BMW Motorrad Spezial

Ural x Hammarhead: Solo X

Ural Solo by Hammarhead
James Loughead, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Neuropsychology at the University of Pennsylvania. He also knows how the mind of a motorcyclist works: his company Hammarhead Industries has attracted an extraordinary amount of attention over the past year. His Jack Pine bike was one of the all-time hits on Bike EXIF, and this is the follow-up. James tells the story far better than I can, so here it is, in his own words.

“The Solo X (read cross) project began when the Ural sT was posted on Bike EXIF in May 2010. When I saw the images of that bike, I immediately fired off an email to Ural to see if we could get an sT to customize. The sT was attractive because it’s an elemental motorcycle, but this also made the build a bit of a challenge. There was not any plastic to strip off—Urals are apparently made of metal.

Ural Solo by Hammarhead
“I got to know the Ural sT providing support for our Pier 18 video. The Ural is perfect for ratting around in the dirt, and then shooting through traffic to grab that much needed Hoagie. The bike is low and long, but not big. It felt much smaller than the R100 I rode in the early 90s. The suspension was dialed in well, and the build quality was excellent. It seemed crazy but I felt the bike need to be prepped for off road.

“Even though the sT is very basic, I stripped the bike further. The instrument cluster was removed and a new headlight selected—one that could swallow all the electrics. The correct handlebars were found hanging in the shop and these were fitted out with basic switchgear and internally wired. The bars are capped with Oberon bar-end LED turn signals. The ignition switch is relocated under the seat, and the speedo mounted to the transmission. The steel fenders were replaced with alloy units that were re-arched to fit the 18-inch wheels. A simple LED taillight is all there is out back, as the bar end signals are visible from the rear.

Ural Solo by Hammarhead
“Much of what was needed to protect the bike off-road was available from Raceway Services. They provided crash bars, skid plate and the awesome high pipes. Jim Petitti at Raceway also advised me to install a Power Arc, which is the only engine modification we made. The head temps are considerably lower with this system, and there is less delta in temp between cylinders.

The high pipe introduced a new problem on the bike; the high exit made the airbox intakes seem poorly placed—particularly for a spirited stream crossing. While thinking about the exhaust, I had looked at some fantastic images of 1940s R75s and early Ural M72s. Once the high pipes were a go, I went back to the R75 for inspiration regarding the intakes. To replicate the tank-mounted air box of the BMW R75 rig, I cut the bottom out of the Ural tank; a pass-through air box was formed in the tank that could accommodate two conical K&N filters. We fabricated and tested 1¾” intake tubes before the tank was modified, so these were fitted. The exhaust and intakes required a slight re-jet of the stock carbs but otherwise no changes were needed. When the winter weather breaks, my first outing with the bike will be a deep stream crossing at a farm just outside Philly. I’m looking forward to getting drenched.”

[Images by Ryan Miller and Enrique Oliva.]

Solo X
Price: $12,500
Concept: James Hammarhead
Assembly: Hammarhead Industries
Base: 2010 Ural sT
Power: 745cc Twin
Output (hp): 40 @ 5600
Torque (ft-lbs): 38 @ 4500 rpm
Length: 2160 mm (85.0 in)
Wheelbase: 1490 mm (58.7 in)
Seat height: 760 mm (30 in)
Ground clearance: 170 mm (7 in)
Dry weight: 192 Kg (425 lbs)
Build Time: 90 days

Carburetion: Keihin L22 AA
Air filter: Modified K&N
Exhaust: Raceway Services
Ignition: Power Arc Optic Ignition
Suspension & Brakes
Front: 40mm Marzocchi telescopic
Rear: Twin Sachs Shocks w/Progressive Springs
Front brake: Single 295 mm full floating disc, 4-piston Brembo
Rear brake: Single 245 mm disc, 2-piston Brembo
Wheels: 2.5 X 18 Alloy
Front Tire: Duro HF-308, 3.5×18″
Rear Tire: Duro HF-308, 4.0×18″

Bars: no name flat bars
Fenders: no name alloy
Skid plate: Raceway Services
Engine guard: Raceway Services
Speedo: Koso with custom cable
Switch gear: Emgo
Turn signals: Oberon Performance
Taillight: Street Magic

Ural Solo by Hammarhead

  • Guest

    Can I get one with the leading link fork? Another winner from The Doctor regardless of which PA school he’s from.

  • Kumo

    Looks tough and durable. Nice.

  • Ken

    I’m really enjoying Hammarhead’s bikes! I wonder what the airbox mod does to the range of this bike? Will it finally run fast enough to hit the freeway so you can take it from your garage, hit the open road, then thrash it on the trails, eat at a cafe then reverse?

