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

Monday 15 April 2019

What is wrong with this picture of Dubrovnik?

One day, far in the distant future, I dream of returning to ancient and beautiful Dubrovnik.
When the overblown TV series has been long forgotten and the hordes of ridiculous fanatical tv fans have left that incredible city, forgotten by the world, and are back on their sofas watching some other mind numbing dross.
I cannot take a single step inside those city walls until those that make the pilgrimage come for the splendour of ancient history and the beauty of the architecture, not purely to take a selfie on what they only view as a stage set for their imagined heroes and heroins.
Proud Dubrovnik has many times repelled invasions but so far has failed to prevail in this modern battle. A true Trojan Horse, the city has opened it's doors and invited them in.

Sunday 14 April 2019

Tips and tricks for survival in Karin.

Karin survival guide. Also applies to any small town in Croatia. 

1. Bars do not serve food of any kind. Not even crisps. It is acceptable to bring your own food to the bar of any kind and eat it there, inside or out. Everyone smokes inside, it's against the law but they don't care.

2. Restaurants are bars that serve food. Everyone smokes inside or out. (Except posh restaurants in cities like Zadar)

3. Restaurant Dalmacija is our favourite place, it's not flashy but the food is great and the people are lovely.

4. Cafe Bar Way is the local hangout.

5. Restaurant Ivan is slightly tidier than Dalmacija, the food is the same, but it's a steep walk up the hill.

6. There will be other bars that open in the summer. In Croatia you are never more than 10 meters away from a bar.

7. You pay at the end. Don't expect the waiter to be in a rush to serve you or bring your bill. Relax and wait. Polako means "slowly" and applies to all of Croatian life.

8. If someone invites you for a drink or a meal, they will normally expect to pay the bill. The reverse also applies.

9. Not many people speak English here, they will assume you are German if you don't speak Croatian. Menus in small Croatian restaurants are almost all identical. Don't be expecting world food.

10. A white coffee is Bijelo Kava. Pronounced "Beeyellow Karver". Coffee is like religion here. A Croatian can sit in a cafe bar for 4 hours with one coffee and 6 friends, then go to the next cafe bar. You will usually get a glass of water with your coffee.

11. Beer is pivo, but everyone asks for the brands: Ozjusko pronounced "Osejoossko" or Pan pronounced "Pan" or Karlovacko pronounced "Karlovachko". Pan is the nicest and easiest to say. I drink Ozjusko.

12. White wine is Bijelo Vino Red is Crno Vino. Don't expect a wine list, but they will have local wine which is lovely, as well as the usual basic choices.

13. Gemist pronounced "Gemmisht" is a white wine spritzer. Bambus is red wine and cola (yes, really!).

14. Kids drink Cedevita which is a powdered multivitamin squash like thing. Or coke. There is no diet coke. Or diet anything. Everything is full fat.

15. You will be offered a rakija "Rakeeya" at times, often on the house. It will either be sweet and lovely, or like paint stripper. It's very rude not to drink it immediately in one shot and say "MMMmmmmm". Rakija is the local hooch, everyone has a still in their shed, it's legal to make your own spirits. Our house is full of the stuff.

16. Cevap pronounced "Chevap" or "Chevapi" or Chevapchichi" is the standard food item. It's a bit like a mincemeat skinless sausage which is grilled. It's dirt cheap and the portions are massive.

17. The fish is always excellent. Black risotto and squid are always good.

18. Meat is excellent. A whole lamb or pig on a spit is common. But don't expect any kind of finesse or presentation of food.

19. Pizzas here are better than in Italy and very common and cheap, go to Pizzicatos for the best pizza, they also do takeaways as do all the restaurants. Just ask. It's also normal to ask for a doggy bag.

20. Vegetarians are better off going on a diet for their stay here.

21. The shops are mini markets, full of allsorts, but it's almost impossible to buy all the things you need for an actual meal. We go to Plodine the supermarket in Benkovac for provisions. Or Zadar.

