Back in the middle of April, I had the dumbest idea I've ever had. Even dumber than my previous dumbest idea, Project Firebolt (which, I'll have you know, is still slowly but surely moving along). What's dumber than trying to assemble a running, riding, late-60s Britbike from a pile of parts made up of no fewer than four different motorcycles? Boy, do I have a story for you.
Regular readers know that I have A Thing for Urals. I've reviewed a handful of them over the years, got to ride the killer electric cT prototype, and I've even interviewed bossman Ilya a few times. I've never had my own, though—a situation I've wanted to rectify since at least 2018. Thing is, I don't make Ural money (they're remarkably pricey). With two kids, a car note, a fleet of needy, elderly Japanese motorcycles, and a nearly century-old Detroit quasi-mansion full of century-old problems, how could I afford one? Well, as the great philosopher Walter Szobchak once said:
Anyway, in March, I decided to sell a couple bikes—specifically my '79 XS650 and '80 XS1100—to free up some room in the garage for some more
junkheaps rescue bikes. The 650 had always been slated for eventual sale, that's what Small Bike Rescue is all about. The 1100 was going because, after two decades of wanting one and then scoring a really nice one for an amazing price, it turns out I just didn't like it all that much. Never meet your heroes, I guess. So, I had some good money in my pocket and I figured since I was already on Cycletrader I may as well look around to see if there were any affordable (for me) used Urals.
The pickings were very slim, but eventually, I found what I was looking for—a used 2019 GearUp with 8,000 miles on the clock. It wasn't the color I wanted, and it had some really questionable accessories (along with some cheap vinyl stickers intended to dress it up as a WWII U.S. Army bike), but it was mostly what I wanted at a price I could afford. There was one small hitch, though—it was located at a dealership 2,500 miles away in Bend, Oregon.
Conveniently enough, my wife and I already planned to be in Oregon with the kids the last two weeks of June for little family vacation. I figured, hell, why not buy the Ural out there while we were visiting and ride it home? I could even make it into a work trip by writing a bunch of stories, taking a bunch of pictures, and reviewing a bunch of gear! So, after about six seconds of forethought and planning, I walked into my wife's office and said,
"Momma, I just had the dumbest goddamned idea of my life. Wanna hear it?"
Used to my vagaries and harebrained schemes as she is, she told me to lay it on her. I did so, and after a moment of stunned silence she smiled and said,
"That's stupid as hell. Let's do it."
What happened next was about a month of planning, loan applications, and a bunch of legal shenanigans. We discovered pretty quickly that the first dealership was prohibited by law from selling me the used bike because LOLOregon. I mean, we're talking a state here where you're not allowed to pump your own gas, so I don't know what I expected. So, I changed gears, got some assistance from the folks at Ural, and ended up buying a brand new, 2022 GearUp from Raceway Ural in Salem, OR.
Nice, right? I'm pretty happy with it, although it's still not the color I wanted. The team at Raceway is currently sprucing it up with some accessories—bike windshield, sidecar windshield, some power ports, etc.—and I take delivery June 20. To say that I'm excited would be a gross understatement. I'm also freaking out and my anxiety is pegged at about 150 percent. That's to be expected, though, 'cause this is a pretty serious—if seriously fun—undertaking.
So, what's the plan? After touring around Oregon with my wife for a few days celebrating our 20th wedding anniversary, and having the bike's first service performed by Raceway, I'll head north to Seattle. There I'll catch up with some old bandmates, eat at two of my favorite Seattle restaurants—shout out to Biscuit Bitch and Sisters and Brothers—and meet up with the folks from Ural to show off my new steed. Once I've had my fill of the Emerald City, I'll head east and begin the long journey home to Detroit.
I have a vague itinerary planned with the help of Rever and Bunk-a-Biker—all along two-lane blacktop and scenic routes. My first stop will be in Spokane, WA, and from there I'll pass through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, and finally Michigan. For lodging, I'll be primarily camping with a couple nights with friends or in Air B&Bs to break things up. It should take me around 10 days to get back home, weather permitting and not counting any breakdowns, natural disasters, UFO abductions, cult activity, dimensional rifts, or other paranormal phenomena.
Know what the best thing is, though? You all get to come with me! Not, like, literally, of course, but vicariously through the magic of the internet. While I'm on the road, from June 26 to July 5, I'll be making regular photo, video, and text updates on RideApart's various social media channels. So, make sure you're subscribed to our Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook pages if you want to watch me (hopefully) flog a Ural across the northern part of the country. One way or another, it'll make for a great story.