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The Online Mini Magazine for UK Sidecar Enthusiasts

Sidecars On Line

Available Bi-Monthly

Issue 5 – June 2013

70 years apart – 2007 Yamaha Vmax powered outfit alongside 1937 Brough outfit visiting RAF Scampton, the base of the Dambuster's 617 Squadron

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Contents this Issue Editorial – Riding the new outfit and some weather woes SideLines – The Power Game in the world of modern motorcycles Oscar's Odyssey – You meet the nicest people when riding a sidecar, and defeat adversity Celia's Sidecar Story – A personal story of a family life with sidecars at the heart Intercoms on the Outfit – The continuing tale of keeping in touch electronically Converting the K to Touring – Part 2 – Second part of amending a BMW K1 outfit Sidecar Smiles 2 - Yes, there is an amusing side to sidecars, which adds to the attraction don't you think On the Web 2 – Something of a progress report Disclaimer

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Editorial 5 Well, quite a wait to get out and about on the new acquisition. The UK has had some its worse winter weather for decades, at times since records began. Not the kind of conditions for a pristine example of a very caring original, previous owner. Even our old faithful BMW outfit didn't venture out as expected on account of snow blocked roads and cancelled events. However, come April, we were able to enjoy raised temperatures, clear roads, and generally a little less of the wet stuff. The first ride with both of us aboard highlighted a number of things. Firstly, that SidecarPat needed to relearn her technique of getting in and out of the RX4 sidecar, being completely different to the well established routine of accessing and leaving the Saluki sidecar on the BMW. Equally, I have to adapt to the ritual of fastening and releasing the canvas hood. An early thought emerged about why someone hasn't come up with a better arrangement, then we recalled that some have, it's just not on this model. Any thoughts on possible amendments gratefully received. Other issues emerged such as the bike wallowing, notably on left handers (UK outfits having the bike on the right side of the chair) pointing to the suspension maybe needing adjustment. A very noticeable feature is the Yamaha's power, which requires a bit of care with the hairline throttle. As the miles progressed, and by our second ride out a week later, throttle control was more controlled, although the horses and pulling power cannot be denied. For sure, by our second ride, and with more preload on the rear suspension units, things were significantly better, so we were both more comfortable with our new addition. A few tweaks and personal amendments and the expectation is that things can only get better. Sadly, as we became more familiar with our new vehicle, it is clear that the Watsonian RX4 sidecar has some faults, which we soon learned are not confined to our particular example. No reflection on the original owner, but certainly of concern. Some remedies have been undertaken, whilst others are work in progress. These issues will be reported on in due course. Our venture to produce this little magazine, ably supported by regular contributor, Oscar, continues to attract favourable comment. However, it was encouraging to have someone offer an article and soon after produce it for inclusion. Thanks to Mike and Celia Thorpe for their excellent contribution. Would be good to see another sometime ?


There was a time when the power outputs of many modern motorcycles, and consequent performance, would have been considered impossible, irrational, even pointless. Technical advances in the past 30 years or so, have convincingly ruled out any thought of “impossible”. However, despite all the ongoing hype surrounding power and performance, there has always remained amongst some that you can't ignore the underlying issues of statutory speed restrictions, traffic congestion, and financial factors. In a nutshell, are big number power outputs and speed potential warranted ? Of course, in a market so dominated for decades with power and speed it's difficult to ignore the philosophy of “my bike's bigger than your bike”, be it manufacturers, or owners. When the big numbers were part of a brand war from the 1970s on, this eventually produced negative response from legislators and politicians, so manufacturers responded with “voluntary” limits. These were reported as being so called “agreed” brake horsepower and top speed figures. 100 bhp and 185 mph spring to mind, notably the last when an eye watering 200 mph emerged as a race to achieve. The latter appeared all the more pointless when one near double ton test supposedly showed that the rear tyre would only survive for minutes and very few miles. The race to be fastest does appear to have abated in recent years, presumably as it's past its sell by date as a marketing ploy. Nevertheless the big number horsepower figures are now as notable as ever, and this is where there remain questions about what exactly is going on with motorcycle development. Undoubtedly the power game remains key, so much so that even the once staid BMW motorcycle division has seriously entered the contest to produce bikes with ever bigger dynamometer figures. Interestingly, as with other manufacturers, this is not exclusive to the predictable sports bikes. A glance at the power specifications of the currently fashionable big, so called “Adventure” bikes reveals numbers not far off machinery that just a few years back were competing in superbike championships. It could be argued that this is hardly conducive with touring capability, be it off road, or much more likely on roads that even in developed countries are less than table smooth. Are BMW, Triumph and KTM in particular simply playing with numbers that truly enhance the product, or providing fodder for enthusiasts' bar room banter ? What is curious about the power game is that there now appears to be a realisation that there are downsides that must assist the rider deal with the power within his, or her grasp. Electronics have increasingly been introduced to assist the rider “get most from the motor safely”. So, we now have “fly by wire”, that's no more throttle cable, and numerous sensors linked to the electronic control unit, thereby preventing the powerful engine overwhelming the rider.


