Most motorcycle riders put their bikes away at the first snowfall, but not the customers of Ural of New England. Many go out and play, riding their sidecar-equipped machines on snow-covered roads. One even set up a bike rack on the back of his Ural’s sidecar so he can not only go riding in the snow, but also ride his Ural to trailheads and go mountain biking. Owner Dmitry Bykhovsky has managed to parlay catering to enthusiasts such as these into a very successful business.
Customers travel to Ural of New England to buy its Russian-made opposed twins from all over the northeastern United States and as far away as Texas a Texan once flew to the Boxborough, Mass., dealership, picked up his bike and rode it home. The dealership sells inexpensive, aluminum trailers to help less adventurous buyers of new Urals transport their purchase and will deliver customized bikes to other Ural dealers for pickup by out-of-state customers.
Bykhovsky’s success is based on three legs: a wide selection of stock and customized Ural motorcycles and accessories, a reputation for inventive customization and creative use of the Internet. Ural of New England has become well-known for its YouTube videos that are shot in-house.
From Moscow to Massachusetts
An inventive and mechanically oriented kid, Bykhovsky grew up in Moscow. Urals, based on the pre-World War II BMW R71, were being manufactured in a state-owned factory for military, police and village government officials. In order to have something to ride, he assembled bits and pieces of scrapped or broken down Urals into working motorcycles. In the process, he developed a love for the iconic Russian flat twin.
Bykhovsky earned a degree in engineering from the Moscow College of Automotive Engineering and then moved to the United States. In 1989, he opened a luxury European car repair and restoration facility in Massachusetts. The business prospered, and 10 years later, Bykhovsky started selling pre-owned luxury cars under the name AlphaCars.
Although the AlphaCars business did well, Dmitry felt something was missing: he had always wanted to sell Urals. At this point, the Ural factory, still located in the Ural Mountains in central Russia, was privately owned. The new owners were gradually turning Urals into solid and reliable motor vehicles by reengineering the bikes, outsourcing key components to top world manufacturers and implementing rigid quality control at the factory.
In 2007, Bykhovsky decided that Urals had become reliable enough to be sold with confidence and acquired a dealership. He is now the top Ural dealer in the United States, in part due to the quality reputation of the bikes he sells. “We always pay great attention to detail. Urals come crated, and the dealer has to set them up. Because of the level of detail that goes into our assembly and setup, our bikes have enhanced value for our customers,” he explains.
Customers Drawn by Custom Urals
One advantage of selling Urals is that many customers come to you. People learn about Urals, do a lot of research and come to a dealership specifically to buy a Ural, often with a preconceived notion as to what it should look like. “Many of our future customers have a vision of what the ultimate Ural is,” says Bykhovsky. “We can relate to this vision, work with the customer and put together their [sic] special Ural for them.”
Ural of New England has two mechanics who specialize in Urals and 400 different parts and accessories on hand one of the largest stocks of extras available for Urals in the United States. The dealership has worked hard to locate financing sources so that the dreams of its customers are affordable. The affiliated used car dealership allows Ural of New England to take a wide variety of vehicles in trade. The Ural of New England website encourages customers to bring anything from vintage cars to late model metric cruisers to trade for a Ural.
YouTube Videos a Hit
Ural of New England is well-known for its YouTube videos, with one video featuring a green Patrol model receiving 26,576 hits. Some show winter fun on Urals, but most demonstrate the use of different accessories. “We had a situation where we needed to explain how to use our accessories,” says Bykhovsky. “Every week, we were explaining on the phone how the handshifter works, for example. The best way to demonstrate our accessories is on a bike. So, we started the YouTube videos. I shot them myself. One of our first videos demonstrated how the handshifter works. It generated interest in our bikes. We started doing other videos showing other accessories.”
These simple yet effective videos are posted on the website, which also has photos and out-the-door prices of all bikes in stock, both new and used, and photos of all accessories. Other facets of the website are a credit application, a history of Urals and an online shopping component. Since so many of Ural of New England’s customers are out of the immediate area, the website is an important sales device.
Interestingly, Ural of New England has not shot a video explaining Ural maintenance. Part of the appeal of Urals is their ruggedness and simplicity. Many owners do all their own maintenance and repairs. “Urals are simple bikes.,” says Bykhovsky. “The manual is very straightforward. You don’t need a video for maintenance.”
As a result of the demand for Urals among enthusiasts and the popularity of the YouTube videos, Ural of New England is in the enviable position of not having to rely on conventional advertising. “We want our future customers to know what we have in stock and how much it is,” says Bykhovsky. “We market each specific bike in our inventory, with the out-the-door price and all included accessories accurately noted.”
Interestingly, Ural of New England’s plan for the coming year is to focus on increasing the number of used bikes in stock. “We are looking for used Urals. People do not trade in Urals, so we have very few used bikes. They hold their value, depreciating very little. In order to get more in stock, we are marketing to our customer base and beyond.”
Why Urals? “I know the bikes well,” says Bykhovsky. “I have always wanted to sell Urals. Every year, the Ural has gotten better. It has a true character. It’s all metal and there is nothing like it.”