2014 Ural Solo sT Review

The sidecar-less two-wheeler from the quintessential sidecar manufacturer

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2014 Ural Solo sT

Editor Score: 66%
Engine 13/20
Suspension/Handling 11.5/15
Transmission/Clutch 6/10
Brakes 8.5/10
Instruments/Controls3/5
Ergonomics/Comfort 7/10
Appearance/Quality 7/10
Desirability 5/10
Value 5/10
Overall Score66/100

When it comes to newly pressed Russian-made motorcycles imported to the United States, there’s Ural and then there’s Ural. Renown for its rugged line of sidecar models, specifically the 2WD Gear-Up and Patrol, Ural also manufactures the lesser-known Solo sT. Sans sidecar, the Solo sT is the only two-wheel counterpart to the variety of three-wheelers in Ural’s 2014 model lineup.

2011 Ural Gear-Up Sidecar Review [Video]

Having sold a total of just 18 Solo’s last year, the sT is an anomaly, to say the least. Minimal Solo sales figures are in part due to Ural’s focus on the company’s sidecar models and the unconventional portion of the market they’ve cornered, but also because Solo sT’s aren’t found on dealer showroom floors. They exist, but only in a limbo state of pre-order status. While this may be off-putting to some, it allows each Solo sT model to be customized according to the bike’s a la carte menu of options. Turn around time, according to Ural, from initial order to having one under your bum, is an average of 45 to 60 days.

2014 Ural Solo sT EFI

Fuel injection headlines the upgrades to the 2014 Solo sT. The closed loop system utilizes dual ECUs that allow the Solo to continue running if one ECU should fail. Complementing the EFI is a redesigned airbox and revised cam profiles.

New to all 2014 Ural models is electronic fuel injection developed for Ural by ElectroJet, Inc. Hardly ground-breaking technology, but considering Urals are one of the few, if only, 749cc motorcycles manufactured with a functioning kickstarter, EFI is a technological moon landing.

To paraphrase Ural president, Ilya Khait, EFI advances Ural from 1950’s technology to that of the 1980s. Ural claims EFI, in conjunction with a redesigned airbox with twice the volume of the old one, and a new lower-profile cam with shorter durations, have conspired to increase torque to 42 ft-lb at 4300 rpm from the 38 ft-lb at 4600 rpm of last year’s carbureted model. Just as important is the air-cooled, opposed-Twin reaches 90% of maximum torque as low as 2300 rpm.

2014 Ural Solo sT headlight cluster

Riding the Solo sT reveals that there certainly exists ample low-end grunt to propel the sT out of a corner while in second gear with revs hovering just above idle. However, off-to-on throttle inputs from a stop or while in motion are met with a significant hesitation followed by a harsh engine response. Smooth throttle and clutch control dissipates the problem, but some fine-tuning of the EFI is in order before skeptical Ural enthusiasts will accept EFI over the proven carburetion.

I also experienced some popping during my day aboard the Solo, but no backfiring or anything more substantial. Jason Rae, Ural’s VP of R&D, says he is working closely with counterparts at ElectroJet to perfect the system. In fact, the day I spoke with Rae (after my ride) he had just received a calibration update from ElectroJet to smooth off-idle transition. EFI-model Ural owners can easily update their bike’s to the latest algorithm by visiting their local dealer.

2014 Ural Solo sT

The Solo sT pictured here is a hybrid 2014/2015 model. The tires and seat are not standard ’14 fare. Unseen are prototype triple clamps that decrease rake for quicker steering compared to the sidecar models. Note the new spin-on oil filter front and center on the redesigned engine cover.

In the handling department the Solo sT performs to the parameters of its design, which is as a standard motorcycle with traditional values. Seating position is a comfortable, 1970’s UJM rider triangle. Cornering clearance doesn’t exceed the grip of the tires, and the 18-inch wheels convey stability rather than quickness in transitioning. The Marzocchi fork and dual Sachs shocks do a wonderful job of maintaining a balance of comfort and control.

