using the (supplied) spoke spanner to tweak any dull ones. Sure enough, a few had eased off and were quickly dealt with. The spokes on a combo are subjected to much more severe loadings than those on a solo so it's to be expected, especially as new components bed down.

    During the service, I noted a couple of marks in the crankcase casting that could have been cracks. However, they weren't weeping oil and so I decided to regard them as moulding marks for the time being but to keep an eye on them.

    Finally, I cleaned up and poured all the waste oil into the Ural supplied jerry can for responsible disposal when the opportunity arose.


    Time was pressing, and so I elected to leave the required carb balance for the next day, and press on for Cobar, with Nyngan as Plan B if I got caught by the sunset. Filling up on the edge of town showed my fuel consumption from Merriwa to be 6.6 l/100km.

    The 160 km to Nyngan were a mix of good and bad. The good part was the bike. It wanted to go! I was trying to hold it back to 80 (still running in) but, as it loosened, if I wasn't concentrating, it would drift up to 90 on the flat with no apparent effort. Fresh oil in the gearbox had noticeably improved the change too.

    The bad bit was that, after Narromine, the trip was basically a long, straight grind to the north west, riding directly into the sinking sun, practically blind for most of the way and acutely aware that my face wasn't sunscreened. Winter or not, I fully expected to resemble a tomato when I looked in a mirror later that evening. I was lucky.

    A few trucks caught and passed me on this stretch. I had been apprehensive about this before my trip, but here, and for the whole 4000 kms, without exception, the truckies were brilliant. No tailgating, no bullying and proper, responsible overtaking. Well done guys. For my part, if I felt I was causing an unreasonable obstruction, I'd try and pull over to let them past if I could do so safely.

    The straight line tedium brought a few of things to light. The first was that the nose of the pillion seat has a tendency to dig into the rider's tailbone. This is particularly noticeable on bumpy surfaces where it regularly smacks you anywhere between coccyx and kidneys. It's not a problem if you sit up straight though. Presumably the riding position is designed for ramrod straight Prussians or proud sons of the October Revolution, rather than fat-arsed capitalist slobs like me :grin: .

    Doing a bit of mental arithmetic to pass the time, I started to suspect that the odometer was reading about 5% low. Continued monitoring for the remainder of the trip tended to confirm this. Not a problem, but something to be aware of.

    The other realisation was that I was really, really enjoying this bike. It was simply brilliant. Everybody loves it. Old guys, greenies, truckies, crop headed goateed outlaws, Joe and Jane Average, everyone. And it was technically very competent, with solid handling and a nice, torquey, easy to care for engine with big flywheels and chunky good looks. This is a bike you (well, I anyway) can form a long term relationship with and which can be significantly improved and personalised with relatively little outlay or difficulty. I started to muse on the possibilities of obtaining another (maybe when they start to reach the secondhand market) and turning it into a bobber outfit. Turning some ideas over in my head as the road rolled past, I reckoned you could improve appearance and shed weight to quite a large extent, albeit losing some practicality.

    Finally reached Nyngan dead on sunset and elected not to attempt the 130 km to Cobar in the dark. Noticed on signs that Nyngan's major major tourist attraction appeared to be the Flood History Museum. Presumably not a lively spot :grin:. Pulled into the courtyard of the Outback Motor Inn and bagged myself a decent room for $75, where I dined upon a large bag of Bombay mix and a bar of Macadamia chocolate before, once again, failing to experience insomnia.

    To be continued.......
  14. Pat what other 'extras' did you get with the outfit? I notice that:
    "The basic armament of the motorcycle is the machine gun of PK type (7.62-mm caliber). The open structure of the motorcycle provides for circular targeting and destroying the enemy man force effectively at the distance form 100 to 2000 meters."
  16. Tuesday 1st July

    This was to be my first full day of riding, aiming to cover about 600 kms of nothing very much along the Barrier Highway to Broken Hill. Falling short of Cobar the night before had left me with an extra 130 kms to cover, and, after Wilcannia, there were no real places to stop for the night if I didn't make it.

    Out of the motel at 0645 and round to the nearest petrol station to fill up both the bike and my 10l reserve can, and buy a couple of bottles of water to supplement the tap water I was already carrying. The Barrier isn't life threateningly remote and empty (not in winter anyway), but it pays not to muck about, even when conditions are good.

