Overland Journal: Gear Guide 2014 Preview
From the laboratory to the open road, the Overland Journal team compiles an exhaustive test of shocks. The shock that came out on top may surprise you.
Field Tested: The 2013 Ural Gear Up
The history of motorcycles is invariably interesting, and the story of the Ural motorcycle is no different. In the early years of WWII, Russian strategists, knowing a Nazi attack was imminent, decided mobility would be of critical importance in keeping German tanks, storm troopers, and special forces held at bay. They needed a motorcycle, and the best example anyone could think of happened to be German. After covertly acquiring five BMW R71 motorcycles, and carefully reverse engineering them, the Russians had their own motorcycle, the M-72. Fearing their Moscow-based manufacturing facility was within easy reach of the Nazi Blitzkrieg, they moved the motorcycle factory eastward to the shoulders of the Ural Mountains which also happened to be a rich resource of building materials. The Ural motorcycle, as if extracted from the local mountains themselves, was born. Nearly 10,000 Urals were built during the war years alone making it one of the most ubiquitous motorcycles of the time.
More than seven decades later, that same motorcycle is available with the most recognized iteration of the Ural lugging around a boxy sidecar. Early in the year, Overland Journal was fortunate enough to add a 2013 Ural Gear Up to our test fleet and suffice it to say, it has become one of our favorite long-term projects. The Gear Up has a rugged, no nonsense design built with materials which still represent the war years when things were made to endure the rigors of combat. Defying its size, it is light, nimble, sturdy, and undaunted much like a WWII era Russian T-34 tank. It also goes nearly anywhere you point it, and with authority.
What makes the Ural Gear Up so capable is its second driving wheel on the sidecar. That wheel gives the motorcycle a veracious appetite for traction allowing it to claw its way over rocks, ruts, sand, and mud. This is not to say it’s always a graceful machine. With little suspension travel, the Gear Up does on occasion get airborne, a scene not too unlike watching a hippopotamus jump rope.
The Ural of today may harken to the original machines stolen from Bavaria and hammered together in a dark factory on the edge of Siberia, but they are updated motorcycles built to modern standards. The Brembo brakes are paired to Sachs suspension components, and the engine is constructed with premium materials. For 2014, the Gear Up benefits from even more refinements, while still paying homage to the brawny legacy of those first machines. www.ural.com
Landcruising Adventures and their Favorite Piece of Kit, a Vintage Coleman Stove
This being our annual Gear Guide issue of Overland Journal, we thought we would not just feature new gear, but ask some of our friends currently on the road what piece of gear they value most. Few travelers are more versed in the inner workings of good gear than Karin-Marijke and Coen of Landcruising Adventure. On the road since 2003, they’ve learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. When asked about their favorite piece of kit, the answer came quickly––their vintage Coleman camp stove.
Many travelers spend hundreds of dollars on shiny new bits of kit, but their stove was cheaply acquired in an army surplus store more than nine years ago. Coen was determined to find a system that would allow them the ability to move the stove in and out of the vehicle as needed, and most importantly, would run on a simple fuel source readily available anywhere in the world––gasoline. This is technically well outside the design perimeters of the Coleman 425F stove, but that didn’t dissuade Coen from finding a way to make it work. As it turns out, the key to burning gasoline in the classic Coleman two-burner is to give it lots of love and care. Careful and regular cleaning is the key to the stove’s reliability as well as other unusual tricks like adding a drop of injector cleaner to the tank. These are things only learned on the road, or in our case, by reading through their extensive website.
Their Coleman stove can be used inside or outside their Land Cruiser for maximum convenience, with Coen’s favorite cooking station being the flat space above the winch on the front bumper. Paired to their oven accessory, their 425F even bakes fresh bread. That might be the best use of gasoline ever. In an age of shiny stainless stoves, many priced well out of reach of the average overlander, it is nice to see such common sense prevail in the form of a simple secondhand stove. www.landcruisingadventure.com
Filson’s New AEV Brute Double Cab Jeep
For more than a century, Filson has been providing discerning outdoor enthusiasts with high quality products, handcrafted to exacting standards using only the best materials available. American Expedition Vehicles, although a much younger business endeavor, is unrivaled in their ability to create off-road vehicles in unique and attractive configurations. Their much lauded Jeep Brute Double Cab is such a vehicle and is now available with the full Filson treatment.
Built to conquer challenging terrain, the AEV Brute is expedition-ready with a 6.4-liter HEMI V8 engine, 3 inch BFGoodrich Mud Terrain KM2 tires, Warn winch, 3.5 inch Dualsport SC suspension system, and the full assortment of AEV upgrades from a vented hood to their iconic wheels. The custom paint, Horween leather seats, and limited edition badges evoke the legacy of the Filson brand, and the included Filson luggage means this truck simply needs a driver and a destination. As special editions go, the Filson AEV Double Cab Brute is without peer. www.filson.com