In effect then, neutralising the “big number” power output. Considering that much lower power figures were once perfectly capable of propelling many motorcycles along at more than adequate speeds, it really does appear to be a classic case of doing something “because we can”. Quoting a case in point, and what inspired this piece, the original unrestricted Yamaha Vmax 1200, produced until 2007, put out 100 bhp until the Vboost kicked in releasing 148 bhp, all with carburettors and fairly subdued electronics. The latest KTM Adventure 1190 churns out 150 bhp, but has an array of sensors, switchable ABS, traction control, and multiple power modes. Even our elderly 980cc K 16 valve version, which hauls a rather hefty sidecar along, originally churned out a claimed 100 bhp, and can easily exceed the UK national speed limit, obviously ascertained in an acceptable environment. Motorcycle technology has come on over the years, and it has to be acknowledged that much has been for the better. Improvements in handling, braking, and reliability are significant when compared with past decades, but it might be argued that much of this was realised some time ago, so that recent progress has been marginal. The emphasis in the past decade has been on the electronic front, as any tests, appraisals, and launch articles in the motorcycle media indicate. The laptop and software has taken over from more physical elements. Changing a chip, or reprogramming are the tools of the trade, so progress is now defined as a numbers game more than anything else. A final thought. When it is reported in a magazine feature on a new version of a well known sports bike that the position of a swing arm pivot has been raised by 10 millimetres it does make you wonder. Will that be appreciated anywhere, but by a professional racer on a track, or would even he hardly not notice ?


You Meet the Nicest People You must agree, down the years, we motorcyclists have not had the best public image. From the Mods & Rockers of the 60's up to modern times with noisy off road types and mindless 130 mph brainless morons still blacking our image. However, now and again circumstances sometimes dictate not all of the general public out there view us with distaste. Here are a couple of tales of selflessness, from ordinary folk, in ordinary places just being “Nice people�. A Manx Tale It was Isle of Man time again, this time for the Manx Grand Prix. I don't remember if it was 1981 or '82. Anyhow, off we went with the 650 Norton/Watsonian Palma outfit with camping trailer attached, plus wife and two kids.. Quite a fair load you must agree.

Young Steven with his TT bike All went well until we reached the outskirts of Liverpool. Then, as I was pulling away from a set of traffic lights on the East Lancs road, there was an almighty bang, and the engine was making an awful clatter. I had visions of the bottom of the engine hanging out as I cut the engine, and coasted into the side of the road. Upon inspection, there was no oil pooling under the engine, so no busted crankcases. It was tank off and get your hands dirty time. It didn't take long to ascertain that a push rod had jumped off the tappet block. Plenty of revs away from the lights had caused this, but his being a British Motorcycle, I had plenty of tools with me, so I set about removing the head to effect the repair.


Just then, a man crossed over the road from an adjacent block of flats. “I have noticed that you are having trouble”, he said. When I told him that I could fix the problem in an hour or so, he very kindly told me that my family could go and sit in his flat until the job was done. Off they went leaving me to get on with it. The job didn't take very long, and as I was putting the tank back on, a youth came over the road, and said, “My pa says I am to stand guard over the outfit until you have washed your hands.” This was an offer I couldn't refuse, so over to the block of flats, past the gang of youths who were riding in and out of the flats complex (this was why my rig needed a guard), and upon the lift to where I had been directed. The lady in the flat then asked if I needed a bath. “No thanks”, I said, “I'm on holiday”, and I hoped that she twigged this old family joke. Even then, we all had egg and chips to speed us on our way. What marvellous people, you do find good and true people out there. On our way again, but even then our troubles were not over. As we were negotiating the roads down to the docks, the clutch cable cried fowl, and gave way. No way was I going to stop in the midst of all the town traffic to fix this. So, I just kept going, anticipating traffic lights and junctions. We made it to the dockside with no trouble at all, joined the queue for the steamer, and jury rigged a repair for the cable. This would have to do until a spare could be got on the Island.

