Monday, January 31, 2011

BMW Ride Side Cover

Winter is a time to work on my snow fearing bikes such as my 2001 BMW R1150GS. My Ural loves the snow, but the rest cower inside afraid of the white stuff – salt. A perfect time to take them apart and do some maintenance.

When I bought the BMW, I noticed a number of things that needed “fixing”. One of those was the exposed wires and hoses on the right side.

Here’s a photo of the before picture on the right side:

Before Ride side cover for bmw r1150gs

The right side cover below. I’ve also heard it referred to as a “lower fairing". I think that’s stretching it a bit.

Ride side cover for bmw r1150gs

I think the BMW part number is: 46637671732. The part number is: 377905

The rubber grommets were already there, but no cover. The after picture below looks much cleaner doesn’t it?

After Ride side cover for bmw r1150gs

There are a few more little projects to do on the BMW before I move on to the SV650 and the WR250R. Little brown boxes have been arriving steadily for the past month. Now it’s time to get to work!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Long Ride and a Cold Foot

My Ural was finally due for its 10,000km maintenance this week, so I called up Kevin at Scrambler Cycle. He graciously agreed to do it on a Sunday, so I didn’t have to take any time off work! A look at the weather report the night before had me slightly worried. Originally, reports were that it’d be around 10F, but Saturday night it looked like –8F. In anticipation of the challenge, I didn’t sleep very well.

I had the Ural packed the night before with all of the consumables and some extras like the big car jump starter which could provide another power source for my heated gear should something go horribly wrong. It also has a light and a tire pump. Pretty handy.

Prep for long cold ride

I also packed this hunk of metal. It’s for a project Kevin and I are working on. More on that in a future post.

piece for mystery project

When I went to leave the house, I checked the thermometer for the PBC and found it was –14.1F! Wow. This was going to be a real challenge!

I like riding in winter for a number of reasons, but one of them is for the challenge. I can’t afford to ride to the arctic circle or other continents right now, so this is my way of having some adventure close to home.

I bundled up as best I could with my normal winter riding gear. I even put three heated foot packs on each foot. I expected to have problems with the feet, but felt reasonably comfortable with everything else. Two hours at –14F is a long time, and that’s before the wind-chill.

The ride started off without a hitch. I was grateful for the near empty roads, so I could enjoy the sunrise. I didn’t get my breath seal quite right or it was the moisture off my face, but the inside of my visor developed a beautiful sheet of ice.

An hour into the ride it covered my entire visor and I had to stop. My feet were also getting quite cold. I scraped the ice off the inside of my visor with my fingernail. It was thick! I re-arranged the guard for a tighter fit. My feet warmed up while I chatted with a guy in the gas station, and I was back on my way.

The cold did some strange things. First, the GoPro wouldn’t stay on for more than 45 minutes at a time. I’m impressed it even worked at all. With the wind-chill, it was something crazy like –60F sitting back there. The cold also held the smoke from nearby farm houses low to the ground in long thin strips.

My favorite scene from the ride was past a small farm. They had cows out feeding. It was so cold, steam was coming off their backs just from their body heat. The sunrise was brilliant in the background and the smoke from the farm house stretched out across the road. It was a great sight! The wood stove from the farm house smelled great too. It reminded me of campfires from past years.

I made it to Scrambler Cycle without further incident. My only complaint? A cold foot! Kevin was a bit amazed at how crazy I was to ride, and went right to work on the Ural. I teased him about getting frostbite from touching the bike.


He drained all the fluids


and tore apart the oil filter. No prize inside.

IMG_8638 IMG_8639

Before he took the valve covers off, he scraped some of the road gunk off to keep it out of the engine.


The oil was quite frozen, so we warmed it up on the heated floors.


Inside of the airbox had some oil and water which is pretty normal.


Kevin took it off and cleaned it up nicely.


Old air filter was dirty, so we replaced it.IMG_8646

New one on the left is a slightly different brand


Kevin had my new tires ready. Duros this time. IMG_8651

I wanted them for spring/summer/fall to replace the Kendas. I had originally planned to just take them home, but the front Kenda K335 was cupping badly and making the ride very harsh.


Kevin changed it out for me.


Duro tread:


We looked at the pusher (rear tire) and the sidecar tires and decided to rotate them.


This was the pusher below.


It’s pretty worn after just under 3000km. Maybe only 2-4mm left while the sidecar had nearly 10mm. I never measured them new, but I think they had around 12-14mm new.

Kevin finished the rest of the check list while I packed the tires on the rear rack. Two new Duros for the rear when the Kendas are done, and the badly cupped front tire. I’m still impressed with the traction of the K335s, but not the longevity. I’m on the fence if I will use them again next winter. I probably will.


