Monday, February 17, 2014

Short Ride on President's Day

Today being President's Day here in the U.S., my present contracting gig had me not working.

After a leisurely breakfast with two friends from past contracts, I puttered on Millie, the backup car, trying to figure out why she was leaking coolant.  I think I found the issue, added some stop leak solution into the radiator, and will monitor.

After lunch, the temperature was 60°F and sunny, a short ride to see how Mount Evans was looking was in order.

The sight of Mount Evans from the nearby Summit Ridge community proved to have degraded from the sharp images I'd seen in the early to mid-morning driving.  It seems, I'll have to get up with the dawn to get some sharper pictures of Mount Evans, perhaps this coming Friday.

Tweaked with PerfectEffects 8 software.
The haziness cut down quite a bit using the Matte High Print effect.

Valencia's engine should have been shipped this past Friday and hopefully is en route back to Fort Collins.  I've now become ambivalent about trading her in, thinking perhaps its best to stick with what's tried and true.  Heck, I don't even know if I can back out of the deal you know, it's just where my mind is lately.

Hopefully, this posting finds you in good riding weather and with less indecision as to near future plans!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The first 2014 is received by fellow Uralista: Darrell S.

I rode up to Fort Collins this past Friday morning to deliver Yoshie, the 2006 Suzuki V-Strom/Dauntless Sidecar Rig.  I must confess I totally underestimated the cold temperatures and the wind chill factor.  It was a balmy 27°F in Centennial so I didn't don my rain gear.  This was a mistake.

I damn near froze my butt off and had to stop about 30 minutes south of Fort Collins (where it was 13°F, for about 45 minutes, to thaw out inside a "Loaf n Jug" gas station/convenience store.  It was scary how cold I got, I've not been that cold in decades!

Still, I managed to get Yoshie to Unique Rides, the URAL dealer and delivered her to Randy for eventual sale.  As I approached the dealer, I saw in the distance a URAL sidecar rig headed in my direction.  It was my friend Darrell S. astride his brand spanking new 2014 Ural Patrol!

Darrell, and his 2014 Patrol, to be named: Babe, as in Paul Bunyan's Blue Ox of Legend

After a brief conversation with Darrell, he headed back to Northglenn via frontage roads as he's got 1000 kilometers to go to break the engine in before trying highway speeds.  I continued onto the dealer as I mentioned before.

Had some conversations with Randy, saw that poor Valencia was sitting engine-less under a tarp near the garage where Randy does his repair work.  She looked sad, and no, no pictures.

I spent a good hour there, talking about things with Randy and didn't leave his place till around 2:00PM or so.  By 3:30, I'd driven Darrell's pickup truck (which he'd used to get to the dealer earlier this morning) to his home in Northglenn.  The logistics worked out pretty good for both of us in terms of getting vehicles back and forth.

Here's part of the email Darrell sent off to URAL HQ upon arriving back at his home:

First, the EFI.  The motorcycle ran smoothly on the way home.  Idled perfectly at every stop.  The low end torque and pick up blew me away!  I am really looking forward to riding this new rig in the mountains in the summer.

I set the steering damper to 12 and rode off.  The experience was nothing short of amazing!  The motorcycle ran straight and yawing when adding or reducing throttle.  Taking off from a stop is a whole new experience for older timers.  A motorcycle really going straight without fighting the sidecar that's amazing!!!

Another improvement that I really appreciate is the updated clutch pack.  The shifting is so much smoother and clutch engagement is more positive, more direct!  Kudos!!!!

The three-wheel disc brakes are nothing short of fantastic!  Being able to feel the rear/sidecar braking and knowing it's having a positive effect on slowing the motorcycle down is great!  It really reduces the amount of wear on the front disc brake and adds a level of controllability to the motorcycle.

The only down side to my whole initial adventure was that I didn't have enough money to buy a second 2014 Ural for my wife.  She loves to drive the motorcycle as much as I do and I'm afraid my time behind the handlebars will be limited.

I really think Ural hit a homerun with all the upgrades and have truly listened to and responded to their customers.....their fans!

I arrived around 3:30 PM to Darrell's place and admired his new rig.  We spent much time closely examining the rig, noting the improvements, the new additions, and both of us were very impressed.  The engine sound is completely different from the usual URAL engine noise.  The closest example I can think of is the putt putt sound of a boat engine at idle.

Darrell then let me take his new rig out for a short spin around the block.  I must echo his enthusiastic commentary about the power, the lack of yaw/pull when starting off from a stop, the smoothness of the engine and the smooth yet powerful disc brakes.  Outstanding!

Today's experiences with Darrell's rig is going to make the next three weeks or more before my own rig is available seem to drag I'm afraid.

As a bonus, it appears that Darrell is the first guy in the US to take receipt of a 2014 Sidecar Rig!  His place in URAL history is secured.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

URAL Sidecars in the Olympics Opening Ceremony? Yes!

Well, after the disappointing non-showing of the Bud Lite commercial featuring URAL sidecar rigs (sponsor elected to show the lame Schwarznegger commercial instead), I wouldn't get my hopes up about this announcement from URAL:

Our Russian distributor delivered  20 (twenty) red Urals to Sochi, rumored to be used at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Games Opening Ceremony. As expected everything is cloaked in secrecy, so we won't know until we know. The Opening Ceremony starts Friday, February 7, 11:00 am ET. It will be broadcast (unfortunately not live) on NBC at 7:30pm ET. Our Canadian readers can watch it live on CBC.

