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The FLEXIT leaner sidecar rig.....
history, photos, etc.
sidecar section #SC10
WHY is this on Snowbum's website?
Snowbum is hosting this information.
WHY a leaner sidecar rig, anyway?
Leaner type sidecar rigs can be set up to be excellent for use with wheelchairs.
Leaner rigs tend to be less frightening to those who are scared of the conventional
type of sidecar rig. Leaner rigs can give handling that is much closer to a 2 wheeler,
as opposed to a conventional sidecar rig.
The Flexit technical information, brochure, & photos in the following article, were
furnished to me courtesy of John Goff. John Goff has positioned himself, &
rightly so, as "THE HISTORIAN" on the Flexit. John appreciates passing on
Flexit information...& would love to chit chat with Flexit owners, or those interested
in Flexit's. John also invites those of you with additional Flexit information,
knowledge of ownership, etc., to contact him. E-mail him at: email@example.com
Since late 2009, there has been a Yahoo Groups Flexit sidecar information web
site & chat list. The Flexit Sidecar Owners Group (FSOG) is dedicated to the
promotion, preservation & perpetuation of all of the surviving Flexit sidecars ever
produced. Perhaps only 200 were built. Primary objectives of this group include,
but are not limited to: Flexit owners support, historical research, parts identification
& sources of supply, front & rear mounting bracket build procedures ^ installation,
service & handling trolleys (SHTs), history & any other consideration that helps to
keep as many Flexits as possible in service, on the road, & visible to the public.
The site states that their primary asset will be freely shared Flexit information.
The Group is open to all enthusiasts who have an interest in articulated
sidecars (lean capable sidecar attachments) regardless of type, era,
country of origin, whether commercially manufactured or home built.
Positive attitude, mutual support, & good fellowship, are essential to any special
interest group. Anything you contribute by way of uploaded files or photos, can be
edited or deleted as you choose.
The Flexit Sidecar Owners Group is family oriented ...any or all content may be
edited at the discretion of the moderators. They are not here to solve nor
debate the world's problems but to enjoy our time together in spite of them.
The red Flexit and red Moto-Guzzi rider is Steve Kealy,
near Melbourne, Australia, with daughter, Bronwyn.
The red Honda ST1100 is Frank Sumner of UK.
The blue Honda GL1500 is also from the UK.
John Goff, next to his wife's (Char) white Honda
GL1500SE Gold Wing; 2007, Crater Lake, Oregon
A Short History of Flexit Sidecars.
....by John Goff
note: this article by John was edited slightly by Snowbum,
and is being shown in bold blue, as John preferred.
The Flexit fully articulated sidecar is considered by many to be the best
engineering solution to the engineering problem of making a sidecar
that leans in unison with the towing motorcycle. The Flexit is one
of the very few leaning sidecar designs ever built that features a truly
convenient & reliable lock-out device for parking maneuvers.
In the opinion of many I have talked with, this design is the best
functioning articulated sidecar yet done, the best engineering solution
yet done for a unison or parallel leaner.
The Flexit was the brain child of Hannes Myburgh, an accomplished
South African engineer & designer. His creation of the Flexit was a
personal “hands-on” effort of dedication & devotion to his concept.
So, how well does a Flexit sidecar work really? Well, there is an anecdote
about Myburgh taking one of his Flexits to England to the Triumph high
performance test track & hitching it up to one of Triumph’s test mules.
This motorcycle was equipped with radio telemetry to record all aspects
of the test run. Hannes (pronounced “han-ness”) plus his Flexit sidecar
were looping around their test track reaching speeds of 260 kph (161 mph)
in 6th gear in straights, which impressed the Triumph engineers. When
Hannes got back to the pits, one engineer quipped that the gear ratios for
6th gear are an overdrive. If he would have left it 5th gear, the bike would
have gone “faster”. Most riders would say that 161 mph is “FAST” on
motorcycle withOUT a sidecar. I have never heard of street legal sidecar
with this kind of performance, let alone a unison leaning sidecar, that
allows the motorcycle to still be a motorcycle in the curves.
The intriguing story of the Flexit is a traveling story that migrates from
South Africa to Europe, to California, & finally back to Europe. It is hard
to know accurately the total number of Flexit units produced from 1981(?)
to 2005. My sources suggest that perhaps 20 units, including the original
prototype, were made in South Africa – 1981? to 1986? Between 29 & 50
units were made by California Sidecar (CS) in California – 1989 to 1990.
92 units were made by EZS in Holland (The Netherlands) – 1991 to 1999.
I have a breakdown by destination country of where these 92 went.
Perhaps four or five of the 4th generation Single Sided Swingarm (SSS)
Flexits were independently produced after Hannes Myburgh left EZS in
1999; from 2000 to 2005 before all production ended. That’s a total of
167+- Flexits world wide, including both left and right side attachments,
of which about 15% were left side attach models. And of all of those,
perhaps 70 reside in North America.
Production of the Flexit sidecar happened in 4 phases. In South Africa,
Hannes Myburgh independently produced his original rough prototype
as proof of concept of his design & then finalized the finished, fully
functional design, including the unique electric canopy windshield
cockpit enclosure system, & integrated disc brake. And though the
numbers were few, perhaps 20 units, it was the beginning of a 3
continent, 20+ year journey.
