Three Wheels Better

Sidecar fun


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Hello, my name is Rod Young and I was the MD of the first new sidecar manufacturing company in the UK for many years. My background is in Engineering Design and in the Motorcycle Industry, I also write freelance for the motorcycle press.

I've always held a fascination for these idiosyncratic devices and even before I owned my first outfit, I had thought that they might be due a resurgence in popularity. Let me try to explain why. Sidecars are a rare sight on the roads of this country, but when you do see one, they always attract attention. They make people smile. That alone is reason enough for me and I don't care if it was George and Mildred, Wallace and Gromit or Olive from On the Buses memories that made them smile, I'll just carry on spreading the joy.

But the benefits of riding a chair are many, for one, you can carry a passenger who might never countenance riding pillion on a solo machine. You can go shopping, take your dog out and carry all manner of goods that would be impossible on a bike. You can go on holiday without the minimal luggage and packing trauma associated with bikes. It's also very much harder to fall off! You can go to work with a sidecar; small trades-people can carry their tools and chattels whilst avoiding road charging.

A sidecar outfit is also one of the most manoeuvrable vehicles on the roads; they have a tiny turning circle and can park in the smallest of spaces because of this. All of this is done in the open air with all of the feeling of freedom associated with riding a bike.

OK, so you get stuck in traffic and the rain falls on you, but these are small prices to pay and in my experience, they do not detract so much. I actively enjoy the fact that I do not feel the self-pressure to have to filter at every opportunity; in real life situations the time lost is negligible unless you spend your life riding through dense city traffic.

So a while back I purchased a Ural sidecar outfit, a few years old but in virtually new condition. This confirmed everything I knew to be true. After my first ride I was a confirmed sidecar rider. If bikes are about fun, then sidecars are the most fun you can have whilst not on two wheels. I've had more fun on that outfit than with any bike I've ever ridden, and I've ridden most. Riding an outfit is technically far more interesting than riding a bike, yet at the same time it's a skill that is easily learnt with a bit of good tuition. Once mastered, you'll never look back.

A friend of mine rode my Ural for the first time, a confirmed and life-long biker, he declared it the best biking experience he'd ever had. Similarly, a ladyfriend recently rode it for the first time and claimed shortly afterwards that it was now her outfit.

I've taken many people for a ride in the sidecar and without exception; they have such a good time they don't want to stop. Sidecars, without doubt, are huge fun. There is nothing quite as satisfying as a well executed roundabout in the wet, the back end sliding like a rear wheel drive car as you feed in the power as hard as you want with no fear of the front end tucking.

Gravel, diesel, sand, mud, no problem here, no expensive broken fairings or unexpected visits to casualty for me. What's more, the general public like sidecars. They don't all especially like bikes as you may have noticed. Seriously, this is the way forward!

So I got to thinking, most of the remaining sidecar companies still produce designs that were current in the 50's and 60's. What if someone was to bring out something new, beautifully styled, that could be used for fun, touring or work? And so, after a long conversation with my business partner, the Motopodd idea was born.

A few other projects delayed things as they do, but eventually I took my steel prototype of the Motopodd to a GRP moulding specialist. They confirmed my belief that I could use the existing body to produce a mould. The next thing to do was to tell the world, so I spent many a long day learning about sidecar setup and eventually I had the Motopodd prototype firmly attached to my XJR1300 ready to spend the summer touring around the bike shows and generating orders and publicity.

The reaction that I received was so strong and positive that within a few weeks I had my first orders. What I had hoped for had happened, people who had never considered a sidecar before had their imagination captured and everywhere I go it attracts huge attention. The first Motopodd design was produced for over 4 years and Motopodd went on to offer a unique and exciting range of sidecar products and services.