The Online Mini Magazine for Sidecar Enthusiasts
Sidecars On Line
Issue 11 â€“ June 2014
Not Exactly your Run of the Mill Sidecar Combination (don't be confused by that behind, it's a scooter leaning on a quad)
UK Importer for Tripteq Sidecars, Parts, & Accessories
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• 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
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Contents this Issue Editorial – Some work on both outfits required, but still time to take in a favoured motorcycle rally The Magnum – Reflections of our very own sidecar and a “failed ?” attempt to make it better LED Lighting – Good, Bad, and Ugly – The “revolution” in vehicle lighting and a personal take on how to join Oscar's Odyssey – “I should have stayed in bed” – A nice day out turns into anything but.......... Scooters and Sidecars – A consideration of one facet of the sidecar community SideLines – Bikers, Ignorance, and Apathy – Exactly how committed are UK motorcyclists ?
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Editorial Pleased to report some movement on the sidecar front, despite continuing deviations away from riding and working on both outfits. Still, isn't it ever so that the relatively idle periods before and after Christmas, when opportunities to make progress in the garage, or workshop, are missed ? However, unlike in more youthful times, there's less inclination to brave the cold and damp of our UK climate. There have been bouts of doing things despite poor weather conditions, made possible by several layers of clothing, but the consequence has been a day or two to recover. Not easy when there's commitments and the ordinary things of our lives to deal with. Never mind, we'll get there, wherever “there” is. An outstanding thing on the BMW K outfit is still to fit a new cooling fan, although the lack of a functional one hasn't stopped us getting out on the beast. A return to a favoured event, the Motorcycle Action Group's “Into the Valley” bike rally proved to be another enjoyable social exercise. Fair weather, plenty of chat and the usual whirl of socialising with familiar faces. One downside, forgetting the stove, so no self catering. A little indulgence using on site catering, plus a cafe in the nearby town of Market Weighton satisfied our needs. Also, thanks to the Christian Motorcyclists' Association's “Holy Joes” ever friendly folk for obliging with hot water for our instant porridge breakfasts. Our regular visits to this feature of our favourite MAG rallies, and the friendships that have resulted might have helped, but to be fair the CMA marquee is always welcoming to all. The extensive amendments to the sidecar fittings on the Yamaha outfit have been undertaken with assistance from helpful guys in the shape of Tony I and Pete K. From early on in our ownership there were some concerns over fittings, which needed resolving. Eventually, opportunities arose to get everything back together and, following a short test ride, take the outfit for its required road worthiness test, the MOT. All was well with the necessary requirements, and adjustments have subsequently been made to the sidecar alignment. Still on the agenda for the Vmax are further lighting changes, a carrier rack on the sidecar, and importantly, getting some miles under the wheels. This means fitting LED units (see this issue's item on our LED story so far), plus installing an HID (High Intensity Discharge) headlight conversion following a friend's recommendation. Hope it proves to be a worthwhile purchase. Finally, a subtle presentation change. Our little publication began as an online contribution to the UK sidecar scene. However, interest and contact from elswhere justifes the “UK” bit of the cover title becoming obsolete. Of course, the UK emphasis remains as paying overseas staff doesn't fit the budget !
The Magnum It's a long story, too long perhaps, but the starting point is that things were kicked off by the emerging fashion to widen sidecars that started in the UK during the late 1970s. Predominantly, the sidecars in question were certain incarnations of Watsonian's range, notably the Palma 1Â˝ seater. Anyhow, with the help of friend Lou Crump, who had already done the deed on his own Palma, plus that of his brother, our Palma was cut in half, widened by 7â€? in old money, and restored to something that still could fulfill its role of carrying two kids and camping gear. The restore bit being courtesy of a local kit car company that normally produced AC Cobra replicas. Our version was set up as a widened Monaco, effectively the Watsonian version with a horizontal boot in place of the rear screen. The concept was fine, particularly the restorative fibreglass work and Lou's widened chassis work of suitable inserts and welding. Sadly, the resulting effort for the passenger compartment incorporating a rehashed screen and aluminium top was a mistake. Poor air circulation and the effects of sun on the the aluminium soon detracted from the viability of our version. What didn't help was that several other efforts undertaken by other enthusiasts made ours look poor.
