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The Online Mini Magazine for Sidecar Enthusiasts

Sidecars On Line

Available Bi-Monthly

Issue 30 – August 2017

Belgian Jumbo 2016 Old Timer Ariel Square 4 & Precision Sidecar

UK Importer for Tripteq Sidecars, Parts, & Accessories

Sales, Service, Build

• Scotia Sidecars offers the complete sidecar service. • The Tripteq Heeler range can be supplied in DIY kit form with comprehensive build manual, complete, or partial build. • The 'Heeler' has been developed and manufactured by Tripteq in the Netherlands with over 250 units sold throughout Europe since 2005. • The left hand version was developed in conjunction with Scotia Sidecars to bring affordable technical innovation qualities of European sidecars and conversion parts to the UK sidecar market. • Options on bodies, screens, & accessories • Chassis option for BMW 'K' and Guzzi motorcycles Telephone: 01333 429451

Mobile: 0773 468 3429

email: If you contact Scotia Sidecars for information, or to make a purchase, please acknowledge Sidecars On Line 2

Contents this Issue Editorial – Summer weather. Really ? A diverse issue this time around Comparing Motorcyles Owned – The variations in motorcycle ownership and their performance can relate to memory tinged with a bit of reality Another Apex Sidecar Creation – The mating of a sidecar with a very contemporary Honda motorcycle Oscar's Odyssey – Satnavs, Who Needs Them ? - An account of a day out with the support of satellite technology Vmax Diaries – Part 2 – So, exactly how can you finish up owning a sidecar outfit you had never even considered ? The Farmyard Party 2017 Edition – A personal account of the Motorcycle Action Group's premier motorcycle rally Sidelines – “No More Internal Combustion Engines” – Part 1 - The future is electric, the politicians have decided. Must be true.

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Editorial The 2017 summer, weather wise, so far is that it has been unsettled, at least in the UK. The only reliable indicator has been the period of daylight, although with the number of seriously cloudy days, even that has hardly been noticeable. It is hard to recall too many successive dry, sunny days. Two days on the trot without any rain seems to be about the most we have experienced. Warmer, yes, but only just, compared with the so called cooler seasons. All this has had some effect on may things, but there's still been a desire to ride and enjoy days and weekends together and with both friends and like minded folk. The feeling remains of getting out whilst it remains an option. Events have been varied with two Motorcycle Action Group rallies attended, the Farmyard Party (see report in this issue), and the same organisation's Yorkshire Pudding rally. Both thankfully lucky with the weather, although the latter had one particularly cold night following a notably hot day. In August ? An issue with the Vmax was disconcerting with an electrical problem that required thought and reference to the Something of a mystery still, but hopefully resolved, which will eventually feature in a future Vmax Diaries. The continuing tale of life with the Max in this issue. A while back Sidecars on Line 26 featured an adventure type outfit using a Triumph Tiger. In this issue the “Project Tiger” guy has done it again, this time using a Honda VF1200X, the one with auto transmission, plus other techno wizardry. An interesting, probably unique example of engineering based upon years of sidecar experience. Looking at past motorcycles owned has featured previously and this time around a further look prompted by a book that has been lying around for years. The “Motor Cycle Data Book”, published in 1960, contains primarily British motorcycle data of the time. It seemed appropriate to look closer at what this little gem of a book contains. Big news in recent weeks has been pronoucements of the demise of vehicles that use fossil fuels. Electricity generated from “renewables”, plus “emerging” technologies are portrayed as the way forward. Whilst there are serious environmental problems with fossil fuels, is a brave new world of electric vehicles as easy to achieve as proponents suggest ? Finally, Oscar recalls a recent day out when satellite navigation played a memorable role in providing some amusement. However, did it convince our resident scribe of the value of such technology ?

SidecarJohn 5

Comparing Motorcycles Owned Motorcycles are more powerful than in the past. Technical progress in design, materials, electronics,and manufacturing have all contributed to the developments of recent decades. Throughout motorcycling history trends and success stories identify varying levels of excellence. The term “superbike” was coined as the 1960s turned into the 1970s, but past machinery can also be worthy of the description.

Considered by many to be the first “Superbike”, at least in terms of the motorcycle media when unveiled in 1969. Affording exceptional motorcycles of earlier times, such as Brough Superiors and Vincents, with the superbike tag came later.

Of course the concept of a “superbike”, despite obvious marketing connotations, can be open to interpretation. Humble motorcycles can illustrate their own particular “super” credentials. As with beauty, accreditation is very much down to the beholder. In 1968, an acquaintance envied moved on from a Triumph Bonneville to a new Honda S90 single due to family circumstances. Despite the Honda being primarily a commuter, it took little time for the S90 to be viewed as a great machine in the eyes of its owner, comparing favourably with the mighty Bonneville.

