Once a year, the popular Los Angeles Griffith Park – known for its world-class zoo, Gene Autry Museum and Griffith Planetarium – offers another attraction, serving as a gathering point for fans of the sidecar, a.k.a. sidehack. Attendees trundle in on three wheels from all over the country for the annual Griffith Park Sidecar Rally, now celebrating its 44th event. All shapes and sizes, from antiques and classics to super swoopy high-tech wonders arrive, each rig as unique as its owner. This year’s rally also attracted many spectators rolling in on two-wheelers who enjoy learning about another aspect of motorcycling.

The event was founded by Doug “Mr. Sidecar” Bingham, the country’s leading edge in sidecar design and promotion of the sport. The decades-spanning event is akin to a family reunion; many of the rigs that showed were built by Doug 30 or more years previously. Founder of the Side Strider company in 1969 and also a long-time sidecar racer, Bingham was inducted into the U.S. National Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame for his achievements as a designer/inventor and for his contributions to the advancement of motorcycling in general.

My images of the many stellar machines and their equally stellar riders hopefully provides a taste of the event and an encouragement to perhaps venture onto three wheels. Adding an extra chair always helps to attract more friends.

Best Shifting Gears by former TV Late Nite Host. Jay Leno rumbled up on a major chunk of history, an Excelsior Henderson four-cylinder.

Best Shifting Gears by former TV Late Nite Host. Jay Leno rumbled up on a major chunk of history, an Excelsior Henderson four-cylinder.

Every sidecar rally needs at least one flying chair!

Every sidecar rally needs at least one flying chair!

Best Isle of Man Buddies. Geoff Hughes, Isle of Man resident, and his California racer buddy, Warner Grayson.

Best Isle of Man Buddies. Geoff Hughes, Isle of Man resident, and his California racer buddy, Warner Grayson.

Despite the thermometer tripping the triple digits thanks to L.A.’s heat wave, a wide spectrum of very cool machines were in attendance, hailing from as far away as Canada and the Isle of Man. Geoff Hughes, who not only served as one of the TT event marshals for 35 years, is also rated as a World Champion sidecar racer, having piloted Triumphs and BMWs. He arrived aboard a blue and white 1972 Triumph 500cc Twin with a 1952 made-in-India Globe sidecar.

Best Bingo Street-Legal Monster.

Best Bingo Street-Legal Monster.

This 1970s 1000cc Ironhead Sportster was campaigned by Dave Roach back in the day, and it was Wolfy’s dream to own and make it street legal. Asked how it was to ride, Wolfy smiles and says, “It’s a rush.” When asked what he did in real life, he smiles again and says, “I deliver bingo supplies.”

Perhaps even rarer was the Beta Project. A Chinese replica of a flathead, sidevalve 1938 BMW R71, the Beta Project is owned by John Heim, who brought the machine from China 13 years ago. The only other existing example, the Alpha, is still ridden by the original builder in China.

Best from China with Flathead Love Bike.

Best from China with Flathead Love Bike.

Produced in China by the People’s Liberation Army, almost all 4,000 original bikes were melted down during Mao’s infamous Cultural Revolution. The owner says he runs airplane oil and has never had a mechanical problem with the bike. When asked why he wanted it, John laughs and says, “Because no one else has one.”

Best Hack Attack.

Best Hack Attack.

Mike Koldberg teamed a 1980 Honda 400T with a Thomson Cycle Car chassis topped by a 1980s “ice cream box” and now employs the refrigerated sidehack as a delivery vehicle for his medical lab supply company.

Best Beemer Me Up Scotty.

Best Beemer Me Up Scotty.

With seven classic Beemers in his collection and literally hundreds of thousands of miles ridden aboard them, Eugene Garcin recently survived a frame-breaking encounter with one of L.A.’s growing number of freeway potholes, but he finished repairs on this 1954 R51/3 the day before the rally. Meanwhile, his R69US recently took home honors from the Quail Lodge show.

Best Scary Cool Ride.

Best Scary Cool Ride.

While Mike Vils’ 1929 Harley-Davidson JD, aka “Mean Green,” also carries a factory Harley sidecar, he rode it to the rally in solo form. Well known for his antique bike restorations, custom racers and paint work, Vils took part in the 2012 16-day Cannonball Run for pre-1930 bikes, riding from Newburg, NY to San Francisco. This bike also happens to be his daily driver. Mike’s beefed up the performance saying, “It started out making 6 hp, now it makes 30 and will go 70 mph all day long.” His plans for the bike, “Just ride the wheels off it. That’s what they were built for, not to get dusty in some museum.”

Best Ride the Hack Out of it to Everest Rig.

Best Ride the Hack Out of it to Everest Rig.

This one-off, super heavy duty hack was fabricated by Boxer Metal. Based on a design by Raphael Bertolus, the 2002 BMW 1150 Adventurer is used as a chase vehicle for RawHyde Adventures. The special rig carries an additional 11-gallons of gas, serves as a medical transport, and has an espresso machine.

