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FIRST U.S. IMPORTS OF RUSSIAN MOTORCYCLES ARRIVING AT PORT OF TACOMA

 TACOMA, Wash., Aug. 20 /PRNewswire/ -- The first commercial shipment of Russian-built motorcycles to be imported to the United States arrived at the Port of Tacoma this month, the port announced today.
 Six of the Russian sidecar-equipped motorcycles arrived Aug. 6 in a 20-foot container aboard the Far Eastern Shipping Co. (FESCO) vessel "M.V. Vasiliy Burkhanov."
 The motorcycles are built by the Ural Moto Co. in the remote Siberian town of Irbit, about 950 miles northeast of Moscow. The U.S.-bound motorcycles are transported from the factory in containers. They move by rail to Vladivostok and are shipped aboard FESCO to Tacoma.
 A pair of entrepreneurs from Bellevue, Wash. are importing the large, utilitarian motorcycles to the United States for distribution among established motorcycle dealerships.
 Thomas Lynott and Bob Gerend, partners in the import company Ural America Inc., say the best response has come from Harley-Davidson dealerships. So far, the interest has been strongest in Washington, Florida, Texas and Ohio.
 The import company has about 100 orders in hand and expects to have at least 200 orders by year's end. This fall the company plans to be importing about 48 motorcycles a month, and by next year that number should grow to 96 per month. The business will mean about 100 containers a year, all moving through the Port of Tacoma.
 Marketing of the sidecar motorcycles in publications and at motorcycle shows will begin later this fall. Initially, they will sell for about $6,000.
 But these large, 1940's-style motorcycles already are generating interest among collectors, enthusiasts and anyone with a curiosity, said Lynott. The machines look like something off the set of a World War II movie. In fact, the motorcycle's design originated from the German-made BMW motorcycles that were used so effectively by the military during the 1940's.
 In Russia, the 50-year-old motorcycle manufacturer is now making about 132,000 motorcycles a year and exports about 4,000 units annually to 40 different countries. Since the 1950's Russian civilians have used the rugged Ural motorcycles as an economical means of transportation. Since many Russians cannot afford cars or trucks, they use the motorcycles to carry entire families or even loads of wood and agricultural supplies.
 "They use these motorcycles the way we might use a pickup truck," said Lynott.
 Until now, however, none of the Ural motorcycles has been U.S.-bound.
 "We're excited about these motorcycle shipments because much of the U.S.-Russia trade has been westbound cargo destined for Russia," said Bob Guinan, president of FESCO Agencies North America. "Now we are starting to see some Russian exports coming to America."
 "Our trade links to Russia are starting to pay off," said Jack Fabulich, president of the Port of Tacoma Commission. "It's great to see a small importing business like this benefiting from our ties to FESCO and our sister port in Vladivostok."
 The U.S. version of the motorcycles will be tested and certified for compliance with federal air quality and transportation regulations. Lynott said the export version of the motorcycle also includes an engine with higher compression ratios and upgraded components for the more demanding international markets.
 -0- 8/20/93
 /CONTACT: Rod Koon, director of port relations, or Chris Phillips, communications manager, both of Port of Tacoma, 206-383-5841/


CO: Port of Tacoma; Ural Moto Co. ST: Washington IN: SU:

KS-JH -- SE012 -- 4797 08/20/93 19:05 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 20, 1993
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