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I have listed a few of the OEM Sidecar Manufacturers in North America, but again, there are sure to be more out there… Here is an attempt at a more complete list. Please feel free to add companies and builders, as we would love to find them!
Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,
Cool sidecars, past and present… http://www.bikemenu.com/photossidecar.html
Other really good sidecar sites to check out:
As you have read earlier in the week, the Mongols Motorcycle Club was subject to a multi-agency investigation that ran three years. The U.S. Attorney’s Office, the LA County Sheriff’s Department, the Montebello Police Department, the Las Vegas Metro Police Department, and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were all involved in “Operation Black Rain.” Apparently four ATF agents were able to infiltrate the club and become full patch members. They found enough evidence to serve 110 arrest warrants and 160 search warrants in Southern California, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, and Ohio. Over 22 bikes were impounded in Los Angeles alone. Approximately 61 members of Southern California based motorcycle club were arrested under a racketeering indictment that included murder, attempted murder, assault, and gun and drug violations. In Reno, more than 6 pounds of methamphetamine and 75 weapons were seized. The findings of other contraband have not been reported.
Ruben Cavazos, the clubs former National President was one of those arrested. It seems Roger Pinney, a previous National President for the club, alleged that Cavazos was the problem and that the club was “on the verge of cleaning up their act.”
An injunction to seize the Mongols’ trademarked name has been requested by U.S. Attorney Thomas O’Brien. If this is granted, which seems ridiculous, law enforcement would be able to seize any member’s cut right off their back and it would not be legal for members to display the club’s name or colors.
Again, if more is reported, I will do what I can to keep you informed. In the meantime, keep an eye out for my book reviews of titles concerning the Mongols MC.
Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,
Today we make the leap from trikes to sidecars. Those unusual little bikes that bring to mind a lone stranger traveling across the states with his dog in the dead of winter, or the rig that is slowly putting down a country road with an elderly woman enjoying the scenery as her driver tries to keep the bumps to a minimum. Sidecars have a decidedly nostalgic feel to them. Besides early America, they also bring to mind small towns in Europe where the townsfolk move at a slower pace and the beauty of life is more appreciated.
A quirky mode of transport to say the least, the sidecar is also ultimately useful. It is stable and can be run off road as well as in the snow, it has a wonderful carrying capacity and can be used to pick up and deliver items as well as a mobile vending unit, it gives those with certain physical limitations another option in enjoying the open air of a motorcycle, and your narcoleptic buddy can ride in the car and fall asleep without you worrying that he is going to fall off the back.
I have just purchased my first sidecar rig and it serves my purposes perfectly. It gives me a way to take my two young daughters for a ride around the block, it gives me a nice space to stash my things on my way too and from work without having to ride with overflowing saddlebags, it also gives me a place to ride and photograph the world from a unique perspective. Besides, my Ol’ Lady rides and she can use it to get groceries and other items that she can’t carry on her two wheeler, pick up the kids from a play date, or take a couple friends for a spin to the local pub for a girl’s night out. So for us, it was a fantastic investment. Not that it was expensive by any stretch. We picked up a 1975 Yamaha XS650 with an American Eagle sidecar. Nothing fancy, nothing too shiny, nothing but a fun workhorse for us to play with.
For those of you who have never ridden a sidecar rig, and I expect that is most of us, it is a very different animal. Yes, it is a motorcycle, but it steers like a car. Because of the third wheel, you cannot drive the rig with the same counter steering techniques used on a two-wheeled machine. This is really not difficult to get over, and it has not given me any trouble thus far. The thing that is a little hard to get used to is the fact that during right hand turns the sidecar, or “chair” as it is sometimes called, will “fly.” Now that sounds fun and all, but if you go into a right hand turn at any significant speed at all, the “flying of the chair” can cause a little squinting action. I am working on mastering the technique now and understand that it can be an exciting and fun thing to do when you are prepared for it. The thing that is hardest to remember is that when the car goes up in the air, you are suddenly on a two-wheeled motorcycle again and need to counter steer to keep yourself going where you want to go!
Alas, I am still a newbie when it comes to these things, so I am probably not the best purveyor of advice. So, I will direct you to the authority. I just picked up a copy of “Driving a Sidecar Outfit: a manual on learning to drive a motorcycle/sidecar combination” by David Hough and published by the USCA Sidecar Safety Program, Inc. These folks have put together this manual to be used as a guide for a sidecar safety course. Because I cannot find a course in my area, I am simply walking myself through the exercises whenever I have a chance to get to an empty parking lot.