Prime example of a widened Palma, not ours However, as thoughts set about resolving matters, a work friend suggested a radical alternative. Without going into detail, the outcome was a complete new upper section constructed from fibreglass. It helped that said friend, plus his wife, were into making sailing boats from the stuff that flows out of a tin and the associated matting. 6
Many hours over evenings and weekends were spent on the project that began with the bizarre task of this time cutting the top off the widened Watsonian. The altered chassis accepted the new bodywork Corresponding issues with the BMW twin meant that our new creation was attached to a brand new Honda Gold Wing.
Newly completed Gold Wing & Magnum We used our unique sidecar, Magnum (OK, bit naff, but am I bothered ?) for nearly ten years, attending sidecar events and taking family holidays around the UK and extensively in Europe. It served us well and the Wing performed well hauling everything along. A second Magnum chapter was less eventful. Our offspring were not just getting older, but crucially bigger, and the Magnum was bursting at the seams. Despite efforts to reduce and minimise on luggage and camping equipment, such as a Colemans signle burner petrol stove in the topbox, a rethink was necessary. Unfortunately, at least on reflection, the decision was made to produce a wider version of our Magnum using the retained moulds and once again the expertise and guidance of our boat building friend. The outcome required a complete new flatbed chassis and other changes. The result worked, indeed taking us all off to Italy, an FIM Motocamp, and several thousand additional miles on the willing Wing's life. However, all somewhat pointless because the 16 year old daughter was now less keen on being so attached to her bike riding parents, if you get the drift. After less than a year using our widened Magnum, we moved on to a much smaller, lighter outfit. Different bike, different sidecar, changed requirements.
A year older, rear windows fitted, plus mudguard with storage and top deck for the tent
Room for luggage, the kids, and their well used stereo system ! Both our Magnums moved on, one rather insatisfactorily. The original was given, yes given, to an acquaintance of a sidecar friend because he was “not well off”, and “keen on taking his kids out”. Literally within weeks, the poor soul had sold our gift ! You can trust some of the people some of the time it might be said, and both our friend and ourselves were none too pleased. The larger version, or at least the body, the one considered a “failure” was offered to someone who did use it. Again, no charge, despite our anger at the first disposal, as we genuinely needed it out of the way.
In the event, we eventually saw both our creations at sidecar rallies, looking different, and apparently providing good service to their respective new keepers.
New life for the widened Magnum 9
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LED Lighting – Good, Bad & Ugly LED lighting on vehicles is something of a new rock and roll. A revolution in artificial light being emitted from other than a traditional bulb, initially to reduce energy requirements and increase longevity, has become everyday. Well, everyday in being very apparent on more road going vehicles in the UK. Without specific UK legislative requirements enforcing daytime lighting, it's no longer just Swedish cars displaying lights in bright sunshine. Most new cars now display their new found street credibility, plus almost bizarrely newer, very big, very observable trucks. Of course, the heavy commercial fraternity adopted coloured Christmas tree like displays some years back. Personal “peacock” displays are now competing with less frivolous factory fitted day running LEDs. Maybe the various and familiar beer signs, illuminated Confederate flags (yes, even in the UK !), and other light shows, will probably become even more extreme for “truck driving man” to identify his presence. Tends to make a nonsense of any energy saving objectives. As LED lights first appeared on luxury cars, a market emerged for after market LED lighting, mainly universal running lights for lesser four wheelers. Soon, universal replacements for rear and indicator lights appeared, aimed at specific markets. Buses, trailers, off roader style, plus certain popular classics such as the original Mini. Popular hatchbacks were catered for by an expanding market, particularly for those prone to “customising”. A discerning market has influenced the quality, effectiveness, and relatively lower prices for automobile LED products. The application of LED lighting has generally been relatively slower in the much smaller motorcycle market, although some universal products have appeared for the two and three wheeled brigade to consider. LED replacements for standard bulbs has been an easy step. If a bike owner has been prepared to replace standard motorcycle lights for universal LED products there has been, and is additional scope.
