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|I started out on three wheels, back when I was five years of age and younger. That of course was a tricycle. And then I graduated to two wheels, and stayed on two wheels pretty much well into my 40’s. |
Then around 1989 or 1990, I don’t remember which, I decided to go to a motorcycle safety course, and get my license. And shortly after I received my license, within the week, I bought my first motorcycle. It was a 1986 500cc Honda Shadow. I rode the crap out of that bike, but only seasonally. After all, up here in New England, we do get pretty significant winters, and if I didn’t have to ride in the winter on the motorcycle I didn’t.
Then for about two years, in the late 1990’s (for some strange reason), I sold the bike and didn’t ride.
After the two-year hiatus, I bought another Honda Shadow; this time a 750cc “American classic.” The next year I bought a Harley Davidson Fat Boy. The next year, I bought a Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra.
The wife rode with me. We used microphones to communicate, had all the bells and whistles that a touring bike has, such as cruise control, heated grips, radio, CD player, all the gauges, and so forth. But something was missing. I would go to various gatherings of other motorcyclists, and I found myself feeling like I was just “one of the many.” I would look around in the crowd for something unusual and different, something that was more retro, something that had some personality.
Now that I’ve hit the age of 60, I’m finding that even though I could control the bike, I didn’t look forward to riding anymore. So I tried to put my finger on what that was all about. Best I could figure, I was so surrounded by all the amenities of a touring bike, that I was losing touch with the feel of the road. I did feel as if I could control the bike and I had really good success in riding it, but there were circumstances and situations in which the bike was way more than I really wanted to have underneath me. Like parking lots, or tight squeeze situations. I couldn’t imagine myself as I move towards the age of 70 still trying to control a 900 pound bike. I wanted that experience that I had on the earlier bikes, of seeing and feeling the road, and having absolute control. I missed that goofy smile that used to come over my face, after a ride.
I’m not sure how motorcycles with sidecars came to my attention, but they did. I knew they existed of course, but I hadn’t really considered them as a viable alternative. At least until last year. For some reason I ed into a video about a motorcycle with a sidecar on YouTube, which happened to be Ural.
The retro look was cool, and so I decided to see, just for the heck of it, if there was a Ural dealership somewhere in New England. Sure enough, there was one in Massachusetts. Within a month, and with the wife’s enthusiastic support, the two of us drove up to the dealership to check them out. I went there fully prepared to trade in the Harley Davidson Road Glide Ultra, but was discouraged to learn that the price of the Urals, were typically around $16,000 for a new one, and I did not want to buy “used.” Buying a Ural would mean approximately $5000 I’d have to borrow.
We left the dealership that day saying that if for some strange reason we could suddenly afford one, we would buy a new one, but for the time being we would put it on the back burner. The concept of having a sidecar was now something I was tasting and liking.
Research and more research revealed another brand that had been in existence since 1901 that was still making a retro looking motorcycle with a sidecar available. The “Royal Enfield” became the next topic of interest, at a price that was $5,000 cheaper than the Ural, for a brand new bike with a sidecar. On top of that, my Harley Davidson Road Glide would turn out to have the same value as the bike-n-sidecar, so it would be an “even-Steven” swap, basically.
So the wife and I took another trip. This time to Royal Enfield dealership, which was about 18 miles from our house.
Let’s see, a 413 pound bike, as opposed to a 900 pound one.That’s a no-brainer!
No faring, so I can clearly see the road. Another plus!
A bike so unique looking, that it turns heads wherever I go. Super cool!
The goofy smile that I used to get, back on my face. That’s another plus!
Our little Jack Russell in Doggles. Great for a laugh!
I realize of course, that sidecars can be put on just about any bike out there; and I also realize that there are bound to be people in here who wouldn’t buy a Royal Enfield. Everyone to their own tastes. For me, I’m happy to take a step back. In speed, in weight, in style. I’m tired of the normal or typical. I want motorcycling to be something better than I was experiencing.
I chose the 2017 500cc “Desert Storm,” with a “Cozy Bullet” sidecar. The dealership said it needed three weeks to get the bike and sidecar “in house,” and I’m now into my third week. They told me the paperwork says that both items will be at the dealer this week. Since this is Thanksgiving week I’m assuming a fourth week, before it’s ready for me to go up and drive it home the 18 miles to the house. You can bet I’m going to stay off the highways as much as possible, because I like being on side roads frankly, and because I’m going to have a new experience, learning how to handle a motorcycle with a sidecar attached.
I’d like to still get some riding in before the snow hits, And yet I’m also tempted to not worry about that, after seeing a few videos of people tooling around in the snow with a bike-n-sidecar. We’ll see.