The ride home was pretty uneventful. The bike was running great, and the ride was much smoother with the new front tire. There was a strong wind from the south that gave me a workout keeping the bike in a straight line. I was warm and toasty the whole ride home, even my feet.

I didn’t realize how cold it was until I removed one glove to open the door. Wow cold knob! Wow the outside of the other glove was really cold too!

My gear kept me warm, and Kevin did a great job on the Ural. 172 miles at an average of –3F and about five hours in the saddle.

A short video (3min) of the ride below:

YouTube Video PBC#26:

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Ural Updates and Changes from 2003 to 2011

I don’t normally make posts like this, but since I’ve been getting a number of reader questions about Urals and the differences in years, here you go.

I saw this while on Facebook the other day. Ural had posted a list of the their changes and evolution for the last eight years covering 2003 to 2011. I know they’ve made many changes, but looking at the list you can see how much they’ve improved.

Most of the improvements can be purchased and added to previous years. For example, I could buy the stainless steel pieces from 2010 to replace the chrome on my 2009.


  • New paint options including more powder coated colors
  • Aluminum rims on all models including sT
  • Duro tires standard on all models
  • Trunk locks on all models
  • New round indicator lamps
  • New Cordura (canvas) tonneau covers and aprons
  • Gear-up now equipped with single seat and rear fender rack
  • New aluminum upper fork bolts
  • Improved high strength final drive ring gear bolts


  • Aluminum alloy rims for Patrol and Tourist models
  • Rocker arms with needle bearings
  • Bearing instead of bronze bushing on the camshaft rear end
  • Polished ports of the cylinder head
  • Stainless steel used instead of chrome plating on all tubular parts (bumpers, clips, handles etc.)
  • New design of the low front mounting point of the sidecar
  • 40mm Marzocchi forks for Retro


  • Stainless steel exhaust pipes and mufflers
  • Removable plate under the driver seat
  • Powder painted body parts on some models
  • Standard greasable u-joints for 2wd shaft (GMB)
  • Unified EU/US wire harness


  • Complete new valve train including 7mm stem valves, sealed valve guides, hardened valve seats and stiffer valve springs
  • New clutch springs
  • Shock absorbers from Sachs
  • Pivot bearings installed in place of bushings in both front and rear swing arms
  • Tapered steering head bearings (SKF)
  • Steel braided brake hoses
  • New tool kit


  • Ducati ignition system
  • Herzog precision cut timing gears and oil pump gears
  • Surfaced clutch plates for smooth operation
  • Herzog shafts and precision cut gears for gearbox
  • Reversed style drive shaft with larger spline surface area
  • Improved 2WD engagement rod with UNI balls
  • Improved front sidecar mount to allow more adjustment and negative camber
  • SKF sealed wheel bearings
  • Brembo floating disc on all models
  • Improved sidecar truck hinges and handle
  • Standard (7/8') handle bar size and removable risers
  • Bottom out travel limiter on sidecar swing arm
  • NAK seals
  • SKF bearings
  • High quality 8.8 hardware used throughout


  • New header fastening system for exhaust pipes
  • Type V ignition (one-piece rotor)
  • Floating disc on Retro/Troyka front brake
  • Mechanical rear drum brakes on Retro
  • Petcock mounting on the tank without adapter
  • "Upside-down" type of air filter
  • Ducati ignition (late 2006)
  • Neutral indicator off when reverse is "on"
  • Drive shaft with longer splines


  • Front bumper for Patrol
  • New bench seats
  • New wire harness with power outlet in the sidecar


  • Denso alternator (55amp, 770 watts)
  • Type IV ignition (outside location, two-piece rotor)
  • Improved 2wd engagement lever (with fixing plate)


  • Brembo disc brake
  • IMWA 750 engine (different valves, camshaft, pistons)

Posted with permission by Ural.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Scootering at -21F - PBC#25

It was predicted to be very cold this morning. I was excited for the opportunity to break my coldest riding temp of –12F. I set the alarm for 4:30am so I could get up and get out the door before the sun warmed things up.

The first problem was my digital thermometer didn’t want to work correctly. I put a fresh battery in it and sent it back outside. It finally registered –21.5F!

Still bundled up, I proceeded to move the hippo hands from my Ural to the Super9. My previous cold ride on the super9 made my hands very, very cold. I wanted to prevent that from happening this time as I wanted to go further than 2km.