    Rolling through town, I noted that Nyngan has obviously been very prosperous at one time or another. I doubt if it had its own brickworks and hauling in bricks would have been very expensive, even bringing them by river, and yet I found these examples of Deco and Pseudo Georgian on the main street.



    Finally on my way out of town, I was astonished to find, on this arid edge of civilisation, a glorious, full, healthy river, with pelicans all over the place. Absolutely beautiful. Pity about the name though :grin: .



    Getting moving in earnest, the bike's increasing eagerness persuaded me to let it run at 90, just occasionally dropping back to 80 to let the heads cool, before letting it drift back up. We were now passing through croplands and I was seeing enough fresh roadkill to make me glad I hadn't played the hero the night before. One of the 'roos must have stood well over 2m before it got hit. Biggest one I've seen, and, as a veteran of the Goldfields Highway, I've seen a few. Not something you want as a sidecar passenger :shock: :grin: . I also avoided, by an uncomfortably narrow margin, a small, fast, brown cow.

    A few kms out of town, I was overtaken by a Shire truck, with six grinning, waving council workers in the cab. Everyone loves this bike :grin: .

    I rolled into Cobar at about 0900. It would have been hard to miss.


    Cobar's a reasonably sized little place and, being a mining town during a mining boom, has an air of money and optimism about it. Breakfast was found at the Cobar Hot Bake, which provided a very decent coffee, an excellent steak, chilli and potato pie and a somewhat ordinary bacon and egg roll. Jolly good value though, and it was very pleasant sitting in the sun out in front of the shop, munching and swilling and watching the heads turn :) .

    I noticed a hardware store across the road and nipped across to get the final refinement for my carb balancing manometer, a 600 mm aluminium rule. While I was in there, I dropped $3 on a pack of Guide Biscuits. I'd be needing some road food and, anyway, it's always been an ambition of mine to eat a Girl Guide :twisted: .

    Filling up on the way out of town, I watched the local kindy go past on an outing. They were all roped together with velcro wristbands attached to a long strap. With their little sunhats on, I was put in mind of nothing so much as a chain-gang for naughty mushrooms :grin: .

    Back on the road, the croplands had run out long ago, giving way to typical arid area bushland, with lots of low, grey-green scrub and stunted gums. Something I noted and would continue to see throughout the day were large numbers of feral goats. Every few minutes I would pass a group of half a dozen or so, most with kids or pregnant females and all looking fat and glossy. The area seemed to have had good rains recently and the goat population appeared determined to make the most of it by reproducing like mad and rendering themselves spherical. I know goats are a major feral pest (today I would pass through patches of country with nothing green below about 2m from the ground, the limit of reach for a large goat on its hind legs), but I have a sneaking respect for them. They're tough, intelligent, adaptable and not too fussy about their food. That's what's going to make them near impossible to eradicate. Interestingly, in spite of they're almost plague numbers, I only saw one roadkill specimen all day. Like I said, they're smart.

    Round about 11 or so, I decided that I was making sufficiently good time that I could afford to stop and do the carby balance I should have done the day before, so at Bulla I found a rest area and broke out the tools.

    It took only a few minutes to tape the clear hose to the metal rule to create a basic u-tube manometer. I'd been wondering how to get the fluid into it, not having a small enough funnel, but suddenly realised that, as I would only be using water with food colouring in it, I could just take a mouthful and spit it into the tube. Easy :grin: . I hung the makeshift manometer from the front brake lever with a cable tie, hooked it up to the vacuum nipples on the carbs and hit the starter......Gosh, Urals appear to like red water, it's drunk the lot :( . Clearly some damping was required. Hunting through my supplies, I hit upon the idea of crimping the tube with the pliers from the toolkit. They weren't self locking but a couple of wraps of tape around the handles sorted that and I was ready to go. The bike still drank several tubefuls of water before I got the precise degree of pliomatic damping sorted out but it didn't seem to mind. Indications were that the right hand pot had been being lazy, which gelled with the uneven blueing of the pipes. I tweaked the idle screws to even up tickover, and then fiddled with the cable adjustment to get even throttle opening and ended up with the water columns pretty close to identical at all the steady states I could achieve, working the throttle in neutral.