Best Ratified Harley.

Best Ratified Harley.

Chris Birkett, originally from Australia and now making his home in Reseda, CA, has spent years adding to the patina of his 1966 Harley Electra Glide and factory sidecar. His girlfriend, Olivia, adds the extra umbrella touch. The bike has worn out two motors, first a Knucklehead, then a Shovel during its extensive travels, and is now powered by an Evo for which Paughco fashioned a custom frame. The hack was originally put together in 1980 by the award-winning custom bike builder, Paul Wheeler. Chris has added what he calls a “few modifications” during the 300,000 miles it’s clocked, including a round-the-U.S. tour in 1983, and, more recently, a trip to South Dakota for the 75th Anniversary Sturgis Rally.

101415-44th-hackarama- aussie tank top 2a

Best Sidehack Café Racer for Sale.

Best Sidehack Café Racer for Sale.

BMW 60/6 “toaster tank” also happened to be for sale, asking price $5k.

Best Spitfire in Disguise.

Best Spitfire in Disguise.

It does have three wheels like a Spitfire… The S&S-powered Morgan looks like it only needs a pair of wings to take flight. Looks like the same Morgan the MO crew thrashed in its three-wheeler shootout.

Polaris Slingshot vs. Can-Am Spyder F3-S vs. Morgan 3 Wheeler

Best Tandem Flyer. This VW-powered trike was another alternative vehicle attracted to the event.

Best Tandem Flyer. This VW-powered trike was another alternative vehicle attracted to the event.

Best Honey I Shrunk the Sidecar. Don’t you just want to run up and hug it?

Best Honey I Shrunk the Sidecar. Don’t you just want to run up and hug it?

Best Dog-gone Dog with its own sidecar.

Best Dog-gone Dog with its own sidecar.

Pup’s name is Timmy, his name printed on the 1970 Jawa Velorex sidecar matched to Sherry’s 2007 Honda Shadow. She found the sidecar at last year’s Griffith Park event.

Best Mobile Advertisement. Okay, please no nasty notes to the ASPCA.

Best Mobile Advertisement. Okay, please no nasty notes to the ASPCA.

Best Three-Up Bye Bye. See ya next year at the 45th Griffith Park Sidecar Rally.

Best Three-Up Bye Bye. See ya next year at the 45th Griffith Park Sidecar Rally.

 

  • JWaller

    Cool. Sidecars. Just bought a Ural Patrol in August, based partly on Tom’s enthusiastic review of the Gear-Up that he did in 2014. Once you go hack, you don’t go back, or so I’ve heard. All I know is now that I have a side hack, I never want to be without one again. That being said, I’m not about to get rid of my 2-wheeled bikes either. I just don’t ride them nearly as often as before.

  • John A. Stockman

    I loved doing my annual ride to Griffith park for the sidecar rally. I started going before I had a 3-wheel/sidecar rig, from Olympia, WA to LA on my Kawasaki KZ440. Astronomy/astrophysics is another passion, so I’d always include a visit to the observatory and say hi to Laura Danly. Later when my physical condition started to get worse, the friends I made and all the contacts, plus the great ideas I got from going to the rally were instrumental in helping me decide which direction to take so I could keep on riding.

  • bigjames

    Well, the story on the Chinese rig is interesting (it is an earlier 6 volt CJ), complete BS and incredibly inaccurate but interesting. CJs are ubiquitous in China and came from a factory whose tooling was purchased from the USSR (may be you’ve heard of Ural/IMZ, that’s whose tooling it was, BMW’s before that.) Flat Heads were PLA (and definitely were not messed with by the cultural revolution.), OHV bikes came later and were civilian for the most part. I know of at least 10 ex-PLA bikes in this country, there are thousands in China. In other words, they are not particularly rare (just gray market here) and were produced in China from around 1957 to the 1990’s. You know, this is pretty common knowledge in sidecar circles. Alpha and Beta, please… Man, did this author ever get snowed on that one. Nice rigs, nice gathering and still nice to see Doug out self promoting! (and BTW, MO member since 1994)

    • hclayjones

      I know the builder of the Alpha and Beta, 6volt pos grd, an was present during the builds they are type one Changs and fairly rare…. the sidecar frame is also type one and a glance at most chang websites will illustrate the difference. That bike was built by LRM and the owner has indeed owned it since it’s birth.

    • Ken Holmes

      bigjames I have to agree with you mate. Complete bs! I can take anyone right now to at least 1 warehouse alone in Northern Central China with probably 50 bikes and 5 warehouses full of ex PLA spares including blackout covers, machine gun mounts, radios, trailers specifically for the CJ. Not to mention other warehouses I and many of my Chinese friends are aware of. My CJ in the background is a late model oil head fully rebuilt in Beijing a few years ago. More common than cats in China, both flathead and oilhead. Can take you to a shop in Heilongjiang where you can buy a new one off the showroom floor. registering it legally in China is a different issue. As for the only “type one” I would be keen to be redirected to some form of authenticity. Just saying……Incidentally I have friends who have produced their own water cooled versions.

