What does a Ural rider do when he sees the daunting ledges, steep drops, rocky washouts, and off-camber trails of Moab, Utah? He invites more sidecar riders and heads toward the action! Follow along with this sidecar convoy as captured by Ural rider and photographer, Tim Laughlin.
We wanted to gather some real-world insight directly from a few of the riders in these photos and share it with you. As with any product or vehicle, you’re bound to come across some Negative Neds out there, but more often you'll encounter riders like these guys. Riders that roost dirt, climb hills, and bang through the gears while adapting to the whatever the environment throws at 'em.
They smile through gritted teeth. They are our people.
Here are the riders we talked with:
Colorado resident, Tim Laughlin, the man whose window to the world you are looking through in this post, riding a 2011 Patrol. He has been frequenting Moab for the past couple decades, via canoe, Jeep and Ural.
Rich Chierici from New Jersey rode his well-used 2010 2WD model with admittedly worn tires. He has a lot of East Coast off-road experience, but had never ridden in Moab.
California rider Cris Liliedahl navigated the twists and turns, ups and downs on his 2008 Gear Up with his wife/co-pilot, Kimmie.
Would you recommend riding Urals in the Moab terrain to other motorcyclists?
Tim: Definitely. Moab hosts an abundance of trails that vary in length, terrain, levels of difficulty, and it is fairly easy to link several trails together to form longer rides or loops.
Rich: Yes, definitely! Part of the challenge of Moab is not always the obstacles themselves, but the setting. The 50ft drop off just a few feet away makes line selection that much more critical. Moab has this reputation of being really difficult wheeling for Urals; the reality is that the VAST majority of trails around Moab are easily navigated by Ural.
What’s it like riding a sidecar in Moab?
Tim: Knowing how to pick a line and the correct speed for ledges, drops, off-camber situations, and slope makes the sidecar a more challenging ride than just about any other vehicle. I do believe that the Ural has a big advantage over some other vehicles in the sand. Put it in two-wheel drive, keep the revs up, and it’s like surfing when floating through the deep sand.
Rich: Once there I found that, while challenging, I already had the necessary skill set to navigate Moab successfully. The rocks were a challenge, but not unlike picking a line up a rutted/rocky slope on the East Coast.
Cris: It's a fun challenge. Picking lines and drifting through corners is pretty great; needed to be careful of popping up the sidecar when negotiating stair steps.
What was it like to be part of a caravan of Ural sidecars?
Tim: I asked the lead driver of a group of approaching UTVs if they would wait while we all cleared a ledge, not only did they want to wait, they wanted to watch the circus. He asked, “What are you doing way out here?!”
Rich: It's always good to have a lot of riders around who understand your rig and who can share experiences, advice and gear recommendations specific to Urals.
Cris: Everyone is trying to find the best line so it feels like a friendly competition in who can make it up a run better.
Why do you ride a sidecar?
Tim: The ability to easily carry camping gear and/or a passenger combined with its esoteric nature make the sidecar a truly wonderful ride. My youngest daughter loves to ride in the hack and has traveled with me for a couple of local trips including the National Sidecar Rally when it was hosted in Hotchkiss, Colorado.
Cris: I don't have to worry about dropping it with my short 26-inch inseam, which is a bit of a worry with my dirt bikes. It's the only thing my wife will ride with me because she no longer feels comfortable riding two-up on two wheels.
Anything sidecar riders should know about this kind of off-roading?
Tim: If you typically ride with someone in the hack, increase the padding especially at the edges of the tub and add a couple foot blocks to the floor of the tub like a kayaker might use. Also, at night out here, a good set of auxiliary lighting is a must as the area can be quite dark, especially with no moon out. Most of us carry a variety of spare parts and a good set of tools. Like any other vehicle in this terrain, you just never know what may need attention.
Rich: Know your bike! That means knowing where the low hanging parts of your bike are located, know what size obstacles you can straddle and be aware of your approach angles and how big of a ledge or ridge you can drop off or negotiate without getting hung up or high-centered.
We tip our helmets to the adventurous riders in these pics and send a big thanks to Tim Laughlin for sharing the pics (follow him on Instagram). This group of Ural riders has an incredible story to tell and memories to revisit for the rest of their lives.