Rear, side, and brake lighting, being either simply on, or off, present no electrical problems. However, indicator lighting, with its flashing operation can present simple, but easily overcome difficulties. LEDs, being lower powered, often create issues for standard flasher relays, usually with increased flash rates that exceed statutory requirements. A solution has been to fit resistors into the circuitry, but unfortunately eliminates the benefit of reducing energy requirement. A preferred, more reliable, and simpler solution is to utilise a specific LED friendly flasher relay. Some bike circuitry accepts LED type relays with no problems, whilst other electrical circuits require more thought. For example, on a BMW K bike, a “flying brick” with its over the top indicator switching circuit that includes a complex relay unit, fitting LEDs into the circuit is not straight forward. Initially, our K bike included resistors, so no energy saving, but eventually a broken switch (right hand indicator select; there's one for the left, plus one to cancel !) led to ditching the whole shebang for a conventional Suzuki set up, and a simpler LED flasher relay. Job done, no resistors, and less energy requirement. Lighting modifications to our own BMW K have meant LEDs abound with only the standard headlight utilising a bulb. As there are now vehicles, including a small handful of motorcycles, equipped with rather expensive LED headlight units, it may eventually be possible to consider a 100% LED lighting set up. Currently there are plans to install a motorcycle HID unit, one that's available at a good price. The LED lighting revolution has not affected motorcycles in exactly the same way as with other road vehicles. True, the sight of an adventure styled bike, usually a BMW of the GS variety, with a couple of bright LED running lights has become common place on UK roads. Indeed, many of these probably had said lights fitted as paid for extras when the bike left the showroom, along with all the other necessary gear to travel around the wilds of supermarket car parks. However, such items bought separately don't yet usually come into the bargain category. It is interesting to compare the prices of after market LED items for motorcycles against those available for other vehicles. Some items suggest profiteering, or to be less controversial at least significantly marked up. Of course, there are claims of rugged construction and quality, but such things are always open to debate, even conjecture. How does a spot/running light for a powered two wheeler compare with similar that appears on a 4x4 off roader ? The rigours of use might well be harsher for the four wheeler than the pristine, Sunday ride, “Ewan/Charlie” bike.
Personal experience is often dictated by finance, plus advice from others, and online research. An early move was to purchase some simple LED running lights from the USA featuring Ced high power LEDs that utilise a magnifying lens. These prove good in at least identifying our outfits presence. Whilst not spot lights, and so don't contribute to lighting the road, their presence is noticeable. Importantly, they were inexpensive, even including shipping. Simple mountings were easily fabricated. Advice at the time suggested they might be vulnerable to power surge when operating the starter, so resistors were put into the circuit, just in case. Later experience indicates the resistors could possibly be eliminated.
The BMW outfit's main LED conversion was to change rear lights, including brake and indicators along with the previously mentioned simpler flasher relay installation. For good measure, additional rear lights were fitted to the sidecar, so no excuse for fast approaching, night time rear enders. An LED bulb for the indicator in the bike fairing was the easiest change.
Soon after the sidecar rear was topped off with a bright rear fog light. There are legal guidelines in the UK when this should be operated, i.e. foggy conditions, but it's available as an additional warning of our presence for the myopic, mobile phoning, texting, internet browsing brigade. A big bright red light might just attract their moronic attention. 13
The only other change was to replace an old spot lamp on the sidecar with a personal inerpretation of a marker light, a multi LED worklight. According to sidecar buddies, very effective, sturdy, and cost effective.
The LED theme has also been started on the Yamaha Vmax outfit, initially with two running lights. This time with the look of those that adorn the GS style of motorcycle, but not quite in the same price category. One on the Yamaha itself and the other on the sidecar, presenting a reasonably obvious presence, although this may be added to in an attempt to overcome the diminishing effect of running lights as the world and its grandmother adopts the universal â€œlights onâ€? look. Maybe we have to consider that being different makes you stand out, but when everyone is lit up like an all year round Christmas tree will it all become less effective ?
