I had one of these once. That’s because I always wanted a sidecar bolted onto a machine that might have seen service in Manchuria with the People’s Liberation Army.
The thing is, my dad – a clear-headed, clairvoyant mechanical engineer from whom I was hiding the fact that I already had a motorbike – would have looked at the machine and said “don’t do it”. Not that I would have listened: the heart wants what the heart wants (words you will likely read often on these pages).
Anyway, this is not about my troubled time with the ex-PLA Chang Jiang 750cc motorcycle-and-sidecar combination but rather about a man named Tim Clarke who sees past the type’s foibles, quirks and knuckle-skinning irritations, and has built a business ferrying tourists around Cape Town on these rigs.
As I write this, Tim and Brodie (he’s the one with the bandanna) are rumbling up the southern coast, along with two other rigs and a back-up vehicle. They’re en route to balmy Durban on the east coast where the bikes are will be shown-off in all their considerable glory at the city’s big tourism indaba (gathering).
The point of the mission is to launch the company’s new thing: self-guided, multi-day trips by sidecar rig through the winelands, mountain passes and rolling hills of the Western Cape.
As a bona fide hack pilot, I was supposed to be riding with them. Best I can do is cheer from the sidelines and remember the week Tim lent me a rig and told me to get lost. Which my girl and I did and it was epic. And I will post that story soon.
Meanwhile, check out the rigs at http://www.sidecars.co.za/. Derived from the BMW R71 – it’s a long story – they may be a bit like Cinderella’s sisters. But they have … something.