22. Buy fruit and veg from the pop up stalls in Karin or on the road sides, this is direct from the producer, fresh and cheap.

23. There is no convenience food. No ready meals. Except frozen pizza. Everyone cooks from basic ingredients.

24. Bread (Kruh) is everywhere. If there is a huge meal and more food on the plate than you can eat in a week, a Croatian will ask "where's the bread?"

25. If a Croatian man says he is going to light his grill (BBQ), get a bottle of red and sit down in front of it, you've just been invited to dinner.

26. Croatians drive either incredibly slowly, or at full speed everywhere. Indicating is either non existent or done at the point of direction change or just after. It is compulsory to be on the phone if you have a steering wheel in front of you. Watch out for people pulling out at junctions and overtaking, they will expect you to brake!


Croatian is pronounced exactly as it is spelled. You only need to know the sounds of the letters. Some are slightly different to English. Rs are rolled as in French. A č or a ć is "ch", but a c is "ts" like in cats. Pronunciation is everything, but if you go 10 miles away, they pronounce things differently. It's a constant battle.

Dobro Jutro or just jutro, is good morning.
Dobar dan is good day, Dobra večer is good evening. Laku noć is good night.
Hvala is thank you.
Molim is a bit like please, but more like Bitte schön in German, said in response to Hvala. Bog or bok is "Hi".
Vidimo se is see you.
The bill is račun (rachoon) You already know beer, wine and menu!

Wednesday 10 April 2019

Benkovac Fair

Where can you buy a sack of potatoes, tomato plants, a fishing rod, an antique taxi meter, a live pig, a tractor, an axe, a huge wooden table, some flowers (or some flour), 10kg of cheese, a brass tuba (or a vegetable tuba), some socks, a horse, a cowboy hat, a giant spoon and a book about dragons?

The answer is not ebay. It is far better than that. In this fantastical place you can also get a beer and eat as much pork or lamb, freshly cooked on the spit, as you can eat.

Where is this incredible destination? Benkovac Fair, situated in Central Dalmatia, about half an hour from Zadar inland. You don't need directions. Just get yourself to somewhere near Benkovac town and follow the 10,000 or so visitors who go each month on the 10th.
Go early in the morning, if you want to avoid the huge traffic queues which form after 9am until 11am. By 2pm it's winding down, this is a morning event.
Parking is chaotic, so take care when driving along the road by the market as people return to their cars with chickens, sacks of produce, tools etc.

The Fair is free to enter and people come from all over Croatia to visit this famous monthly event. Mostly Croatians come for the social side of things, if you know any Croatian people, you'll understand why. They come early and sit in one of the many places to eat, where they meet their friends and talk all morning whilst consuming huge quantities of pork or lamb and of course, beer. Don't expect fine dining here, or even some potatoes or salad with you meal, but you can expect good value delicious meat and good company.

Like the ancient fairs that were held in many European countries 100 years ago and more, this is a really traditional event, where almost anything you can imagine can be bought and sold. The focus is on agriculture and food but you can also buy any kind of clothing, tools, etc.

Look out for seasonal foods and produce, they are always in evidence at the Fair. This month (April) I saw puzevi (or puzi) which are edible snails popular at this time of year.  Being Spring, there were also a large amount of plants for the vegetable garden.

I went this time to meet my friend Ljubo who was going for the first time with his traditionally hand-made furniture. He makes beautiful tables and chairs (and more) from reclaimed Croatian sourced hardwood. See for more information.

It really is a must go destination if you are in the area on the 10th of any month. The Fair is bigger in the summer months but even in the depths of winter, it is still amazing.

And if you really want that book about Chinese dragons, where else will you find it?

Friday 29 March 2019

Importing a vehicle to Croatia from the EU

This process is one of the most talked about issues for people who have recently settled in Croatia.
There is lots of disinformation and outdated information around.
So having just been through the process with 2 motorcycles, I thought I would share with you exactly
what happens and how much it can cost. We imported 2 motorcycles from the UK.
Prices correct at March 2019.
When you consider the higher price of used vehicles in Croatia, the import charges are reasonable
and give you the option to keep your own vehicle.