Further LED lighting has already been chosen for the Yamaha, specifically for the rear of the bike and the sidecar. Extra rear units for the sidecar, as already attached to the BMW outfit, are to be fitted. Still to be purchased, but already identified, are units for the front of both bike and sidecar.
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I Should Have Stayed in Bed We all have one of those days when nothing goes right. All this started at the end of March this year. The Tour de France professional cycle race, the largest annual sporting event in the world, is to have its “Grand Depart” this year from God’s own county of Yorkshire. The B.B.C local news channel “Look North” had been giving it plenty of airtime. In fact, two of the programme's presenters undertook a sponsored bicycle tandem ride along the complete route of the race through Yorkshire. The ride was due to end in Sheffield on a Friday, so I thought that I would go along and give my support to the brave duo, along with a little cash. With this in mind, I went along on a Thursday, to what I thought must be a great vantage point for anyone wishing to see the television presenters pass. Holme Moss, the feature hill climb of the second Tour de France stage, was by far the best place to go. This is at the top of a long climb from the town of Holmfirth. That’s right, the place where the long running television comedy, “Last of the Summer Wine” was filmed.
Enthusiasm despite the bad weather It just so happened that this day was absolutely the worst day that anyone cycling could wish for. Gale force winds, lashing rain that was flying past horizontally, and there was I waiting for this intrepid couple to come pedalling up the hill. 16
I did notice that my motorcycle was rocking violently in the gale. So, I moved the parking angle so as to face it into the wind. This improved matters. I must say that I was not on my own up on this windswept piece of upper moor land. There must have been upwards a hundred or more there.
A bicycle made for a very wet and tired twosome All of us could see far down the valley, the small knot of activity slowly grinding it’s way upwards. It took the best part of twenty minutes for the tandem riders to reach the top. I must admit, I was impressed by the burst of speed that they rode past and over the top of the hill. I just managed to catch a couple of photos of them. I then had a brilliant thought. If I rode back down the hill, through Holmfirth, I could catch them again as they rode up the hill out of the “Woodhead Pass” This I duly did. What I did not know, was that the tandem ride had been abandoned for the day, just after they had breasted the “Holme Moss” hill. The reason being, the wind was too bad for them to continue in safety. So there I was patiently waiting for them to arrive. This time I had parked my motorcycle in the lee of a large van that was parked there. I was sheltering by the side of a camper van. All this time it was blowing and raining hard. More than once did I think, “What kind of fool am I standing here getting soaked ? ” Then I heard a crash, turned around, and there was my motorcycle on its side overhanging a ditch. The occupants of the van had evidently got fed up of waiting, or had got news of the abandonment, so they went on their way. Leaving my poor old bike side on to the wind. No way could I lift my machine up with it being partly in the ditch. 17
A decent chap from another car gave me a hand to lift it. A broken brake lever, smashed mirror, smashed hand guard and a lovely great scrape on the panelling, which made it match up nicely with similar scrapes on the left hand side. So, that was it, I limped home with no front brake, wet through and fed up.
Pedal power couldn't beat wind power I should have stayed in bed ! On the day after, I began the task of putting things right. Time was of the essence, as I was planning to go camping on the Saturday morning. I finally located a front brake lever from a local motorcycle dealer on the other side of the town. I had to take the bus. This took the best part of three hours. Finally things were fixed. New brake lever, left hand mirror placed on the right and handlebar muffs to replace the hand guards. So, up early on the Saturday, load up, but first, fill up the chain oiler. So, I leaned the bike over to rest against the door jamb, so as to make things easier. Would you believe it, the newly replaced mirror just touched upon my spare helmet, and immediately snapped off. Now I had no mirrors. This was not good. My 70 plus years old neck just cannot twist all the way round to see rearwards. I was going to struggle. Eventually, I was all loaded and headed for the narrow gap between my neighbour's kitchen and his garden hedge. Then, for the second time in over twelve years, I got it wrong.