Good Weather, but it wasn't to start with.... Our campsite on the Isle of Man was a council site at Ramsey. We docked in the dark and pouring rain, and set off up the coast road. Arriving at the campsite, a warden directed us to our pitch. Only problem, there were two tents already there. After a short discussion with the warden, it was clear he didn't want to know. All he could say was, we should complain at the Town Hall the next day. Obviously, this was no good, so we set off down the road to Sulby. I knew that the “Claddah” there was a free site, although the amenities were not of the same standard. 9

Arriving at the “Claddah” in the wind and rain, I had a quick recce and found a nice level piece of grass where we pitched camp. We had great trouble putting up our frame tent in the westerly gale. The next morning, after not much sleep, the wind was forcing the tent sides in. I put my head out to see a chap looking our way. Upon seeing me, he approached and told me that if we continued to camp in this location, we soon wouldn't have a tent. He explained that the wind came right down off the mountain, and would be doing that all of the week. So, at great effort, we moved all our gear over to the other side of the “Claddah” where thankfully we were sheltered from the worst of the gale. For three, or four days we were subjected to strong winds and heavy rain. So much so, that I told my wife that if things didn't improve by the next day we would have to pack up and go home. Most of our gear had had a good soaking. Also I had two children to consider. Luckily, the next day things got dramatically better. The sun made an appearance, and stayed with us all the rest of our stay. I did buy a new clutch cable, but didn't bother to fit it as the old one was doing the job nicely. A Magneto Tale Later on , in the same year. We were en-route to camp at the “Heart of England” rally. All went well until we were cracking on quite well along the A38. Then, just as we approached Lichfield, the engine started to misfire, then on to one cylinder. A lay-by was just ahead, so in we turned. Subsequent investigation told me that the magneto was knackered. I had a spare one, but this was back at home nice and snug, wrapped up on a shelf in the shed. What to do ? I wasn't in any breakdown organisation, and there weren't any houses nearby. My only chance was the A.A.** phone box, which was situated in this particular layby. Settle down to wait until a passing motorist pulled in for whatever reason. Sure enough, after a long enough wait, long enough for my wife to listen to Bjorn Borg getting beaten at Wimbledon by John McEnroe, a car pulled up, fortunately to use the telephone. After he had used the phone, and listened to my predicament, he kindly left the door off the latch. I didn't need the A.A., I had my own source of recovery, my notebook with friends' phone numbers. Another problem occurred, a good number of them would be at, or on their way to the same rally I was going to. Sure enough, no one was answering the phone. I had to spread my net wider. A long time friend of mine, not now a rider, just might be able to help. He answered on the second, or third ring. The good mate that he was, he agreed to come to our assistance, but, he couldn't come until the next day. That gave us another problem, where to stay for the night ? As the bike would run only on one cylinder, I arranged for my friend to meet us at the railway station in Lichfield on the Sunday morning.


So, with one plug removed, we set off for the town of Lichfield. It was by now getting dark and the first stop was the police station. When I asked if the outfit plus camping gear could be left at the station while we found accommodation, the reply was in the negative because thieves might break into the police compound and steal our gear. You couldn't make it up. One of the policemen at the station, suggested we try “Beacon Park”. He said that no one would complain if we put up our tent for one night only. This being our one and only choice, we headed off noisily in the direction he gave us. We overshot the park entrance the first time, then as we rode into the car park I think we disturbed several canoodling couples in their cars. They soon fired up and disappeared.

