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Bike Review - Posted 23rd May 2012
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Ural Across the USA - Classic Motorcycle Review

Having completed the updates to his 1997 Ural Patrol, Wizid is heading across the USA with a Suzuki GS500 strapped to the sidecar platform. Yes, you read that right. Here's an update from his blog...

Right, so it's been a little while since I last updated this. It's been weeks since I left Worcester and I am starting to get a good distance away. It's also getting nicer the farther I go.

On the road...

About a week ago I had my first major failure on the Ural, which stranded me in Myerstown PA for 5 days in a motel with no internet. The folks running the place were incredibly nice, a true mom & pop hotel, and Arden loaned me some tools when it came time to fix the bike. Myerstown is a true farm town, but god damn the pizza joint makes the BEST meatball subs I've ever had, and on actual homemade bread.

What happened is I stripped the splines on the driveshaft pretty bad. This was after I had spent a couple hours going up and down steep hills in 2nd gear. Got to the end of a street and went to put it back in first and it was like I was in neutral. For a day I was terrified that I'd killed the gearbox - as that'd have been a $1200 repair and would have required a lot of work to fix. Granted as it turns out changing out the driveshaft took a lot of work too.

Parts diagram, and parts arrive...

So I got the parts to fix the bike from Raceway which is an awesome shop out on the west coast. New driveshaft, coupler, universal joint, wedge bolt.

Where would we be without WD?...

It took two days to get it all apart and back together again. Had to remove the rear shocks, the swingarm, pretty much everything behind the gearbox came off the bike.

This is the coupler coming out of the gearbox...

This is the coupler coming out of the gearbox

The new rubber coupler installed...

And this is the new rubber coupler installed with the second part attached that the driveshaft slides into. This is where the failure took place

The only thing I couldn't do myself was the wedge bolt which went through the rear part of the shaft holding in the bevel gear that drives the rear wheel. You can see the wedge bolt here:

Wedge bolt unmoved...

Had to walk 5 miles to an auto shop so they could press it out - which they did for free.

And here are the two parts that failed, the lighter shading is where the splines stripped

In glorious fuzz-o-vision...

I have to say that I was pleased with how my body held up, that was a hell of a walk, and it was 90 degrees and I was in jeans. My legs were killing me the next day and my right leg is still a little tender, but it worked. I'm also starting to put on weight, I think I now weigh more than I ever have before, still underweight but no longer look like a refugee. The muscles in my arms seem to be making a recovery as well - not visibly but I can feel them - it's from having to lug in my gear every night.

This part of the country is absolutely stunning. I'm in Virginia now, came down from Gettysburg where I stayed the last two nights. There was an issue with my bank card, the bank to protect me from fraud cancelled it while I was in Gettysburg. So I had to stay an extra day while mom overnighted me the new one. Stayed at the Gettysburg Hotel which opened in 1797. Was quite nice, lovely area.

Today while sitting in the parking lot of a gas station I heard a buzzing sound from up above that sounded like an old hit and miss engine, looked up and a f***ing Fokker Dr1 Triplane flew overhead. My Favorite plane EVER. Wish I'd been able to get my camera out in time. It was black and yellow, but here is a picture of another one so you know what I am talking about:

Picture from Wikipedia. Insert your own 'Fokker' joke here...

This is all so incredibly peaceful. Its almost impossible to describe it, just the sense of movement and the stunning landscapes. Passing a lot of farms, almost looks like this constant flowing painting. Every so often I'll end up in a nerve racking situation - tight corners, steep hills - but I'm managing pretty well. Today's journey was planned to avoid mountains.

I really liked the roads today, speed limit of 40 most of the time which is great because that's about as fast as I can go without worrying about the engine, also can't really emergency stop at anything over 40 mph. They also had really wide shoulders which I would pull into and continue to go 40mph while waving the people behind me to pass me. Much better than MA and PA where I'd have to pull over and all but stop when I'd let people pass.

Tomorrow I'm going to be able to just ride Route 15 all day, no worries about watching for junctions.

Russian bikes on

One weird thing happened in Gettysburg. During the two days I was there I met people from Boston, Mendon, New Braintree, and Cape Cod. It was like people from MA just invaded the place.

I've finally been able to stow the Carhartt coveralls and switch to the Vanson leather jacket, couple more states and I'll have to switch to the Belstaff.

Words and Photos: Wizid

Read the whole story, with regular updates, on Wizid's blog at


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