Triumph T120 Bonneville

Honda S90 6

Over some years and motorcycles owned, it's apparent there are several factors when comparing ownership and riding of various motorcycles. Some relate to experience, some down to bias. You know the score, faults dismissed as “character”, possibly implying it's all part of owning a particular motorcycle. Do Ducati clutches rattle ? Do airhead BMWs suffer from leaking carburettors ? “Character” ? Comparisons between the early bikes, those that came along the way, and the more recent isn't simple. Much is subjective judgement, which time can distort. Was a fault hardly noticed because it was truly insignificant ? Might a recurring fault be considered as part of owning a particular motorcycle, and so cast aside as irrelevant ? Did positive riding experiences influence memory sufficiently to obliterate shortcomings ? Regardless of the claims and hype surrounding some motorcycles did you really test a motorcycle's limits, or performance credentials ? Over the years technical problems have varied in severity, frequency, financial implications, and emotionally. Early personal experiences were viewed against a universal background of motorcycles being easier to work on. Home maintenance was a norm, so it was not daunting for some to be capable of stripping a motorcycle down to every nut and bolt. Engine and transmission internals, plus electrical components such as magnetos were usually repairable by professional motor engineers, as were jobs such as wheel building. However, it was part and part of motorcycling for many riders to deal with everything else. Popular motorcycle magazines provided guidance for all manner of repairs, maintenance, and customising. Technical advances over the years have provided reliability and performance significantly more impressive than in the past. The complexity of motorcycles has developed to a level that precludes the home maintenance norms of past decades. The situation is further complicated by legal and statutory controls concerned with matters such as environmental pollution, and rider safety aids. When considering the motorcycles owned and ridden since 1963, something struck a chord. Memories of the good, bad, ugly, and possibly bland are affected by the balance between positive riding recollections and how much these were possibly coloured by mechanical and any other problems. Experience, lessons learned, plus other circumstances came into play as the years passed by, and so influenced the thinking and approach at any given time. Truth be told, the first three years of motorcycling with the 250cc single cylinder BSA, were a learning curve. In retrospect, it's probably fair to say that problems generated knowledge and understanding. Early problems were generally all about the bike failing to run. 7

When the first bike, the BSA C15 wouldn't start, and couldn't be used to get to work, a work mate came to the rescue. The problem was quickly identified as the distributor (red arrow) was out of alignment. Whilst I had noticed the distributor was loose, in pushing it back into place it had engaged its drive 180 degrees out of synchronisation. As a result the spark plug was completely mistimed, so normal, minor adjustments were futile. A lesson was learned. My saviour, having more experience with his own bike identified the problem and remedies to hopefully prevent repeats. In time a design flaw was dealt with to prevent unwanted frustrations. Little doubt that mistakes helped avoid some repetition. For example, rushing led to a tyre lever nipping a fresh, unused tube and so requiring repair. The incident bordered on traumatic as I was about to meet the girl friend for a night out before a first solo venture to Europe on the bike. Not only was there the Saturday night out, but also pressure of the following day's ride to the Dover ferry. So, numerous factors influence judgement of motorcycles owned. Early lack of knowledge about riding and maintenance cannot be disregarded. Technique, advice, experience, mistakes, misconception, bias, ignorance, and even stupidity all come into play. Is perfection possible ? When contemplating how the motorcycles owned and operated shaped up against each other, there are personal views, which will be summarised when concluding the series of articles, “Our Motorcycles�. One thing has been possible and is a comparison of manufacturers' claimed power outputs of each motorcycle. Although performance claims are presumed that condition, adjustments and settings are to specification, it does make interesting reading. In seeking information on motorcycle data, the internet is a good source. Fortunately, amongst the book collection there has been an excellent reference; The Motor Cycle Data Book compiled by P.M. Williams and J.A. Reddihough, published by George Newnes Ltd in 1960. 207 pages contain genral information on Servicing and Maintenance; Brief Specifications of Motor Cycle, Scooters, Mopeds, Three Wheeled Light Cars, and Four Wheeled Light Cars; Servicing Data for all the above categories, as well as for Villiers engines.


The Motor Cycle Data Book is described as a companion volume to the same publisher's Motor Engineers' Pocket Book. MAKE










15 @ 7000

280 lb





27 @ 5750

375 lb





28 @ 6500

390 lb





15 @ 5500

345 lb





32 @ 6500

411 lb





21 @ ?

* 390 lb (Norton)





21 @ 5200

* 705 lb with Ural sidecar





4.4 @ 6000

163 lb





67 @ 8000

499 lb (wet)





10 @ ?

344 lbs





19 @ 5300

388 lbs





60 @ 7000

474 lb (wet)





81 @ 7000

764 lb (wet)





70 @ 7000

484 lb (wet)





94 @ 8400

569 lb (wet)





140 @ 8500

577 lb

From a personal perspective the only thing lacking in an otherwise intriguing book relates to sidecars, brief reference to sidecars. Two paragraphs, plus a “compromise” guide, i.e. “Sidecar wheel lead – “5 inches”; Toe in - “½ to 1 inch”; and Lean out - “¾ inch”. Of interest. “Especially on large outfits, a sidecar wheel brake is advisable. Arrange the pedal so that it may be operated at the same time as the back brake and try to compensate for the possible difference in leverage.” In addition, mention of the benefits of special sidecar tyres, and trail reduction for “good directional stability”. Overall, Motor Cycle Data Book, a small, compact book, highlights the simplicity and common nature of maintaining motorcycles around the halfway point of the 20 th century. How times have changed.