Julie & Steven – enthusiastic campers After a short search, I found a suitable flat piece of grass on which to pitch the tent. This was behind some bushes, so we felt we could have a modicum of privacy. Just as the tent was up someone with a flashlight appeared. This was a local, living in a house overlooking the park. He told us that he was a motorcyclist, and with the noise our rig was making, he knew we were in trouble. He then, very kindly, offered to stand us all to breakfast at his place the next morning. Again, our luck was in. The next morning, we awoke early. Our kids put their heads out of the tent, and whooped with delight. Not 50 yards away was a children's play area, so they were well made up. As I emerged, I was gobsmacked, the nice flat piece of grass we were camped on was the back of one of the greens of the local golf course. It was the fastest dropping of a tent you could imagine.


Having packed up, we struggled with the outfit to the address we had been given. Sure enough, true to the man's word, breakfast was waiting. Along with the man and his wife, there was the father in law there too. He was very keen on motorcycles, so it was inevitable that we would be rather late for our rendezvous with our friend. It was kind of sad to leave, as these folk were a lovely family. Eventually, we arrived at the railway station where our friend was waiting patiently in his Land Rover. He had the magneto, for which he had broken into my shed. I gratefully took it from him and proceeded to swap the faulty item. Faulty item changed, I fired up the bike, and would you believe it, the exchange magneto was misfiring too. I was now getting fed up, so it was into the Land Rover with wife and kids, tow rope attached, and let our good friend tow us all the way home. I don't remember too much about this part of the weekend except that the tow rope was rather short, and he proceeded at rather a rapid pace. My nerves were rather ragged when we arrived at our door. That was one more memorable weekend, with my faith in human kindness reinforced.

**A.A. = The Automobile Association, one of the original vehicle breakdown organisations in the UK. Along with the Royal Automobile Club (RAC) noted for their use of motorcycle and sidecar combinations as transport for their road assistance crews. A familiar sight on British roads in the middle part of the 20 th century.

BSA side valve engined AA patrol outfit


Celia’s Sidecar Story I always loved motorbikes from a very early age. When I was about 10 years old I used to go in the sidecar of my cousins outfit and thought how brilliant it was. In 1969 a friend and myself decided to go to the Manx Grand Prix but at the last minute she let me down so I ended up going on my own and it was there that I met my first husband. He had a 1969 Triumph Daytona solo, which I once had a go of and ended up in a ditch. When I was expecting my first child we decided to put a sidecar on the Daytona and an elderly gentleman who lived close by said he had an old Monza sidecar in the garage. We bought it from him for some nominal sum and my husband, who was an engineer, made what fittings we didn't have and fixed it to the Daytona. I had great fun riding in the sidecar but after my son was born I decided it was time for me to have fun riding an outfit so I applied for my provisional licence and passed my test four months later. After a short time we decided that the outfit wasn't big enough for a growing family so we exchanged it for a BSA Thunderbolt with a Palma Chair. We went to the TT on this outfit and I can vividly remember riding round the course in my “hot pants” and long boots, which were the fashion at the time. The next year we took this outfit to Holland for the Dutch TT. By this time my son was nearly 3 and my daughter 10 months. We piled all our camping equipment in the sidecar along with my little boy in the back and the baby in a carry-cot on the front seat. We had cooking utensils and kettle hanging off every available hook and clothes stuffed in any available space. I wish I had a photograph of this, as it would have made a splendid sight. At this time compulsory crash helmets had just been introduced and while we were at Zandvoort I left my helmet on the back of the bike and someone “lifted it”. I travelled all the way home on the bike with a leather jacket over my head, as I couldn't afford a new helmet.

BSA Thunderbolt/Palma in 1971 Douglas seafront, Isle of Man

In 1974 we exchanged the BSA/Palma for a BMW R75/5 with a double adult sidecar. By this time we had three children so needed the space and as my husband was very anti-car, a big sidecar was the answer. We went on many camping adventures but it was also used as our daily mode of BMW R75/5 with Double adult sidecar in 1975 transport. I arrived home one day, pulled up in the driveway and looked around only to see my eldest daughter, who was then 4, running up the street. I had forgotten to lock the sidecar door and as I pulled round the corner she opened it and fell out. It could have been disastrous but all was well and thankfully she wasn't hurt. I rode the outfit in all weather come rain or shine, but I did draw the line if snow was really deep. 13

