Saturday 17 August 2019

What makes a motorcycle ride an "Adventure"?

We live in the era of the "Adventure Motorcycle", a world filled with adventure bikes, adventure tour companies, adventure bolt on goodies and even adventure trousers.

But what makes a motorcycle ride an adventure?

Clearly for me, it's not adventure trousers. I don't need a particular style of clothing to make me feel adventurous.

I read a lot of comments posted on various adventure motorcycling social media sites where the emphasis seems to be largely based around following the herd to a well know place or taking the well trodden path. A awful lot of people seem to want to be guided along the well trodden path by a precise route to a well known place that is often frequented by similar people doing the same thing.

Is this really an adventure? I don't think it is for me. I'm sure that if your current experience mostly involves riding to the local cafe in your adventure trousers then anything outside of that might be considered an adventure. Don't get stressed, I really do believe that adventure has different meanings for different people.

An adventure for some seems to mean travelling as far as possible by motorcycle, in as short a time as possible, covering as many different countries as is feasible, ideally with some exotic sounding locations included on the itinerary. But often these tours are performed in such a huge rush that there is very little time to actually appreciate any of the beauty or culture of the countries that the rider is passing rapidly through.

I got to thinking about this the other day when I set off from home and rode up into the mountains behind our home. After a brief 15km I was on part of what is known as the Trans Euro Trail, a relatively new part of the current Adventure motorcycling scene. The TET, as it is commonly known is a series of trails that have been researched and developed and freely shared in the form of gpx paths which people can use to follow a researched and proven off road trail around most of the countries in Europe.
I began by following part of the trail for a short distance, but became distracted by the outstanding beauty surrounding me and by my own sense of direction. I turned off the prescribed path without checking the route and began to enjoy the ride a lot more. I was on a similar type of trail in a similar area to the TET route, but for some unknown reason, it felt a lot more adventurous. I didn't even realise for several hours that I was not on the TET route. I had in the back of my mind a vague direction of travel, so when it came to a fork on the trail, I simply took the direction that I thought might lead me where I was heading, wherever that was.

It was only some time later, when I stopped and checked my location, that I realised that I had strayed. It felt good. It felt like an adventure. I wasn't following someone else's idea of a good time. I was never more than 50km from home.

I apply this type of riding to roads as well. If I'm away on a long trip, I don't really have any firm destination or plans. I have a vague sense of where to head, as in which country, but even that is flexible. I'll change my non-plan as often as I like, often based upon the weather or other factors.

Let's say I'm heading to Hungary and the weather their looks bad that afternoon, I'll turn off and head towards Austria if it looks better that way. I might end up heading back to Hungary the next day if it improves or not.

I might find myself in a particularly agreable place with an interesting town or just a good cafe. It might only be, say, 2pm, but I'll decide to stay there. If it's a really great place, I might stay 2 days or more. Then go back on the road.

All this is easily achievable with the resources available to us on the road. We all have mobile phones with or airbnb, every place in the world at any time of year will always have accomodation available somewhere, so why worry and pre-book, locking you into a solid plan that for me, at least, precludes any feeling of adventure?

I suppose that for me, adventure is synonymous with exploring. You aren't exploring if you are following the well trodden path, you are simply following in other's footsteps.

Ticking off a long list of notable sights or countries doesn't do it for me. I find my adventures in the unknown, the path that turns off the main drag, the random events and people I meet along the way.

What makes a motorcycle an adventure for you?

I am Rod Young, motorcyclist (adventures optional), sidecar builder and writer of The Sidecar Guides. Thanks for reading.

Wednesday 14 August 2019

A first time self-published book writer's experience

I am a new self published author and I am writing this blog post to help others who may be struggling with some of the issues that I have.

Here are my two self published books:

It all started last year when I decided to write a book to help motorcycle sidecar owners. I had closed my sidecar business in the UK and moved to Croatia a few years ago and have always enjoyed writing, so it seemed like a great project. I wanted to share my knowledge with sidecar people all around the world.