I'll be recording the opening ceremonies, even though they will have already happened due to time delayed broadcast here in the USA.  For those in Canada who manage to watch it on CBC, drop me a line if you do see URAL sidecar rigs in the ceremony, will you?


Yes, there were URAL Sidecar Rigs in the Sochi Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony!  Got these pictures from URAL through their Irbit Informer digital newsletter:

Monday, February 03, 2014

SITREP: Valencia's status and current action plan.

The dealer is closed today but last update from Randy is that Valencia's engine was to be shipped to the mothership in Redmond, WA to be taken apart and analyzed.  At that point (which according to Randy, wouldn't take long for URAL's Sergey to analyze), a decision would be made to either rebuild the engine again or ship a replacement engine back to Unique Rides, my dealer.

Note: The 2014 models are now shipping, which makes me wonder if they've stopped making 2013 model engines with carburetors and the "old" design for weeks if not months now.  Which would kind of make me wonder re existing stockage levels of engines suitable for Valencia.  The new engines are NOT retrofittable (to my knowledge).

Note: I don't know where the engine is now, I hope to get more info from Randy tomorrow.  The assumption is that he's already shipped it to the mothership.

So, what to I do now you ask.

Well, some may think me callous, but I have decided that I am done with Valencia.

Yoshie, my Suzuki V-Strom Sidecar Rig, though running fine, is not as good or safe on snow as Valencia was.

So, emails were exchanged between Tammy, the co-owner and sales person of Unique Rides.  It all happened over the course of last week and the result is this:

1.  They will take both Valencia and Yoshie in as trade-in rigs for a new 2014 Red and White Patrol.

2.  I signed the invoice this morning and sent it back to Tammy via email.

3.  The value offered for the trade-ins will result in a no cost upgrade to me.

4.  Unique Rides will take on ownership and eventual sale of both Valencia (once she's repaired of course) and Yoshie.

5.  I need to deliver Yoshie to Unique Rides, so no more riding on her except to get her to Fort Collins where Unique Rides is located.  Yoshie is too wide for my trailer so she must be ridden to Unique Rides.

6.  My new rig, is scheduled to ship out of New Jersey on 24FEB13.  Yep, that's the earliest they could do it, there's apparently a big demand for the new rigs and its not like they make thousands of them each month.  (Total URAL rigs produced last year was under 1300 units).  About a week to transport it to Colorado, figure I take ownership end of February if no delays occur.

So that's the plan.  I will still keep trying to find out the final resolution of the engine issue of course and update you all when I have something.

This is why I will be not riding on three wheels for the month of February.  Where the weather and road conditions permit, Brigitta, my '87 R80 Airhead Beemer will provide for my two-wheeled riding "fixes".

How am I going to get to work you ask?  Well, recent events involving Martha's car highlighted the fact that perhaps being a one car family isn't "optimal".  That and the fact I will soon only have one sidecar rig drove the need for a backup car.

I now introduce you to Milli, the URV:

2006 PT Cruiser

Yep, I am back to having a cage, after almost 6 years of doing without one.  She's got a tow hitch and just enough tow capability to function as the URV or Ural Recovery Vehicle.  When my new rig is down for whatever reason, she'll get me to work.  She can pull the trailer to pick up my rig if needed though I'll probably use Martha's X5 to take my new rig to/from the dealer as needed.  I bought the car from Oscar so I know it's been well-maintained and he sold it to me at a fair price.

Odometer reading: 90,068

Note: One good point about having Milli, the boys can learn to drive on her, not Martha's X5.

I drove Milli to work today, just another lemming in a cage.  :(

Hopefully by the end of this month, I hope to introduce you to my new Ural Sidecar Rig.

Update: 04FEB14: Got email from URAL's VP of Operations & Product Support: Jason:  The engine is being picked up by URAL's trucking company today, they expect it to be in Redmond, WA this coming Monday.

Update:05FEB14: Engine picked up today by URAL, same truck that delivered two new 2014 rigs, took the Valencia's engine.

Update 11FEB14: URAL's VP of Operations and Product Support, Jason wrote me today:  The engine arrived yesterday (late due to weather) and Sergey has already dis-assembled and inspected it for defects. We have found the crankshaft shows signs of wear or damage on the connecting rod main bearings and will need to be replaced. Sergey will complete the repair and your engine will be shipped back to Unique Rides by Friday.

So, URAL once again has stepped up and honored their warranty without questions.  I dare say there's not many companies out there who are this fully behind their product.

If the engine ships Friday as planned, it should be back at Fort Collins by the latter half of next week.

Update: 19FEB14:  Valencia's engine has been repaired, was picked up for shipment on 14FEB (Friday) and should be at Fort Collins either today or tomorrow depending on weather conditions.

Updated: 20FEB14: Valencia's engine arrived yesterday, that's the good news.  The bad news is all the winter weather hitting the East Coast and specifically New Jersey has delayed the shipment of the 2014 Red/White Patrol to March 4!  :(

Sunday, February 02, 2014

URAL in the Super Bowl

In its continuing efforts to market their sidecar rigs into the mainstream consciousness, URAL has taken a major step by collaborating in what I believe is its first presence in a Super Bowl commercial.

It's not a URAL-centric ad of course, the cost of this ad is probably more than the entire marketing budget for the company in one year!

The hometown Denver Broncos play the Seattle Seahawks today....I guess I'll tune in to see the commercial live.  :)

Valencia's engine has been ordered to the mothership for examination by Sergey.

Looks like I will be URAL-less for the entire month of February.  Yoshie, my Suzuki V-Strom Rig will probably not see action either as she lacks a proper snow tire.  It's going to be a long month.