    While I was working, a couple of people stopped and came over to ask the usual questions. One set were an elderly couple with a caravan in tow. This was something else I noticed about, particularly, the Barrier Highway. Every second vehicle was either a motorhome or had a caravan on the back, mostly piloted by grey nomads. Why this particular stretch of highway? They were present everywhere along my route but were particularly numerous between Nyngan and Broken Hill. I still can't work out what the attraction of this arid stretch of NSW is for such a large number of retirees.

    Rolling again, the engine was perceptibly smoother and was positively singing at 90. It sang all the way to Emmdale Roadhouse, which appears to consist of two padlocked petrol pumps, a tiny cafe/shop and a grumpy old git with the keys to the pumps. The petrol was labelled Bio 95 so I assumed it to be an ethanol blend, but as there was no choice, into the tank it went.

    The bike didn't seem to mind the slightly iffy fuel and we reached Wilcannia fairly early in the afternoon. after crossing the flood plain of Talyawalka Creek, which parallels the Darling through this area.


    Wilcannia was rather depressing. Once a prosperous port on the Darling, it now appears to have little but some once impressive but now derelict stone buildings, a stone church in good repair, and a population of derelicts, who are probably younger than me but look older and deader than my granddad and shuffle around pissed as rats at two in the afternoon.

    Still, the old lifting bridge across the river was interesting, and the old portable steam engine on display near it, a long way from its birthplace, was remarkably intact and well preserved, to the extent of probably being restorable.



    Shortly after leaving Wilcannia, the odometer ticked over the 1000 km mark, fortuitously near a distance marker. Shame the autofocus decided to blur the speedo.


    Sitting on 90 again, I found myself catching up with a slow motorhome and decided to attempt an overtake. I waited for a long clear stretch (not hard to find out here :grin: ), tramped it down to third and wound on the throttle. The bike responded with a solid and surprisingly hard edged bark and gathered way encouragingly rapidly. We touched 100 for the first time on the way past, and then dropped back down to 85-90 once back on our own side of the road. I gave the tank a pat and said "well done".

    A little later, I had a bad fright when the engine lost power and started to sound sick. Surely it couldn't be reserve yet. I'd only done 165 km since filling up. Found the petrol tap and turned it anyway and the bike picked up straight away. Doing some rough mental arithmetic, and remembering the tank capacity from the spec sheet, I made that 10l/100km. Very disappointing with no headwind.

    There wasn't anything for it but to push on for Little Topar Roadhouse and hope to make it on reserve. No such luck. We finally ground to a spluttering halt at 196 km, still 9 km short of Little Topar. Time to dig out the reserve can.

    With 10l of decent fuel in the tank, reaching Little Topar presented no problem. Bigger, better appointed and much friendlier than Emmdale, they still only had E10 piss, which I strongly suspected of being responsible for the hole in my fuel consumption (trust a Russian bike to guzzle a drop of vodka :grin: ), but, having no choice (again), in it went. After all, Broken Hill was within spitting distance now, hopefully with supplies of real petrol.

    Not far outside Broken Hill, I pulled up at a fruit fly quarantine bin and munched my last seven apples from my road food bag. Fortunately they were only small ones but I still felt uncomfortably full of fermenting fruit as I waddled over to drop the cores in the bin. Whilst I was sitting there in the gathering dusk, I was disturbed to note what a high proportion of passing traffic considered lights unnecessary.

    Rolled into Broken Hill just after dark and booked into the first motel I saw that was acceptably close to the city centre. This turned out to be the gloriously tacky and unkempt Mine Host Motor Hotel, where it is, forever, 1975 and where the carpets bear stains suggesting that Room 35 was once a murder scene. However, I can't speak too unkindly of it, as I was offered undercover parking again. As I left the office, I found myself chatting to a couple of guys from, according to their shirts, a local bike shop. A Harley dealer at a guess.

    Pizza Hut pizza, shower and bed concluded my third day on the road. Having reached Broken Hill, I was back on schedule and slept the sleep of the just.

    To be continued....
  17. Aah, now it makes sense :idea: previously I had thought that it was your rye commentary on the quality of Woolies' snacks :!:
  18. Wednesday 2nd July

    Today was to be a relatively gentle run, with just 417 km separating me from tonight's target of Port Augusta.