Another Apex Sidecar Creation It isn't so long since Doyne Bruner of Apex Sports in Colorado Springs created his particular take on the adventure sidecar theme. “Project Tiger”, as reported in Sidecars on Line 26, featured detail and sound engineering that is typical of the work of the long term sidecar enthusiast. This Triumph powered sidecar rig is something special that hopefully will be assessed first hand some time in the future.

Project Tiger

The fact that “Project Tiger” is so recent, it came as something of a surprise to learn that within months Doyne has been busy again: this time creating another sidecar rig that is pleasing on the eye and possibly unique in terms of the motorcycle chosen. On this occasion there was not a drip feed of information and images of the build over a period of months as before, but a one off, full blown collection of images appeared in the email inbox. The “Project Tiger” experience of anticipation, admiration, and commentary has been superceded in a single message. There was no other possible reaction, but WOW ! This time around Doyne's personal brief was to hitch a favoured sidecar, the Champion Daytona, to a Honda, but this time not in the shape of another familiar, predictable Gold Wing. For the new project the chosen “tug” is the Honda VFR1200X DCT. Known in the UK as the VFR1200X Crosstourer, this new motorcycle notably features Honda's dual clutch transmission, a 1237cc V4 engine, 6 speed transmission, shaft drive, traction control, and ABS braking.


The proposal was to follow up on a regular comment from people, specifically, was there a large motorcycle that features automatic transmission suitable for a sidecar application ? It's no personal surprise because when Honda first announced their dual clutch transmission some years back, Doyne did suggest it could be worth consideration. A casual comment on the potential has been converted into reality. The simple starting point, if you are not familiar, the Daytona sidecar, and the Honda VFR1200X DCT.


Almost always a consequence of attaching a sidecar to a contemporary motorcycle is to remove covers that conceal those key areas where the all important connection points are located. Care, patience, plus plenty of nuts, bolts, and screws to keep safe are all part of the deal. Experience, skill and facilities do make a difference.

Once all is revealed the necessary subframe components are fabricated and, no surprises that the quality of workmanship is clear to see.


The initial images sort of give a clue that the guy involved has been down this road before. It might be a new venture with a brand new motorcycle, yet the principles and engineering procedures remain the same to produce a sound and worthwhile end result.

From the cutting and bending of tube to establish the establish the subframe, it's then refinement, maybe amendment, and establishing the finished appearance.



In due course the sidecar and motorcycle came together and was ready to ride. This combination of an established sidecar, the Daytona, and one of the latest models from Honda certainly looked impressive. The proof, however, is always in the riding.

Involvement in a charity ride provided the opportunity to assess and evaluate the project.


Ever the perfectionist, Doyne decided to amend the front forks. This did not detract from his satisfaction with the Honda's power and design features such as the transmission, plus the three power settings, traction control, and ABS. The front forks adaptions amended the wheel position improving the trail. A practical solution and appropriate as there are no off the shelf alternatives, i.e. leading link forks, or purpose made triple trees; familiar adaptions for established bikes such as Honda Goldwings when fitting a sidecar, or converting into a trike.

Original fork design

Resetting the trail

Card template

Mounting plate takes shape based on the initial design

Plate alone doesn't work, rigidity is required

‌ and then needs the finishing touches


Fabrication almost complete

Brake calipers in place

Done, dusted and painted

The outcome of this build by Doyne Bruner is once again predictable with appearance and build quality suggesting “factory” rather than a single guy's endeavour. The personal feeling is that if Honda chose to produce a street viable sidecar outfit using a motorcycle they already produce it might look this good. Considering how much effort the “Big H” puts into some of the two wheeled exotica and concept vehicles produced over the decades, is a road sidecar outfit offering such a crazy, impractical proposition ? A key issue in this latest project is that Doyne Bruner is not simply the creator, he also is a riding sidecar enthusiast. It isn't just about design and manufacture, but much more. Decades of involvement with a diverse, successful motorcycle business is part of the formula, but importantly this is all backed up by being a dedicated enthusiast and rider. Doyne Bruner can be contacted at; Apex Sports, 327, South Weber Street, Colorado, CO 80903, USA


Apex Sports in Colorado Springs, has been family owned and operated since 1960. As the areas full service dealership, we can service and repair most makes and models. See the latest ATV, scooter, motorcycles, and utility vehicles from Honda, Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki, KTM, Triumph in our online showroom. If you need any aftermarket gear, like a new jacket or helmet, save time and money with our online store. We also have a large parts section, so if you need anything for your motorcycle, atv, scooter, utv view our online parts store for blue prints, parts, and more. As always, if you have any questions, feel free to call us or email us via our website. If you contact Apex Sports for information, or to make a purchase, please acknowledge Sidecars On Line.


Satnavs, Who Needs Them ? Thinking what to write about for this edition, was not too difficult. Recently, in mid July, I and my beloved, had a day out with John, (he who is “Sidecars on Line”) and his better half. Usually, once a year we get together and spend the day somewhere not too exotic. Last year it was the Derwent Valley. Absolutely gorgeous in the Autumn. The year before it was York. It’s not that we don’t see much of each other, but these jaunts just give us time to ourselves as it were. This time, Ann and I caught the train over to Huddersfield. It rained all the way. What should have been picturesque Pennine countryside was hidden by the low cloud, and steamed up windows. Once at Huddersfield, we met John and Pat. Then, dare I say it, drove in their car to Skipton. The weather was still garbage, although not raining heavily, just enough to need the wipers to be kept working. You know how it is, not enough water to make a clean sweep. Every stroke of the wipers there was this screeching sound. Is it just I, or what ? I would sooner be out in the elements on my motorcycle in this kind of weather.

