(and some actual seriousness)
© Copyright 2019, R. Fleischer
Start them off young! (1) In late 2001, I still had a half-ownership of a condo in Palm Springs (California). An upscale restaurant in the area had been rented out for a rousing off-the-wall evening party for a friend of mine, an older retired actor/movie-star (who I used to ride with in the Los Angeles area when I was a late teenager and he also, like me, was a lot younger then too!). I was scheduled to be playing the piano in that restaurant's bar, which was in the same room as the dining room. Always wanting to make an appropriate 'entrance' & stand-out appearance ...to create a scene and bolster my ego, ...not to mention 'fitting-in' with the rest of the attendees! ...and maybe helping my tip jar's contents (and getting more free drinks), I decided to drive my sidecar rig to the restaurant dressed in my own tuxedo. I told a friend that I was going to do that, and he would have none of it! .....and insisted I wear an outfit from his specialty clothing store, that had an extensive display of Liberace items. The outfit I borrowed from him was quite fancy, with many hand-sewn panels of pianos, long tails, etc. The sequins alone were dazzling. It did not fit very well, but who cared! It came with a 8 inch-wide rainbow-colored bow tie. My 'borrowing' included sort-of paisley boots ...which fit uncomfortably.
(1) In late 2001, I still had a half-ownership of a condo in Palm Springs (California). An upscale restaurant in the area had been rented out for a rousing off-the-wall evening party for a friend of mine, an older retired actor/movie-star (who I used to ride with in the Los Angeles area when I was a late teenager and he also, like me, was a lot younger then too!). I was scheduled to be playing the piano in that restaurant's bar, which was in the same room as the dining room. Always wanting to make an appropriate 'entrance' & stand-out appearance ...to create a scene and bolster my ego, ...not to mention 'fitting-in' with the rest of the attendees! ...and maybe helping my tip jar's contents (and getting more free drinks), I decided to drive my sidecar rig to the restaurant dressed in my own tuxedo. I told a friend that I was going to do that, and he would have none of it! .....and insisted I wear an outfit from his specialty clothing store, that had an extensive display of Liberace items. The outfit I borrowed from him was quite fancy, with many hand-sewn panels of pianos, long tails, etc. The sequins alone were dazzling. It did not fit very well, but who cared! It came with a 8 inch-wide rainbow-colored bow tie. My 'borrowing' included sort-of paisley boots ...which fit uncomfortably.There was Valet Parking that evening. The small parking lot was full, as was any nearby place to park. The 'guests' were already doing a lot of drinking, some of it in the parking lot; curiously watching my appearance and entrance to same. I pulled up to the Valet stand, turned off the motor of the sidecar rig and tossed the keys to the Valet. The look on his face was priceless ....a mix of my sequined outfit ...and the "what do I do now, HOW DO I DRIVE THAT THING". He did not want to touch the rig, I don't blame him! I ended up parking it on the sidewalk near the entrance. He made up stories ....a wide variety of them, which I found out about much later.
While I knew the 'party-boy'; and, knew some of the other folks there, most of the 80+- 'guests' did not know ME. The Bartender put a monster-sized martini glass bowl on the piano, popped a few ones and a fiver into the bowl, winked at me; and, it was not long when the bowl began to fill with tips. I was only going to play from before dinner to a bit afterwards. The money in that Tip Bowl was mostly fives, tens and twenties. Later, I even found a fifty and a couple of hundred dollar bills in the bowl. Most of the attendees were gay, and quite a few left personal cards with money attached in the bowl ...and a note!!....none of which are printable on this family website.
It was a fairly wild party ...and a LONG evening ...the party went on to just about sunrise the next day. Everyone was drunk, or nearly-so, but the tips were nice. I was insanely tired by sunup.
I made many new contacts, only some of whom remembered me even a week or two after the party, but some contacts I followed-up on, and it led to more playing at private parties, etc. I often played the piano at restaurants, clubs & parties, when I lived in Palm Springs. One of the 'referrals' led to a near permanent gig at Michael's Restaurant and Bar.
(2) A few photos. I lost the photo that showed a similar piece of lawn equipment that had a sidecar attached...
Yes, the sidecar has two wheels.
(3) I was taking a longish trip on my first 'street' sidecar rig, a R100RT with a Ural chair. I was parked at an cliff overlook, with the Snake River Canyon steeply and far below me. The only other vehicle was a Harley Davidson. I did not see the rider. I decided to relieve myself (urinate) before leaving. No restrooms, it was just an overlook spot. I climbed over the guard rail, and started to go a few feet down the cliff, so I would not be in sight of any vehicles on the road. I cleared around one large bush and a tree, and found the Harley rider, with his girl friend, both naked, having a 'nooner'. We ended up talking for half an hour. It took me a few minutes to stop staring at the girl. Actually, I never stopped staring, ...until ....... I turned to go back to my rig, began to walk away ...& ....I tripped on a quite large rock that I walked directly into, not seeing it.