During 1977 we formed a rock band and carried much of the equipment in a trailer towed behind the outfit. It was during this time that things started to go wrong with my marriage and I began a relationship with the Bass player. This relationship has lasted 33 years and counting. Mike, my second husband was always interested in bikes. His mum and dad had a tandem with a sidecar, which he used to go in as a very young child and in his teenage years he had a BSA C15, Yamaha's and Suzuki's, then a Reliant Regal until passing his car test in 1972. He didn't ride bikes after that until of course he met me. As the BMW outfit was primarily my first husbands I no longer had a vehicle so my natural progression was to get a Reliant, so I purchased an old Regal and promptly got to grips with driving my first car. It wasn't very reliable so Mike decided to sell his car and get a decent Reliant Robin which we could both drive. We had the Robin for a few years, going on many camping holidays towing our trailer tent. When our son was born the Reliant wasn't big enough so we had a bigger car and I had to pass my test as I had only ever had a motorcycle licence. In the early 90's Mike bought an MZ250 which was the start of the long journey to where we are now. After the MZ he bought my sons CX500 from him, so getting the bug for a bigger bike, then in 1992 he bought a BMW K75S, which had been an insurance write-off. There was no Ebay at that time so we travelled far and wide to get parts for it to get it back on the road. He eventually swapped the K75 for a VW Wizard Beetle. I think he'd got a little bit nervous as one or two people who we were acquainted with had been killed in motorcycle accidents.

The Yamaha Virago

During that time between 1995 and 1998 I tried my hand on a Vespa 200 Scooter which after a few days I fell off when I put my foot down and there was no road there. That was my one and only ride on a scooter. I then had a Suzuki GT500. Being vertically challenged I thought that this bike was great as I could easily get both feet on the ground until, that is, I had the badly worn seat recovered. That made it about 2� higher so I could no longer ride it. I then tried a Yamaha SR125 but because of work commitments I hardly ever rode it, so that had to go.

We had a rest from bikes until 2004 when we bought a Honda C90 (bog seat), which we quickly changed for a Suzuki Burgman 250. I couldn't get on with the Burgman so we changed it for a Virago VX535, a lovely bike but the chrome needed too much cleaning and I realised that two wheels didn't particularly suit me, I needed three. Sold the Virago and bought a 1981 BMW R80RT with Velorex chair (back to my roots), which we stripped, cleaned and had resprayed. I rode the outfit back from Helmsley in Yorkshire (143 miles) having not ridden one for 30 years. BMW R80 with Velorex chair

Mikes first attempt at riding it nearly ended up in some bushes at the side of the road. Being stubborn and after having lots of practice he stuck to it and ended up being hooked on sidecar riding. One of the reasons for having an outfit was that we now had a dog who liked to come everywhere with us and she loved going in the sidecar. 14

After 2 years we acquired a Honda CBR1000 solo and sold the outfit as we had no room to keep both and our friends had solo bikes. After a year we sold the CBR1000 and bought a Honda Blackbird, which we had for 2 years and toured with friends. Throughout this time we missed the outfit as I couldn't ride the Blackbird “unless I put stilts on� as I am only 5ft and a fag end, and it was enjoyable to be able to swap riders. The other problem was the dog. We solved this by cutting a hole in the lid of a givi box and fastening Mike and Bonnie on the Blackbird anchor points inside the box to fasten the harness in. We then made a crash helmet for her out of a ball cock from B & Q and covered it in black vinyl and bought a pair of doggles. She loved going on the back of the bike and people used to take photographs of her as we were riding along. September 2012, after watching several outfits on Ebay, we eventually bought a 2002 Suzuki Hayabusa with Wasp chair which had been assembled by Merlin Sidecars from Suzuki Hayabusa with Wasp/Merlin sidecar new and was being used by its previous owner with modifications as he was disabled and in a wheelchair. Thumb brake and triptronic gear change had to be removed and returned to original. We also had to put a seat in the sidecar as it was originally used to carry his wheelchair and we had higher bars fitted so I could reach them without lying across the tank. Wasp leading link forks, car tyres and being so low to the ground makes this outfit stick to the road when cornering and being a Hayabusa it certainly shifts. As yet, because of the appalling winter we have had to endure we have not been able to take the outfit out much but hopefully we will have a decent summer and be able to make the most of it and possibly do some touring and camping.