Please note that this is on a summer day in Skipton, in North Yorkshire. Even in the rain everyone's smiling. Also note that this intrepid foursome are fully prepared with appropriate UK summer clothing. No sandals, shorts, or sunglasses to be seen.


So, on with the motley. As we neared Skipton, John switched on the “sat-nav”. This was to home us in to a car park near to the town centre, which worked a treat. Although first time of trying we missed the tight turn off, which took us down a back road into town. Good tools these “sat-nav” thingies. Can’t go wrong can you ? Despite the rain we had a really good time following the girls around the market that lines the main street of Skipton every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. Wow, the way women spend, I didn’t realise that money was going out of fashion. I must remember to bring more next time, or should that be less ? I normally have this priceless “Yorkshireman’s” habit of leaving my wallet behind.

After a stroll down by the canal and a more than decent meal in “Bizzy Lizzies” café, we decided that as it was early afternoon, we should visit Knaresborough. Not being overly familiar with Knaresborough, John switched on the “sat-nav” and pegged in “Knaresborough”. That should do it, so off we set. Now as you know, or maybe you don’t, but Skipton to Knaresborough is roughly 30 miles. If the roads are not busy, a 50 minute drive should suffice. I do believe that the “sat-nav” was programmed to by-pass Harrogate as traffic there can be horrendous. Along the A59 we trundled. Not bad now, the rain had stopped and there was blue sky over our intended destination. As we approached Harrogate, the “sat-nav” ordered us to turn left, so we did. This was on the B6161 towards Ripley and so far so good as this was dodging Harrogate. Then, as we neared Ripley, the “sat-nav” bid us to take a left turn, which we did. This was obviously not the way to Knaresborough, so we about turned and ignored the sexy voice imploring us to turn left. A few miles along this road, and after more urgings from her that must be obeyed, we did turn left.


Next stop, hopefully, Knaresborough . . . .

A mile or so later, we again retraced our wheel tracks. The bitch, sorry, the sexy voice was still urging us to go left. Where the heck were we ? We resorted to just go in a downhill direction as this must take us down by the River Nidd, which runs right through Knaresborough. I think we passed through High Knaresborough, Low Knaresborough, Nether Knaresborough, and Knaresborough-Sur-Mer. I swear we passed a sign informing us 60 miles to Glasgow. Obviously joking, but you get the picture. Not joking, is the fact that we travelled the same route twice on two occasions and after this the “sat-nav” was turned off. We then persevered on a downhill section of road until at last we entered a car park at the side of the river. The time was 17.50, the car-park was empty, and after 18.00 it was free to park. So, did we drive round in circles for 10 minutes searching for that perfect place to park ? No, I'm joking again ? Then I got to thinking ( rather dangerous) did that sexy voice on the “sat-nav” know that John and I are a pair of tight fisted Yorkshiremen, and wouldn’t take kindly to paying any parking charges, or was she just a typical woman, who hasn’t got an idea in her head about navigation ? Make up your own mind. A walk down by the River Nidd was in order. Obviously at this time, everywhere was shut up for the day and we were practically the only folk around. The sun was now shining brightly in the late afternoon. We walked about a half mile down river. As we passed under the railway viaduct, I told my companions about the figure of a red Indian which is scoured into the brickwork of the viaduct by rainwater running down the pillars. These days it is hard to visualise, never mind see it. I do have a photo of it taken a few years ago. 21

Still smiling, this time in the Knaresborough sunshine

Shortly after, we then turned back. Back to where the car was parked. Opposite to the car-park was a pub, “The World's End”. We piled in to slake our thirst. At something like 19.30 we set off for home. No, not the way we came, that would be impossible. It was straight on to the A1 for the quick route.

It was obvious that the “sat-nav” had needed more info putting in for it to accurately get us to where we wanted to be, but we were in no hurry to get there. In fact we drove along some very interesting roads, roads that never will be found again. It was a great day out, with great friends. A day, that hopefully, will be repeated some time in the future.


I personally, have never had a “sat-nav”. Well, not one of these electronic gizmos. I have always used a “Yorkshire” “sat-nav” This used to be a page pulled out of a road atlas, but I must admit to being up market these days. I now print out a copy of the relevant page to take on my travels. Smart or what. All that has gone before, was written with tongue firmly in cheek. What gets my back up is that no matter how far, or how well used the route is, you see the dreaded “satnav” being used. I think that even a run to the local shops for a packet of fags, justifies the dammed thing being used by some.

Too much of a good thing ?

I remember a few years ago doing the “Welsh National Rally”, a scatter type run around the Welsh countryside. My friend Alf and I contested about a half dozen, gaining 1 Gold and various silver and bronze awards. We had great fun working out the route, and making full use of the Yorkshire “sat-nav”. Nearly always we checked in at the final checkpoint around midnight. Most of the other entrants had finished and rode off for home. Some may have already been in bed. Anyhow, at the start, you could see lots of them setting up their “sat-nav’s” then shoot off with not a glance at anything other than their latest “bells & whistles” device. I guess, most of them just had no clue as to where they really were, just follow the instructions. To me, using “sat-navs” for this purpose is not in the spirit of the rally, and is not justified. Alf and I took the wrong road many times and had to find our way to get back on track. All good fun. That’s maybe something else to write about in the future.