I put on all the usual winter riding gear except for the boots. I switched to my dirt biking boots instead of the Sidi on-roads. I wanted more ankle/foot protection as there would be a good chance for crashing. I layered up well. According to NOAA skin can freeze in under five minutes at this temp!

The scooter didn’t want to start at first, but eventually got going. It’s funny how picky mechanical things can be at –20F. After a few tries to started right up and I was on my way.

The roads were pretty clear and I was able to maintain about 30mph without too much fear. Per NOAA, –21F at 30mph is about –53F with the wind-chill! I was happy to be completely covered. The hippo hands were working great at keeping my hands warm. I could feel the cold, but I wasn’t cold. It was great being on two-wheels again!

I stopped at my usual outdoor thermometer for this photo:

Scootering at -17F

It’s usually a few degrees off from my house thermometer which is a bit more accurate.

When I stopped to take the photo, I turned the choke off. Big mistake. The bike ran for a minute or so and then died. I couldn’t get it restarted. Even with the choke on. After what seemed like a very long time, my video told me it was only seven minutes, but it felt like an hour, the scoot started back up.

The rest of the ride was uneventful, and I enjoyed empty streets. It was great. Our driveway has some hard, packed snow which was a bit exciting to ride up. I ended up pushing it the last few feet. Lucky for me the Super9 weighs just over 200lbs.

A fun ride, and a new record temp! Enjoy the video!

YouTube Video:

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?

Monday, January 10, 2011

10th Annual Winter Kite Festival

This past Saturday, January 8th, 2011, the Minnesota Kite Society and the Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board held the 10th Annual Winter Kite Festival on Lake Harriet in Minneapolis. It was a perfect day for it too. The weather cooperated nicely with clear blue skies and a light breeze.

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival

I wanted to ride on the lake, but Minneapolis frowns on that sort of thing, so I ended up riding here instead.

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival

The DNR ran an ice fishing demo in a house similar to this one:

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival

The event ran from noon until 4pm. We arrived around 1pm and the big kites really started to go up at about 2pm. We walked across the lake. It was a really nice day out.

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 

We were bundled up, and didn’t feel the cold. Motorcycle pants make great snow pants. Wind proof and insulated! This guy didn’t seem cold either.

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 

There were all sorts of kites flying.

Green ones that look like dragons

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival


10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 

huge, massive kites

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 

This one was our favorite. Look how small the people are in the lower right

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 

My wife liked this squid kite a lot too. It was also very large.

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 

This was another of my favorites.

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 

It was very high up, and looked tiny. It was also a big one.

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 

Hundreds of people showed up

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival

At one point I counted nearly thirty kites in the sky at once. It was an incredible sight.

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival 10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival

The DJ in his festive hat.

10th Annual Lake Harriet Winter Kite Festival

Full flickr album

I made a short YouTube Video. I think it is one of my best so far. Enjoy!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

First Frozen Lake Ride of 2011

Riding on a Frozen Lake

I have been waiting all winter to be able to ride on the lakes. It’s one of my favorite things about Minnesota winters. Finally, yesterday I got my chance.

Riding on a Frozen Lake

I’ve been routinely watching the lakes in the area for signs of cars. When I pulled up to this lake, I saw about ten trucks. If a 4000lbs+ truck can go on the ice, my 700lbs Ural can too!

Riding on a Frozen Lake

I made a short YouTube video of the ride for the PBC and the SBC as well.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Motorcycle First Thursday at Dulono’s – January 2011

Triumph and ural january first thursday

Last night was Motorcycle First Thursday at Dulono’s Pizza in Minneapolis. When I arrived, I was again the only rider. I went inside and found some friends to talk to.

While I was listening to plans to ride in the Baja and the Copper Canyon in Mexico next month, a guy walked in wearing a tour master rain suit. I was impressed! It was nice to see another rider. I went all last winter as the only one.

His name was John and he was riding a Triumph Trophy. I think it was his first time at First Thursday.

John on his Triumph Trophy

It was about 13F outside and the streets weren’t completely clear. He rode from a few miles away in Minneapolis on some very worn tires.

Triumph trophy at first thursday dulonos

I also met a guy name Craig who is leaving for Kyrgyzstan as soon as he finishes his taxes. He’s going to support his wife who is a volunteer for Doctors Without Borders. He thinks he’ll be gone for about nine months. He’s going to try and get an old Ural or a 2-stroke bike to ride around while he’s there. Very cool. Good luck Craig and stay safe!

I had a fun time tonight. I’m thinking it is more fun in the winter than the summer. In winter there are less people, and it’s easier to find your friends. Summer is nice for looking at bikes, but with the usual thousand people you normally just find your friend’s bike.