I did spend some time looking at sidecars before actually taking the plunge. There are a few companies that make fantastic products out there and I would like to share these with you. The first is probably the best-known sidecar manufacturer out there, Ural. In 1939 the USSR Defense Ministry decided to reverse engineer the BMW R71 motorcycle so that it could produce them in preparation for World War II. In 1941 the first test samples rolled out of the plant and were approved by Stalin. The “new” Russian motorcycle was labeled the M-72 and put into production. Export of the Ural began in 1953 and hit the shores of developed countries by 1960. Eventually the company was bought from the Russian Government and became privately owned. This happened in 1998 and allowed the company to grow, create better quality control, modernized design, and updated technology. We are looking at a whole new Ural here. They offer four major designs, the Retro, Tourist, Patrol, and Gear Up. Check out their site and I am sure you will find one you like. http://www.imz-ural.com/.
If you are looking for something a little more tailor made, contact Liberty Sidecars in Seattle, Washington. These folks put sidecars together to fit your exact specifications. Well, they do use their own chassis and dimensions, but you can order special items like luggage racks, custom interior, tonneau cover, detachable windscreen, custom wheels, spotlight with or without turn signal, sidesteps, and more. You may have seen one of Liberty’s sidecars in the movies… every see Wild Hogs? Yup, William H. Macy took a spin in one of these when he lost his bike to a member of the Del Fuegos MC. Check it all out at http://www.libertysidecars.com/.
California sidecars (http://www.californiasidecar.com/) makes a pretty cool sidecar called the Friendship III. This little number fits two people in the car with its bench seat. It also has 9 cubic feet of trunk storage! What could make it any better? Well, the Friendship III has an integrated disc brake system on the car, which improves handling during braking as well as stopping time. Truly a state of the art hack.
Speaking of state of the art, Spalding Side Motorcycle Sidecars has some pretty trick looking chairs. These are sleek and contemporary. Gone are the “bullet” look of the classic cars and in are the sports car front ends; you can even order one with an air scoop on the hood. These little numbers open up wide and the passengers step in rather than climb in, very upscale and really good looking. Check them out at http://www.spaldingside.com/.
Sidecars, like trikes, seem to be making a comeback these days. I can’t say they will ever replace the chopper or bagger in popularity, but I certainly think you will see more of them on the roads in the near future. The utilitarian nature of the sidecar rig was one of the reasons I was attracted to them, but they are actually so fun to drive that I think I will keep one in the stable for a while.
Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,
|October 21, 2008|
|Phoenix – (October 21, 2008) – The Cycle World International Motorcycle Shows® presented by Toyota kicks-off its 13-city nationwide tour at the University of Phoenix Stadium Friday, October 31 through Sunday, November 2. This motorcycle extravaganza is an all access pass to the world of motorcycling with hundreds of the latest street bikes, dirt bikes, cruisers, scooters and ATVs for both new and experienced riders. Several manufacturers will showcase U.S. debuts of hot new models and offer attendees an up-close look at the latest in fuel efficient transportation with more than 500 new vehicles that get 50-plus miles to the gallon – there has never been a better time to ride! From a record setting number of demo rides to a Scooter Pavilion jam-packed with fuel sipping options, the Cycle World International Motorcycle Show offers something for everyone.
The Cycle World International Motorcycle Shows is the first place to see the 2009-model motorcycle collections from the leading motorcycle manufacturers. Ducati and Kawasaki will unveil new models for the first time ever in the U.S. on Friday, October 31, live on the show floor. Attendees will also get a first look the all new Kawasaki Vulcan 1700 Voyager and Ninja ZX-6R and the Ducati Monster 1100 and Monster 696. In addition, a custom Phoenix Suns Ducati 848, signed by all the players and featuring a seat made out of basketball skins will be unveiled to the public for the first time ever. This one-of-a-kind bike will be auctioned off at the annual Suns & Stars Gala to raise funds for Phoenix Suns Charities in early 2009.
“Phoenix is the first show for the new model season and Arizonans will be treated to exciting U.S. bike debuts from several manufacturers,” said Group Show Director Jeff D’Entremont. “Enthusiasts will also have the unique opportunity to test ride the largest demo fleet in tour history to truly experience all the great brands and machines we have lined up. This first stop on the tour will showcase several new show features including first-time rider seminars, a Scooter Pavilion featuring the latest brands and products fitting of the scooter lifestyle, high-flying freestyle motocross action and more.”
