What makes you tick #1 – My scootering life in sidecars | FEATURE
Trikes and sidecars have always baffled me, in my mind, they’re for people who are scared of riding around corners on two wheels. Or for folks who have some kind of disability that stops them from riding an ordinary scooter. Perhaps others are just taking advantage of the age-old ‘ride what you want if it has a sidecar attached’ without passing your test rule – and no that one doesn’t still apply in modern-day Great Britain.
Obviously, back in the day when scooters were the primary mode of transport for many, a sidecar was the perfect way to upgrade your daily transport when the time came to take your young family out. Most ordinary folk simply couldn’t afford a car back then but this is the 21st century. Using a sidecar makes your already fairly sedate mode of transport even slower, plus you lose all the traffic busting abilities of a nimble scooter and lose out on the fun and thrill of riding around those lovely twisties. Perhaps we’re missing the point though?
What makes you tick?
We all own and ride scooters for different reasons. Many of us like all kinds of two (or 3) wheeled machine whilst others have a very specific preference. Maybe you only ride chops, cutdowns or ratty original scooters. You could be fiercely Lambretta, Vespa, or favour another completely marque.
Tell us why you ride a specific style of scooter, or what got you interested in scooters in the first place. Surely nobody ‘normal;’ would choose to ride long distance on one of these unsuitable machines… would they?
Email us with your story to: Editorial@ScooterLab.uk let’s see what makes you tick.
I’d never entertained the thought that some Scooterists might actually just like them and use sidecars for their novelty factor and other benefits, like carrying loads of luggage/supplies and the odd poorly friend. Anyway, here’s why three wheels make Doug Turner tick…
What on earth makes you buy a sidecar? For many, I suppose you just want to be different. My scooter riding days started on my 16th birthday, thanks to Joc (Nick) Warren for the purchase of my smallframe Vespa – GDL 327N – registered as a 50. And this is where my scootering spiralled.
Where it all began
After doing all the Nationals in ’82 from my home on the Isle of Wight, I needed something different than my trusty P200E. So, scouring the old Exchange and Mart (remember the pre-internet days?), I came across FLJ 462V, a standard blue P150X and Squire PV1 sidecar. The gearing on the 150 was the same as the 125, which made it more viable than putting it on a P200E, so this was a popular choice for a combo. Owned by a postwoman in Croyden, with the bike originating from Poole, Dorset. I took the train up from the Isle of Wight, with the proceeds of my P200E, a deal was gonna be done.
Collected from the station by Postwoman Patricia, taken to her garage and true to form the deal was done… What choice did I have? I only had a single train ticket and needed to get home. The scooter was in excellent condition, until I rode it back to the Isle of Wight. Getting slightly overzealous, down Devil’s Dyke I veered across the road and hit the side wall on the A3. You learn fast when driving a sidecar. I got away with cosmetic damage to the front mudguard but this helped to bring me down to earth a bit.
Sidecar ‘safely’ back home and my first major outing on it was to Great Yarmouth. Shaun Hatcher and I went up with the rest of the Isle of Wight Jaguars. This rally was followed by Brighton, where I purchased a 180 kit for it. Many rallies were achieved that year, but moving to London kicked in. I sold the sidecar and I was off. The sidecar was now the property of Gus, a skinhead on the Isle of Wight.
London came and went. Back to the island, then I was off to live in Worthing. Before you know it, I was living and working overseas riding a Vespa. Soon after the end of the first Gulf War I returned to the UK with my trusty T5, with a Valencia matriculation (registration). This soon also had a sidecar fitted. Whilst living in Angmering (Worthing), kicking around with Alex, Erol, Gerry (RIP) Vulcan SC and of course Eddie from the Dirty Devils.
The T5 in my opinion, with the gearing at the top end, is the best Vespa out of the box to fit a sidecar. A few rallies later and I am up in Bromley. Sidecar sold and riding my GP.
The world’s my oyster
The Lambrettas kicked in big style now, affluent enough to have a car and a scooter, the world is my oyster. All goes quiet until I want to build an AF 80s replica GP, then a 60s replica Watford AF ‘S’ Type….what else to do but build the IoM Replica AF and Sidecar. Lovely TV175 grey, painted by Bedlam. More importantly, the restoration of the Bambini was superb. Pulling in a couple of show winners at A2 Aces in Northern Ireland, a surprise win in 2018 at the LCGB Llangollen rally and a special mention at the AF 50th Anniversary event. I used it and kept it to transport club member Colin around the rally world after losing his licence due to a heart attack – we had loads of fun.
One of the greatest rallies was the Isle of Man, 2016. I’m not a big fan of the rally, so only go every four to six years, one night only. I took a friend’s wife out and we did some of the circuit, in the paddocks and got loads of attention.
A2 Aces in 2017 to Northern Ireland, I took Colin in the sidecar, did well until Liverpool when we f*cked the rear hub. Colin went to the ferry with Huey on his GTS and I got trailered to Harry Barlow’s. He put Andrea’s hub on mine, but too late for the ferry. P&O were great, they let me go in the evening by myself and I took the trusty GP. When I had Colin’s weight in the sidecar, I never realised we’d sheered the rear hub!
I moved (and still do) the engine from the GP to the Li, when I fitted the sidecar to it, it pulled like a juggernaut… perfect in a straight line. When we took three AFs to the 50th Anniversary event, Coops and Lil Brian wanted to go A-roads from Leeds, I pointed out that no way was I going via all those roundabouts. I went motorway and got to the site about two hours before them. The classic Rapido ‘S’ type was wasted in it, so the engine came back out and Ben Kemp built me a small block 200, with 22mm Jetex, AF twin-pipe clubman (best ever for the sidecar) and 200 top end with an RB20 head. It had an obvious 125 gearbox, but the “piece de la resistance” was the small hole drilled in the inlet port, allowing it to start easier, a bit like trail bikes with low compression.
Take it away!
After the trophy winner in Llangollen, boredom kicked in with all my scooters and I wanted a clear out, except the combo. I decided to sell the sidecar only but got offered silly money to sell it complete, now it is sat in a museum in Hong Kong.
Nice one Squire
The final sidecar is the AF ‘S’ Type, 210 Skeleton and original Squire CV1 (Commercial Vehicle). This was built just to make the purists hearts beat a little faster.
Not only did Colin Strath and I cut down a full-frame Italian Li150 Special, I then matt blacked it with rattle cans. It is the same spec as my other AF – Ben Kemp built, 30mm del’Orto and Fresco pipe…. never fails. Currently running in and at a rally near you soon. I was up for taking it to Gingers for the cancelled egg run, but now it may be Oddballs instead (if we’re lucky) – see you soon.
It is a party piece currently but ultimately it’s to go on my Spanish Li150 Special, but I will enjoy it now while I can. Everyone should have a sidecar as a second ride, they are fun and adored by all. You just have to remember that they ride the opposite to a conventional scooter.
If anyone is interested in Lambretta and sidecars or scooter and sidecars, there are a few Facebook pages. For us anoraks, we host Lambretta Sidecar page – international memberships, lots of help and tips but you need a sidecar to be accepted.
Words and photos: Doug Turner
Doug’s sidecar gallery