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After 19 years of motorcycling, I felt like doing something a little different. I'd always thought sidecars looked really cool, the ultimate in Retro style. After drooling over photos and brochures from several companies, I got in touch with Doug Bingham, owner of Side Strider in Van Nuys, CA. Doug imports Watsonians, Velorexes, makes custom rigs and organizes the annual sidecar rally in Griffith Park. I really liked the look of the big Watsonian Grand Prix with its hexagonal nose, but it was out of my price range. A couple of weeks later, one of Doug's customers traded in a used Velorex 562. That Velorex wound up being my first sidecar, and it was attached to my Virago 1100 using a subframe fabricated at Side Strider.



The sidecar was originally black. I had it painted to match the bike at the local Maaco. I didn't pick quite the right white, but I did get pearl colors and it looked great anyway.

Getting used to the handling of the motorcycle - sidecar combination was interesting. I didn't have any sort of electric leanout gizmo on my rig, and at first, the pull to the right at highway speeds really bothered me. I changed from stock Virago handlebars, which angle the wrists quite a bit, to drag bars. This gave me a lot more leverage on the bars with less stress on my wrists. Other modifications included a small automobile radial on the bike's rear wheel, an Avon Sidecar Triple Duty on the front, Progressive rear shocks and fork springs, driver floorboards and a heel-toe shifter, and a chrome hitch to pull my kit-built cargo trailer.

My current ride is a 2001 Triumph Legend with a custom sidecar kit made by Doug Bingham. Where previous customers have gone with "taxi," "woody," and "schoolbus" themes, we decided to go for a "fire engine" theme with my rig. Doug supplied the sidecar, installed special Leading Link forks and fabricated the necessary subframe. The sidecar body then went to the local Maaco for painting. Oildale Glass cut and installed all the side windows, and those fantastic custom tops were crafted locally by very talented Mike Silas, who works on custom street rods and anything else that turns up in his driveway. My partner Kathi sanded the inside of the sidecar and is in the process of finishing the interior in a combination of pecan stained wood and grey vinyl. She's also installed the aluminum trim and the wonderful cast-rion antique fire engine plate on the door. My job has been to install all the lights and wiring and to drive the thing!



Now, given the size of this rig, you might think it would be tiring to drive, but with the Leading Link forks, the thing steers with virtually no effort-- even on the I-5 Grapevine in strong head and crosswinds. That is truly amazing and well worth the investment!!!

Hope you enjoyed the site! Happy Riding, and keep the rubber side down!

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