Believe it or not the 37th running of the annual Griffith Park
Sidecar rally was busted up by the cops, specifically the Park
Rangers who apparently went into Homeland Security Mode
when a record-breaking crowd of several thousand bike fans
showed up for the event. Huell Howser's PBS KCET TV’s popular
“California Gold” show spotlighted the event a couple days
before so apparently the media lit the fuse. In any case, there
was not one inch of parking space in the whole area and people
in their cars trying to have their tofu barbecues and wedding
celebrations freaked out. Thus the "camp cops" ordered the
sidecar show shutdown at 1:00 PM. Still, call the event a major
success, the largest gathering in its history.
The event was founded by Doug “Mr. Sidecar” Bingham, the
nation’s leading force behind the promotion of the joys of
sidecar riding. Back in 1969 Doug founded a company called
Side Strider and began designing and building street sidecars.
Besides production rigs from Harley-Davidson, Doug’s “Bingham
MK-1" when introduced was the first sidehack made available to
the public for literally decades, the event even marked within the
pages of the December 1969 issue of Popular Science Magazine.
It was no surprise to see some racing “cars” at this year’s
event since Doug himself was a racer having campaigned a BMW
R60 production sidecar at the AMA National Sidecar Road Race
at the Laguna Seca circuit in California, circa 1974. His hands-
on experience with road racing sidecars and off-road outfits
contributed to the success of his growing business. His
reputation also garnered him, in 1972, exclusive U.S. distributor
status by Watsonian, the world’s oldest and best known sidecar
More recently Doug was inducted into the National
Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame for his achievements as a
designer/inventor, as a racer and for his contributions to the
advancement of motorcycling in general. Doug is also the
Director of the Sidecar Industry Council which addresses
standardized engineering, promotes a focused strategy for
marketing and a greater cooperation with government agencies
as well as the dissemination of information. In other words, if
Doug puts on a sidecar rally, they will come. And they came in
droves for the 37th annual event. He sums up the day with the
following, “We overwhelmed the park. The Rangers had no idea
how big this event was going to get, the biggest ever. Next year
I’m going to take out a permit for the whole damn area.” If this
year’s rally was any indication, Doug and the Griffith Sidecar
Rally will need it for next year.
The pictures tell the story so enjoy the ride.
Three Wheels and Four Legs in the Wind
The dog’s name is Harpo, apparently a reference to one of
the famous Marx
Brothers who had a similar hair-do. Speaking of hair, the
redhead is the lovely DeeDee Delsyer while the 1933 AJS with
“boat” sidecar happens to her own machine that she’s owned for
13 years. “Harpo’s been riding sidecars for four years and he
absolutely loves it,” says DeeDee. “It does wonders for
fluffing up his fur.” Piloting the rig is veteran sidecar fan Paul
Greenstein, himself the owner of several bikes.
Miguel Rodriguez from Montebello, daughters, sons and
nieces all enjoy riding his 2008 Anniversary Edition H-D with a
color matched Spaulding sidecar. He’s only being sidehacking
for three months, but says, “It’s awesome, I love it and so do the
kids. A sidecar lets your whole family enjoy motorcycling.”
Mike attached a Motovation sidecar to his very spiffy gold
and black 2001 Centennial Anniversary Edition Indian. The trick
paint and wheels were factory issue. “We painted the sidecar to
match and were very lucky to find an additional Centennial wheel
for the sidecar in an attic so that all three wheels match.
Based around a 750cc BMW “boxer twin” Harry Meeker built
himself a Speed record chaser that’s blasted across the salts at
both El Mirage and Bonneville. The turbo-charged and nitrous
equipped vintage “flying chair”
Established a record at 130+ mph at El Mirage and at Bonneville
the sidecar, clocked 138 mph. When asked if a passenger aka
“monkey” rode along for the record attempts, Harry says, “No
passenger…only ambulance service for one.”
Eco-Friendly Sidecar Going Electric
This very techno looking sidecar is in the process of evolving into no
less than a three-wheeled “car” in the real sense of the word thanks to
Wayne Moule of Bakersfield, CA. As we speak it is being built with an electric powerplant and will carry two-passengers in air-conditioned comfort. The Goldwing is hitched to a Hannigan GTL sidecar for which Wayne innovated a heating/air conditioner. When asked how long he’s been
sidehacking, Wayne replies since 1971. Asked if he ever rode two-wheels,
he smiles and says, “What’s that?” (more info at www.trikesrus.org or call
Formula One Slider
Sean Bakken races a Formula One sidecar to speeds in excess of 160 mph.
His machine, built in New Zealand, is powered by a rear-mounted 2003 Yamaha R-1 1000cc four-cylinder nestled in a tubular steel frame wrapped in a fiberglass body. Sean races at Laguna Seca and Willow Springs among other avenues. Says Sean, “I’m a car guy but got talked into building one of these things, and it’s now an addiction. And it so happens that my passenger is Roger Preston, one of the honchos at AHRMA.” Currently Sean holds 6th National position F-1 sidecar racing.
Thousands of solo bike riders also gravitated to the event, including L.A resident Jason Heart on his 1981 Goldwing given the U.S. Army treatment. He sprayed the bike himself in military green and added .50 caliber ammo containers for saddlebags. He was just back from a month long, 5,000 miles adventure across the country where he visited many of the country’s National Parks. Everyone loved this bike so it was fantastic to take it across the country, "I met a lot great people who come over to talk about the bike and figure out what it was," Jason said. "It’s been a real treat riding this guy around. And you never have to worry about the paint getting scratched.”
V is for Vespa
Michael James and his Mom Elizabeth showed up on their 2007 Piaggio
Vespa scooter/sidecar. The combo belong to Mom who takes it grocery
shopping. “Mother says it’s the Baby Boomer’s gas saver,” laughs
Michael and one look at scooter sales lately literally tell you that they’re
Mike Holt builds special sidecars for the physically challenged and by
the way he tossed this machine through its acrobatic paces, it’s no challenge to handle. Riding atop the 1978 Honda 750 Automatic was his
aspiring biker buddy Frankie.
After a couple knee surgeries and many decades of two-wheeling, Margie and her husband Walt were turned onto their 2000 Honda Shadow Aero powered sidecar rig by their son and then added the cargo trailer found on eBay. They have been happily hacking it for the past three years. “I love it, but not freeways,” she admits. “So we take the backroads all over the place and smell the roses. You’re never too old to have fun.”
Giving it the Boot
Attached to this new 2008 Triumph Bonneville is a Hedingham XL, a sidecar built by the British company Unity who also makes the leading link front suspension conversion kit recommended for sidecar use. The sidecar has the look of a boot and its owner gets that comparison often. No stranger to the unusual, its owner Larry Grenville from Van Nuys, CA also put together a 1978 Ducati Darmah with a Globe sidecar, a very unusual combo to say the least.
Buellish on Sidecars
You can attach a sidecar to about any bike, case in point the Buell sportbike. A veteran of several sidecar combos, the owner of this 2001 Cyclone rig says, “I love the Buell. It’s been trouble free, comfortable,
runs like a dream and pulls a sidecar great.”
Whether you ride solo or sidehack or rickshaw mark the annual Griffith Park Sidecar Rally on your calendar. For more info on the next event and all things sidecar log onto www.sidestrider.com or call Doug Bingham at 818-780-5542.