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sidecar camping
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Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
sidecar camping on 11/20/2013 20:29:40 MST Print View

My boyfriend has just purchased a Ural Gear-Up, and we are planning on using it for camping tours for base camping for multiple day hikes, or combined urban/hike trips. Any suggestions on gear that make camping a little more luxurious than our backpacking kit, but still are small and compact enough to not take up too much room? We have the trunk of the sidecar, the luggage rack on top of the sidecar, and a luggage rack on the back of the bike.

Since we'll be carrying our backpacks anyway, it seems a bit silly to bring a whole 'nother camping kit, but my boyfriend at least wants a tent he can stand up in to put his pants on. Chairs would be nice, but food over and above our backpacking food means a bigger stove, a cooler, a bigger kit, more stuff--seems like complicating stuff to me. Maybe a lantern or lighting of some sort for camp, anything else?

Eugene Smith
(Eugeneius) - MLife

Locale: Nuevo Mexico
Re: sidecar camping on 11/20/2013 21:02:44 MST Print View

I know nothing about Urals, other than what I've learned following Ara and Spirit on their lifelong journey together riding in a sidecar. They switched from a BMW to a Ural last year for their adventures. Lot's of info on his blog, fairly regular insight into cooking and living out of a Ural. Wish I could point you to a particular post, but he's a prolific blogger, so I just browse his posts when I remember to check in. There may be some info that helps you on his website:

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: sidecar camping on 11/20/2013 21:15:18 MST Print View

BPers care about weight more than space.

Bicycle campers care about both, but struggle more with volume.

On 2 people on one motorcycle, you're insensitive to weight, but constrained on volume. Give up on the chairs, consider folding 3-leg stools. I doubt you need a bigger stove, pot, etc, but maybe you bring 2-3 nested pots so you can have multiple courses soaking, heating, and cooking off the burner all at once.

Forget "lanterns", go multi-purpose with an LED flashlight that convert to a 360-degree lantern.

A resource you have that BPers and bicyclists don't is a generous supply of 12-volt DC. Making it easy to recharge phones, tunes, lights, etc. Depending on the alternator sizing, you could consider a 12-volt coffee pot and make hot drinks and reconstitute soup as you drive. That's a huge time savings on the road and cheaper than stopping for coffee or lunch. Also, I often find my body cools off more while dicking around with the stove than I get back from a hot drink. But heating water as you go and you're no colder than you would have been anyway.

It depends how much you want to extend your season, but electric suits add a lot of warmth. Even just a retro-fit, after-market 12-volt seat for the passenger makes a bigger difference - the driver exerts themselves more so the passenger can get colder more easily.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
ural=old school on 11/21/2013 12:25:00 MST Print View

Actually, David, the Ural is a Russian-made bike based on a BMW model, but it is not a "modern" bike like a touring Gold Wing or a modern BMW would be. There is no 12 volt, it would have to be wired in, and my boyfriend is reluctant to do that. it's about 750 cc, and because it has the side car, its horsepower is "busy"--not a lot of extra capacity in terms of weight hauling.

See, it *seems* like it should be more like car camping, but it still requires restraint in terms of weight and volume. We've done a little car camping, but not a lot, so I'm feeling my way between our backpacking kit, and the Cabela's/Coleman front country pack-the-car-to-the-gills gear extravaganza that most people seem to feel is necessary for car camping. We won't be hauling a screen house, nor a "camping kitchen", and for chairs I'm looking at REI's Flex Lite chair, which is 2 pounds, but collapses to 4" x 14"--gets you off the ground somewhat, but isn't a full-on chair that has to be strapped on.

Bill and I are discussing whether we think we could take a cooler. He thinks it will take up way too much space. If there's a cooler, he can't fill it up with beer! If there isn't a cooler, though, that limits what fresh food you can carry, and you might as well be eating backpacking food and taking a much smaller cooking kit. I am going to insist on bowls and plates, though, rather than eating out of zip-lock bags. Otherwise, I'd just as soon use the same kit we use while backpacking, to limit how much we have to keep track of in camp.

Thanks for the heads up on the Oasis blog, Eugene, I'll take a look at that and see what he does. Looks like his bike is pretty well loaded down.

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: ural=old school on 11/21/2013 12:34:03 MST Print View

Wow. So magneto-fired spark plugs? I know people up here in Alaska who fly in planes like that - no alternator, generator or battery. Hand-prop the engine, any comm or nav is handheld and battery-powered. Internal combustion as Henry Ford originally marketed it. And like my lawn mower and chainsaws.

There are soft-sided coolers. They don't keep cold as long, but if you're on the highway system, you can have a day or two of cheese, dairy and cold beer by stopping by a hotel and refilling on ice. I can't see a rigid cooler with your space constraints, but the soft-sided one stows away much smaller when not in use, if you are only using it a day or two a week to have a treat and some variety in your menu.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
spark plugs and coolers on 11/21/2013 12:54:37 MST Print View

I don't know the exact vintage of technology, but yes, spark plugs, although I think it does have an alternator. They are coming out next year with fuel injection, but the 2011 model does not have it.

I've seen the soft-sided coolers, but haven't found one exactly as I want it. The Coleman coolers are too tall, and the Kelty ones have rigid top and bottom--although they do come with cup holders.

Maybe this could be a MYOG opportunity? I have a roll of Reflectix around here somewhere....

USA Duane Hall
(hikerduane) - F

Locale: Extreme northern Sierra Nevada
spark plugs and coolers on 11/21/2013 14:13:07 MST Print View

A Ural, I have only seen one in my area and it has a sidecar. Neat, have fun. Think bping gear.