With the Royal Enfield and sidecar virtually on my doorstep now, I figured one of the smartest things I could do, is start hanging around with people who know a little bit about motorcycles with sidecars. So that’s why am here. Yet another newbie on the Forum, to pick your brains and ask you to repeat all the same stuff that you’ve repeated to so many others over the years. Fun, right?!
If nothing else folks, we’ve all got in common, the desire to step out from the crowd. To find our own road. To prioritize uniqueness and fun over the typical. We are a different breed!!
POSTSCRIPT: Just got off the phone with the dealership. They say the bike and the sidecar are both “in house” and have been assembled together, and I can pick it up Saturday. And just to sweeten that good news, the weather is supposed to be 53 degrees and sunny!!!
Edited by soupy1957 11/23/2017 7:22 AM
|Soupy, congratulations on getting into the off-set world of sidecars. They are more fun than what you read. |
Hopefully the "dealer" is including sidecar driving lessons as part of the deal. Once a tub is hung on a motorcycle, it is no longer a motorcycle, it handle differently, it feels different. The sensations from the road and the machine are different. Not bad, just different.
A new skill set is required to drive a sidecar safely, just as a motorcycle and an ATV require different skills sets to handle each machine. Not difficult just different.
Ask your questions here, there is always someone ready to help.
Location: Michigan - Kalamazoo
|Welcome to the slightly off-center world of sidecars, Soapy!! Great story!|
Location: Rapid City, SD
|Hi Steve: |
Welcome to The Forum. And welcome to the eccentric world of sidecaring. I enjoyed your story. Many have taken the same path but you should have no trouble learning the new skills having started on 3 wheels. (That's a joke.)
It is said that there are 4 reasons for sidecars and sidecaring. 1) Old age. 2) Pets who want to ride along. 3) Injury or disease that effects balance and leg strength sometime referred to as gimpyness. 4) Just plain wierdness. Take your pick.
Location: San Isidro de Heredia, Costa Rica
|Thanks Will for no 4. that one seems to fit on me the never growing up boy with grey hair. (real reason was my Austin Mini threw off its right front wheel together with the drum back in Dec '86) |
welcome in the club.
A small rig might be tough for the engine, but is more fun for the rider, as he has to work more for to keep connected to the ground and not go air borne. Great monkey fun and gym work out at road legal speeds.
Use plenty of ballast on the tiny RE. at least 100+ pound in the beginning.
Keep active in mind that we long time 2 wheelers have to unlearn the 2 wheeler mode and switch into the totally new 3 wheeler mode.
The dangerous moment comes when you start to feel comfortable and the uups adrenaline moment comes.. I got caught by this scary moment each time after about a month on a new hack or after long time not riding.
For sure very fast you will ask yourself, why you didn't do that change to 3 wheels way earlier...
We all have asked us the same question.
Enjoy and get used to the wide grinn from ear to ear.
We all do that.
Edited by Peter Pan 11/24/2017 8:26 AM
Location: Middleburg, Pa
|Yes welcome aboard. If the dealer does not spend some time with you regarding sidecar operation shame on them. if that be the sase feel free to give us a call at the shop and I can turn you on to someone in your area that may help you get started on the right foot. Surely someone here must be from your area? If you wish to come to Pa we would be happy to spend some time with you with some hands on TRAINING but with all the sidecarists here surely someone will step up to the plate. If not ,again, feel free to call ... 570 837 5120|
Location: Dunlap, Tennessee
I have a 2014 C5 Royal Enfield with a Cozy sidecar, it is a great rig, much more fun than expected. I went to a sidecar rig due to maturity ( I refuse to get old). The car did slow it down quite a bit and knocked the fuel economy down to 47-51 mpg. There have been a few changes made to in crease causing speed and gas mileage that were relatively inexpensive. In the event you wish to increase speed and economy I will put you in touch with a couple of fellas that can steer you in the right direction.
|Claude and Grant: Thanks.........sorry I'm not seeing your suggestions til this moment. |
Grant: I notice the "slow down" when I have a passenger in the sidecar. I had to drop back to 3rd gear on the longer drawn out hills on some of our roads here.
Claude: I'm in Glastonbury (near Hartford) and am looking to hook up with someone with a rig similar to mine, to discuss nuances and tricks. (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Location: Dunlap, Tennessee
I live in a valley near Chattanooga, I have to climb a mountain to travel north, east or west, going south no mountain to climb. My bike has almost 11k on it and slightly more than 2k with the sidecar, the exhaust was upgraded to a re-packable Goldstar style muffler, head pipe from Hitchcocks Motorcycles of England, Power Commander V and the Fin from Peter Burger. Cruising speed in 5th gear with passenger is now 55mph at 50mpg in the valley, have to down shift to 4th gear to go up the mountains.
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