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Intercom on the Outfit – 2 When an intercom on the outfit first became a serious proposition there were some considerations. First, we required two usage options, the conventional rider to pillion, and the optional rider to sidecar. There were commercially available options, including headphones for sidecar use. However, finance, as with most things, was always a factor and the desire was to avoid a severe drain on the wallet, as it became obvious that these things can run away with the hard earned stuff. Other issues were essential, particularly incorporating provision for satellite navigation, and it was this that influenced the early thinking. A dedicated motorcycle sat nav was out due to cost. I've never been persuaded that the cost of motorcycle dedicated units have been justified, some a matter of my by now well known belief in Yorkshire economics (“if you can't afford it, you can't have it”), but also that manufacturers have been latching onto too many motorcyclists being eager to spend over the odds. The thinking also stems from the successful use of an ordinary car sat nav on the outfit for six years, and being aware of other like minded souls doing the same. Simple earphones, the sat nav unit carried in a bike jacket pocket, and frozen food bags to beat the wet stuff, proven to work.

Dedicated bike sat nav – Garmin Zumo Unfortunately, technological progress, or regression, depending on your point of view, justified a rethink. Sat nav data changes due to road revisions and new highway construction are factors, although to date the Mio still does fine even without any updates, if that worthy tool common sense is used. Even from new it has dutifully identified a roundabout that has never existed a few miles from our abode, although that was only apparent when it was first tried out. Technological “progress” is another matter, and has delayed possible replacement of the trusty Mio. Specifically, sat navs are no longer produced with an earphone socket. This may appear no big deal, but this is where my preferred use enters the equation. I don't use the device visually, but choose to follow the audio directions, be it on the bike, or in the car. If audio is good enough for guidance by an accompanying map reader, plus professional rally drivers motoring along at high speed along forest tracks, it's good enough for me. 17

So, when moving towards the goal of at last adopting the intercom option, research became necessary. Initially, seeking the long shot possibility of a sat nav with earphone socket. There were a few abortive trails, usually due to incorrect, or outdated information on websites. I also came across routines for fitting earphone sockets to the newer breed of sat navs, even people offering to fit sockets for a fee. Potentially, a tempting prospect. In the meantime, an initial evaluation was undertaken. My helmet was already equipped with ear speakers, and a long owned, but not fitted, intercom unit was eventually fitted in the sidecar. Suitable leads were acquired to power the unit from the bike's 12 volt electrics, and a connection lead from the Mio sat nav to the intercom unit. The method was just like I had used for 6 years, namely set up the route, adjust the sound to maximum, and plug everything in. The Mio sat in its bracket, suitably bolted in the sidecar interior. A static test confirmed things were working, but of course a road test was required. The road testing showed that the audio instructions were just about audible at low speeds with a slow revving engine. Normal mechanical sounds, plus wind noise obliterated the audio. Despite the intercom manufacturer's claims to the contrary, ear plugs were out of the question. However, to be fair, perhaps the system can only be truly judged when tried in its primary function as an intercom. So, the outcome boiled down to; an inaudible sat nav because amplification is insufficient; various noises and clicks accompanying the sat nav dialogue; plus a buzzing at other times. Further research identified an issue known to electronic audio experts. Apparently, when power is taken off the bike 12 volt system for both intercom and sat nav, or any other audio device, it can lead to interference. The solution was an internet purchase of a suppressor placed in the line powering the intercom. This eliminated interference, although audio volume remained too low. I continued with seeking a solution and came across various audio amplifiers, some used by musicians, and even a specifically tailor made add on for users of audio equipment on motorcycles. Latterly, I have discovered a product aimed at those wishing to use cheaper, car sat nav units on a motorcycle. This involves an amplifier unit fitted in a carrying case, which also houses the sat nav. The amplifier picks up sound from the sat nav's built in speaker, and then transmits the via an earpiece to the rider's helmet. Clearly, this could work, but in our case would be connected to the existing intercom system via a lead. The next step is to check whether the intercom works as claimed with both our helmets. That's the current state of play and so it's probably time to install the waiting ear speakers and microphone in the better half's helmet. To be continued............ 18

Converting the K from Sport to Touring – Part 2 We had owned the K1 outfit for three years. Paralever bearing failure led to fairly radical amendment, but otherwise experiences had been good. Only the sporty K1 riding position niggled. Slightly higher bars with risers improved matters, but didn't completely suit an ageing body due to the restrictions of the fairing design.