Oscar 23

Vmax Diaries – Part 2 After a few months of owning and operating the Vmax RX4 outfit, the major considerations centred on the sidecar. Both the chassis arrangement and sidecar body had taken up some time, but fortunately not too much money. The financial outlay had been acceptable and didn't detract from the pleasure of ownership. The sidecar body issue, identified in Vmax Diaries – Part 1, expanded when further inspection of the body highlighted the section behind the seat was also flimsy, just like the raising canopy with its flapping outer section. It was all very well making personal judgements, so the outfit was ridden to a local specialist fibreglass company, who just happen to produce bodies for a successful English sports car company. It was agreed that the area behind of the seat required reinforcement to strengthen this central area of the body. Unfortunately, doubts were raised about how the floppy canopy problem could be resolved as any additional fibreglass treatment would likely cause distortion and so affect the integrity and fitting of the screen. Also raised was the likelihood that the canopy might probably no longer fit as required. The bottom line was that the process of adding layers of fibreglass, to reinforce and make the canopy more rigid, involves heat being created with negative consequences. When the outfit was collected after the rear seat area had been satisfactorily sorted, a simple cure was suggested by our friendly professionals for the poorly fitting canopy section. Specifically, to fit a section of aluminium angle to locate the canopy correctly when lowered. This proved an ideal, cost effective solution.

Poor fitting raising canopy led to draughts and water entering passenger space

Angle guides canopy into place to achieve a better fit


As ever with such things only time would tell how effective the “cure” would be in terms of draughts and water affecting passenger comfort. By now there were no other problems of note, whilst the performance of the bike had become slightly addictive. Nothing stupid (honest guv), and most certainly not exploring the promised insanity of the legendary V boost, i.e. the power that kicks in around 6,000 rpm. The four carburettors, yes, carburettors, kick out fuel in wallet emptying quantities, not easily appealing to a Yorkshireman's financial sensitivities. Yet, fuel consumption surprisingly became a somewhat positive factor. It must be said that the Vmax is not on a par with the relative frugal nature of the K BMW. Despite this heavyweight's bulk, the German bike reliably returned more than 40 miles per gallon. In comparison the Vmax returns nearer 35, or so miles per. Considering the nature of the Yamaha having 50% more power, and a reputation for thirst, probably due to how the “nasty” V4s are supposedly ridden, the personal conclusion has been that the Max is OK, at least for what it offers. In the first weeks of ownership a smell of petrol was noticeable in the garage, and even when the vehicle was stood in the open. A look around revealed a leak at the base of the centrally mounted, underseat fuel tank, at the point where the fuel sensor wires are attached. Fortunately, and thanks to Mike, the original owner, for fitting a 4 into 1 exhaust, which made it easy to get to the offending cover plate. Having siphoned the underseat fuel tank, the two allen bolts were removed revealing signs of a past use of sealant. Normal sealing is by a rubber gasket, so there was a little concern. After a thorough clean of the mating surfaces and the seemingly reasonable gasket, the cover plate was carefully replaced and secured. Over the next days checks indicated no leak. Unfortunately, a Sunday ride later, the leak had returned.


The workshop manual highlighted what even now seems strange, at least compared with experience of other motorcycles. The cover plate at the base of the Vmax fuel tank is something to check around 4,000 miles. OK, not a big deal on the face of it, but not thought usual on other bike's routine maintenance checklists. At the second time of asking, and after another routine of draining the tank and cleaning, a thin layer of sealant was employed to back up the gasket. The specialist sealant, plus the appropriate allen key, is kept with other spares and tools on the outfit, just in case of problems away from home. A quick check of the fuel sensor cover plate is still undertaken now and again. However, there is still a petrol smell if the tank is filled up to the filler cap. This is put down to the design of the plumbing around the tank top. Pipe locations and routing, all on the face of it as per the “factory” design, are perceived as factors. The adopted approach is to avoid filling right up to the top, hardly straightforward with the under seat filler cap location, but now part of an established routine. An aside to refueling the Yamaha is that the underseat filler cap presents its own peculiarities. Firstly, the two catches near the top of the two rear suspension units. It could be that this design quirk is not unique to the original Vmax, just don't know, but it seems odd as a starting point to gain access below the rider saddle. Then it's the nature of a black filler cap in a black painted location that justified previous owner Mike to identify the fiting position with a judicious dab of white paint. The cap will only go on in one position. It isn't straight forward, although of course you adapt to deal with it. Another early issue was the Yamaha's US spec wiring, which meant the lights being on permanently when the ignition key is turned. No big deal in objecting to the clear merits of highlighting your presence to an ever increasing number of myopic drivers. In reality drivers are distracted by things considered more vital than actually taking responsibility to accept their own mortality and the lives of others. Modern communications and in car “entertainment” technologies are all very well, but smartphones and the like are a serious problem. Surely, why “experts” propose roads would be sfare when cars are driven by robots ! So, the personal view is that something more obvious, at least at the front of the outfit, is a good thing. A mere headlight backed up by some weedy sidelight on the sidecar has little chance of catching the attention of those ahead. The solution involved rewiring such that the headlight has its own specific switch, as do the rear lights. Knowing which wires to cut and reroute came courtesy of helpful inmate Miles Long on the online forum,