(4) I parked the sidecar rig in a large highway turnout, on highway 50, a bit West of Spooner Summit, ...just a bit southwesterly of where Hy 28 joins Hy 50,... as one comes from Carson City, Nevada, towards Lake Tahoe. I was going to go sit on a granite outcropping, looking towards the distant Lake, and have a snack. There was a modest downwards slope to the road with a slight left-wise slope for rain drainage (yes, draining across the road). I left the bike in first gear, as many sidecarists do, as it acts as the emergency brake we don't usually have on our rigs. The bike jumped out of the gear it obviously was not fully into. In motorcycle boots I chased the rig as it headed across the the highway towards oncoming traffic in the other lane. The rig was just crossing the centerline and turning some ...as I caught up to it. It was an exciting event, appreciated (?) by unlookers, as I JUMPED onto the rig, grabbing the right side of the handlebars which caused the rig to turn to the right rather abruptly, the turning was unfortunately towards the sidecar ....and....I grabbed the front brake lever, which caused the rig to turn even more quickly ....and try to throw me off (the sidecar wheel went up too .... me with it) ...but I managed to stop the rig, it was pointing away from the approaching traffic. Ever since that event, I have carried a small piece of 2 x 4 lumber, to block the front or rear wheel as appropriate. Too bad I had no movie/video of this event.
1. From the late Dr. Hal Kendall:
While eating a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in an enclosed sidecar on a bumpy road, the magnitude of mess you make will be directly proportional to the speed the vehicle is traveling and inversely proportional to the speed the sandwich is eaten.
Dr. Funsteins third law of motion: On all motorcycles with a sidecar attached, all forces generated by road surface irregularities are absorbed by the sidecar passenger.
2. From Claude Stanley (Freedom Sidecars):
When riding a sidecar outfit with a passenger the comfortable speed for that passenger can be determined by the amount of times the operator's right leg is HIT. If the leg is tapped from time to time it is probably possible to increase speed gradually as the passenger may be able to tolerate this if tact is used. If the leg begins to get sore it is probably time to slow down for a while. Speed may or may not be able to be resumed. Use your own judgment. If the driver's leg is racked with pain and swelling badly it will be possible to ride much faster on your next outing as this particular passenger will probably not ride with you again. Note that results may vary dependant upon severity of passengers fear, good sense and willingness to have fun.
....and ....if your right leg causes you to limp at the end of the day you know you pushed the envelope a little too far.
3. From me, Snowbum; Principles and Etiquette for Sidecar Operation and Travel:
Engage brain before ignition key.
Before proceeding off: try to remember such things like you left the kitchen stove turned on ...or other such item needing a turn-around. Best time to remember such things is NOT 250 miles down the road ...in the rain ...on the way to your motel, ...which is NOT going to hold your reservation much longer.
Do not hold foot on sidecar brake pedal as air-born sidecar wheel comes back to the surface.
Do NOT let potential passengers (those who have never ridden in a sidecar, or seen one being ridden) see you practicing lifting the sidecar wheel, let alone Flying The Chair.
When sharing one ice cream cone it is best NOT to be smoking a cigar, before passing the cone to the sidecar passenger, your wife (if potential wife, you just ruined your chances). It is best to order one single cone, and one double-dipper, and to offer the double-dipper to your passenger first, and if she refuses, you got the one you wanted anyway, and have shown your regards for her at the same time.
If being excessively bothered by sidecar passenger's antics, such as hand slapping your leg, or blood-curdling-screams in the intercom ...from such as sliding around corners at warp 6, or lifting the sidecar wheel to 30° or so ....it is best to remove the intercom, place a steel barrier between your leg and the sidecar, and install an small blinking red LED lamp at the top of your windshield, activated by the sidecar passenger via a push-button. Be sure to cover that lamp with black electrical tape before proceeding off, after all you don't REALLY want to see it blinking furiously. A cheaper alternative is very effective ear plugs .....you may shout: 'what did you say?...'.
For passengers that insist on using a Smart Phone whilst underway, instead of enjoying the scenic drive you are providing, especially in mountain twisties with no guard rails and 2,000 foot drop-offs, you should, well ahead of such a contemplated trip, begin to collect airliner-type sick bags, keeping them in a convenient holder placed in the sidecar, very much within visual scan of the passenger. Explain how watching scenery eliminates motion sickness. This helps keep your speed & fun factor UP >>>>besides, vomit and its smell is a mess to clean up.
It is not considered polite to use excessive speed nor turn sharpness in turns away from the hack, lest the nose dig into the terra firma & thus cause passenger complaints. The same thing applies to abrupt turns towards the hack, which result in lifting the sidecar wheel. If you want to lift the sidecar wheel, do it slowly and gently, to avoid the passenger noticing. Lifting in excess of maybe 10° will be noticed, loudly, or with some attention to your right leg.
