Most of you who have bought a new Ural from a dealer have probably never witnessed all the behind-the-scenes work that happens prior to you taking delivery of your Russian beauty. Using one of the two M70's we now have in stock at oVc as an example (sorry, they're both pre-sold), I'd like to walk you through the process.
The rigs are shipped from the factory in large wooden crates that, at first glance, seem to be a bit small to hold a sidecar rig until you pop the top off and take a look inside. The sidecar is actually bolted to one of the inside walls, while the bike is held upright with a rear tire block, the front end (minus the wheel) is anchored to a wooden support platform and a couple of support bars are bolted to the crate floor and the two upper sidecar mount tabs. The wheels are strapped down on the floor of the crate and any associated accessories such as the mirrors and mounting hardware are placed in a sealed box. The interesting thing is that every separate component is bagged in a large, thick clear plastic bag sealed off with a cable tie. I don't know how the heck they do it, but the entire sidecar and the bike itself are bagged like two loaves of industrial strength bread. Large packets of dessicant are placed inside every bag and work quite well at keeping moisture out; there’s no signs of rust or corrosion anywhere, which is impressive considering the length and time of the journey.
The first step after removing the top of the crate is to take down the wall that the sidecar is bolted to and place it on the floor. Obviously, this is a two man job and it involves a couple of pry bars, an electric drill with a screwdriver bit, some muscle work and a bit of cursing. Once the sidecar is on the floor, a quick inventory is done to ensure everything has arrived complete and undamaged…
The first order of business is to unbolt the sidecar from the wall of the crate, then slit open its protective plastic womb and take a close look at its condition. If it passes inspection, the next step is to install the tire and then place the unit on the handy sidecar support rolling frame that every reputable Ural shop has in their tool inventory. Except that in this case, the bonehead driving the forklift (me) inadvertently brought the crate into the shop the wrong way and the limited space would not allow for the use of said sidecar support rolling frame. This meant the sidecar had to be physically lifted high enough so that the wheel could be installed, a task made easier by the arrival of our occasional labour helper who lives next door.
With the sidecar now ready, the bike is next. All the wheels are first removed from the crate floor, unbagged, inspected and placed close by. Then the bag protecting the bike itself is split open and, after a thorough inspection, assembly begins. The various support bars, blocks and straps are removed and the bike is then heaved up onto its centrestand. With a lardarse (me again) leaning on the back fender to keep the front end in the air, the other two techs unbolt the front brake caliper, place the front wheel in position and feed the axle through. Once the caliper is back in place, the bike is then rolled off the centrestand and onto the shop floor to await the sidecar installation. Those with sharp eyes may have noticed that there is FINALLY a foot tab welded onto the centrestand to allow for easier deployment.
Just as an added point of interest, the M70 comes with the much coveted machine gun mount.
With the bike on the centrestand, the sidecar is rolled up next to it and readied for installation. This procedure usually goes a lot easier if the rolling sidecar platform is used, but a pair of mechanic’s stools and a jack make a good, if somewhat awkward, substitute. The two lower ball and socket mounts are connected first, then the two upper support struts. The mounting hardware is snugged down but not tightened at this point, as the alignment still needs to be done.
With the sidecar now installed, the bike is rolled off the centrestand for the final assembly process. All the accessories are installed at this point, as well as the headlight, electrical connections and finally the battery.
Then the rig is moved to a known flat surface where the alignment for toe-in and camber is performed, after which all the mounting hardware is tightened. The rig is then rolled back into the work area, where every fastener is checked for correct torque and the entire unit is given a final thorough check. Then the oils are added and the levels verified, the tank gets a splash of fuel and the starter button is thumbed to bring the beauty to life. After a short but thorough test ride (one of the perks of my job) and final brake adjustment, the rig is then delivered into the hands of its happy new owner.