The Vmax forum also came up with solutions for converting indicators to LED, plus adapting the engine cooling fan to a manual option. This latter amendment stemming from the useful advice that the big Yamaha could be prone to overheating if fan operation was dependent on the thermostat. If this is a problem for the bike when solo, it's certainly more likely with a sidecar fitted as the option to make progress in traffic is a little awkward. The LED indicators conversion required a specific LED relay, which required some thought as the standard Vmax electrics features a relay with more connections than the new relay. Reference to Again proved worthwhile in providing a solution to the common LED problem of wild flashing rates. At the time the light switching was sorted the bike was fitted with LED running lights, again with their own switch. In due course, and after further consideration of the need to be seen, the running lights were enhanced. In respect of the lights, switches were purchased online, the lights switch (A) courtesy of some obscure Chinese motorcycle, and the fan switch (B) from a quad bike. The handlebar lighting switch A was set up to operate as follows (from the top); •

The red rocker switch, usually acting as Run, or Off for the ignition, operated the headlight Low beam. This interupted the power from the ignition switch to the Low beam.

The central sliding black switch operated in 3 positions – Off, Running Lights, Rear lights.

The lowest red switch, usually operating the horn, was not used.

Lighting amendments had the obvious benefit of putting reduced demands on the existing battery, although it had by now become apparent that the battery might soon need replacing. What was something that was expected to be another small chapter in the Vmax Diaries eventually turned out to be something else.


Bob Spendlove Arts

Bob's Commission Paintings Bob paints a wide variety of commission pieces, including vehicles, houses, landscapes and monuments. If you're interested in having your own personalised original painting. Contact Bob for more details go to - Examples of his work;

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The Farmyard Party 2017 Edition Solo motorcycle rallies were not part of our scene for many years. Once seriously into the UK sidecar scene in the early 1970s there really wasn't the time. With a very young family and absorbed into sidecar events that had the attraction of being family orientated, it literally wasn't feasible. Sidecar rallies and camping weekends organised by, and for, dozens of sidecar clubs throughout the UK, plus European forays, again involving sidecars, there was no opportunity. In addition, and now a slight confession, our perception of the solo motorcycle rally scene was negative. This didn't mean that weekend sidecar gatherings were staid and boring, far from it. Kids around certainly didn't spoil the party side of things, yet there was the reassurance of it being “comfortable” and not “threatening”. Reflecting on those years and consequential involvement with long term friends illustrates it was being very much part of a big family. Happy days. As kids turned into adults and did their own thing, for us as well as our contemporaries, the emphasis and mentalities changed. For us, more awareness of the broader, road riding motorcycle community kicked in, as well as a sense of opportunity. No kids equated to freedom, at least that became partially true. Part of the transformation involved joining the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), which in turn highlighted events organised by Yorkshire MAG. We decided to take a punt and our first event was the early summer offering, Into the Valley. Despite a very wet ITV at Fridaythorpe in North Yorkshire, it was memorable for all sorts of reasons, most of them positive. Mud, rain, constantly worn waterproofs, and dancing, sorry mudding, to a Rolling Stones tribute band, Sticky Fingers. We had a good time and this eventful first timer was the catalyst to attend subsequent year's “Into the Valley”, “Yorkshire Puddings”, and eventually the big MAG one, the “The Farmyard Party”. 2017 saw us attending our third Farmyard at its now regular location of Duncombe Park, overlooking the small North Yorkshire town/village of Helmsley.


Being right in the heart of a beautiful part of rural Yorkshire, there is something special about the location, although we are biased, being natives of the county. 2017 has been a bizarre year on the weather front. As this is written in August it is difficult to recall more than two consecutive dry days. The summer has so far featured dramatically variable temperatures and extremes of rainfall. Sunburn risk one day has turned into cold, damp conditions, all in one day. Crazy. However, with this edition of the “Farmyard”, the weather was good and with it the experience. As ever, the opportunity to meet established friends and now familiar acquaintances, but topped off with new folk to talk bikes, the ways of the world, and generally share the joys of having a good time, yet on your own terms. The diversity of the motorcycle community means that people's interpretation of “having a good time”, or “partying” is as varied as the types of machinery that carry participants to the event. Something of what is on offer does clearly appeal as is evidenced by the numbers that attend. For some the attraction is a simple formula of spending time with mates, maybe not even spending any time involved with the entertainment arranged by MAG Yorkshire. Others will be intensely involved, be it doing the rounds of the varied music offerings, or ensuring that the UK Treasury coffers are topped up by the duty received from alcohol consumption. Over a period of time the personal approach to alcohol has seriously mellowed. Early MAG events saw a little cider and a bottle of red part of the camping essentials. However, this changed as it became obvious unopened cans, even the bottle of red, was being transported back home. Alcohol has, for us, attained a non essential status, so is no longer carried to events. At a rally couple of small ciders each might be purchased from the bar, that's all. Even then, this may only be, because as MAG members, we receive vouchers to spend at the bar, or to assist purchasing regalia items, e.g. t shirts, hats, etc.