My right hand pannier bashed into his kitchen wall, consequently ripping off the pannier, and me and the motorcycle being diverted through the aforementioned hedge. My good wife had to assist in getting me upright. I should have stayed in bed ! But, the lure of the road keeps you driving onwards, so a good hour later than planned, I was on my way, no panniers and a lot less equipment. I must say that I had a trouble free ride from thereon. Even if I did have difficulty checking my rear, as it were. I even won 4 times on the raffle. That can’t be a bad thing. So, should I have stayed in bed ? You bet I should have. A week later I received a summons in the post from the Lincolnshire police. Whilst passing “Swineshead Bridge” on the A17 route, I got flashed doing 48 mph in a 40mph limit. Why didn’t I stay in bed ????
Scooters and Sidecars First of all, something of an introduction. Contemplating a piece on sidecars being attached to motor scooters seemed fairly easy. After all always accepted this branch of the sidecar community as part of the family, being prepared to take photos and chat with owners of what are none the less rarities. Remember well catching the good lady by surprise as a hurried turn around on a Belgian meant we could have a closer look at a classic scooter parked outside a house. Left nearly two hours later following a look at the owner's other scooters, plus a chat over a beer.
Classic Vespa scooter outfit spotted in Belgium No, the initial thoughts related to fixed ideas about the early days of the scooter phenomenon. Had always considered it was all about Italy and the post war emergence of that country's scooter love affair. Casual research revealed there was more to the story, some of it much nearer to home. Read on. Maybe not everyones' idea of sidecarring, but fitting a sidecar to a scooter is a serious business. Several well known manufacturers are remembered for sidecars they produced specifically for fitting to scooters. Of those produced in past times, these sidecars still occasionally appear for sale, some as well restored classics. Modern interpretations on the scooter sidecar theme, albeit very rare, can be viewed as both functional, attractive, as well as offering acceptable performance, notably when involving one of the modern, so called â€œsuperscootsâ€?. The history of the motorised scooter is considered to stretch as far back as the tail end of the 19th century, but efforts to attract folk to this cleaner cut interpretation of a motorised two wheeler, that is one not quite based on a traditional pedal cycle, didn't really take off. The days of the scooter as we know it really became established after World War 2 in the late 1940s.
The accepted credit for the ultimate popularity and development of the scooter is mainly down to Italian engineering and design. The first Vespa appeared in 1946, its non motorcycle appearance and simple functionality proved attractive and development continued with increased engine sizes and performance. The other famous Italian model, the Lambretta appeared soon after in 1947, amd soon became a famiar sight on Italian roads. In times of post war austerity, the economy of these new powered two wheelers was a major factor in the scooter success story. It would be remiss not to mention that ultimately there were other Italian scooter manufacturers on the scene, generally following the style set by Vespa and Lambretta, but some such as Moto Rumi, who produced significantly identifiable variations on the theme. Others involved included MV Agusta, more famed for their racing exploits; Moto Guzzi, yet another motorcycle company noted for success on the road racing tracks of Europe. However, despite being historically attributed with establishing the scooter, others were involved in the early development, stemming from the military two wheelers of the second World War such as the paratroopers' Welbike. Made in Southport, England, the Welbike led to a civilian version, the Corgi, of which around 25,000 were manufactured into the 1950s. Engineering shortcomings and legislation brought about the demise of the Corgi, effectively opening up the British market even more to the Italians.
World War 2 Welbike
98cc Corgi folding bike & Sidecar
Another British effort, more scooter like in appearance was the Swallow Gadabout, a Villiers 125cc powered machine manufactured from 1946 to 1951 by the sidecar manufacturer soon to became famous for producing Jaguar cars.
Swallow Gadabout Mk1 - 1946
This alternative to motorcycles spread into other countries during the 1950s and 60s with other manufacturers producing their versions of the Italian creation, including motorcycle manufacturers wishing to cash in on a new marketing opportunity. Some were marginally successful, whilst others failed miserably. Vespa and Lambretta went from strength to strength.
Steib sidecar attached to......