    • IK

      according to Ural website, sT’s top speed is 90 mph without modifications

  • iRivas

    I want to take this on trip to El Valle de Guadalupe, B.C. Mexico

  • Den

    Very cool bike, I would love to see it with a gloss black tank and brown leather seat, otherwise perfect!

  • This firmly establishes a Ural as a viable base for customization. I see a Boxer but it’s so individually Russian!

  • Christopher A Moyer

    I like it.

  • some cool elements but i dont really dig it. love the jack pine tho

    • IK

      You probably should dig deeper. Bonnie is a toy, this is the real thing.
      Oh, and this vertical from seat support down is just crazy!

      • i like the standard urals just dont think this improves on what is already a pretty cool bike (in a simple utilitarian kinda way), the jack pine was a improvement on the original…in my opinion

        • IK

          in this respect – i agree with you

  • KIK

    The look on peoples faces trying to figure what it is makes it worth it, nice post

  • Hoagie, Philly represent!

  • Looks like a lot of fun, love the flap in the tank for the filters.

  • So what happened to the original air filter box?… what about the room left on the original place for the air filter?… I find the side of the bike is not better now with the airfilter replace.

    Also.. I don’t like very much the new position for the rear fender. But I like the exhaust position!

    But despite all this I still like the bike, and would like to see it in movement.

  • Sahkram

    the pictures do convey a certain Russian mystic to my Western mind. Not a bad job by the good Dr.

  • Sahkram

    That is all but the disk brakes, they should be drums all around.

  • Sandramiller5956

    Enough with the Artsi Fartsy pictures already, I want to see the Bike, not the Mood. My God, put me in the dark and even I would look good. Seriously, I would like clearer pics of this nice build.

  • Crank

    Something about Hammarhead is boring as hell. They warrant the words, “nice” and “cool” but don’t do it for me man. Way too staid.

  • Single Pop

    Not one of the last six bikes have rearvision mirrors, does no one use them? im constantly on mine

    • elven

      Only when I’m going fast and hear that siren behind me…. ;-)

  • Kim of Copenhagen

    Jeez, am I the only one here who comes to think of that old saying about putting lipstick on a pig? Much as I love Urals & Dnjeprs (and even the Chinese knock-off), and cherish people doing fun things with them, the newer ones still look like crap: The rear frame in particular is hideous, and almost as bad are the gas tank with that awful horisontal weld, and the seat mount.

  • ammerlander

    That bike isn´t pretty and that´s why I love it.

  • Micah

    Wait- the Chinese make a knock-off of a Russian WWII BMW knock-off? That must truly be a low point in all of motorcycle history! What is that? A commie-nazi-kimchee-kraut burner?

    • ammerlander

      Don´t know about “low point”. I think them Chiang-Jiangs look quite nice with their sv-engine.
      Still wouldn´t go near one though. That old russian tooling must be more than worn-out by now.
      “Protect Planet Earth, please use our improved 30mm carburetors, piston and ring.” :D

  • Micah

    The real ball buster is that the Chinese will probably be making world-class mega bikes in about five or ten years, all funded by American consumer dollars!

  • KIK

    just when you think people cant get any more ignorant, SURPRISE!!

  • No rear view? If there’s one thing I could modify about BikeEXIF, it would be to have all this beautiful photography _plus_ a standardized set of front, l-side, r-side, rear, and above pictures of each bike. Details not shown are details unappreciated. The write-up talks about the rear fender and LED taillight, no good view of that.

    Really digging the snorkel setup. Very creative!

  • Peter B

    I absolutely love it – although the seat/ handlebar/ footpeg relationship looks odd to my eyes, a bit like on old WL Harley with the seat almost on the base of the tank. My prejudice against Urals still in place, can’t help thinking an R75 Bee Em wouldn’t be a better starting point….I know, my problem, I’m working on it.

    • Alex

      Just don’t think about Ural as BMW knock-off. Think about Ural as a proletarian workhorse which helped Russians beat nazi during WWII.

  • You guys who complain about the lack of mirrors don’t seem to realize that most photographers remove them because of reflection problems. Just because it doesn’t have mirrors in the studio doesn’t necessarily mean it doesn’t have them in the real world.

    Just sayin’…

    • While I do agree with that point, another way of looking at it is that a good custom job has mirrors that match the build and you would _want_ to see them.

  • hammarhead

    This bike lacks mirrors in protest… ne unquam respexeris and all that. But the bike has a nice pair of oberon bar end mirrors for the on-road sections of the ride.