Friday, October 29, 2010

Scrambler Cycle and Ural

A few weeks, back I discovered Scrambler Cycle on the Ural website. We were able to checkout the place and meet Kevin, the owner, on the Fall SKUNK ride. After talking to him, I was feeling pretty good about his ability to work on my Ural.

Two weeks ago I took the day off work and rode the 97 miles one way to his shop in Cameron, WI. Kevin graciously offered to let me hangout and watch him work (awesome!). He also didn’t seem to mind that I was interested in photographing his work. (bonus!)

Excited to finally find a competent mechanic to work on my Ural, I quickly came up with a list of things to do:

  • check the alignment (st. croix ural said it was correct, I didn’t believe them)
  • check the valves (wanted him to check my work)
  • check the carb balance (wanted him to check my work)
  • install a tach (Ural’s don’t come with one stock)
  • install my heated grips (can’t do electrical work myself and keep the warranty)
  • install my trunk lock (lazy and lacking a 3/4” drill bit)
  • install a headlight switch (can’t do electrical work myself and keep the warranty)
  • lubricate the cables
  • check the spokes
  • adjust suspension

Kevin hear me coming and opened the door for me to pull right in. He quickly got to work taking the covers off the valves to let them cool down while we working on other things.

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Next he got to work on the alignment. He attached two long pieces of metal to the bike and measured the distance front and back to get the correct measurements.

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He found the sidecar was “toed out 1/4 of an inch” which means it was angled away from the motorcycle. Being out like that would cause the bike to pull to the right and cause excessive tire wear. It may have also caused all of the spoke issues I had.

Some adjustment later and we had it set to 1/2 inch toed in. (sidecar aimed towards the motorcycle).


He also adjusted the lean angle of the motorcycle to balance tire wear against handling.


While Kevin started with the tach install, I took the opportunity to remove the fairing and headlight to help him get at the wiring for the heated grip install.


I also installed a second battery tender cable. They are really cheap and I still have a bunch laying around. I have them on all my bikes and use them to power my heated gear. Last winter I had one of them crack at the boot of the cable causing it to fail. This meant I didn’t have any heated gear. It was a cold ride home. The second pigtail gives me a backup power source in addition to the backup battery I carry in the sidecar. Redundancy is a good thing in winter!


Kevin working on the wiring for the tach:

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The new tach installed:


While Kevin played with the wiring for the grips (he made a beautiful custom harness to avoid splicing),


I removed the stock grips. (carb cleaner is your friend)

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I had to remove my throttle lock to install the new heated grips.


test fitting the new hotgrips

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I was a bit dumb… the stock Ural grips are 5.5 inches long. I struggled to choose between the 5.25 and 5.75 hotgrips. I settled on the 5.25 and I should have bought the 5.75 inch. Because the new grips were slightly smaller, Kevin had to trim my throttle tube a tiny bit.

He mixed up the epoxy and put the new grips on


We put the resistor on top of the fairing behind the headlight. Good out of the way place with good airflow. We used a ziptie to hold it in place while the epoxy cured.

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Next he lined up the switch location for the grips, and drilled a hole.

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New switch perfectly centered:


The new farkles installed!


Next was the Delaware Dave Ural Trunk Lock (no longer needed on 2011 models!):


Kevin is smart, he put some tape over the hole he was drilling so the metal shavings wouldn’t scratch the paint:


Lock in the locked position:


Lubing the throttle cable:

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Finally Kevin checked the valve adjustment (good) and then balanced the carbs.


I brought my Twinmax with since he’d never used one, and I REALLY like it.

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After using it for a few minutes, he got things dialed in perfect. He also told me he’ll be buying a twinmax soon.

Before I left, he also adjusted my suspension a bit by firming it up. It was set to the loosest setting and was a bit spongy. He ended up tightening a couple spokes on the pusher. We ran out of time before we could finish the light switch. Next time!

I had a great time hanging out with Kevin of Scrambler Cycle while he worked on my Ural. He is a machine! He hardly took a break; he just kept working. I think he did a great job.

My Ural has ever run or handled so well for the last ten months I’ve owned it. I am impressed! It tracks nearly straight (still a very slight pull to the right), and I don’t have to fight the bars so much anymore.

I’m very happy with the service! Thanks Kevin!


  1. wow, sounds like you've found yourself a mechanic!

    I liked his electrical work, clean....

    Now you got me wondering about the alignment of my own rig, now that Linden Engineering had to move the sidecar off a bit to get to the right side jug. Hmmmm.


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

  2. Dear Chris:

    This was a highly entertaining an informative technical narrative. I loved the pictures and found myself enlarging a few to get a good close-up look at a Ural. Is it customary to find loose spokes in a wheel? And if you just tighten up some, doesn't that affect others?

    How will the heated grips impact your machine's charging system? I was under the impression that Ural charging systems were suspect, even on the newer ones.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad
    Twisted Roads

  3. No worries on the electrical system. Its a 55 amp 770 watt automotive type Denso with a rubber cush drive unit. Urals before 2005 had an alternator commonly refered to as the "Hand Grenade", it commonly failed. The new alternators look just like a car alternator, in fact they still have the bracket mouting ears used when mounting in a car.

    Its not all that uncommon to find a few loose spokes because of the lateral forces not usually found on bikes without sidecars. Also Chris has new wheels from a spoke loosening problem and keeping a close eye on them is probably a good idea. Hopefully the correct alignment will cut down on loose and broken spokes.

    Great write up Chris.


  4. Excellent post Chris. It seems you have found a good mechanic. 97 miles isn't that far to travel and knowing you, it would be done even in the snow! I love my heated grips as they allow me to wear thinner gloves - so much better than the thick bulky kind.

  5. Keith: :)

    Dom: Yes, it took way too long. I was just talking to a friend last night about it. I realized nearly all of the issues I've experienced are because of the incompetence of st. croix ural. Did you check the alignment? Mine is like a new rig. So nice now.

    Dear Jack: Adjusting one spoke can pull the wheel out of true if over done. As Kevin said, there are a lot of lateral forces in a sidecar because it can't lean. It's not normal to have the issues I did. It was because of the poor alignment that St. croix ural set. Much better now. Only one loose spoke so far, before Kevin it would have been 6+. The electrical is good. Can easily run two full sets of gear and lights.

    Kevin: Thanks for the expert Ural knowledge in answering Jack's questions!

    Gary: Thanks Gary! I've been loving your posts, but haven't seen to many new videos. The great pictures make up for it I guess. ;) 97 miles isn't far, but it does mean a four hour round trip. The heated grips have been so awesome. I wish I would have done them last year.