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Sidecar collection trip

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  • #9630
    • Town/City: Wellington
    • Bike: BMW R80 G/S, R100GS & M72 Sidecar, Gilera Runner ST200
    • Rank: 1200cc Rider



    Flew up to Hamilton to collect the sidecar. Decided to do a fly drive – not ideal, but the cost of transporting it back to Wellington by other methods was uneconomic

    I didn’t realise that Hamilton was such a backwater. There are only 4 flights to Hamilton a day, its compartively expensive to fly to (better to fly to Auckland then bus back to Hamilton – albeit not as convenient), & the plane was a turboprop. You have to walk out onto the taxiway. Primitive…

    Sat next to Kevin Milne briefly – then they moved him a row back. Probably trying to keep him from infection. Bloody bikers.

    Because it was a night flight I didn’t expect to be able to see much. It was only a crescent moon, so not a lot of light. But you could see all the towns, even at 21,000 feet. Couldn’t identify which ones, but it was fun trying.

    BTW, why do they still talk in feet? We’ve been metric for several generations now?

    Eddie & Jennifer were generous enough to not only arrange to collect me from the airport, & but also to allow me to stay at their home, in the Princess Suite no less.


    The next morning, Eddie took me for a brief spin in the sidecar, & then we loaded it up with the spares that went with the sidecar. I did brief tour of the suburbs cul de sacs to try to acquaint myself with the steering characteristics of the sidecar. This involved finding out the width of the sidecar using the box.a.bits patented braille method, & also terrorizing myself doing left turns & finding the sidecar uncooperative. I’ll talk about sidecar handling characteristic later.

    Ciollection from Eddie's place

    Once I thought I had a vague handle on things, I stopped to text my friend Kevin, who I was going to meet for coffee. Just as I was finishing the text, he pulled up in his van. Small place the ‘Tron.

    Anyway, a quick wobble across to his place on the otherside of town, then coffee & a chinwag.

    Kevin offered to see me out of town (I think of this as a public health service – perhaps he has other friends in town he didn’t want tangling with a barely in control sidecar), so I attempted to keep his van in sight thru’ the traffic.

    Maccas for Lunch

    Off to Cambridge to deliver a rocker box cover someone had bought via Trade me. The bike ran onto reserve at Cambridge, but I thought I’d have sufficient to drop off the rocker box, make it to another gas stop, & then trundle on. I had checked the address before I left Wellington, which I thought was rural & just south of Cambridge. I stopped just south of Cambridge to check again, only to have Google Maps assure me, no, north of Cambridge, just south of Hamilton. So did a u-turn, back the way I came. Checked again just north of Cambridge, & it gave me a new navigation, thru minor rural roads. And then just as I thought I’d finally cracked it, the bike ran out of gas. It was still running on one, so I thought I’d switch across to 2nd reserve. Oops, the fuel lines don’t have the cross over. So gas in one side of the tank, not the other. Okay, lift the tank & slosh some across. Nup. Won’t feed. So rode a 400cc single across to the address. Embarrassing. And begged some additional fuel.

    Then Lewis observed I’d got a flat sidecar tyre. I had been thinking the sidecar was unusually belligerant for the last couple of kms, but was too new to the handling characteristics of this rig to pick that up.

    Lewis & his Bro were really good at helping me sort out the flat tyre & gas issue

    Pumped the tyre up to see if it was a slow leak, or a complete blow out. Pumped up okay, but in the 10 or so minutes of chatting to Lewis about his projects the tyre went soft again. So tube repair time.

    I can say that that 16” wheel is the tightest, most difficult to take off or fit tyre I have ever come across. It didn’t help that I didn’t have my bigger tyre levers, so had to work with the stubby BMW items.

    The tube had abrasion marks on one side & a pin hole in one of these. Also, it looked like I wasn’t the first to struggle with that tyre – the bead was separating along one portion of the tyre. There was no damage to the tyre from the sidecar being run on a flat tyre – this was old damage.

    Lewis offered to run me into town to get a new tube. Against all expectations, the 1st bike shop had a tube. What runs a 3.25 x 16”?

    4.30pm by the time we got things sorted & remounted. An hr & a ½ to Taupo. Stopped just as it was starting to go dark, after Tokoroa, to send my wife a text, to assure her I was still living, & expected to be in Taupo 6-ish.

