Human Pocket Knife

Freedom Machine


Words by Justin “Scrappers” Morrison // // @scrappers

Photos by Jenny Linquist // // @jennylinquist


Remember who won World War II? Fucking nobody!!! Especially the 60 million who died in the deadliest war EVER. War is dumb. Let’s promise to never have another one. Ok? Ok! 

I’m a hippy. I was born in the draft-dodging woods of Northern Vancouver Island in Canada. I am wholeheartedly against war. I’m a freedom lover! That’s why I feel sorta funny in my tummy when I look at a Ural Russian Motorcycle and get a big freedom boner.


Ural motorcycles were originally made in Moscow by order of Ol’ Joey Stalin to help the Soviet army battle Nazis. This motorcycle and sidecar helped soldiers move more freely than any other land mobile. They were cheaper to make than Jeeps, easy to get out of sticky situations like mud and snow, and they’re the most nimble thing a couple folks could travel around in during either a blitzkrieg or a mellow ride to the mountains.

Ol’ Joey eventually had the motorcycles made in the small town of Irbit, out near Siberia in the Ural mountains. The town was ideal for making the machines because it was far away from the war, where the factory wouldn’t be bombed. 

The bike’s parts were designed to hold up on bumpy Russian roads in those mountains, and major improvements have been made to the engine over the years. If you’re handy and something breaks, you should be able to work with the motorcycle’s “four-stroke, fuel-injected air-cooled, flat-twin engines, four-speed gear box with reverse gear, shaft drive, two disc dry clutch, spring shock absorbers, and disc brakes on all three wheels.” The bike is pretty basic and totally wrench friendly, but it’s fine with me if you just take it to the dealership for repairs and checkups.


Most of the machines that are still being made in the mountain town of Irbit get shipped to the States. Who’s buying them? Adventure seekers just like you! Battle scouts (that’s a job right?) used to drive these bikes out into the war fields looking for trouble, but today a whole now breed of trouble-hunters ride them. 

The Ural is a true adventure-mobile. You can travel lighter, cheaper, and go down smaller roads than those big ass RV camper vans the kids are driving these days. Less is more, right? I like to imagine welding a surfboard rack onto a Ural and cruising down the Oregon coast looking for the perfect place to get wild and free. Maybe I’m just a hippy dreamer, but I love how these bikes have stayed the same during their journey from war machine to freedom machine.