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Reflectix cooler on 11/21/2013 14:23:32 MST Print View

Diane, do you know about these coolers, the Escape Pods? They actually work pretty well. They don't collapse though, and they're not waterproof (I line it with a gallon Ziploc freezer bag). Have a look, maybe it will give you an idea of what to do with all that Reflectix you have lying around, somewhere...

David Thomas
(DavidinKenai) - MLife

Locale: North Woods. Far North.
Re: spark plugs and coolers on 11/21/2013 18:14:21 MST Print View

If it has an alternator and not a magneto or generator, it must have a battery. And the alternator has some output measured in amps. Intermittent use of a heater element that pulls less than that could work.

I find conflicting info on the web. Here's a site:
that says the Ural's alternator does 55 amps at 14 volts but says that is 300 watts. At least one of those numbers is wrong. But it does seem to have battery and alternator of some size.

I was amused by Ural's own suggestions for the spares you should carry with you:

Minimum: a pair of spark plugs, clutch cable, a COMPLETE set of throttle cables and splitter, at least one rubber carb manifold, 1 rubber inner tube, a tube patch kit, tire pump manual or electric, small jack, a roll of electrical tape, a roll of duct tape, a bunch of wire ties, a COMPLETE tool kit, some 14 gauge electrical wire (10 ft), fuses, credit card and towing insurance policy never hurt.

"Zen and the art of motorcycle camping"!

Many grocery stores now sell insulated carry bags (next to the reusable grocery bags). You're in Western Washington? Certainly Trader Joe's does. For maybe $12. Start with that and make a reflectix cozy for it if you want to last longer.

On a smaller scale (and totally leakproof), get a dry bag. Either a old-fashioned heavy, thick one or a new, light, sil-nylon one. Even Walmart carries Outdoor Products sil-nylon dry bags. Tape together a reflectic cozy to fit the full dry bag. That would pack very small when not in use. And could double as a pillow.

Bob Gross
(--B.G.--) - F

Locale: Silicon Valley
Re: Re: spark plugs and coolers on 11/21/2013 18:18:24 MST Print View

"the Ural's alternator does 55 amps at 14 volts but says that is 300 watts. At least one of those numbers is wrong."

The individual numbers may each be correct as maximums, but they are not concurrently correct. In other words, you can't get 55 amps at 14 volts at the same time, but it may be prepared to give either of those two maximums at any instant.


Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
spark plugs, etc on 11/21/2013 19:48:43 MST Print View

As far as the numbers go, you've got me--I never could wrap my head around electrical stuff, it's a magical mystery to me. I know it has a battery, Bill has a battery maintainer for it, it just doesn't have a 12 volt plug-in feature for running accessories.

Thanks for the reminder of the Escape Pod, Gary, I think I've seen that somewhere before, but I forgot. We once met a bike-touring guy in a little convenience store outside of Lake Quinault, who was buying beer. When we asked what he was going to do with it, he said "I'm going to put it in my Adventure Box--I built it so it would carry a 6-pack!" We've looked for an Adventure BOx on the web, but never could find what he meant, but I did see Escape Pods, which looked like they'd be cool, but we couldn't reckon on carrying them on a backpacking trip.

As for tools, you should see the tool kit they sell with this thing, David! Bill says he could just about rebuild the engine with it. So, either they plan on you being in rugged out-of-the-way places and having to be totally self-sufficient (possible)--or they are expecting it to break down often enough to need the tools!

The grocery cooler bag, or the stuff sack idea with Reflectix is an interesting one--then at least I could make it to the size and shape that would be most convenient for us, including taking advantage of weird curved spaces in the sidecar trunk.

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: sidecar camping on 12/03/2013 20:55:17 MST Print View

I once owned a Time Out tent trailer that I towed behind my '77 Honda CB750. Turns into a tent you can stand up inside, folded up I carried a cooler in it, or sometimes on top strapped to the luggage rack. Even took it on a coast to coast trip in 1979. Lots of camping trips too.

Diane Pinkers
(dipink) - MLife

Locale: Western Washington
sidecar camping on 12/10/2013 15:17:42 MST Print View

After seeing how much space the tonneau cover and our riding gear takes up in the trunk, I've resigned myself to not taking much more than we would backpacking. Bill still hasn't given up the dream of a larger tent that we can stand up in, but I'm skeptical myself. I'm thinking a canister stove (I cook on alcohol usually), and a Grilliput, so we can do foil packet cooking over a campfire may be the increased "kitchen" tools, and actual bowls/plates to eat out of instead of FBC--might be a reason for the squishable bowls and plates, we'll see. The Escape Pods are about as much "cooler" as we'll be able to haul, and if I freeze water in empty Gatorade bottles will do double duty for drinking water, but still will have the Sawyer along, depending on where we camp. Maybe an actual camp sink/bucket, although this might be a good opportunity for Doug's Cuben fiber sink!

Interesting about the trailer tent, Nick, I'll have to suggest that to Bill. Who knows if they still make those, though?

Nick Gatel
(ngatel) - MLife

Locale: Southern California
Re: sidecar camping on 12/10/2013 16:48:58 MST Print View

Yes they still make them. Do a Google search. What I liked about the trailer hitch (unlike a lot of other motorcycle trailers) is the unique coupler. Basically designed like a ball joint in a car. You can lean the motorcycle and the joint turns with the bike, but the trailer just follows behind.

We didn't have electric brakes on the trailer -- don't know if they made them. But you need to re-learn braking. On gravel roads or roads with dirt and debris on them you need to start braking with the rear brake, then the front. If you grab a handful of front brake you WILL go down.

Don't ask how I know this :)

Edited for grammar. Probably more errors. I am dumber than my iPad.

Edited by ngatel on 12/10/2013 16:50:39 MST.