    Stopped on the side of the road after Tokoroa. Thought I'd better let my wife my intentions for the night...

    Dominos for dinner – a whole pizza to myself, & no wife to ration it out.


    Lodge Room at All Season Holiday Park, Taupo. Cheap, like me

    Drizzling on & off. McCafe for breakfast.

    Riding up the Napier Taupo to meet with my brother, Michael. The idea was that we’d both ride from Taupo & Napier respectively, & meet in the middle. I think he may have left early.

    Heading for Rangitaiki, up a long uphill, stuck behind a truck, the engine starts squealing like we’ve run a bearing. Shit. Shut the engine down & pull over to the side of the road. Lucky I’ve got AA+ & a spare engine at home. A quick inspection. No stones in the brake pads, the engine exterior seems fine, the engine starts & runs fine, & the squeal has disappeared. Should I head back to Taupo? Nup, lets see if this recurs. Could have been a stone between the disc & pad. A few minutes later, then the same thing happens. Crap. Eventually diagnosed it as the starter randomly activating, with the solenoid pushing the starter into the flywheel. Makes a lot of noise, but not doing too much damage. I have a spare starter. And I can stop the racket by hitting the starter button when the thing starts to squeal. So the faults probably in the button. I wonder if the spring has broken. It did this on & off most of the way to Napier & then resolved itself. Maybe a bit of grit in the button?

    Met Michael shortly after, then rode with him to the Tarawera café for a break & coffee. He declined my offer to take the chair for a spin. Wise man.

    Shortly after leaving the Tarawera café, the day brightened & the drizzle stopped. Michael followed me to Bayview, where we filled up. I’d warned him he’d be bored behind me. I was travelling 80-95 km/hr, with a peak 104 km/hr! GPS verified. Michael has a Triumph Explorer, so probably just idling for that whole trip.

    SH50, and I started to push a bit more. Average went up to 100 – 110 KM/hr, with things being pushed in the corners a bit more. Michael flipped ahead to grab a couple of photos.


    Around Norsewood the day packed up again, & got fairly miserable. Another stop at Dannevegas BP for another pie & coffee & then Michael decided to bail, & head back for the better weather.

    Given the rain radar showed the Manawatu / Kapiti area completely deluged, headed home via Masterton. Just before Masterton, I ran out of gas again, went to switch to reserve on both sides, & one side wouldn’t flow. So I’m guessing that there is an issue in the fuel taps. I’ll pul that apart at some stage. 400cc single into the gas station on the bypass.

    Slow over the Rimutakas, but given the road works up there, that worked well – I let all the traffic go, & got a gap in traffic because of the stop /go lights.

    Home 5.00 ish.


    The things are inherently unstable.

    Drive is on one side. Accelerate, & the bike wants to drive around the sidecar;
    Brake, (or throttle off) & the car wants to come around the tug;
    Because the sidecar is rigidly clamped to the bike, any road irregularities are fed into the bike;
    Turn left, & the force of the turn unweights the sidecar wheel;
    Turn right, & the force leans on the sidecar wheel, & will eventually lever the back wheel up.
    It’s easier to ride if there is some ballast in the sidecar. Overwise all of the weight is in the bike side.
    Set up is speed sensitive. Neutral at 90 Km/hr, starting to pull towards the side car at 100 km/hr. Hills, & downhills are also factors.

    With this unit, the bike suspension isn’t set up for the weight of the chair, so the set up is compromised. It’s like those big old American cars, where the suspension has settled on the drivers side. I’ll need to sort that.

    Hell of a lot of fun though, once you start to get to grips with the thing.


    Engine swap for the spare R100GS unit;
    Stiffen the front suspension by chopping the springs to up the spring rate, & putting in spacers;
    Sorting the rear preload;
    One disc is warped. I need to check what’s up with that;
    Needs a new front tyre. I’m heading towards more adventure riding capacity
    Possibly putting in the R100R exhaust system that I’ve got in the shed.

    There are a myriad of smaller sort out issues I need to attend to, including resetting the set up after the suspension issues are resolved.

    Eddie suggested I also look at putting in the KTM forks & triples I had set aside for Rufas – I’ll need to think on that. I’d need to source a big disc – but I’ve promised Mandy I’m not going to spend on the rig.

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