Following is a brief description of the exciting new features coming to the University of Phoenix Stadium:
* Scooter Pavilion – With high gas prices, scooters are all the rage and the Scooter Pavilion will showcase all the newest models from several manufacturers all in one location. This is the perfect place for showgoers to learn more about these high mileage transportation options and compare models from Aprilia, CF Moto, Genuine, Honda, KYMCO, Piaggio, Vectrix, Vespa and more!
For the 16th consecutive year, Cycle World, the world’s most popular motorcycle magazine, is the title sponsor for the series and leading manufacturer Toyota will return for the 11th year as presenting sponsor. The show will be open to the public Friday, October 31 (Halloween) through Sunday, November 2, at the University of Phoenix Stadium, located at 1 Cardinals Drive, in Glendale, Arizona. Show hours are Friday, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the event is $12 for adults and $6 for children 6-11. Children 5 and under are admitted free. Families are encouraged to attend on Freaky Friday, where kids under 12 get in free for safe trick or treating from all the exhibitors at the show! Plus, Sunday is Ladies Day Out with all women receiving half price admission at the door with our online coupon! $2 off discount tickets are available on the Web at http://www.motorcycleshows.com. The Cycle World International Motorcycle Shows® presented by Toyota is the world’s largest motorcycle show series. For more information, call 800/331-5706 or visit motorcycleshows.com.
Welcome to the first installment of Tattuesday! Yes friends, every Tuesday I will be posting something about the art of tattoos, tattoo care, tattoo artists, or other related tattoo subjects.
My love of tattoos began at a fairly early age. I must have been about 16 when I started to get into them. I didn’t actually get one, but I devoured every issue of Outlaw Biker’s Tattoo Review. I also helped to build many a homemade gun that would end up scarring friends at parties and punk rock shows. Poor guys, I appreciate their enthusiasm and daring demeanor, but you really only have so much skin. I would not allow myself to be marked by a hack… let alone a hack that was a buddy in homeroom! Too young and dumb.
Now, this is not to say that I made every decision perfectly. I did wait until I was 18 and went to a reputable shop in Phoenix for my first piece. Piece is not really the word, more like small tattoo… toe in the water, cautious first meeting, etc. It was (and still is) a logo of Powell Peralta Skateboards called Bones. The image had a huge history with me and still has a lot of personal meaning. So at least I thought that part through. However, as many of us do with our first tattoos, I went smaller than I should have and now the detail has bled and faded away. If I had listened to the artist and gone a bit bigger, I am sure the piece would have held its integrity.
Anyway, I did make a second mistake. I got a second design without giving it enough thought. The image again did have personal meaning and for that I am thankful. However, the size and location were probably wrong and I went ahead and let an apprentice do the work. Now, an apprentice is not necessarily a poor decision. Often, they have had enough training to not screw things up too badly, and most reputable shops will have the mentor monitor every pass and stroke. My shop wasn’t quite that considerate. Bad scarring was the result of his tearing into my flesh with reckless abandon. I think I was probably lucky I didn’t have more time to think about what I was getting. If I had, I am sure the work would have been much more detailed and complex. I know what the guy did with the simple graphic; I would hate to have seen his rendition of something more artistic. A year or so later a buddy of mine took me to see his tattoo artist in Denver. She did a freehand skull that I really dug. It was added to the original piece the apprentice in Phoenix had done (a blue dragon) and what she added really made the piece for me. If I had only gone to her to do the entire thing… Anyway, live and learn.
Skip ahead about 15 years. I was still an avid tattoo fan and had become obsessed with checking out all the artists I could. I spent the following three years researching artists from around the globe to find the best of the best, those that I considered to be the cream of the crop. I was not only looking for amazing tattoo work, but looking for amazing traditional art as well. I had decided to put up an exhibition of tattoo artists’ fine artwork at the University where I teach. The research I put into the exhibition allowed me to discover some artists that I really, really wanted to have work on me. And, they were so good; I wanted real pieces by them. Something substantial.
So, please join me every Tuesday as we look at a new artist who I consider good enough to give a portion of my limited dermis. I hope to eventually list artists in every state that I would personally recommend. If you or someone you know would like to be considered for my list, drop me an e-mail and I will check it out. I would also love to hear your tattoo stories: good, bad, or ugly.
Love, Respect, and Ride Safe,