Proud stockists of Ural sidecars & spares

Sani Pass and 9 Ural Sidecars - September 2010

Never have more than two beers because up to two your sanity prevails. So it was that after more than two we decided to plan a trip to Sani Pass in Lesotho with our Ural sidecars. We got a lot of interest and ended up being nine rigs in all. The arrangements were made, accommodation booked and so the weekend arrived. We all met in Nottingham Road outside the Notties hotel and set off to Himeville along the lower Loteni dirt road to Himeville.

One of the rigs lost third gear (but was still driven and completed the trip) before we hit the dirt and another had a problem with electrics after the aftermarket immobiliser had been removed and the wiring left bare. It was going to be a long day!

We headed for Sani pass after breakfast at the Himeville Arms and the anticipation of what we were about to put ourselves and our trusty rigs through was palpable. After servicing one of the rigs air filter – funny how any machine runs better with a clean air filter – we arrived at the South African border control which was a total pleasure with very helpful officers.

The pass starts slowly from the border but soon bites you hard if you don’t have enough momentum after the tight corners. So it was that the monkeys had to begin earning their keep and push from time to time. The first stop was about half way up and we were pleased to have made it to there! We waited for a while for our machines to cool down as we had driven them hard slipping the clutch to keep moving after the tight corners and steep inclines. We waited for quite a while for the other Urals to catch up and off course there was a story – one of the rigs had come to a grinding halt on a steep section and started to slide back down. The following rig had tried to pass on the outside and they collided bringing the passing rig to a halt and he now also started sliding backwards and the sidecar was pushing him in the direction of the cliff! Fortunately the Ural angels were working hard and he hit the only tree in 200 meters witch stopped him from over the edge! With no damage and hearts pounding they set off to join us at the stop. The rider of the first stopped rig decided to load her rig onto the recovery trailer.


We set off from the stop again and one of the very determined riders managed to burn out his clutch on one of the very steep sections! Now he had to get to the top with no clutch – no problem – jettison the monkey! We all saw this and it was decided to do the last very steep section monkey less. This worked well as long as you stopped every now and then to let the trusty boxer motor, clutch etc cool down for a while. The surprise of the 4x4 drivers and fellow pass riders was huge when they saw the sidecar rigs and many photos were taken. A passing good Samaritan with a Toyota double cab gave one of the riders who suffers from vertigo a tow up the last steep bit and this inspired another 4x4 enthusiast to tow another one of the rigs to the top after its owner managed to heat seize the rig. The rig started fine once it had cooled down.


Four of the rigs made it to the top and two of them complete with monkeys. The one with no clutch was one of them after the determined rider figured out that you can put the rig in 1st gear and using the starter motor you can get going again, he completed the entire trip like this.

More than 2 beers were had that evening at Sani Top Chalets!

The next day we set off over the roof of Africa for our next overnight stop at Oxbow Lodge. We had all 9 rigs still running but the one with the removed immobiliser was running intermittently. We all made it over the Black Mountain pass and our monkeys enjoyed the walk up the steep sections as we had lost quite a bit of power because of the thin air at 3200 metres above sea level. Another of the riders managed to burn out his clutch along this section and he also had to use the, by now perfected, starter motor method to get going. The rider with vertigo managed about half way before leaving the road for a bit and it was decided to trailer his rig out of the mountains. The road varied from steep downhill dirt sections with tight turns to sections after Mokhotlong where the tar had been removed from the road surface to make the going easier. There were some sections where the tar had been kept and the riders got an earful from the monkeys as all pot holes could not be missed. We spent an enjoyable evening at Oxbow Lodge where more than two beers were consumed once again.

The next day we headed for the border and down Moteng pass which was quite a steep tarred pass and left Lesotho with 8 rigs running and one on the recovery trailer which had the immobiliser problem. A great time was had by all and we cannot wait for our next Ural sidecar adventure.

This numberplate was spotted one week after our Sani adventure.