â€Ś... Heinkel Tourist scooter circa 1961
Today, other companies, particularly in Asia, develop their versions of the scooter theme. The classic Italian look; contemporary designs with different engine sizes suited to varied national and international regulations/economies; plus larger engine super scooters with motorcycle comparable perfoemance. In most cases the original concepts of easy operation, economy, and rider comfort are retained. 22
Lambretta and Watsonian Bambini sidecar Virtually from the outset of the scooter revolution, attaching a sidecar was seen by as a viable option by some sidecar manufacturers. It was presumably a question of scale and designing sidecars that both served the purpose of additional carrying capacity, be it person, or luggage, plus to look the part. The quest was to hopefully retain something of the fashionable image of the scooter. Whilst there have never been great numbers of sidecars attached to scooters, not unlike the situation with motorcycles, some would say that a scooter outfit does have the ability to look cute.
Contemporary, but classic looking Vespa plus small scale interpretation of equally classic sidecar
Over the years there has not been any significant specific development of sidecars for scooters, unlike for motorcycles, well at least with some mainland European sidecar manufacturers. Scooter sidecars were generally developed at the peak of scooter popularity in Europe, which means not much beyond the 1960s. However, in recent times some smaller classic looking sidecars produced in places such as India have been successfully mated up to modern scooters. There have also been some very acceptable outfits created using more powerful superscooters.
Honda Silverwing & Merlin sidecar
Guzzi 800 & Mobec leaner sidecar
Scooter sidecar outfits are not always about emulating the motorcycle sidecar approach. In many instances they are created for the sheer fun of it. Other than attaching the sidecar, there usually do not appear to be other amendments to the resultant vehicle. The scooter element is very much left alone, so no issues about adaptations that can often be part of creating a â€œnormalâ€? bike sidecar combination. Equally, it doesn't always follow that big power characteristics are on the agenda. It might be argued that that's not such a bad thing, although clearly there are going to be performance consequences when using a minimal size engine. Let's face it, a 50cc single cylinder powered machine, designed explicitly for low speed, convenient inner city commuting, and basic one person transport, is not going to be held back somewhat by attaching anything on the side, let alone carrying even the lightest of loads. However, perhaps when compared to the early scooter sidecar outfits, hauled along by a relatively low powered, low tech power train, maybe things are not so bad. Serious touring, or lengthy journeys that require undertaking in a day, or two, are not practical, but who's to say how much could be on offer.
Here are some other interpretations of the scooter approach.
Honda Helix scooter..........
â€Ś........ with room for the hound !
Yamaha C3 50cc fuel injected scooter
plus a matching cargo sidecar
Of course, as is the case with sidecars
â€Ś.....anything is possible !
Without doubt, the idea of attaching a sidecar to a scooter is not taboo. As with joining a motorcycle and sidecar there may be limitations, but it's still possible to create a functional vehicle. As with the vast majority of motorcycles there are fitting considerations such as attachment points, but exponents of the scooter branch of the “black art” probably know a thing, or three about how to do the business. Finally, if you're taken with the idea of looking at more scooter sidecar outfits in all their glory – quirky, or otherwise, then go online to http://www.pinterest.com/ where, amongst a variety of stuff there are some interesting images of scooter and sidecars, along with lots of other personal takes on motorcycling. Who knows, it might even inspire further interest in what is yet another aspect of the sidecar world that is scooters.
