The Irbit Motorcycle Works (IMZ), the Russian factory that makes the iconic Ural motorcycles got into trouble after the collapse of the communist regime in the Soviet Union like many other Russian companies. In the 1990s, the company sent the first Ural motorcycles to the United States (they were available in other Western countries since the 1960s) and despite its close association with the Red Army and the Soviet Union, the product was very well received by the American customers. In fact, the US market proved to be a salvation for the company struggling to survive. Today, about 60 percent of all Ural motorcycles are sold in the United States.
The company situated in a small town of Irbit in the Ural Mountains is lagging behind its production capacity in the 1970s when it produced as much as 130,000 bikes per year, however, the prospects for the product seem very bright. Before the global economic crisis, about 650 sidecar motorcycles were sold in the United States alone and the company expects to reach the same level by the end of the year 2011. This may seem little in compare to the 1970s production, however, all Ural motorcycles are today built by hand.
The main reason for the success of Ural motorcycles in the United States and other parts of the world is undoubtedly their unique design and their exceptional functionality. The company has managed to reach its target audience – older bikers who are looking for utility. The biker population is getting older and uncomfortable riding two-wheeled motorcycles and as a result, the demand for sidecar motorcycles is expected to increase in the following years. This means that the sales rates of the Irbit Motorcycle Works will most certainly continue to rise because it is at the moment of writing one of the best sidecar motorcycle makers in the world and will without a doubt remain one of the leading sidecar bike manufacturers in the future as well.
Ural motorcycles are currently most sought after by middle-aged bikers, however, these unique bikes have also attracted a lot of attention among younger population which is primarily impressed by their retro look that really catches the eye. The company management says that it remains focused on middle-aged bikers but it has introduced many innovations and improvements which meet the taste of young customers as well. The Irbit Motorcycle Works remains loyal to its tradition and Ural motorcycles therefore retain their distinctive look and outstanding functionality which made them one of the most popular sidecar motorcycles in the world. Considering the rising popularity of sidecar motorcycles and the strategy of the Irbit Motorcycle Works, we will undoubtedly hear a lot about Ural motorcycles in the future.