Friday, January 14, 2011

Who Needs Engine Mounts?

I rode to work today, and the Ural felt extra harsh. There were more vibrations than I thought was normal. I just figured it was the horrible state all of the roads are in. Frost heaves everywhere make for a rough ride!

I went to leave for an off-site appointment, I looked down at the left engine jug and saw a large hunk of metal sticking out of the bike below! What the?!

This is the hunk of metal aka engine mount bolt AFTER I wrenched it in quite a ways. It was out about eight inches!

Ural engine mount repair

I figure, I was about an inch from losing the entire thing. Which might have caused the engine to fall onto the frame. Exciting! There was still one good mount in the back.

Ural engine mount repair

Here I am trying to turn it in to tighten it since the bolt is now spinning on the thread. I haven’t seen the other side yet. By the way, it uses a 19mm nut. There are two 19mm wrenches in the stock kit, but my extra sockets only go to 18mm. Time to add another one.

I push on it and it moves in, but it won’t tighten up. I check the other side and it all becomes clear:

Ural engine mount repair

The nut and washer both fell off the right side. This is only visible from in front and squatting down. The “bolt” is just a metal rod with threads on both sides. It will slide out either side without a nut to hold it in place.

I didn’t have another nut or washer handy that would fit, so I fixed it with zip ties. One small one wrapped around the bolt head outside of the nut and then a larger one passed through the smaller one and around the frame. This should keep the nut/bolt from coming off the bike.

Ural engine mount repair

I made my way to the nearest hardware store a few miles away. I rode as carefully as I could taking it very gingerly. Every bump, pot hole, and frost heave had me holding my breath as images of my engine falling off filled my head.

It was an agonizingly long three miles to the store. I thought for sure my “fix” would come apart. I didn’t realized it at the time, but the engine jugs sticking out would have landed on the frame. The engine wouldn’t have hit the ground or rolled away into the ditch as I imagined. It would have just twisted the driveshaft up and stressed the heads making a big mess.

I arrived at the hardware store. Zip ties have yet again saved the day! I bought two new stainless steel nuts, lock washers, and regular washer. M12 x 1.25 if you’re curious. They are still 19mm outside diameter.

Ural engine mount repair

Here is the final repair:

Ural engine mount repair

Did I mention moto pants with knee armor make great knee pads for kneeling in the slush to work on the bike?

After the store, I rode to the nearest lake and spent fifteen plus minutes sliding around to blow off the stress and to celebrate my repair.

Red Loctite will be added to these nuts later. I have an extra nut and washer in my spare parts now, and I will be checking these in the future more regularly. A 19mm socket will also be added to my tool roll. The stock wrenches worked fine, but were slow. I also replaced the used zip ties with new ones.

You have zip ties on your bike don’t you?


  1. Close call Chris!

    I think I lost my final drive on my Ural today....more later once I assess the damage but it's not looking good. It may be time for another tug, a Beemer this time.


    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

    Redleg's Rides

  2. Chris:

    what good luck in finding this before it was too late. Maybe you could get a slightly longer rod and drill holes at each end for a cotter pin.

    It's Murphy's Law. no matter how many tools and sockets you have, you will always need something you don't have. and Yes, I do carry Zip ties.

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  3. Zip ties save the day! Too many doughnuts on the lake? You may want to use blue Loctite as the red needs a fair amount of heat to break the bond. But then again, it won't come loose on it's own.


  4. “What did you do today?”

    “Oh, not much, but my engine nearly fell out of my motorbike and I repaired it at the roadside with zip ties. I happened to have some tools that helped, plus I went to a store and bought some spares nuts and fixed it there and then. In the snow. Oh, and I took some pictures so my buddies that read my blog could see what had happened.”

    Just an everyday event for an everyday rider!

  5. As Gary says, "Just an everyday event for an everyday rider."

    I'm beginning to think that zip ties are the new duct tape :)


  6. @Dom: Oh dear. I'm waiting for an update.

  7. Dom: It was a very close call. Too close if you ask me. I'm sorry to hear about your FD. What happened? You never explained losing your alternator again either.

