Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB

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-   -   Outfits/sidecars; neither fish nor fowl? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/travellers-questions-dont-fit-anywhere/outfits-sidecars-neither-fish-nor-52806)

Caminando 19 Sep 2010 17:36

Outfits/sidecars; neither fish nor fowl?
I was reading about the Elephant Treffen and how useful outfits were at this event, tho' in reducing numbers each year.

It's seems clear that outfits have few, if any, of the advantages of a car, and few, if any, of the advantages of a bike. In fact it appears that they have all of the disadvantages of both. Outfits seem to be adapted to one environment -snow and ice, but you might be better off with a 4X4 there anyway.

I've seen some beautifully engineered outfits on the European continent, tho' none in the UK. The tastiest outfits I've seen have been at the TeschTreffen, and they certainly looked the business in the niche they occupy. Even then they seem like bizarre machines, like some kind of evolutionary dead end.

Motorcycles are not in general designed to take a chair, and in the UK at least, outfits were a weird hybrid to enable working men to transport the family, despite the enormous unplanned stresses on the frame/chassis. As soon as they could afford cars, the outfits were sent to the scrapheap. Yet, like ancient m/cycle clothing, they linger on. In a way this is a good thing, because m/cycling has always always harboured eccentrics, and that is valuable in an increasingly conformist society. A society without oddballs is an unhealthy place to be , IMO. Singapore is one example: look at their bike legislation.

When we think of sidecars, we may think of the old C/Western song , "I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy"....that is, a cowboy is someone on the edge of society, out of the mainstream. Of course, even to ride a moto is a minority thing.

I don't know if anyone can explain the benefits of a sidecar, apart from "You can carry more stuff" .

mark manley 20 Sep 2010 19:47

From my brief but eventful trip with my R100 combo which ended up crashed into a tree, I realised that the only other advantage you get with a chair is fun. That is before I hit the tree of course.

Warthog 20 Sep 2010 21:36

As a biker, having no doubt explained to non-bikers what the appeal was, you should realise that sometimes it's not about what you can measure and evaluate.

I say ride one. It'll be easier than me or someone else trying to explain it.

palace15 20 Sep 2010 21:40

I would much rather have a sidecar outfit than a car, the main reason for not having one is the aspect of security, you can sadly no longer park a sidecar safely on the streets of the UK and expect to find it the way you left it, or even it being still there!

Caminando 20 Sep 2010 21:58

I must say these are quality responses, and not what I expected. Basically you're all saying that the joys of an outfit can't be explained and that is spot on. Logically all that I said is quite true, but outfits for you afficionados are more than that, which is all that need be said.

I had an outfit myself in those days in the UK when you could ride a bigger bike with a chair with a learner licence. I didnt like it but hey! that's just one opinion. I got rid of it the day I passed my test. The frame mountings kept fracturing and I got heartily sick of that anyway. This wasn't yesterday BTW.

I will say that without a driven wheel for the chair, there are some real problems, but of course the Ural has a driven wheel. I had the use of a Ural for a few weeks but a spark plug launched itself from the head like a mortar bomb and that was the end of that. Some of those exotic, properly set up, leading link continental machines too, have a driven chair wheel.

900fantrider 20 Sep 2010 23:09

My Dad is 73, had a sidecar when my eldest sister was a baby 50 yrs ago. He`s been a solo rider all his adult life but has always talked about sidecars. Then 2 years ago on a visit to him there was an R100RS in his workshop which over the past 2 years has ended up with alloy car wheels in it and leading link front forks, now the sidecar is just about to take shape.
Most of the designs he`s used are based on pictures which he insists I take of any outfits I see in France, even asking that I lay on the floor to get shots under them.
I piloted a racing outfit once, that was great, but a sidecar on the road??
I dont get it, I just dont! even to the point of getting him to save the old forks,wheels,swinging arm so that one day I can turn it into a bike again!!!
Maybe one day I will.
But he gets it!

Warthog 21 Sep 2010 05:08

As with any vehicle I also think it is a case of where you ride it.

I would never have considered an outfit in the UK where a bike, traffic wise makes more sense, and I could not justify a purchase just for the odd sunday out.

However, once moved to Estonia, with more open roads, flatter relief (well, it is a Ural), dogs and ferocious winters, it made more sense.

Fortunately, I have not known any of the chassis failures mentioned above, but then the Ural has always been "designed" with a chair in mind.

Mine is the most fun I've had below 40 mph, for a long time...

Threewheelbonnie 21 Sep 2010 07:23

I think the fun of an outfit can be explained. It's a totally different vehicle and one that needs more mental activity on the drivers parts than any other. What other vehicle is as exposed as a bike, reacts to camber, turns on the throttle/brakes and requires a different approach to left and right hand corners? What other vehicle can legally have differential braking? Imagine a snow covered forrest track in Finland taken at speed by the light of five spots with 90 HP to play with and only a heated visor between you and the world and then tell me stories of how your dad used to carry his tools on a BSA. This BTW can be in January, so the all the powerrangers, Harley-accountants, traffic police are tucked up in bed watching the telly. There are modern outfits and not-so modern ones, depends what you want.

