Have you ridden a motorbike with a sidecar before? If you haven’t, it’s a completely different experience from two-wheeled motorcycle riding. It’s related, of course—but it’s different enough that you will have a few things to reconsider, going between a two-wheeled machine and your sidecar rig of choice.
That’s even more true if you, like Bike World’s Chris Northover, accidentally buy a busted-up and ancient sidecar whilst drinking with a buddy one night, and then later decide you want to bolt it onto a random bike you have sitting in your garage. Say, a Royal Enfield Meteor 350.
In this video, that’s exactly what happens—and that’s also exactly what drives Northover to pay a visit to the sidecar experts at Watsonian Squire. They’ve been building, installing, and schooling riders on all things sidecar-related since 1912—so presumably, they know a thing or two about how it’s done.
Now, Northover’s new sidecar is also a Watsonian unit, but it’s one that definitely looks as though it’s seen better days. As Watsonian soon informs him, affixing a sidecar to a bike with a more traditional frame is a lot easier than some of the modern bikes that use engine-as-stressed-member designs. (Those types of bikes aren’t impossible to sidecar, but they do require extra consideration in how they’re mounted.)
Although exact details will differ, generally speaking, a sidecar will be mounted to a bike using at least four points (and sometimes more), each spaced as far apart from one another on the frame as possible. Exact geometry will vary, but the general idea is to spread the load evenly across the bike, so the whole rig is well balanced.
After obtaining mounting hardware from Watsonian, as well as getting a quick lesson in both riding in and on a sidecar rig, Northover returned back to his specific situation. Armed with new knowledge, he then turned his attention to mounting the dilapidated old sidecar to the Meteor 350 with his poor, unsuspecting buddy along for the ride.
If you were expecting that they’d clean up the sidecar just a little before mounting it, I’m sorry to inform you that your expectations will not, in fact, be met. At least, not this time around. Since this is an ongoing project bike, perhaps they’ll clean it up in the future—but for now, the goal was to fit the sidecar and go for a test ride—which the pair successfully did. Where did they ride? The pub, of course.
Further adventures to come. Will they also involve drunken bets? How will the tiny thumper at the heart of the Meteor 350 fare under the added strain of a sidecar and its passenger(s)? Stay tuned.