An opportunity arose to improve matters. Jobs to be undertaken as well included all round LED lighting, except the headlight; abandoning the BMW's three switch indicator system, which I'd never liked; replacing the odd BMW indicator relay; fitting a Suzuki Bandit left handlebar switch; a Suzuki clutch lever; and a cold start control courtesy of a Honda CX500.

The stripdown begins

What all that K1 plastic concealed, not counting accumulated road dirt


Whilst probably offending purists, I settled on replacing the K1 bodywork with that off a K100 RT. Some months trawling internet sources concentrated on finding an RT fairing. Elevated prices determined it better to buy a complete bike. A good price one was found, and in acceptable condition. The parts from the donor bike for spraying were the fairing, panels, and relevant seat parts. Mounting brackets were also used. The potential cost in time and money seeking out all the bits required certainly justified the whole bike choice.

Fitting the RT fairing meant using its main mounting bracket. K1 and K100RT fairings have identical connections to the headstock of the frame. It was not possible to mount the ignition lock as before, so this and the cold start were moved to what was considered a convenient spot in the left hand side fairing.

Original ignition and cold start installed in fairing


Other considerations included a standard K100 coolant header tank mounted besides the centrally located battery. The K1 has a unique upper fairing position, which had meant inconvenient panel removal to access, even for checking, as well as being very awkward to fill. The more conventional location is easy to check and replenish.

Coolant reservoir on K100RT

Coolant reservoir on K1, plus K100RT seat

Slight difference in the K1 and standard K100 frames required removing a couple of redundant frame tags, and minor work soon saw the hinged RT seat fitted. Removal of the original widened K1 front mudguard and produced a preferred open front fork arrangement. The forks and subframe prevented the RT radiator fairing surround being used. Black plastic house gutter may not be everyone's idea of style, but functionally it has proved acceptable. A steel mudguard , sourced in a mate's workshop, was cut to fit. This was powder coated, as were the front wheel and brake caliper mounts, and completed this part of the bike. At the rear of the bike the opportunity was taken to address a disintegrating mudguard, which hadn't functioned at all well with the offset rear wheel. A plastic trailer mudguard was chosen for function and fit, requiring minimal alteration. The top box also came courtesy of the donor K100RT. The whole was complemented by the donor bike's RT handlebars, which provided a more comfortable riding position, which was the prime aim of this particular project. A 250 mile shakedown ride in very variable weather conditions, which means it rained a lot, confirmed a positive outcome. Variations with fittings meant the already sprayed K100RT side panels could not simply be fitted. This has yet to be addressed, although some simple home made plastic covers have been fitted, and proved functional over a few thousand miles.


Would the purists approve ?

Do I care ?

A changed look, but still familiar.


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;


Sidecar Smile 2 Pat and I had been married a few months and we both worked around 15 miles from our new home. The solo bike was our only transport, but if the weather went off song, i.e. snow and ice, we used the train into Sheffield. This cost made us consider alternatives. A friend reported that an old AJS outfit was sitting in the yard of a popular second hand spares place in Sheffield. Soon afterwards the beast became our winter steed. Let's forget the trials, tribulations and early demise of our relationship with the ÂŁ20 AJS twin, just that it was not one of the wiser buys. Goodness, we even obtained another basket case outfit for spares, which says something about the machinery in question, and our, sorry my novice approach. It all seemed a good idea at the time. The Sidecar Smile memory was during an early morning, snow affected trip to work in Sheffield. Pat was in the sidecar dealing with potential hypothermia, whilst I wrestled the machine reasonably successfully through quite deep snow. In what seemed no time at all, and despite some vehicles being stuck along the way, we reached the slightly clearer roads of northern Sheffield. As we passed the Hillsborough football stadium, weather affected traffic was stood on what was a wide road. Ignoring that we were not on a solo, I proceeded down the outside of the stationary traffic. Things seemed fine until I heard a sound, indicating that I had clipped a car, probably with the bent piece of aluminium acting as a sidecar mudguard. A glance back suggested nothing major, but a fist shaking from the affected car indicated some unhappiness. Believing there might be an issue, or maybe pursuit, I took a detour up a convenient side road, but no one followed. Soon after I stopped to drop Pat off at her workplace. Before I left her she asked me if I had noticed how close to the cars I had been riding. I said that I realised when I obviously caught one of them. She responded by saying that she had lost count of the number of "noises" as our sidecar mudguard touched several cars. I have to say that I spent the next week, or two, wondering if there would be a knock on the door, or maybe a letter from an insurance company. There wasn't. Perhaps a saving grace is that the AJS died down very soon after, which might have meant we escaped the wrath of some irate motorist on the prowl for the crazy bloke with the sidecar outfit. We weren't actually happy about the incident, but have to confess that we did smile about it then and since. I'd guess that even some of those stationary motorists might have smiled too at the idiot riding by. No one was hurt, and probably no real damage because the mudguard was unmoved on its flimsy brackets, and I reasoned that vehicles probably suffer more in car parks. 24