So, what of this years “Farmyard”. Tent located in what for ourselves is a favourable position. A bit of a walk to entertainment, trade stalls, and the food area, but flat and with great views over the green Yorkshire countryside. As always, plenty of food choices and trade stalls to browse around. Always seem to find something to purchase, predictably MAG regalia. Other stuff is worth a look, if only for a curious browse, but experience keeps us away from considering bike clothing traders. Satisfaction with what we already have is the main reason, plus being able to return, or exchange, if something isn't up to the job. The exception when it comes to possible clothing and other items is Johnson's of Leeds, an ever present trader at all MAG events. The gear is predominantly ex military, or other uniformed agencies. Combat trousers have been a regular buy as they suit personal taste when it comes to motorcycle attire. Sometimes Johnson's come up extra trumps with prices and value. A great feature in maintaining the all important Yorkshire economic ethos. Arriving on Friday afternoon, a wander to the Christian Motorcyclists' Association (CMA) “Holy Joe's Cafe”, another MAG regular. The CMA tent has become a must, so we have a number of friends within the organisation. Not members, and never any pressure to join, but a key part of our relationship with MAG events. Amongst our MAG friends, rendezvous at “Holy Joe's” has become a must. Watching the world go by (see picture), or the social chat are very much part of the Christian Motorcyclists' Association contribution to each of the Yorkshire MAG events. 31

Our evening meal at this “Farmyard” was an attempt to repeat the previous year's positive experience when we sat down to an excellent steak pie with splendid vegetables. Home cooking quality, quantity, and value, and pleasingly different from the usual rally fare. However, what appeared to be a similar offering, albeit with tables and chairs provided, the food on offer and service was distinctly lacking. A gastronomic memory for all the wrong reasons and best forgotten. The “Farmyard” traditionally offers a worthy selection of music to please most tastes. Some predictable for an “ageing” motorcycle community, but also to show what real talent exists in a society dominated by TV's so called “talent” dross. Whilst not everything musical on offer at MAG events can be to everyone's taste, there's no denying the popularity of what you get for the price of a ticket. “Farmyard” music is based in four locations, the Main Stage marquee, the Blues Bar (it's another large marquee), the Rider's Rights Party (another marquee), and the rather unique Crusties Bar. Bands, individual performers, and DJ style music plays from Friday afternoon 'til late; variably according to location on Saturday afternoon; then each evening. Our musical bill of fare started in Crusties Bar (see picture) along with a Guiness each consumed slowly. After the disappointing evening food, it was the Rider's Rights stage for Ska Finger as starters to the Friday evening. Over an hour of bouncing (not too much) to the music of Madness, the Specials, and similar from the 1980s. Seemed to suit everyone present as this talented band with their female lead singer did the business. Not ashamed to admit his was our second year on the trot enjoying Ska Finger. After a coffee in the CMA tent we headed for the Blues Bar to round off an excellent music evening with “The Konks”, an absolutely superb Kinks tribute band. Being appreciative of the Ray and Dave Davies 60s originals helped a lot, but this doesn't detract from how good these guys performed. Great way to finish the evening, and of course, followed by a nightcap at “Holy Joe's”.


Saturday dawned sunny and warm and the plan of attack was already decided. Our instant porridge starter to the day, then ride down the long Duncombe Park estate drive, park up at the bottom and walk into Helmsley. First stop, the local Scout group hut for a traditional breakfast. Discovered the previous year, this is popular with a lot of rally attendees, and good value. Breakfast at the Helmsley Scout Hut is reat for the young scouts too, as they take orders, deal with money, and practice being waiters. Expressions on some young faces suggests some trepidation dealing with fair numbers of hairy bikers, but this is hardly serious as so many of the leather clad “toughs” remind them of their grandparents. Adults do the cooking and keep on eye on the eager little uns. For us, a pleasant feature of the “Farmyard” Saturday. It was a hot morning and a slow wander around central Helmsley was relaxing, as was spending time in the Square, along with numerous other bike types. Being us, we also spent a little time with “civilians”. All part of the service, and helping to show that motorcyclists are human (nearly).

Returning to the rally site we made for the Main Marquee for the Smacked Arse Comedy Show, compered in his usual adult style by Rick Hulse. We have enjoyed these for a while now, but clearly this time located ourselves badly. The problem ? Folk, who felt the need to rowdily chat on regardless of comedians and Rick trying to entertain. Maybe the handful were simply there to get out of the sun, who knows, but as we couldn't hear the humour it warranted an escape to shelter in “Holy Joe's”.


