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Showing posts from June, 2014

Mountain of a motorcycle

While the Harleys drew admirers, this Ural 650 stood alone. Russian machinery gets scant respect in Cuba today.
   Yet to someone who hadn't run across a Ural before, the big three-wheeler was worth a closer look.
   It wasn't, I think, as old as it first appeared. Based on the pre-war BMW R 71 – see the horizontally opposed cylinders? – the Ural has had the same basic design since production began in 1942 in Irbit, at the edge of the Ural Mountains. The sidecar-equipped bikes were intended to give the Red Army mobility against fast-moving German troops (themselves sometimes on BMW three-wheelers).

   This one could have been made any time before the 650 cc Ural engine was upgraded to a 750 in about 2000. Probably, however, it dated to before 1989, when Cuba lost the support of a dissolving Soviet Union.
   With its stability, traction (both rear wheels are driven) and remarkable cargo capacity, the Ural is known as a near-unstoppable workhorse, well suited to rough Russian (a…

His chrome away from home

 AND NOT every Harlista is Cuban. Havana-based oil industry consultant Mike Norgard is a Canadian who came south to share the knowledge he acquired in the oil fields of Alberta.
   He acquired his 1951 Harley-Davidson Hydra-Glide "in pieces" three years ago in Havana. Now the Harley that may well have originally served the Batista-era military is a showpiece with flawless chrome and gleaming white paint.
   Mike says his regular trips back to Edmonton were a big help in the restoration project.
   "I'm lucky," he says. "I can bring parts home and get them plated."

Not every Harlista rides a Harley