A specialist website such as, which has now been around for a while, and attracts a little interest, can be demanding to maintain. Fine when the ideas and content is easy to come by, and there are no other life distractions, but it isn't always like that. After all it's just a part of a hobby/ lifestyle thing that is neither a business, nor a money spinner. However, generally the deal is to set aside some time when the mood is positive and there are a few ideas for amendments and additions. As there are no external demands on timing, or regularity, keeping the website fresh is very much down to personal pride and a pragmatic view. It isn't the end of the world and I cannot be fired if it's left alone for a while. On the other hand, the website's existence does sometimes mean contact from others regarding aspects of sidecarring. Much is about requests for advice, which usually means pointing people in the right direction. This can mean a simple answer if a question is within the database of personal knowledge. Conversely, a query can mean contacting others for assistance, or even checking something out myself, and consequently even learning something new. In the last month, or so contact has been made about a number of diverse matters. • Where to obtain transfers for an old Watsonian sidecar ? • How to connect the electrics to a sidecar from a Royal Enfield ? • Identifying a sidecar chassis and its rather unusual suspension. • Where to source an exhaust the same as that on our BMW K ? • Possibly suitable tyres for a bike with a sidecar. • Identifying a sidecar from an unusual angle in a 1991 photograph. Answers and solutions were sometimes straightforward, others required friends' contributions, whilst others necessitated pointing people in the right direction for more specific advice, or help. The reward always being a thank you. Sadly, over a lengthier period it hasn't always been possible to provide an answer, which normally is confirmed with the person making the query. Even then, folk tend to be grateful for a negative reply. There continues to be a regular fascination in what crops up on specific forums and the internet as a whole. The usually daily dose of the “Hacks” section of the Adventure Rider site, , is both intriguing and very informative. A general browse always has its merits, but a personal one to watch for some weeks now has been “My Winter Build” by Zipper421, . 25

The quality and diversity of one man's skills needs to be seen to be believed, irrespective of whether the guy's bike and sidecar choices is your cup of tea. As this is written the project is still in full swing, so the eventual outcome remains an unknown. Nevertheless, it's still worth a look. The recent acquisition of another outfit, comprising both an unfamiliar motorcycle and sidecar, has led to some regular visits to one specific specialist forum, namely, . A comprehensive source of information about the Vmax, but of greater personal benefit, other members of the forum very prepared to help out with issues, notably a suitable car tyre for the rear of the bike, plus how to amend the permanently on lights. Although the forum is very much solo Vmax biased, the use of car tyres in the rear is something that solo riders of Yamaha's well established “hot rod� are well into. Don't need one just yet, but at least I now know what will do the job. Advice on the Vmax lighting has been thorough and well thought out. Queries about making the exhaust a little quieter led to mixed views, I guess because the sentiment might be very much the opposite for the definitive straight line road burner. However, no condemnation for my choice, and some positive suggestions. There's no doubt that my knowledge about the Vmax has been seriously improved as a direct consequence of signing up to I look forward to maintaining contact, as well as trying a little sidecar missionary work !


Sidecars on line 5  

Mini online magazine for sidecar enthusiasts everywhere

Sidecars on line 5  

Mini online magazine for sidecar enthusiasts everywhere