    In view of the easy schedule and the close proximity, I decided to take a little side trip to Silverton to get a couple of photos of the bike next to the replica of the world's most famous XB Falcon. It was a little naughty under the terms of my UVP but the 25 kms in the sparkling cold desert morning were well worth it as it proved to be a glorious run on a deserted road.

    The Interceptor was a bit of a disappointment being, not only a replica, but not a very good one at that.


    Silverton as a whole was interesting though. The Broken Hill area has become, in recent years, rather a major centre for the arts, and Silverton has become an extension with this, being home to a number of galleries in the few remaining stone buildings.

    A couple of shots of NSW's wonderful regional rail infrastructure
    and we were heading back for Broken Hill for a full tank of E free petrol and my now customary medically unwise breakfast. And more questions about the bike of course. Mustn't forget those.

    I found suitably unhealthy fare at a joint on the main drag whose name I can't remember, which is a pity because it was truly excellent and to be recommended. All I can tell you is that it was on the South side of the street, maybe 50m East of the thing on the corner that looks like it might be a clock tower but doesn't seem to have a clock. Oh yes, and the proprietress now loves Urals. Anyway, once again I spent breakfast sitting in glorious sunshine watching the world go by. Or, in the case of one bus whose driver was fascinated by the Ural, almost crash :grin: . I took the opportunity to ring MrsB to let her know that, as a professional artist, she must visit Broken Hill. It's a great place. Kalgoorlie with culture :grin: . I wanted to get a photo of the Ural against the background of the possibly clock tower and another prominent tower just behind it. Sadly, by the time I'd finished my plateful, all the angle parking was full of nice, tall LandCruisers and things, which blocked the view somewhat.

    About 25 kms out of town, I stopped to get some photos of a landscape that made me think Humungous and the boys would be along at any moment.
    [​IMG]Instead, what appeared was a pair of heavily laden cyclists, toiling up the slope towards me. I grabbed a shot just to prove I'm not quite the maddest bastard out here and they stopped for a natter.

    They turned out to be a recently retired couple who'd cycled competitively all over the world. The marathon outback jaunt they were doing was a relaxing wind down for them :shock: . They knew Russia well and so were very interested in the provenance of the Ural.

    Pushing on, a headwind started to steadily pick up which wasn't going to do my fuel consumption much good. Fortunately I'd filled up my reserve can at BH so the situation wasn't too dire.

    Having slipped into the vaguely meditative state that tends to accompany long distance riding, I managed to completely miss the state border and only realised I'd crossed when I noticed a SA plate on a cop car passing in the other direction. Damn, a missed photo opp :evil: .

    New state notwithstanding, I was still running through treeless desert scrub. With the headwind I was trying to keep it down to 80 to conserve fuel, although the bike, coming to the end of its official running-in period, kept trying to forge ahead at 90+.

    I was aiming to get fuel at Manna Hill (or Mannahill, depending on which sign you believed) but, when I arrived there, the one petrol bowser in town was out of order :evil: . Apart from the pub with the broken bowser, Mannahill mainly consists of the well preserved remains of the old railway station [​IMG]
    so I took the opportunity to get a good shot of a marvelous piece of Victorian engineering.
    And a crane :grin:.

    With the headwind and the lack of fuel at Mannahill, I was expecting to be needing the reserve can. I ended up twiddling the tap at 173 km and rolled into Yunta 21 km later. Putting in 16.7 litres at a large, well appointed roadhouse, smelling strongly of malfunctioning drains, I pushed on.

    Not far out of town, I passed a signpost pointing down a gravel road to the right, indicating "Orroroo 79 km". I broke out the map and determined that my planned bitumen route would be 98 km. Much umming and ahhing ensued as to whether to take the chance to save 19 km. Having been burned a few time over the years taking unknown short cuts, I eventually decided to play safe and sacrifice the time for the extra 19 km of the sealed route.

    Onwards through Oodla Wirra and on to the turning for Peterborough. Or Peterboghorror. The horror being that there didn't appear to be one, and me with a bursting bladder too. I know that, as a bloke, the world is my urinal, but I prefer a bit of cover and I'd just ridden through an endless treeless wasteland. Ahh, a parking area with trees......