Running errands around town or tooling through the local countryside, the Solo sT is in its element. And it’s certainly capable of longer trips, depending on the will of its owner. But don’t expect to run down many bikes on a canyon road – it’s out of its element when ridden aggressively.

2014 Ural Solo sT headlight nacelle

A new headlight nacelle with a fuel light graces the front of all new Urals, as does a new wiring harness with weather-tight connectors. Replacing the old-school friction steering damper is a new, 16-position hydraulic unit.

In addition to the 2014 Solo sT’s EFI upgrade is a redesigned front engine cover featuring a spin-on oil filter, replacing the previous model’s internal, sump-style filter. The more convenient arrangement is also available as a retrofit kit for older Ural models. Rae says that a residual benefit of the spin-on filter is the cooling nature of its placement, which has slightly decreased engine operating temperatures.

+ Highs

  • Eclectic and rare
  • Simplicity
  • Made to order
- Sighs

  • EFI needs tuning
  • Expensive
  • No test rides

Like all Urals, the Solo sT is rife with idiosyncrasies such as not providing enough room to place my boot flat-footed on the peg without my toes rubbing against the bottom of the cylinder. Or a centerstand that requires reaching between the exhaust pipe and frame to initiate extension from its stored position. However, it’s these same characteristics (character flaws?) that endear Ural, chiefly its sidecars, to so many riders.

The problem, however, is that unlike its sidecars, which have no real competitors, the Solo sT is one of many, and not necessarily the best choice among them. See the quick comparison spec sheet below.

Ural Solo sT Triumph Bonneville Moto Guzzi V7 Stone Royal Enfield Bullet Classic EFI
MSRP $9,299 $7,899 $8,490 $5,499
Horsepower (Claimed) 41 hp @ 5500 rpm 67 hp @ 7500 rpm 50 hp @ 6200 rpm 27.5 hp @ 4000 rpm
Torque (Claimed) 42 ft-lbs @ 4300 rpm 50.2 @ 5800 rpm 42.7 ft-lbs @ 5000 rpm 30.5 ft-lbs @ 4000 rpm
Engine Capacity 749cc 865cc 744cc 499cc
Engine Type Air-cooled Opposed Twin Air-cooled Parallel Twin Air-cooled Air-cooled Longitudinal V-Twin Air-cooled Single
Final Drive Shaft Chain Shaft Chain
Curb Weight 478 lbs 496 lbs 395 lbs 420 lbs

Spec sheets don’t convey everything you need to know for making an informed purchasing decision, but the price of the Solo sT might be enough to send consumers looking elsewhere. Last year’s carbureted Solo retailed for $7,999, keeping it on equal ground with its competitors, but the new EFI model comes with a $1,300 price hike. Ouch!

2014 Ural Quartermaster by ICON

The Quartermaster was a collaborative effort between Ural and ICON using a 2012 Solo sT as the base model upon which this post-apocalyptic custom was created.

To make the Solo sT standout in a crowd, Ural is considering a less-crowded option. Khait appears quite enamored with the above image of the ICON Quartermaster. In essence, he foresees creating a niche market that doesn’t exist, the retro adventure-bike. While a long, long way off from any form of production run, the idea is tempting as we can see the hipster value in a bike of this nature.

Considering Ural already dominates the retro sidecar market, whose to say the company couldn’t create and dominate the retro adventure-bike market. A $9,300 bike like the one above probably has a much better chance of selling more than 18 models a year than does the current Solo sT.

For now, though, the current form of the Solo sT is the only two-wheeler available from Ural. Motorcyclists desiring an unusual rarity with a warranty need look no further.

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  • DickRuble

    It’s surprising they sold as many as 18 at the asking price. You can buy hardly used real motorcycles for half of that. There was a 09 Yamaha yzf advertised for 3900 with 1000 miles on it. Your neurons must be severely misfiring if you buy a Ural, let alone for $9K.