I began by asking questions on sidecar Facebook groups and helping people with their questions, although this is something I have always done. I asked people what topics they would like to see covered and suggested a list of subjects for the book.

After a while, it seemed that there was sufficient interest to go ahead and I had a good list of potential chapter headings. I decided to split the work into two separate books as there was a lot of information to cover. One would become The Sidecar Guide and the other, The Sidecar Technical Guide.
The first book would be aimed at potential sidecar owners, people who wanted to find out more before getting a sidecar, how to ride a sidecar,  or for people who already owned a sidecar and wanted more information.
The second book was for those that wanted to understand more about how their sidecar works, including lots of technical information on how to fit, setup and build a sidecar from scratch.

As the books would have lots of pictures, diagrams and drawings, I decided upon an A4 (US Letter) format.

I began writing the first book, which I was to discover was the easy part!

At the same time, at the end of 2018, I continued publicising the book on social media as I was writing. I wanted to generate as much interest as I could and continue to ask for ideas as the books developed.
I created a new Facebook Group where motorcycle sidecar people could ask questions about sidecars and share their experiences, this has been very useful in publicising the book and is a useful extra resource for my book customers.

In April 2019, prior to the books being completed, I launched a pre-order page on my own website and shared this information by social media and on busy sidecar forums online. The pre-orders were made as a special deal where buyers would get a signed copy and special pricing.
This helped me to fund the project as I had decided at that time to produce the physical books myself.

Pre-ordering went well and I was able to complete the first book in April. I printed some copies myself and bound them using a wire binding machine. These first copies went out to the buyers who bought just The Sidecar Guide in April. I was under pressure to complete The Sidecar Technical Guide and get it sent out to the customers.

I chose to write the words for the books using Google Docs, then when each book was written, I transferred the copy to Affinity Publisher, which is a new page layout application. At that time it was in Beta and was free to use. It is an excellent piece of software.
I could then add all the various images and layout the pages. I had to spend many days producing the engineering drawings and diagrams to fill the books.

I missed my first self imposed deadline by some time, but I kept in touch with my pre-order customers and they were all very understanding and supportive, as they knew that the books were not complete when they ordered.

Once The Sidecar Technical Guide was finished, I had orders of over 100 of each book and spent a long time printing and binding these books. This turned out to be a very time consuming process and the postage to various countries was expensive. Since I live in Croatia, all of my books were sold internationally from my own website. I had Paypal buttons on my website for payment, which worked well.

I managed to get all the books printed and posted but decided that I should investigate producing an eBook version which I had not previously considered. This was because of the time required to produce a book and get it posted to the other side of the world, it just was not fast enough and the cost was too high.

I used Amazon's KDP program and software to produce the eBooks from my own PDF copies. This is not as straightforward as I imagined and it took some time to get a decent version that would work on all the various devices that people use. I used the Kindle Create software to produce the final eBooks, which worked very well. My books are picture heavy so the fixed format version worked best in the end, rather than the reflow option.

Whilst doing this work on the eBook version, I looked into the KDP provision to produce Paperback books for sale on Amazon. This works remarkably simply but required a different format again. The KDP website tools are a little difficult to use, but eventually I was successful and after a brief period of only selling the eBooks, which were now selling directly from my own website via the E-Junkie service, I had both The Sidecar Guide and The Sidecar Technical Guide on sale by Amazon in paperback format.
I decided to publish the eBook on the Kindle store as well as offering them directly myself, to reach a wider audience. I make less on each sale on Amazon, but I'm hoping the additional sales will make it worthwhile.

The strain of printing the books and posting them has now gone and I can't say how much of a relief that is!

So in all, it has taken me around 9 months from the start to the stage where my books are on sale in their final eBook and Amazon paperback versions. It has been hard work and I have learned a lot along the way. It is very satisfying to write your own book and be a self-published author.