    Thinking coherently again, on to Orroroo, where I found the most determinedly "nice" community I've ever come across. It was almost a cliche of the Australian country town with a heart of gold and a population of loveable eccentrics. I found myself looking for the ABC Drama film crew :grin: . The town itself was spotlessly tidy and nice. I stopped for a late lunch at the very nice Maggie's Rendezvous coffee shop where the tremendously nice staff served me a very nice chicken and asparagus focaccia with salad and a mug of coffee which was also nice. The local paddy wagon was parked next to me with the accompanying copper nowhere to be seen. However, I have no doubt whatsoever that he was a nice, stereotypically firm but fair country copper. Various nice passersby made nice comments about the bike. Arrrgh, this is not natural :eek:hno: .

    Eager to get out of town before becoming infected with niceness, I pointed the bars west again as soon as the last mouthful of (doubtless drugged) focaccia had been despatched :bolt: .

    On to a fuel stop at Wilmington, where Australia's largest private collection of dilapidated leaf-sprung Land Rovers are tastefully displayed outside the toy museum, and then on to one of the pleasantest surprises of the whole trip.

    The road started to drop through countryside that could easily have been in Wales or on Exmoor or the Pennines or some similarly windswept and desolate area of the UK had the stunted trees not been gums. Then the first wiggly road warning sign appeared and I found myself plunged into a frenzy of bursts of manic acceleration, hard braking, weight shifting, gearchanging and general insanity as I descended what I now know to be Horrocks Pass. It was fcukin' brilliant! Even tempering enthusiasm with the caution appropriate to one on someone else's unfamiliar bike I had an absolute ball, until the road burst out of the hills and the country around Spencer Gulf was laid out before me. Fortunately there was a handy parking area so I could stop to calm down a bit and take photos.

    If I'd had the time I'd have redlined it all the way back up and then come back down again continuously for the rest of the day :twisted: .

    As it was, though, I had a rather mundane run the rest of the way to Port Augusta where I stopped off at Auto Pro for another can of oil for the 2500 km service that I'd be doing during the Nullabor crossing, and a set of big vice grips to use to "modify" that bloody balance pipe to allow me to get the oil filter out and in.

    On the way in, I passed a number of motels sporting vacancy signs but passed them by because they were on the edge of some astonishingly smelly mudflats. I'm not that squeamish, having grown up near the official smelliest town in Britain, but these were truly foul. Hoping for better, I pressed on and found myself at a decent enough place on the much less smelly western edge of town, where $76 got me a standard, clean but bland room down at the back of the complex.

    Dinner was found at "Ian's Chicken Hut and Laundrobar". No, I don't see the logical connection either. Maybe you need the laundrobar after dribbling chicken grease down your clothes, or maybe the chicken gives you the raging squirts. Anyway, $13.30 got me schnitzel and chips and a bottle of toothrot with no apparent ill effects.

    Before the light went, I gave the bike a bit of a visual check over and a contemplate. Away from the headwind, it had been cruising happily at between 90 and 100 with no sign of problems. There were a few streaks of grease finding their way out of the rear wheel bearings, forming an attractive radial pattern on the face of the brake drum. However, a wipe down showed the quantity to be minute, so I decided to not be too concerned but to monitor the situation. The rear tyre was noticeably worn, probably mostly by the Horrocks Pass episode :grin: . I wasn't sure if I'd make it to Perth with legal tread. Overall, I was still very impressed.

    Peter Hogan rang me during the evening to see how I was getting on. A gratifying level of after-sales interest.

    And so to another comfortable and contented night's sleep, with another relatively gentle day on the morrow.

    To be continued......
  19. Being from Newcastle, I can confirm you are totally correct. You need to have a full knowledge of the area as the same road will have different directional marking, sometimes saying Wallsend, sometimes Newcastle, soemtimes Sydney...yeah you get to them all by going down that same road, but it will change which town it uses as a guide from intersection to intersection. :roll:

    Dammit - one of the best Pie shops in Newy is in Wallsend - not far from the F1 hotel :wink:

    Lol, they just finished refurbishing the exterior (that wall you are park in front of) :LOL: Though they haven't touched the actual baths inside for ages...

    Yep - King Edward PArk - each year they have a hill climb there - you can imagine how awesome that track is for hill climbing...and that hairpin!! w00t!
  20. #20 ibast, Jul 14, 2008
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 13, 2015
    I'd like one of these to ride to work on every day.
    [edit] helps if I put the link in; [media=youtube]Txw8Yo57O6g[/media]

    Good reading BTW Pat.