IMZ-Ural has been building rugged motorcycles — mostly with sidecars attached — since a long, long time ago. Now they’re building a limited-edition sidecar hack called the Dark Force that seems fit to transport you to a galaxy far, far away.
OK, look, I’m not a huge fan of the endless Star Wars franchises. I mean, the films are watchable, but not something I want to kill a weekend watching in preparation for the seventh installment I likely won’t be seeing in theaters when it arrives just before Christmas.
That having been said, this is one cool special edition Ural.
Blacked-out paint covers practically every inch of the bike, from the tank and fenders to the suspension to the horizontally opposed twin cylinder jugs and exhaust pipes. If ever Darth Vader were reincarnated as a motorcycle, this would be it. It oozes intimidation factor in a way that suggests it might use the Force to strangle suspicious onlookers.
Of course, the actual force emitted by the old-school 749cc parallel twin engine — itself now fuel-injected, but still evolved from a Soviet-era facsimile of a BMW “suitcase” engine design — ain’t exactly breathtaking. We’re talking a claimed 41 horsepower at 5,500 RPM and 42 ft-lbs of torque at 4,300 RPM. In a lightweight bike, that wouldn’t be so bad, really. But in a machine that weighs a claimed 700 lbs dry — and considerably more if you carry its maximum three passengers and associated gear — it’s liable to be shamed by modern-day Honda Accords at the stoplight drags.
Certainly, its four forward gears won’t do it many favors on the highway. Ural says 70 MPH is the recommended max cruising speed, and its estimated best fuel economy rings in at 37 MPG to give a cruising range of up to 185 miles. Curiously, Ural also recommends at least 91 octane unleaded gasoline. That strikes me as odd, considering the engine’s low 8.6:1 compression ratio.
But oddity is why you buy a bike like the Ural Dark Force. You don’t want to ride a run-of-the-mill Japanese bike or one of the endless sea of Harleys or other ‘Merican-styled bikes. You want to get something rugged and authentic that will make your neighbor cock his head a little bit sideways when you putter out of your driveway. To that end, the Ural Dark Force ought to excel. The bike comes with its very own Lightsaber toy attached to a built-in holster, for crying out loud. Also, despite having modern 12-volt electrics and a pushbutton starter, you also have the option to kick-start the bike.
More importantly, the Ural Dark Force is a bike that seeks to fill a niche-within-a-niche: Star Wars superfans who also happen to like weirdo motorcycles. While I’m certainly no Star Wars superfan, I greatly appreciate weirdo motorcycles — and this bike’s planned production run of just 25 examples will surely make it an oddity among oddities in Ural’s lineup. For that alone, if not also for its dark swagger, I kind of want to ride one.
Besides, can you even fathom how many cool points this dad would score rolling his boys up to school in the sidecar?