      • Ken Holmes

        The CJ750 motorcycle is based on the original 1956 Soviet IMZ (Irbitski Mototsikletniy Zavod) M-72 which itself was derived from the earlier German 1938 BMW R71. Nearly all of them have sidecars. They are often erroneously referred to as BMW “replicas” when in fact, they are derivatives of the IMZ M-72.

        Production began in the late 1950s or early 1960s. (Different sources cite different dates.) They were originally produced for the Chinese military and are powered by an air-cooled, four-stroke, opposed flat-twin engine displacing 746cc. The rear wheel is shaft-driven.

        The most common models are:

        The M1 which has a sidevalve (flathead) engine and a 6V electrical system. This model is a clone of the M72 and closely resembles the 1938 BMW R71.

        The M1M is also a sidevalve, however it uses a 12V electrical system and is equipped with a reverse gear. It also has an electric starter where the M1 has only a kick-starter. These enhancements were designed with the help of German engineers.

        The M1S (or “Super”) uses an overhead-valve engine, 12V electrical system, electric starter and reverse gear. The OHV system is fundamentally of German BMW design.

        All three models use the same frame and sheet metal. The M1 and M1M are nearly identical in appearance, but they can be distinguished by observing certain details.

        CJ technological history includes racing bikes, experimental engines and futile attempts at modernizing the appearance of a long obsolete machine. Beginning in the mid-1980s, over a decade after the normalization of relations between China and the USA, China opened its markets to foreign motorcycle manufacturers which expedited the end of CJ750 mass production. Today, the marque is kept alive by interest from foreign hobbyists.

        History[edit]

        The CJ750 originated with the 1938 BMW R71, then, by way of the Soviet Dnepr M72, found its way to China as the Chang Jiang.

        Early Production[edit]

        In 1950, the Peoples Liberation Army Beijing No. 6 Automotive Works developed a military motorcycle by reverse engineering a German Zundapp KS500 motorcycle. The Zundapp-based machine entered production in 1951. 4,248 were built before military motorcycle production was transferred to the Hongdu and Xingjiang machinery plants. Both factories remain subsidiaries of the state-run aeronautics industry to this day.

        By the mid-1950s, the Soviets considered the M72 to be obsolete. China would soon acquire all the tooling and produce their own M72s. In light of this, the Zundapp-based machine was abandoned.

        The Chinese M72 was named the Chang Jiang 750. According to some sources, it entered production in November, 1957 at the state-owned Ganjiang machinery factory. Early production used Russian M72 parts. Early CJs were nearly identical to M72s.

        The Chang Jiang drivetrain has been revised several times since production began. From 1957-66, CJs were equipped with so-called Type I engines and transmissions. This drivetrain was almost identical to those of the R71 and M72.

        In September, 1966, production of the Type II engine and gearbox began. It was not until 1972 that the Type II engine replaced the Type I in general use. Continued use of the Type I engine in 1966-72 was the result of a surplus of Type I components. With so many Type I engines in use, parts remained in production until the early seventies. When the military serviced Type I bikes, they would replace the engines and/or gearboxes with Type II components. This was done for ease of maintenance, parts availability, and improved engine characteristics. Bikes with Type I engines often had their original gearboxes replaced with a Type II. Engines manufactured with a serial number of 661802 and higher are Type II.

        In the 1960s, the factory was renamed the State-Owned Changjiang Machinery Factory.

        In 1969, the CJ750 underwent some minor design changes, primarily related to sidecar frames and headlight-mounted switches. Gas tanks with built-in tool boxes appeared around this time.

        In the late-1970s, the factory was merged with airplane manufacturer Guo Ying Hongdu Ji Xie Chang. At this time, a 6V OHV engine with 30 horsepower was being developed. Only a few of these engines can be found today. They were quickly replaced with a 12V, 32 horsepower version.

        In December, 1980, a small number of 900 cc, OHV engines were produced in response to the acquisition of BMW motorcycles by the armed police. Only a handful of these machines were built, probably less than ten. Only a few 900 cc engines have been found.

        Modern production[edit]

        The 750 OHV upgrade appeared in the mid-eighties and entered production at the Ministry of Aviation and Space Engine Factory in Nanfang, Hunan Province. This marked the introduction of the M1S model.

        In 1986, the M1 model was upgraded with a 12V electrical system and a gearbox with reverse, and designated the M1M.

        External links[edit]

  • http://www.HellNoCancerShow.com/ Lena Starbird

    Anyone know when the rally at griffith park is for 2016?