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About Us 2


First and foremost we are sidecar enthusiasts. Over 38 years of continuous involvement as a couple, plus Pat being involved since childhood. We started with an initial winter foray early in 1970. The unreliability of an AJS twin saw that exercise end almost as soon as it began.

The first serious venture began on Good Friday 1972 when a new outfit, a Russian 650 Ural attached to a Watsonian Palma was collected from Mundays of Brixton. We survived 3 years with the Ural, paying the bank loan off being the reason for the extended stay. Burnt exhaust valves, inadequate electrics, brakes more dependent on luck than friction, and carbs that didn't, all conspired to keep us on our toes. We did a lot of walking !

Finance eventually permitted the purchase of a used, but sound 750 Honda four. the Palma was attached, plus 16 inch wheels shod with Dunlop racing tyres. The Honda served us well for over 5 years transporting our family, now with 2 young children, around the UK and into Europe. Sidecar rallies and camping became an integral part of family life. The Honda was family transport as well as our pride and joy, so for one winter an alternative was successfully operated. The 250 MZ outfit was cheap and fun. Nothing could beat it through the snow. It was sold for what we paid for it. Wonderful !

Mixing with more enthusiasts persuaded us that leading link forks, car size wheels and shaft drive were all part of sidecar heaven. Several options tempted, but we settled on a BMW R100/7 with the necessary modifications. These included Wasp leading link forks and CMA wheels, arranged by a good sidecar friend, Colin Bembridge. The sidecar was also adapted to suit a growing family and camping requirements. The vogue at the time was to widen the Palma, and again another friend in the sidecar community, Lou Crump, provided the necessary assistance. It's a nervous option cutting a perfectly good body in half !

Less than a year saw us seeking an alternative. Two gearbox failures, carb issues, and a failing alternator meant the BMW had to go. The Wasp leading link forks and CMA 15" wheels ensured some financial return after what had been a trying period. The replacement was a new Honda GL1100 Gold Wing. The bike again received the Wasp fork and CMA wheel treatment, but this time the sidecar was a more radical venture. The previously widened Palma received a self designed fibreglass top half. Work friends, who were well into boat building, and skillful in fibreglassing, provided the opportunity to create something that would otherwise have been out of the question. Our very own take on sidecarring.

The Wing outfit was destined to treat us to some serious activity over the next 10 years. Towards the end of this period we produced a larger version of our original Magnum design. This didn't quite work as well, although the rig did take us on an extended tour involving central Italy and daughter Melanie enjoying her 16th birthday in Venice. Yes, 2 adults, 2 grown kids, plus camping gear, away for a month in Europe, 4000 plus miles, and the only issue a failed sidecar wheel bearing which was satisfactorily repaired en route.

As the family were "moving on" a different approach was considered. Coincidently, a friend was disposing of his BMW R100CS / EML sidecar outfit. Whilst wary because of our past BMW experience, the price was attractive enough to purchase. Although, the initial idea was that we would hitch the sidecar to the Wing, we discovered the outfit was a complete EML package with a bike frame modified for sidecar use, and put the idea to rest.

From the outset we had some minor niggles, which caused unrest particularly after a fault free decade with the Honda. However, we persisted and overall the BMW performed as required. Sadly, there were familiar problems. Gearbox and clutch failures, plus electrical, and other well known BMW "features". How we persisted is now something of a mystery, but we did. Maybe spending money on repairs creates a need to persist, or was it some perverse pleasure in being transported home on a recovery truck ? Who knows, but we stuck it for 17 years !

In the last few years, the Beemer received a makeover. Twin plug heads, belt driven car alternator, an abortive exercise in fitting Mikuni carbs, and some cosmetic touches. Whilst we still enjoyed some good times on this outfit, trepidation and some frustration had set in, so the decision was made to resurrect the Wing. Another sidecar was obtained and the plan had been to spend time getting the old girl back on the road. Unfortunately, too much time was being spent on keeping the Beemer going and we had a dilemma. The desire to actually ride, whilst spending time rebuilding the Wing. With this in mind we committed to another outfit, a BMW K1 and altered Saluki. The hope was that this would provide a reliable ride, and so ensure time was available to restore a family friend.

The old BMW continues to do well in the hands of a friend, who has returned much to original wherever possible. Now she just does as required. Must be a message in there somewhere.


Site last amended Jun 23 2017 | info@sidecarjohn.co.uk

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