The advantages are that you can have bike like fun regardless of the weather, you can carry enough food and fuel to go places unsupported bikes can't get (my theoretical range is 7 days/1200 miles, only useful in Australia but if I ever get there....), pets, children and comfortable camping gear are no problem. They can also open up "biking" to guys in wheelchairs although upper body strength is a factor and I hate the ideas of some of the older guys who think they can hack their Goldwing as an interim step to the rest home. The disadvantages are surprisingly few, you have to queue up like a car when there is traffic (so keep a two wheeler for work 300 days a year) and insurance and the annual test can require more work, but nothing that bad. You can dig big holes for yourself if you nail that Velorex to a K1950LTRT Delux but that's another story.

The technical aspects like a lot of bike stuff can be over stated. 2WD takes you over the last 2% of terrain a 3x1 with the right tyres can do, so there is no way I'd substitute 50 HP and fifty years of technology, or spend €30000 having a GS rigged up unless I'd won the lottery. Leading link forks are like power steering, many outfits are fine without. Car tyres on the rear can make a difference between wearing out in 1000 miles and 10000, but might only take you from 7000 to 10000. I always advise new drivers to spend their cash on the engine and subframe and worry about the other bits later. Urals are great but are still the threewheel equivalent of an Enfield or VW Beetle. If you want an outfit for the Elefant and only get a week off work, you want more than a pushrod 750. Wishful thinking and a love of the camo paint won't make it cruise at 80 or go 6000 miles between oil changes. Myself and Mr. Warthog sort of agree on this but while he likes 55 mph I kept breaking mine by not being happy with huge trucks an inch off the tow bar.

If the menu is fish or fowl that's one thing. If you fancy the curry, the choice is anything from a Lamb Biryani to the beef vindaloo via the kangaroo surprise :funmeteryes:


grizzly7 21 Sep 2010 11:18

At the summers Lumb Farm Hubb meet Lois Price and Austin Vince did a bit of a talk with Zorba the Greek and Urals as the theme. A 15 minute film they did of their Ural in the US looked great fun, and they were both really surprised by how hard it was to get used to it, the faith you need in the driver, but mainly how good it was for a trip. Not somewhere with a lot of traffic though!

The biggest plus for them seemed to be being able to sit next to each other and chat, sharing what they saw to a much greater extent than they'd been able to before.

This is not their film, but fun anyhow :)

YouTube - Team Going The Distance Meet Austin Vince & Lois Pryce

Livotlout 21 Sep 2010 16:20

Hey Dennis,

Check out this character :- The Timeless Ride Hubert Kriegel BMW Motorcycle Raid World Travel Sidecar Adventure Gespann

at present driving a Ural.


Threewheelbonnie 21 Sep 2010 17:36


Originally Posted by Livotlout (Post 306331)
Hey Dennis,

Check out this character :- The Timeless Ride Hubert Kriegel BMW Motorcycle Raid World Travel Sidecar Adventure Gespann

at present driving a Ural.


The best advert for Ural going. Doesn't hide the effort required to keep one going, doesn't claim 75 mph cruising speeds, does get places. :thumbup1:. The fact he changed from an airhead BMW says something too.


Warthog 21 Sep 2010 18:17


Originally Posted by Threewheelbonnie (Post 306344)
The fact he changed from an airhead BMW says something too.

Despite my custodial candidacy, he gave it to his daughter!!

Some people, eh?.....:innocent:

Caminando 21 Sep 2010 20:11

Now you guys are talking deep bike love!:mchappy:

I forgot to say I was briefly the passenger on a racing outfit, so I have experienced outfits a bit. It was an "interesting" experience......

Warthog 21 Sep 2010 20:39

Outfits are also extremely open to customisation and so each can become a very unique and personal thing!

I have drilled so many holes in my tub and bolted on so many home made (read "bodged") items, slowly trying to make my Ural trip-worthy.

Whilst reliability has mostly been fine for my Ural (it is a 2007), it has benefitted from all the new investments/upgrades the factory opted for in about 2005. However, I am seemingly additcted to tinkering and I have the the expensive and illogical urge to squeeze a Moto-Guzzi 750 lump into it!!

Threewheelbonnie 22 Sep 2010 18:01

Drilling holes; makes it lighter :thumbup1: :rofl:

The ultimate outfit is bound to be a 1981 Dnepr. A 1981 Dnepr with a Suberu Diesel engine, Duo-drive gearbox, custom frame, VW wheels, Honda loom, custom made tub, Acerbis tank, Brembo brakes, purpose made shocks, Unit forks, ...... :clap::rofl:


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