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Posted by harry on March 18, 2009, 10:03 pm
Bit more up to date info here:-

Posted by Johnny B Good on March 21, 2009, 3:54 am
from david.williams@bayman.org (David Williams) contains these words:



 There's no doubt that the driving skills required for a modern 4
wheeled car on today's roads with their overcautious and rigorously
enforced speed limits are far lower than those required for a three
wheeler of whatever configuration.

 However, the additional safety afforded by a sidecar attachment to a
solo motorcycle making it a three wheeled combo, was officially
acknowledged by the provisional (learner's) motorcycle driving licence
allowing unlimited engine capacity beyond the 250cc limit that applied
in the case of a solo motorcycle in the UK back in the 70s.

 The last I heard was that the provisional licence capacity limit had
been dropped to a mere 125cc (I blame the Japs for offering excessively
tuned 250cc motorbikes which greatly increased the number of learner
riders suffering fatal injuries whilst riding on a provisional licence).
For all I know, in view of our UK Government's 'nanny state' attitude,
the limit might well now be even lower. However, I do wonder whether the
provisional motorcycle driving licence still acknowledges the additional
safety of three wheels over two by allowing a higher capacity limit for
a sidecar outfit.

Regards, John.

 Please remove the "ohggcyht" before replying.
The address has been munged to reject Spam-bots.

Posted by Tim Jackson on March 21, 2009, 10:33 am
 Johnny B Good wrote:

As a combination rider of that era, I always thought the license
exemption was simply because the increased weight and dreadful wind
resistance made them incredibly slow unless you had a big engine. Their
safety was hardly to be recommended to anyone, and I don't think their
safety record was anything to write home about either.

They have a handling characteristic unlike any other. For example it is
the only vehicle on the road in which the centre of power and braking is
not in line with the centre of mass, so in slippery conditions a
suitably insane rider can steer by simply opening and closing the throttle.

Another feature is the asymmetry of stability, when turning in one
direction (left in the UK) without a passenger it behaves pretty much
like a solo motorcycle, (cutting a corner while lifting the side-car
wheel clear of the curb is easy, but embarrassing if you get it wrong)
in the other it handles like a four-wheeler.

The license exemption still exists after a fashion, nowadays motorcycles
are classified as light, standard or large (or moped), according to both
total power and power-to-weight-ratio.  Standard combinations are
exempted from the power limit, only power-to-weight applies.  You have
to be 21 or two years out from passing the standard test, to ride a
large motorcycle.


Tim Jackson

Posted by Johnny B Good on March 21, 2009, 1:27 pm

 Well, in the hands of an over-exuberant solo motorcycle rider with a
seeming "Darwin Award" wish, they _could_ be fatal, but most riders
taking to a sidecar combination for the first time were suitably
circumspect about their riding style until they'd gradually approached
the limits, only 'pushing their luck' when they had 'runout room' to
allow them to recover from over-ambitiously high speed left handers.

 Indeed, but once the rider had become acquainted with the handling
characteristics (hopefully, under more controlled circumstances), it
could be a much safer vehicle than a solo motorcycle.

 I used to regularly do this "sidecar wheel in the air" left hand
cornering _with_ passengers (in the sidecar ;-), but only when I clearly
had 'runout' space available to do this with some margin of safety.


 Thanks for that info, Tim. It seems the limits haven't changed all that
much since I last checked them out some ten years or so back (probably
around the time of my son's 16th birthday ;-)

 If I recall correctly, a standard car driving licence includes category
P to allow car drivers to legally ride mopeds without the need for an
explicit motorcycle class of licence as was the case, back in the 70s or
80s (possibly this doesn't get added until after a year or three of
holding the car driving licence - the driving licence categories have
become somewhat more complex over the past 40 odd years).

 I don't know about others, but as a 16 year old, I was a rather afraid
of my very first motorbike, a secondhand 98cc James Cadet 100 (with two
speed gearbox!) that my dad had bought from a work mate at the Speke
Metalbox factory.

 I recall that, after a couple of practice runs up and down the road
behind the factory, I dismounted it a couple of times to wheel it part
of the way on my 2 mile or so journey over the fields between the
factory and home. Prior to that, my only two wheeled vehicle experience
had been of the pushbike kind. These days, a teenager faces a much
smaller transition experience between a pushbike and a modern
lightweight moped.

Regards, John.

 Please remove the "ohggcyht" before replying.
The address has been munged to reject Spam-bots.

Posted by Tim Jackson on March 21, 2009, 4:36 pm
 Johnny B Good wrote:

Oh it could, You could say the same thing about solos though: if you
survived the first couple of years then you had probably learned how to
ride it.  In either case it is a matter of the rider becoming acquainted
with the dangers. I'd find it hard to say which was *inherently* safer,
but I think the combination rider had less incentive to take risks
(outside of the Manx TT), especially if it was a Triumph Thunderbird
with valuable wife and baby in a Watsonian double-adult sidecar.

Hey, that was the first bike I rode too, some lad riding one around on a
local bomb-site (remember those?) gave me a go on his.  Can't say it
ever frightened me though.

Then at 16 a friend of the family gave me a boxful of Italian moped bits
including in theory at least one complete bike. That was a baptism of
fire in both engineering and road use.

But a much larger transition between not-road and road.


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