Come late afternoon, and having consumed another famous CMA hot chocolate drink, we looked at the bikes, trikes, and a token sidecar outfit in the Back Street Heroes Custom Show. Didn't enter our Vmax outfit, and also skipped the prize giving. No disrespect, but it was time to go see the Isle of Man's very own Purple Helmets performing their hilarious stunts routine. It wasn't disappointing, far from it. Saturday evening saw a return to the Blues Bar for a great double bill of the Paddy McGuire Band & Jenna Hooson with their blues/rock set. This followed by Kit Curtis and the B3s, a driving, dynamic performance of mid 60s soul music with a touch of the Blues Brothers. We enjoy much of the music at MAG events, but the 2017 Blues Bar bands were particularly good. Something that has to be said about all the music performances is the work done by MAG's sound and lighting guys, who ensure performances are presented as well as you would expect to find in much more high profile situations. Exceptional. Come Sunday morning the judgement was positive, despite the comedy show disappointment. It's fair to say that 2017 had been our best “Farmyard” to date. Importantly, the hope that the “Farmyard” had again been able to financially contribute to the work that the Motorcycle Action Group undertakes on behalf of all UK motorcyclists in preserving and defending road motorcycling.

Footnote; Where else, but Crusties . . .


Motorcycling is constantly under threat. Bureaucrats have a tendency to justify their existence by imposing restrictions and legislation that undermines motorcycling activity. Too often such moves have been made without objective evidence, or justification. The threat to motorcycling is very real. Without coherent, organised, and experienced voices to defend, protect, and promote motorcycling, motorcyclists old and new, plus involved business interests could be denied the benefits of motorcycling. The need to protect motorcycle riders' rights and freedom hasd never been more important.


SideLines “No More Internal Combustion Engines” - Part 1 The promotion of vehicles powered by alternatives to the internal combustion engine has been gathering pace in recent times. Most road transport powered by fossil oil derivatives, i.e. petrol and diesel. Now, the trend has moved from small time, seemingly “crackpot” proponents, to big players. In a rapidly changing world, the current mantra of manufacturers, bureaucrats, and politicians is to rid ourselves of what are seen as environmentally unfriendly substances. The latter half of the 21st century's second decade has seen the widespread demonising of any road vehicle that doesn't feature electricity as its prime power source. The consequences of not abandoning the internal combustion engine and consign it to history are laid out for all to fear. In just a few months major automobile manufacturers have announced intentions to concentrate on electric models. “All of Volvo's cars from 2019 will be powered by electric motors”, whilst other car manufacturers have made similar statements to mirror Volvo's intent. The political tribes have joined in. France plans to outlaw the sale of all petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040, whilst other European countries have their own suggested timetables. The British government has hinted that France's 2040 date follows similar thinking for the UK. French measures are expected to include a ban on new hybrid vehicles and could mark the beginning of the end for the internal combustion engine in automotive transport. How this European “save the planet” dialogue will ultimately develop with a United States apparently opting out of a climate change stance is open to debate. On the motorcycle front, relatively small scale production of electric two wheelers have been around for a few years, but take up hasn't been earth shattering. Even UK government subsidies have so far encouraged significant sales of electric vehicles. Trouble is that economies of scale are important for mass vehicle production, so electric vehicles are expensive, even with tax payer support for purchasers. However, the UK Motorcycle Industry Association, welcomes a ban on new fossil fuelpowered vehicles from 2040, as a “tremendous stimulus” for bike makers. Supporting a significant, widespread trend, does pose the question of why an industry association doesn't mention a few realities such as businesses and thousands of people being affected by such radical change. Promoting new technology isn't as straight forward as it sounds, or necessarily all positive.


SideLines What about the existing situation, be it technical, financial, or social ? There are some supportive and obvious issues, notably air pollution. Yet, is it feasible that all that is proposed are undeniable positives ? Can we believe the “experts” and influential power cliques, who give credibility to what is being proposed. What are the unforseen outcomes ,and crucially, are there vested interests are at work ? The promised land is very much based upon electricity. However, producing electricity still requires coal, oil, gas, shale gas, wood, and biofuel, despite undesirable consequences. Wind, solar, and tidal are also only means to an end, but have limitations. The bottom line is to convert the energy contained within these sources into electricity, the demand for which is destined to be required in ever greater quantities. The development of “alternative” sources is at a stage in the UK where intermittent, or limited energy production means the UK government contracting suppliers for fossil fuel electricity production “just in case”. A few billion pounds a year just in case of insufficient capacity from “alternatives”, despite well publicised, occasional days when the UK apparently apparently has operated “only” on alternatives. Of course, another possibility, nuclear, is not currently seen as desirable. Maybe circumstances will eventually means having to return to this option as a demands for electricity grow. The current enthusiasm to see that back of fossil fuels as an energy source is heavily concentrated on road transport. Concerns and justification is dominated by pollution, notably air quality and the effect on health. Vehicle engines mean air pollution is created within human habitats, so such immediacy is seen as the main focus of any measures to reduce a health threat that in the UK is said to result in 30,000 plus deaths per year. On the face of it a strong argument to take radical action. However, poor air quality has been well known in the UK for decades, yet political indifference and commercial pressures have meant the situation has got worse. Those who run the show have actually contributed to the situation, and even now really don't appear to see the wood for the trees. The prevailing message appears to be that all will be well because new technology will find a way; current technology will become more efficient; and . . . Trouble is . . . the UK rail system was not required because of the development of road transport; commuting ever greater distances to get to work is great; and diesel cars were the answer to the inefficiencies of petrol. So, when can we expect a cure for the common cold ? 37

Sidecars on line 30  

UK based magazine for motorcycle and sidecar enthusiasts everywhere

Sidecars on line 30  

UK based magazine for motorcycle and sidecar enthusiasts everywhere