With a fully developed articulated sidecar design, Hannes’ next step
was to take an example to a big international motorcycle show in
Europe (1987?). When Peter Smith saw his first example of a Flexit at
that show, he became both a fan & an advocate. Peter was instrumental
in assembling a team of 3 men: Hannes Myburgh, Albert Engbers
(of EZS), & Peter Smith, & fostered the idea of bringing the Flexit from
Europe to the USA for its first serial production. A key stepping-stone
in this was the signing of a contract with California Sidecar (CS) for
first mass production run of Flexits in 1989 and 1990+. 29 to perhaps
50 units were produced in this first commercial run of Flexits at CS.
Smith, Engbers & Myburgh had a falling out with California Sidecar
management & terminated their relationship with CS, which ended
California Sidecar/Flexit production.
Peter Smith stayed in California & started the Champion Sidecar
Company (a traditional rigid sidecar maker that is still in business
today). Engbers & Myburgh returned to The Netherlands, & in 1991
restarted Flexit manufacture at EZS, which continued through 1999.
According Albert Engbers at EZS, 92 units were produced (including
both Left and Right attach versions). According to one British source,
of these 92 there are 12 left side attach Flexits that were sold in
England, all sold through & distributed by the Watsonian Sidecar
Company. These were actually badged as Watsonian "Squires".
The exact numbers of “other” left side attach versions of the Flexit
outside of the original South African made units is not known to me.
In 1999, Albert Engbers ended Flexit production at EZS. But Hannes
Myburgh continued trying to keep both unit production & design
development of the Flexit going forward. After leaving EZS, Myburgh
then begins independent production of Flexits in 2000. The last Flexit
is thought to have been produced in 2005. I do not know the numbers
that Hannes produced between 2000 & 2005, but it was apparently a
very small operation, with perhaps 4 or 5 units (that I can document
with photos) being made.
The former Flexit sidecar web site was shut down & sold in 2005.
Albert & Hannes remain good friends, though due to his health,
contact between them is sporadic. Hannes Myburgh still resides in
Zelhem, the Netherlands (Holland), which is also the home of Albert
Engbers and EZS sidecars.
Hannes Myburgh really was the driving force behind the creation &
production of the Flexit, especially in the last ditch effort at the end.
Once again Hannes was personally involved in the fiberglass work.
With long-term recurrent exposure to Keotone (spelling?) (a solvent)
& other fiberglass related chemicals he suffered internal organ & even,
it is rumored, neurological damage. It is said that Hannes Myburgh
receives a disability income from the government of The Netherlands.
I am told that Hannes has good days & bad days, & that he is getting
better. I hope so. We all certainly wish him the very best.
For the surviving Flexit owners, one of our biggest long-term worries
is the unique polycarbonate Flexit windshield. Thankfully these are
amazingly durable; short of some sort of calamity, the need for
windshield replacements is infrequent. Albert Engbers says that
Hannes Myburgh still has (owns) the machine that he designed & built
that made (blew) those windshields. But in as much as Flexit production
has ended, so has the Flexit windshield availability. (I know, because
I tried to buy one at EZS when I was there in January, 2007.)
I once had an email from Dave Szkudlarek, the moderator for the
Yahoo groups on-line Flexit Sidecar Club, with Dave expressing the
view that he thought that around 200 Flexits had been produced.
Some believe that as many as 400 may have been produced. So far,
my research into this question shows 20? + 50? + 92 + 5? = 167 units
(plus or minus a little bit) & suggests that an estimate of 200 might
be a little high.
If there is more information out there, and/or a more complete history
of the Flexit than this meager thumbnail sketch, I hope that you will
share that information with me. I, for one, am interested to know the
complete history of Flexit sidecars, and as accurately as possible.
Here are some photos of Mike Huntzinger's R1100GS-Flexit rig. These
were taken at the 2009 USCA Sidecar Rally at Lake Tahoe. That Rally
was produced by Snowbum & wife Penny, who live at Lake Tahoe, & as-of
the last editing of this article, in February of 2016, have just one sidecar rig,
a K1100LT with EZS wheels, etc., with an EML-GT2 (one hinge version) .
You are probably reading this Flexit article on Snowbum's website:
For a not-so-great-photo, and the patent information, etc., for
the FLEXCAR, attached to a very old Indian motorcycle:
03/15/2008: Initial release
03/16/2008: Add photo captions, edit spacing on photos, edit text; add script coding for Google; add
coding for Keywords, Description, Content. Minor other html changes.
03/16/2008: late morning. Add Flexit Euro brochure photos, and edit rest for appearance.
03/18 /2008: to bold blue; as John prefers that; minor editing; added Hannes' photos
03/19/2008: add additional hidden coding for search engines; clean up presentation and spacing, etc.
07/01/2009: Add photos of Mike Huntzinger's rig
07/02/2009: fix messes that somehow happened, and clean up presentation
11/16/2009: Add information on the new Flexit sidecar group, near top of page.
03/12/2010: Add link to photo gallery 2
08/26/2012: Clean up the article.
01/19/2014: Add top section comments by me on two websites for leaners, and others.
04/17/2015: Remove two links. Transfer those (not leaners infor) to Technical Articles LIST, SC section.
01/29/2016: Add link.
02/22/2016 : Increase font size. Edit John's blue notes section for clarity. Justify photos to the left.
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Last edit of THIS page: Tuesday, April 26, 2016