My brother sent this to me from the Chicago Tribune
By Paul Duchene
Special To The Tribune
September 24, 2000
Last year, Vadim Triapitchkin test rode the newest Ural motorcycle 1,860
miles from Siberia to
But what he rode was a huge departure from the 1939-style BMW sidecar
rigs for which the
company is known.
Triapitchkin, Ural's executive director, rode a 750-c.c. Nightwolf cruiser,
named for a Russian
motorcycle gang, which contributed to its design.
The bike, which will debut at next spring's Milan, Italy, Motorbike
Show, follows hard on the
surprise success of BMW's R1200C cruiser.
While the Nightwolf isn't nearly as sophisticated, prices are expected
to start at about
$6,000--less than half the price of a BMW. And that should turn a lot of heads.
There's one Nightwolf at Ural's U.S. headquarters in Preston, Wash.,
30 miles east of Seattle,
and I rode it on a drizzly Saturday.
It's a Russian model with cyrillic script and sold in Russia as the
Wolf, Nightwolves being
compared to the Hells Angels by Triapitchkin.
The Nightwolf was developed when the factory was being sold in 1998,
when production had
dropped to 2,000 units a year from 130,000 in the early 1990s.
Employees hadn't been paid for up to four years and were surviving through
farming and hope that things would get better, said Triapitchkin.
"The workforce stayed because they couldn't afford to leave town," he
joked through an
But quality control improved and U.S. sales picked up. The foray into solo cycles should help.
Rumbling into life with that peculiar boxer twitch, which feels like
the engine's trying to jump
sideways out of the frame, the Nightwolf presents the rider with the usual cruiser view. High
bars, single 160 kilometer [about 100 m.p.h.] speedometer and series of warning lights below
The test bike was black with limited chrome trim, pretty much the way
you'd strip down a
Harley-Davidson. Triapitchkin said production bikes will have polished engine cases.
The seat height is low--around 26 inches--and the bike includes adjustable
which were the most comfortable. There are three ways to shift gears; the forward controls,
heel and toe lever on the left and a hand shift on the right, which could include the ability to
engage a reverse gear, the same as on the sidecar rigs.
The bike has thick, nine-inch brembo disc brakes at both ends with good
light feel, and the gas
tank holds 4.2 gallons.
The clutch is surprisingly light and the four gears engage with a light
clunk in keeping with the
vintage feel of the bike.
Preliminary trips through the gears revealed a flat spot around 3,500
r.p.m., but the bike was
just out of the crate. There's plenty of torque and the 750-c.c. boxer motor carries the
539-pound weight low. The bike feels like it puts out around 60 h.p. but it's rated at 23
Paint and plating seem fine, and Triaptchkin said the company was working
on smoothing the
welds on the plunger frame (which seemed ok).
If Ural can bring this in for about $6,000 they'll have a lot of lookers.