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Ural Upgrades Gear Up Engine and Drivetrain for 2023

Ural Gear Up

In the motorcycle world, there’s nothing quite like the Ural Gear Up. The Russian three-wheeled, side-car-ed, two-wheel drive ADV anarchist has soldiered across the globe through peacetime and wars both hot and cold since 1941, and very little about the bike has changed in the interim.

But big shifts have been afoot at Ural. Currently its only model (RIP to the one-wheel drive cT), the Redmond, Washington-based company now builds the Gear Up in Kazakhstan, and still mostly by hand. All through the pandemic, material shortages, supply chain disruptions, and conflict in Eastern Europe, Ural has managed steadily but incrementally to make key improvements to the Gear Up platform. Specifically for 2023, Ural has upgraded both the engine and the drivetrain with major enhancements.

The 41 horsepower 750cc air-cooled boxer twin that’s been in service for decades gets the headline revisions: an entirely new crankcase casting with high-precision machining, as well as a redesigned two-piece front bearing housing and a rubber gasket for a better seal between the case and the rear bearing housing. In addition to the clean-sheet block, the 2023 Gear Up gets a new valve train with roller tappets (instead of the ancient flat tappets) and all-new rocker arms and camshafts. Roller tappets should reduce wear over the long run and make valve adjustments easier and more precise.

Finally, Ural has replaced the old u-joint-equipped drive shaft with a CV-joint unit that promises to be smoother, more durable, and better at handling extreme drive angles. The kicker? Many of these new components—including the valve train and the drive shaft—can be retrofitted to previous Ural models. These kinds of upgrades may seem small and not particularly visible, but they represent a revolutionary change for a boutique motorcycle builder like Ural.

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Jason Marker, formerly the editor-in-chief of RideApart and now with Ural Motorcycles, calls the Gear Up “avuncular,” and I couldn’t agree more. It’s the genial soul of this unique bike that draws both enthusiasts and onlookers alike to it, and boosting usability and reliability does nothing to diminish that. We hope to get a leg over a Gear Up soon for some real-world testing.

imz-ural.com | From $21,999

Images: Ural Motorcycles

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Stephan Edwards is the Associate Editor of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. He and his wife, Julie, once bought an old Land Rover sight unseen from strangers on the internet in a country they'd never been to and drove it through half of Africa. After living in Botswana for two years, Stephan now makes camp at the foot of a round mountain in Missoula, Montana. He still drives that Land Rover every day. An anthropologist in his former life and a lover of all things automotive, Stephan is a staunch advocate for public lands and his writing and photography have appeared in Road & Track, Overland Journal, and Adventure Journal. Find him at @venturesomeoverland on Instagram.