    • fastfreddie

      Was flabbergasted to see expensive as a minus point.Even more when looking at the price.Good lord.Someone in that factory decided to shoot the company in the proverbial foot with an exploding harpoon-to borrow an expression used in Cycle magazine way back when:)

  • Reid

    Urals and Royal Enfields are the quintessential BS hipster motorcycles.

    • DickRuble

      I don’t think there is a hipster dumb enough to buy a Ural or Enfield. They’d rather buy a Vespa and outrun any Ural.

  • Kevin

    Subtract $8K from the price and bring it into price point it belongs, they probably couldn’t build/import them fast enough.

  • http://norimek.com/blog Robert C. Barth

    For another couple hundred you can get a thoroughly modern Honda CB1100, or a few hundred less, a Triumph Bonneville. Who on earth is going to buy this thing?

  • Ilya Khait

    Hi, Ilya Khait is here. First of all, thank you for your interest in Ural motorcycles and kind comments. Juts wanted to emphasize one important point. The sT is not mass-production bike. We only build one, when there is somebody who wants it, and it built the way this person wants it. Essentially sT is a custom bike, It utilizes some specially made components. For instance, steering bridges and rear brake adapter are custom machined from billet aluminum. We’re not trying to capture a big piece of the two-wheel bikes market. We don’t even try to capture a small part of it, not at this point anyways. All we care is some of our customers, who, for whatever reasons, want two-wheeled Ural, that’s it.
    I hope this helps with the issues some of you apparently have with the sT pricing and sales volumes. If it still doesn’t help – try to order factory built sidecar combination from, say, Moto Guzzi and see how much they will ask for it

    • fastfreddie

      You make use of billet aluminium for rear brake?!Hope you get some orders,but it just seems a waste to me…

    • Kevin

      Fortunately, for me, I have never had any interest in a sidecar motorcycle. I could never justify a 5 figure price outlay for something as unrefined as a Ural. That said, I’m not slamming it or the people who are interested or own one, having the choice is nice. To that end Urals decision to manufacture a limited production bike to satisfy a handful of customers demands is something I can endorse as a really good thing.

      • Ilya Khait

        Kevin, how do you know you have no interest in a sidecar motorcycle without trying one? You shouldn’t pay a 5 figure price to try a Ural and see firsthand if it as unrefined as you think. We have demo-tour underway – check the schedule here: http://www.imz-ural.com/2014-ural-demo-tour/

        • Kevin

          Your schedule doesn’t include anything in the Northeast.

          • Ilya Khait

            The schedule for the East/NorthEast leg of the demo-tour will be announced in a couple of weeks. Meanwhile you can visit one of our dealers, most of them provide bikes for the short test-rides.

    • DickRuble

      “All we care is some of our customers, who, for whatever reasons, want two-wheeled Ural, that’s it.” — This should have been made clear by the author of the article. As a sidecar rig, and only as such, all things considered, the Ural is probably worthy competition to the few alternatives out there.

    • VeganLondonMan

      I like the Ural sidecars and would love to have one as a third or fourth bike…but in Canada the price (around $18,000) is just….aspirational shall we say? It really is cool, but I can buy a BMW R1200GS for that price, which may not have a sidecar but is probably the all-around best bike in the world. I wish Ural success though.

      • Ilya Khait

        if you have Ural, you don’t need other motorcycles. Savings right there … :-)

  • TonyCarlos

    More choice is always a good thing. This is not my flavor, but so what. If it clicks for someone else, you’ve succeeded. Thanks for offering it.

  • Bmwclay

    Or maybe buy a nice, R75/ R90/ R100 and put a couple hundred thousand reliable miles on it, for 2500-4500 bucks.

  • uscgvet

    Great concept for riding both street and offroad. But why do they have to break so often? And, getting parts is a nightmare. Every time we take it out it breaks. Needless to say the honeymoon was short.

  • Ken Brooker