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The Machines

Racing sidecars take a little explaining because of their strange appearance.  They are just as alien to look at, as they are to operate.  Picture, if you will, a street motorcycle with a bolt-on sidecar, and then add years of evolution, leaving us with a machine that looks very different than the machine it was derived from, much like a Formula One race car compares to a standard car.

Very unstable and difficult to steer and operate, sidecars are difficult to go fast on – always on the verge of flipping or spinning out.  It takes two very skilled operators to master the techniques required for speed.

With the driver at the controls of the bike, the ‘Passenger’ works back and forth, transferring body weight to keep the machine from flipping over and to provide traction and stability.  Without the passenger, the driver couldn’t achieve half the speeds possible.

LCR Formula One
The ultimate expression of engineering, the F1 class allows a longer wheelbase and rear engine mounting to make the machine more stable at speed.  Multi-link suspension and monocoque construction are allowed, though tube frames with forks are still used and often preferred.  With all this technology, the third wheel (often referred to as ‘chairwheel’) is fitted with a brake, but is not allowed to use steering or suspension. Typically a multi-cylinder superbike engine is used with a displacement up to 1200cc is used.
cor-blimey Formula Two
Created decades ago for club racing as an affordable alternative to the spiraling cost of exotic rear engine F1s, the exquisite tube frames of these machines are now as expensive and exotic as F1. Steering must be done with more conventional forks, usually leading link type, and the frame must be constructed of steel tubing.  The short wheelbase machines have a more conventional engine position under the driver.  Like in F1, the chairwheel is braked but not steered or suspended. A top form F2 team with lightweight and spry handling can match an F1 on a tight track.  Engine displacement up to 600cc is allowed.
clark vintage Vintage
These machines represent an earlier stage in evolution. Most machines still use larger diameter motorcycle wheels with treaded tires.  Many different designs and formats for vintage bikes can be found, as evolution of the racing sidecar is a colorful and creative one.  The current crop of vintage sidecars here in North America typically uses a conventionally mounted, air cooled twin such as a Yamaha XS650 or BMW boxer. The most interesting difference on a vintage rig, is the fact that passenger exits in front of the chairwheel, requiring a different riding technique. 

 

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