The last few years with Boris have been entertaining, educational and frustrating, so I thought there was a chance that two Soviet bikes would potentially be twice the fun. After selling three Hinckleys and an Enfield, and buying a 'blade and a CBF600, the search was on for a cheap project.
This was advertised locally for £700.
A pair of Mitas knobblies look the part, but fouled the front guard, so in order to raise the guard, the lower guard stay was shortened to a couple of inches longer than the original front stay, and a new rear stay was made froma piece of flat bar bent into shape.
This was advertised locally for £700.
A 1991 Ural 650, badged as a Soviet Knight, resprayed from its' original red to silver and black, hardly any miles, with pullback bars, a sissy bar and spotlights that didn't work. When a cursory check over revealed it didn't have a working charging system and the tyres were potentially the original factory fitment, the price started to fall. The V5 showed first registration only happened in 2003, which raised further questions, and dropped the price some more. The engine fired on both, but the carburation was off, the gearbox selected all four and neutral. We settled at £500. The plan, at the time, was to do a cheap BMW bobber/Triumph Scrambler type of thing - single seat, knobblies, olive drab and black. What could possibly go wrong? Half an hour on the trailer saw it home to the shed.
First things first - I took many, many photographs from all angles for reference purposes -'just in case', and as the tank, seat and other parts came off, took more and more. There were no truly horrible things to see, just the usual dodgy wiring, blue spade connectors, insulation tape, surface corrosion and neglect.
A few phone calls found a local company that was prepared to blast the brightwork - not to take the chrome off - it was pretty well attached, but to make it a good key for the rattle can satin black I had planned. £80, done on 24 hours, not bad.
A car spares shop has a machine that mixes paint, so I got them to make a matt olive drab for me. The first attempt was a bit too brown, so they added a splash more yellow, and we got something that looked like it would do the job.
Evenings were spent in the garage trying to make sense of the wiring, with varying degrees of success. The CVKustoms website is a godsend, with a 1995 Ural schematic being the closest to what I had in front of me, with a 424 alternator and the 33.3702 regulator. I found wires twisted together, wires that were too long and folded over on themselves, then wrapped in tape, and at least half a dozen wires that weren't connected to anything at one end, if not both ends. Connectors were replaced as necessary to be sure of good contact, using heat shrink connectors and decent crimps, but I left the unconnected wires for the time being, as I couldn't be certain that one of them may have been the cause of the lack of battery charging.
The spotlights went on the shelf, as I had some nicer smaller ones from a 955 Tiger I used to own. After spraying the tank, I found it had a pinhole leak at the back, so the treated it with POR15 and resprayed. I couldn't find a petrol-proof matt lacquer (still can't) so I left it in bare paint, knowing it would stain with splashes.
The dripping sump got the 'Rice Krispies Gasket' treatment, after having drained the black goo that used to be oil.
And a centre stand was fabricated from scratch.
Fibreglass tape was used to wrap the downpipes, as a style thing more than anything else, though it did help in that the chrome of the downpipes was a bit 'blingy' for the look I was trying to get. The original fuse box was dubious looking, and likely to be the cause of roadside headscratching, so was replaced with a blade fuse type.
The carburettors were treated to new rebuild kits from Chris at Vostok Motorcyles (good chap), which replaced everything apart from the float bowl and the carb body. Rough estimates were made for settings, as I knew there would be plenty of time for fine-tuning at a later date.
A second hand Ural tractor seat (Vostok again) was sat in the corner of the shed waiting for its moment of glory. I decided on a homemade base, bolted into the tapped holes for the mainswitch and two new tapped holes in the frame. A shaped piece of flat plate had a square section welded onto it, and another piece of the square section was welded on to act as a base for the rubber block. A bit of satin black, and hey presto!
So, back to the electrics.
First impressions after starting the bike up, was that the charging system was working fine. This was fairly short-lived, though.
About five minutes, to be precise.
The charging light worked, then didn't work, and then the battery would stop charging up regardless of revs. The regulator appeared suspect, so I ordered TWO new ones (not from Vostok this time, he didn't have any), thinking that a spare for Boris wouldn't go amiss, especially as they were less than a fiver each. Three weeks wait for them to arrive from Germany, and hey presto! again. No different. So I tried the other new regulator. Same again. Tried the old reg - same again. It had to be the alternator.
So I ordered a new alternator, £80 delivered from Vostok.
Another three weeks, and here's the alternator. Shiny and lovely, and full of elastictrickery.
So we fired it up again, hey presto!
What the hell? Same problem AGAIN! Five minutes of everything being wonderful, then all of a sudden, the 14+volts across the battery drop to 12.3 and no amount of revving made any difference. Much head scratching ensued.
Eventually a further new regulator was bought, this time a universal type one from Vehicle Wiring Products, rather than a soviet one. A couple of days later, and hey presto!
This time it worked, and carried on working, and has been working ever since.
It seems very unlikely, but the fact remains, that one old, and two new regulators ALL had the same fault, in that after about 5 minutes of current passing through them, they failed. As a bit of a backup, I bought a LED battery monitor which fits exactly in the position of the original charging lamp. With a live feed from splicing into the hot side of the ignition switch, it shows green when more than 12.6v are running through the circuit, red if below that, and amber if over 15.4v. This means that there is always a light on the dash showing the state of the charging system, and despite misgivings, is not a distraction at night, in fact is is rather reassuring.
The spotlights I fitted were 55w each, and with a 150w alternator, I thought this a bit marginal. As it turns out, the headlight is reasonably bright, unlike Boris, so I replaced the H3 bulbs with 10w H3 LEDs, which obviously don't have the lumen power, but as marker lamps, work great.
Next up was the rear rack, which utilised the sissy bar mounting bracket and an offcut of aluminium sheet. Somewhere to carry the inevitable tools.
The hand gearlever on the right hand side of the gearbox seemed like too good an opportunity to miss, so a piece of steel angle, steel rod, a bit of flat bar, a welder, a grinder, an MX5 gearknob and some black paint gave me a hand gear shifter, as well as the usual foot lever. The dimensions for this were decided by rigging up a temporary lever out of some bits that were lying around, just to get a feel of pivot points and the like, and once I had a setup I was happy with, I made this.
The sidestand was responsible for the bike resting at quite a jaunty angle, so the local breakers produced a much longer stand, that was cut and welded to suit. The two holes in the foot are so a large foot can be bolted on when off-roading.
And that's 'He Who Shall Remain Nameless'. For now, anyway.