The Happy Camel

2018 Ural Gear-Up

Our Bike

The Happy Camel is a 2018 Ural Gear-Up, a design that goes back to WW-II and has remained largely unchanged (especially in style) since 1940.  

We purchased the bike from Ural of New England and added virtually every accessory that was available.  To make it more travel-worthy on rough or unpaved roads we added:

- powder coating and undercoating

- engine skid plate

- electric winch

- LED lights and spotlight

- crash guards and light guards

- shin guards

- oil cooler

To make it more comfortable we added:

- windscreens

- heated seats in the sidecar

- heated handlegrips

- accessory outlets for heated gear

The Name

All of Mike's bikes have been named after animals, starting from his first bike, a Harley Sportster named the Li'l Hog.  When we first decided we were going to purchase a Ural, we thought we were going to get a model called the Sahara.  So, Camel was logical.  Then Donna decided we should add "Happy" to the name to reflect the nature of our big trip.  Despite the fact that we ultimately ended up with a slightly different model, the name stuck.

The symbolic meaning of camel is also particularly relevant for our trip.  The essence of long-distance travel is at the symbolic heart of the camel, and it’s easy to see why. It’s no secret the camel can endure days in scorching hot deserts while transporting precious cargo (even whole nomadic communities!) across great distances. They’ve been traveling for eons, and their energy is impressed with themes of guidance, making them expert helpers on our way through the varied paths of life.


The origins of the IMZ-Ural are linked to developments in the Eastern Front during World War II. The Soviet Union was preparing for possible military action by Nazi Germany. Joseph Stalin ordered the Soviet military to prepare in all possible areas, including the ground forces that would be defending the Soviet Union against invading German tanks and infantry. Mobility was especially stressed after the Soviet Union had witnessed the effect of the blitzkrieg on Poland.[1]

A meeting was held at the Soviet Defence Ministry to devise a motorcycle that would be suitable for the Red Army. The Red Army wanted to modernize its equipment after the suspension of the Winter War with Finland. The motorcycles used up to that point had not been satisfactory; their technology was outdated and the manufacturing quality was inadequate to endure the harsh Russian climate and terrain.

The motorcycle was modeled after a late-1930s BMW sidecar bike called the R71, which Nazi Germany provided to the Soviet Union after the countries signed a nonaggression Molotov–Ribbentrop pact in 1939. In 1940, the Soviet Union acquired the design and production techniques for BMW R71 motorcycles and sidecars.The first M-72 model was finished in 1941. Originally, factories were to be located in Moscow, Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg), and Kharkov, but due to the approach of Nazi German troops, the Moscow facilities were moved to Irbit, and the Leningrad and Kharkov facilities to Gorkiy (now called Nizhny Novgorod).

Plans for the M-72 were later sold to the Nanchang Aircraft Manufacturing Corporation, a Chinese industrial firm, to build the Chang Jiang.



· Compression - Ratio  8.6:1

· Cooling - Air

· Displacement - 749cc

· Type - Horizontally Opposed


· 4 Speed Manual

· Reverse

· On Demand 2 Wheel Rear Drive


· Hydraulic Disc


· Front -  Leading Link Fork

· Rear -  Twin Sided Swing Arm


· Fuel Capacity – 5 gal

· Dry Weight - 730 lbs

· Country of Manufacturer - Russia


IMZ-Ural Factory (Irbit, Russia)

Lots of manual assembly.  (And, a generous use hammers!)

It used to be even worse!