Thursday, 10 January 2013

Motorcycle Sidecars - Three Wheels Good!




They’re as rare as the proverbial rocking horse excrement these days; an eccentric hangover from the days when they were a common sight, and served as daily and family transport for men in long coats.

But in an engineering workshop down Aylesbury way, there lives a man whose waking hours and thought processes revolve around the production of modern, innovative, and beautifully crafted ‘chairs’ for those who need or enjoy riding with a ‘third wheel’.

One Step Beyond

Rod Young is a sidecar convert. He rode solo bikes for all of his motorcycle years until the day when a dealer friend let him loose on a Russian Ural outfit, and he was captivated, hooked and smitten by the sheer fun of the ride. He bought his own Ural with sidecar: an exquisite example, black and gleaming. Everyone wanted a ride; including me.

Now its one thing to delight in the discovery of a new and different branch of motorcycling. People do that all the time: a good example being those who are introduced to trail riding or off road sport, and become enthusiasts. Rods zeal for a newdiscoverywent one step beyond though, and he devised a plan to design and manufacture his own sidecar.

Mad? Naturally!

Mad? Naturally. But from such ideas are inventions born, and, having announced his intentions, within a relatively short space of time he had quit his job as service manager at a large dealers, and set about building the prototype sidecar which he named Motopodd.

Enter - Motopodd...

Having invested in setting up his Motopodd company, and having designed and engineered the firstPoddhe needed to tell the world; albeit the small world that is motorcycling with sidecars. So he set off on a series of travels to motorcycle shows, rallies and events on his Yamaha XJ1300 with a sparkling blackPoddattached; parked up, handed out leaflets and spoke to the curious and enthusiastic alike. This coupled with a website soon started to get him noticed and talked about.

He manufactured six sidecars and sold them. Quite straightforward you might think. Except that the way motorcycleframesare configured these days, they do not lend themselves to the attachment of sidecars and all that implies in terms of steering, braking and stress, through the components having this additional weight clamped to one side. On the plus side, modern engines are easily able to cope with the
additional load.


Podd's Happy Owners

Rods unique engineering experience means that he is able to fit aPoddor any other sidecar he makes to any modern bike: something that the handful of other sidecar manufacturers and fabricators are not able offer. Amongst the happy owners out there are people who have them attached to a Ducati Monster; Honda DN01; Kawasaki Z1000, a Harley, and a Honda Africa Twin.

Custom sidecars...

As Rods reputation for turning out a good product became more widespread enquiries began to come his way about building custom sidecars. And one of those that turned into a commission then evolved into a major and very complex design and engineering project.

Luke is an eighteen year old motorcycle enthusiast, but he cannot ride because he has cerebral palsy and is confined to a wheelchair. His dad Alan is a long time rider, and they asked Rod to design and build a sidecar that Luke could ride in while Alan piloted the bike.

The first problem to resolve was size. Luke needed to be able to get into the sidecar whilst in his wheelchair. He also had to be able to have good viewing so that when they went to bike race meetings, Luke could be trackside and have the same advantages as able bodied spectators. However the wheelchair weighed four hundred pounds and with Lukes weight added, suspension alone would have to be extremely robust and durable. The bike chosen to haul the load would need modified steering too.

It's a Triumph !

A Triumph Rocket Three was chosen for hauling power, and Rod began the long but rewarding process of this build; consulting with Luke and Alan every step of the way. For example, Luke wanted to feel as much part of the riding experience as possible. It was therefore decided to replicate the motorcycle handlebars and instrument panel inside the sidecar so that Luke could view the speed, gear selected, fuel consumption etc at the same time as his dad. He also needed plug ins for the electronic aids and gizmos that give him important information accessibility.

An integral ramp had to be devised from the sidecar floor so that it could give relatively easy access for Luke’s wheelchair, yet slide out of site when he was on board.

When Rod described the procedures required for these aspects of the build to happen he was explaining a feat of specialist manufacture that few people would have the skill and expertise to visualise, let alone turn into a practical machine that Luke and Alan could use and admirego to www, to see the results of this amazing build, and a You Tube video of the handover at the Ace CafĂ© in March12.

Back to School

Rod Young had an early introduction to auto engineering working in his Dads Mercedes garage at sixteen, and then in a series of other car garages before he wentback to schoolacquiring enviable qualifications in engineering and computing which he then used to work as a Polytechnic (remember them?) and University tutor.

When he fetched up in London, to escape the conventional work patterns that didnt fit him too comfortably, he worked at a number of motorcycle dealers, and became involved in motorcycle journalism writing for Bike magazine and The Riders Digest. Now his knowledge and experience has come full circle, allowing him the freedom to invent and innovate for the motorcycling he loves: and his company has been nominated for the governmentsMade By Britainproject.



Motopodd is now concentrating on building custom sidecars. But as you might expect from a lively motorcycling imagination, Rod has other plans too. For example this Spring an EnduroPodd could arrive. Responding to enquiries from theadventuresector this model will allow plenty of waterproof stowage as well as space for a passenger.

If your thoughts are wandering in the direction of athird wheel, Rod Young is the go to man. Contact him through the website Motopod

John Newman
For Wemoto News

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