You don’t often see the words “Ural” and “café racer” in the same sentence. But this lovely 2003 Solo sT certainly qualifies. It’s owned by former racer Seth Rugo, who also converted the bike.
“The dealer St. Croix Ural had this beautiful, bone stock ’03 Bavarian Classic for sale and owner Dell Zehm made me a heck of a deal,” says Rugo. “There’s an active Ural presence up here near the twin cities—and so many cool custom Urals to see. But I wanted to go in a slightly different direction … a cafe racer.”
Rugo didn’t want to buy bolt-on bits, so he got out his tools. He shortened the fork springs one inch and added heavier fork oil. Then he repositioned the horn and ignition module to deal with the reduced clearance, and rewired the entire bike. He also updated the electrics and moved the horn, kill switch, high beam and starter button controls to the headlight bucket, cleaning up the clubman handlebars.
The engine now has the latest spec internals and is fed by MM flat side carbs. Rugo gave the heads a port and polish, and lightly cored the exhaust—for a lower tone and to accommodate the carb tuning. Then he reversed the gearshift to a GP-style one-up-then-down pattern. Other mods include a custom made solo seat pan, shortened shock springs, and a custom license plate and brake light combo.
After two months of late nights and a few weekends, Rugo was “riding around confounding the old timers as to what and how old the bike was.” He reports that the bike is a blast to ride. “With the shortened and stiffened suspension to accommodate my mid life spread, it handles great. The engine spins fast and the power band is wide. Reduced weight and the bent clubman bars make me feel like I’m doing 100 while the speedo shows 65.” The only problem is that it takes Rugo an extra hour to do any trip—he’s invariably cornered into explaining what the Ural is, and how it’s not really from 1963. And yes, the reverse still works. (“It’s fun to pull into a parking spot on bike night and back out. That always cranks a few heads around.”)
Dell Zehn, owner of St. Croix Ural, has now entrusted Rugo with his personal Ural 650 and instructions to “make it a scrambler”. A new cutting torch and some Sawzall blades are on their way to the Rugo residence as we speak.
Images courtesy of Charisma Photography.