    There are some very cool BMW hacks. My favorites have been with the R1150GS. Try googling "duo drive" there is a company in Europe making 2wd kits for bmw hacks.

    Bob: The cotter pin is a good idea. I think I'm going to wimp out and do the red loctite route instead though. Finding the metal and then taping it is a bit more than I want to do right now.

    RichardM: Yes, red is pretty tough, but this is on the engine mount. I should only need to remove it when taking the engine out of the bike -- something I hope to never do.

    Gary: Not to offend all the other wonderful commentors, this is one of my favorite comments!! I might have to steal it and use it on as part of my blog description. :)

    Keith: zip ties are too handy. They saved a ride with my wife earlier when her clutch lever broke. I used zip ties to hook it back up and it was mostly functional. I saw a guy on a dirtbike ride brake his frame and he used zipties and two wrenches to splint the frame and continue riding. They can also be used to reattach plastic after a crash. very handy indeed!

  8. Dear Chris:

    It amazes me how close we occasionally come to havig to spend a lot of money in repairs when a relatively inexpensive part, like a bolt, wiggles its way loose. I should think the damage to the final drive would be extensive had the engine shifted in alignment under power.

    However, I was very interested in how you jury-rigged the bolt with zip ties. I do carry zip ties as a matter of course, to occasionally re-seat and refasten my fork boots. They are bogus accessories (not the 11-fat-pleat official boots) and did not come with the correct clamp for the bottom Black wires ties are a excellent alternative.

    Now, did you say you had that bolt in and out before? It isn't something that I would even think to check.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  9. Holy Cow that was close!! Good work tho! Man all that ice and snow and salt! YUCK!!!
    PS we still have snow on the ground here in sunny Alabama Chris...but no salt. And I'm not riding!!

  10. Dear Jack: Yes, less than $2 in parts could have caused catastrophic failure of the Ural and possibly an injury crash. Scary really. No, I've never seen or touched that bolt before. I didn't even know it existed. It has been added to my list of things to check in the future. Zip ties are fantastically useful!

    I talked with my mechanic and he said he's never heard of this nut coming off. He did give me some good advice about lock washer and flat washers. Use just the lock washer and not the flat washer since the lock washer will just lock the flat instead of the frame. Going to redo my fix to remove the flat washer when I add the loctite.

    Eve: Too close! Yea, the Ural has a nice patina of gunk which increases with each day.
    Still snow huh? That's too bad, your little bud probably froze off :(

  11. At least you would have high visibility stickers on your helmet as the engine fell out and sent you cartwheeling down the road for want of a nut and some loctite. Speaking as one who has fallen off more than once in many decades of riding, my latest in a muddy parking lot, I like to ride a machine that isn't actively conspiring to break my neck.

  12. I'm pretty damned impressed the zip ties worked, how many of you Ural folk are out there, and how many of you are using zip ties or having mount issues? Maybe it's just you and Dom, but he's getting rid of his, if I read his blog right.

    Seriously, I'm happy you didn't lose you zippy and wind up with a twisting motor and a drive shaft enema. You could write 3M a thank you note, they invented those things, right?

    Behind Bars

  13. Conchscooter: Thanks for stopping by.

    Brady: I was also impressed it worked. According to my Ural mechanic, it's a rare, freak thing for my mount to come loose. He's never seen or heard of it. However, fasteners get loose on bikes. That's why we're supposed to check them.

    Dom's Ural and mine are quite different. A '09 is much improved over a '96. Even an upgraded '96 such as his.

  14. Have to add vise-grips to the bag with the zip ties!

    So the Charlie6 curse spread to you, eh?

    Seriously, glad it came out ok. You and Dom have this gift of landing on your feet. Or maybe you make your own luck.

  15. irondad: i dont think charlie6 is cursed, and nuts get loose on bikes.

    I was lucky i saw the problem in time and had the resources to deal with it.

    Vise grips are handy too

  16. Meant no insult to Dom. He's a friend I razz, is all.

    I certainly know about nuts getting loose on bikes. How do you think I get out to ride?