Ken "builds quality" back into Russian military sidecar motorcycles, at a shop called U2.
He will be traveling 250 miles to bring his Dnepr Russian sidecar to the BASH so he can ride the veterans around the fairgrounds all weekend. "I would like to bring a little joy into their lives as a small payback for all they have done," said Ken, who has a vivid memory of soldiers returning home from WWII.
Mark Schmidt was the self-described shy kid in the back of the class, just trying to "blend in." He became a mail man and one day, he met Ken and knew that he wanted to work on the bikes. Now, he decorates his Russian Ural for all occassions and has a blast.
"If you get a couple inches of snow and go for a cruise, legalized insanity!" said Mark. "Both bikes will be available for rides, and I look forward to participating in the BASH."
"The beautiful thing about a Russian sidecar bike is that it was basically designed for year-round military use in a cold climate," said Ken. "So on a sunny day in winter when it's not too cold, you can bundle up and go out for a ride. Plenty of people in Canada, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin ride their Russian bikes right through the winter."
However, Ken's business centers around the fact that Russian military bikes are heavy and not designed to travel on smooth roadways. The cast-iron brake drums were never turned on the military sidecar bikes, he said and "the wheels on a Russian bike are on the far side of terrible." They have heavy, durable spokes designed to keep on rolling through snow and mud at a top speed of 65mph. The bikes were built to travel around 50 mph on Russian roads that are "worse than muddy Iowa farm roads," said Ken. He and his son, Lorne have rebuilt 50 engines and 250 Russian motorcycle wheels for clients all over the country. He traveled to Kiev in the Ukraine in June to pick up a new batch of motorcycle parts that will supplement the hundreds of parts and accessories that he finds on eBay for his restoration work.
Ken Ulich is a retired airline pilot, who was flying diesel fuel into Alaska as recently as four years ago. He has been widowed twice. He has raised a family of eight children and still farms in the little town of Mosinee, in northern Wisconsin. "The man upstairs never said it was going to be easy. But, I have raised eight children and none of them have ever been on drugs or welfaire and for that, I am very thankful."
You can meet up with Ken Ulich for the rest of his story at BASH 2010, Aug. 27 to 29 at the fairgrounds in Chatham, Michigan.