Whether or not your passenger is the type that enjoys roller-coasters, sky-diving, etc., always, when in steep mountainous canyon areas, try to have the sidecar wheel close to the right edge of the road, so that the view downwards by the hack passenger is more thrilling. This is best done where no guard rail hides the passenger's view. This will result, even with very roller-coaster-experienced passengers, in your leg being massaged by the passenger, which you must regard as Great Joy & Pleasure Hits & Slaps; so put up with the bruising, ....simply disregard ...and continue on, even more spiritedly, perhaps demonstrating your well-practiced sliding abilities. See #5, below.
It is not good form to run out of gasoline on a rainy night UNLESS this is either in a wooded area remote from other folks & you are prepared for overnight camping & you want to know your passenger better & more intimately. NICE PLANNING, DUDE!.....
.........or, a motel is just ahead.
NEVER EVER!! forget that a sidecar is attached on a particular side of the motorcycle.
It is good form and shows you have learned a few things, ....to slide your butt to one side of the seat or the other, to help in proper cornering, providing you do not leave the seat entirely for long.
Don't EVER trust that the 1st gear you are using as an emergency brake. It could slip out of gear, the rig take off by itself, over a cliff. Carry a block of wood for use at the front or rear tire, as needed.
Take time to smell the roses, life is short. If no roses about, try a snifter of Lagavulin.
A full cooler of margarita mix, ice, & 12 volt operated blender, will GREATLY increase one's popularity at group camp sites. So will a mini-keg of homebrew. Do visit my campsites....I always have my Margarita blender with me. You can bring some fixn's.
Offer to 'trade rides' with pilots at small airfields. Usually you never have to trade, just jump into their biplane, etc., and enjoy. Don't bother asking if their ride is a corporate Learjet, Cessna Citation, or a Boeing 747, any other airplane will do.
BE SURE to WAVE at Grandma's, Police, little kids (they grow up, you know), and cuties ......if you are solo on the rig. Do it even if not driving solo. If YOUR cutie is in the hack, I suggest keeping your hands on the bars.
4. From Al Olme, regarding Parking a Sidecar rig at a Busy Place...
This really isn't about sidecar operation but rather sidecars while they aren't being operated. You will be approached by individuals who will find it all but impossible not to tell you their sidecar stories, about their uncle ...or ...aunt, second cousin, friend, grandparent, grandparent's friend, etc. who had (once had, wants to get, wishes he had, wouldn't have anything to do with) a sidecar, trike, Servicar, Isetta (which actually had four wheels except in England), Bond, Morgan, childhood tricycle. In this situation, smile and hand them a USCA membership flyer. Tell them about all the great Internet resources and if you have time, offer them a ride. Agree that, yes, it IS different than riding a solo bike, no, the sidecar doesn't come off that easily (don't bother with the idea that you don't want to take the sidecar off, that will just confuse them), no, it isn't necessarily an old bike, yes, they still make these things, no you don't HAVE to ride with a sidecar, you just LIKE to ride with a sidecar. But NEVER go on an errand with your rig where you have to park at a busy place and try to be in a hurry. It just won't work (and that's a good thing!).
5. From 'Fly' in Ohio...I think we are all in agreement that sidecars handle different from other vehicles particularly on right turns, since sidecars tend to lift the sidecar wheel in right turns and to many this is worrisome. Some type of sensor should be used to inform the operator that the sidecar wheel is coming up. My solution to this is an audible sensor installed in the sidecar. When entering a right turn too fast and the sidecar wheel starts to lift, Mrs. Fly lets out a blood-curdling scream and I know to set the wheel back on the pavement. She calms down and we travel merrily on our way.
6. From Bob Z of Wisconsin...Caution! DO NOT buy ice-cream cones at the McDonalds drive-through and then continue down the highway, passing the cone back and forth with your sidecar passenger. MIGHT get very messy! Besides, your passenger will end up eating half of yours!
7. From Snowbum's better half, Penny:
Number one in importance is that all manner of gear can be strapped onto the rig provided one has enough bungee cords. Try not to exceed highway height and width maximums! Once in camp, the driver must spend all his time 'checking the rig' until the passenger has set up the tent, cooking center, and camp chairs. When that is completed, the driver then joins the passenger, asking if there's anything he can do to help. It's important NOT to make this transition too soon. Number two is especially important if rain is eminent. Be sure to get the rain cover on the cycle first, before erecting the tent, etc. Potty stops: consider the anatomy of your passenger in selecting a site for a quick potty stop when out for a ride in the country. (snowbum sez he always watches out for the anatomy of the passenger....or potential passengers....on his travels).
09/05/2014: Revise for better use on smaller screens.
10/05/2014: Combine from old stuff.htm, re-number article, etc.
08/15/2015: Add photo..
10/31/2015: Add photo.
03/28/2016: Revise metatags and generally clean up article.
04/04/2016: Add photo of the kids on the race rig.
11/14/2016: Metas, scripts, HTML, general cleanup.
04/22/2019: Reduce excessive html, colors, fonts. Add 10pxl margins. Cleanup.
© Copyright 2019, R. Fleischer
Return to Technical Articles List Page
Return to HomePage
Last check/edit: Monday, July 22, 2019