Problems along the way were mainly to do with getting the correct book formats, printing was a major issue initially too. I had tried to print the books myself, but my own colour laser printer was very slow and the toner did not last long, although the quality was superb. I used a local print service after that which was unreliable and poor quality for a higher cost! Post was also a major problem, with the slightly random Croatian post system and high costs for international postage.
Navigating around the KDP system took a while to get used to, but it's worth the time spent.
Fortunately I was already proficient in producing my own website, so that was no issue.

I did my own proof reading and copy editing, with which I am happy with the results.

I hope that you find this post useful in your own self publishing work.

My website where I sell my motorcycle sidecar books
3WB The Sidecar Guide Facebook Group
E-Junkie for selling eBooks directly
Amazon KDP Publishing service

Saturday 3 August 2019

All new motorcycle sidecar books from 3WB

The Sidecar Guide and The Sidecar Technical Guide books are the first new books of this type written in many years.

We all know that there is a wealth of information available on the WWW regarding sidecars, but sometimes it's useful to have all the answers in a handy reference guide. It's also difficult to understand what is good advice and what is not on the internet, with many conflicting pieces of information.

So I decided to write the Sidecar Guides. They are both written by me, from my direct experience of building hundreds of sidecar outfits over many years as Motopodd and subsequently 3 Wheels Better Sidecars. The books are self published, all work inside is my own, I produce my own website and social media for 3WB and do this for the good of the worldwide sidecar community.
Here is a short book trailer video which offers an introduction to the books.

The Sidecar Guide is for the potential sidecar owner and all existing sidecar owners. This book aims to help you choose a sidecar, guiding you through the process for new or used. It goes on to deliver a full training guide for those people that are new to riding a sidecar or want to improve their skills.
It discusses every aspect of sidecar ownership, from taking a dog in your sidecar, advice for disabled sidecar owners, experiences of new sidecar riders, optional accessories for sidecars, tyres, fittings, leading links and a full section on how to correctly setup your sidecar so that it handles well with light steering and no steering wobble.

The Sidecar Guide has 93 pages filled with original information, pictures and diagrams.

The Sidecar Technical Guide is for the owner who wants to know more. In detail, it explains how to go about designing and building your own sidecar with full detailed engineering drawings and plans. There is a section on fitting including how to design and build subframes for your motorcycle. Trail reduction and leading links are fully explained along with details on how to build or adapt a set of leading links to fit your motorcycle outfit. Every technical aspect of sidecar outfits is explained in simple to understand language and with plenty of images and diagrams to help.
There is a full section on electrics including how to wire up your sidecar and fit electrical accessories. The Sidecar Technical Guide has 95 pages of information, pictures, plans and diagrams.

Together, The Sidecar Guides provide a complete reference for the sidecar owner. Both are suitable for left or right handed sidecar outfits.

The books are on sale now in paperback and PDF e-book format, which can be read on many devices, phone, tablet, some Kindle devices or computer.

These books are fully backed up with an online resource in the shape of a Facebook Group where we help sidecar owners out with their questions. The group is properly moderated, so only accurate information is shared.

3WB The Sidecar Guides Facebook Group

You can also visit our Facebook Page for 3WB Sidecars

You can find out more information and order your paperback copies using the Amazon links on our website, or order the e-books directly. Paperback book orders are fulfilled by Amazon.

You can also just search your countries Amazon site (UK, US, DE, JP, AU, etc) for The Sidecar Guide or The Sidecar Technical Guide.

Ordering information

Here are the paperback book Amazon links for the UK (

The Sidecar Guide 
The Sidecar Technical Guide

Here are the paperback book Amazon links for the US (

The Sidecar Guide
The Sidecar Technical Guide

If you order an e-book from our website, you will be sent a download link immediately after ordering by email.

Click here to order instant download e-books3WB The Sidecar Guide

Two Wheels Good, Three Wheels Better!

Thanks for your interest,

Rod Young 3WB