Today's Sidecar outfit is a practical leisure vehicle, which creates interest wherever it goes. It enables you to include the family in the fun motorcycling, short trips or longer holidays while providing: •Extra space •Stability •Greater travelling comfort •Convenience for passengers Children and dogs LOVE sidecars!! Decades of experience riding, selling, manufacturing, and fitting sidecars provides you with a wealth of experience that can help you join the great world of sidecars. Sidestrider supply the famous classic European sidecars from Watsonian Squire and Velorex, as well as Unit leading link fork kits for most model motorcycles. In addition, Sidestrider also offer a bespoke sidecar service. Sometimes there are questions you might have, so I will be happy to personally send reprints of various articles pertaining to your specific questions or just "interesting stuff" regarding sidecars. So, if you reside in the USA, and are interested, please get in touch; Call Doug Bingham on 818 780 5542 or Email via our website; http://www.sidestrider.com/
SideLines Bikers, Ignorance, & Apathy Motorcycling is predominantly a life style choice in developed countries, unlike in those parts of the world where powered two wheelers primarily represent personal transport. Undoubtedly, the far greatest number of powered two wheelers, both in use, and currently being produced are to satisfy personal transport needs. Honda step throughs and the numerous look alikes, plus small engined functional machinery, far outnumbers whatever is the latest “must have” on the roads of Western Europe, North America, and the wealthier hot spots of Asia, Soth America, and the Pacific Rim. So, in the main your typical street bike, be it sports, tourer, custom, or the currently fashionable adventure styled machinery, are not, in a manner of speaking, essentials, not in a truly objective sense. The automobile, yet another take on the prevalent and dominating lifestyle mentality that permeates contemporary culture, is the “weapon of choice” for general transportation duties. Regardless of style and hyped up identity, the four wheeler is viewed as “normal”. The realities of exotic, massively priced supercars, and luxury four wheelers stuck in the same time and energy sapping congestion as diminutive, functional, and more economic automobiles is not part of the early 21st century life equation. It would be unthinkable to be seen negotiating the wilds of the local supermarket car park, or face the dangers of the school run without the all embracing protection of the 4 x 4 “Super Safari Uber Bus GLXTDI” ! Unlike many life style choices, motorcycles do have something of an edge in their representation as icons of rebellion, a macho promoting culture, even sometimes the potential suggestion that the rider is someone to be feared. Maybe the view is that if a bike rider is prepared to forego the much vaunted protection of a “normal” tin box with all its well marketed safety features, therein lies someone to be treat with a little bit of caution. Unfortunately, there is another side that too many motorists appear to have little regard for their own mortality, let alone others, so any sense of “fear” is possibly met with a dangerously uncaring approach when cocooned behind their tin box's wheel. Whatever the social status of motorcyclists in the eyes of others, plus the numerous threats from others, be they other road users, politicians, or over zealous antibikers, it could be said that many motorcyclists are guilty of ignoring their own vulnerability.
SideLines Vulnerability in the sense of their presence on the road, i.e. riding aggressively, as well as not riding defensively. Equally, creating animosity, even hatred by ill judged behaviour, both on and off the bike, plus such things as excessively loud exhausts. And, perhaps the most serious, bureaucratic villains, who simply strive to ensure the total elimination of powered two wheelers. There are clearly some things, which individual motorcyclists can do something about, such as their riding style, behaviour, and attitude. On the other hand, grander matters like road conditions, general safety issues, and restrictive legislation and regulation require more cooperative endeavours. This is where proficient representation comes into the picture to both keep a watching brief, as well as be involved in the machinations of debate, consultation, cooperation, and when necessary opposition. The modern day culture of bureaucracy, control and regulation more than ever before demands that motorcyclists need worthwhile representation. It would be good to say that motorcyclists are generally well aware of the threats to their two wheeled activity and lifestyle. Unfortunately, certainly in the UK, there exists a very apparent ignorance of how vulnerable motorcycling has become. It may be that too many are simply unaware of the threats, but equally it could also be that many don't actually don't care. Ignorance is one thing, not uncommon in a nation where folk have intimate knowledge of certain television shows, but no idea of what actually affects their day to day lives until it possibly smacks them in the proverbial. For example, voting for so called television “talent” shows can exceed voting for political representation. It is accepted that many motorcyclists do see themselves as rebels and somehow justify not joining a motorcycle rights organisation. Quite ironic when observing that the most likely rebellious act they'll display is smoking in a non smoking situation ! In addition, the “loner” facade hardly marries up with the obvious signs of “loyal membership” of whatever bike group they are connected too, be it formal, or less so. Attendance at any motorcycle event, or hang out will definitely highlight the affinity of almost everyone. It's worth taking a look, at others as well as yourself, we all do it. So, the point is, are you a member of a motorcycle rights organisation, one that openly deals with protecting the rights of motorcyclists, and the ongoing use of powered two wheelers ? Do you wish to continue doing what you prefer, and enjoy as part of your life ? Do you feel it's important to maintain motorcycles and motorcycling as an option in a free society ? Do you respect the right of others to choose to make motorcycles part of their life ? So, what's your excuse for not being a member of a motorcycle rights organisation ? 29