Waiting at the Customs Building.

Firstly you will need a COC for your vehicle.
This is an EU certificate of conformity which lists the specification of your vehicle.
You should be able to get one from the main agent for your manufacturer in Croatia,
if you cannot find the main agent, ask at your dealer or ask the local car or bike club. You will need to pay for this certificate, the cost varies, but you must have this.
You should then login to the Croatian customs website:
You can use the system without a registered login, but it can be useful to use a login, as you can save and check progress of your request. To login, you will need to use a third party authentication method, various are offered, I have an account with HR Telecom, so I used this. Once logged in, fill out the form for a new request. It is not complicated or difficult. Send the form to the customs office. You can then print out a hard copy which you will also need. There is no charge for this part.

Wait for 2 or 3 working days, then go to the Technical Testing Centre, there is usually one in each large town.
Take your vehicle, your original registration documents for the vehicle from your country, the customs form, your Croatian Visa ID card (you need to have an OIB and be a resident) and the COC document. Take all these documents to the main desk and ask for "Homologacija".
Homologation papers will then be prepared, you will have to wait at least an hour. The fee is 412.50 Kuna.
When you have the homologation papers, take it, with all your other documents, as above, to the Customs building. You will need to ask at the Technical Centre if you do not know where it is. Give all these documents to the customs people and they will know what you are there for once they see them. You will then need to wait outside with your vehicle whilst they check the documents against their system and prepare a bill for the import tax. They may come outside and check your VIN number on the vehicle. They will then give you a racun (bill). You must take this to your bank or a post office and pay the amount shown. Take your receipt back to the customs building, they will then stamp your forms and give them all back to you.

Then go back to the Technical Centre with all of the forms that you have now accumulated.

Present them at the main desk and register for the Technical vehicle test. You will need to pay the fee for the test. This is 127.51 Kuna for a motorcycle. It will be more for a car.

Join the queue if you have a car, or push your motorcycle to the entrance of the technical centre if you have a motorcycle. Wait for the tester to take your vehicle in for testing.

If your vehicle fails, you will be given a form noting the problems. You then have 15 days to rectify any faults and come back for a free re-test.

If you pass, they will put a sticker on your vehicle and give you a pass form.

Take this and all the other forms to the Insurance desk (or buy insurance elsewhere). It is useful to note that no claims discount from overseas can be used to reduce your first insurance premium.

Take your insurance and all the other documents to the main desk. They will prepare your new registration document for you and give you a set of registration plates. Pay the fee, this cost 450 kuna for my motorcycle.

Go back to the insurance desk with your registration document and they will give you a Green Card, this is for insurance outside of Croatia.

You may drive home on your old registration plates, but change them before going out again.

That is it, all done! It is possible to do this in one day, but it will take all day and in some cases, several days.

Costs for a Kawasaki 650 Versys motorcycle, 2009.

1,764.76 Kuna Import tax.
412.50 Kuna Identification fee
127.51 Kuna Technical test
741 Kuna (100 euros) Coc document
450 Kuna Registration fee.
1600 Kuna Insurance

Total: £591.03  5095.77 Kuna

Total cost for a Kawasaki Z1000SX 2012 with Insurance (Import tax was 6200 Kuna): £1126.58 or 9762 Kuna

Larger engines cost a lot more!

Steps in order:

  1. COC document from Kawasaki or other agent. Pay fee.
  2. Login to customs system and send vehicle details to customs.
  3. Technical centre. Take V5C, customs form, Croatian Visa ID card and Coc to desk.
  4. Homologation papers will be prepared. Pay fee. Wait.
  5. Go to Customs building, with all documents including printout of customs online entry form. Wait.
  6. Take tax bill to Post office or bank and pay.
  7. Return to customs house and show receipt. Get all paperwork back.
  8. Go to technical and register for test at desk. Pay fee.
  9. Queue up and get test done. If pass > 10. If fail, repair within 15 days.
  10. Get Insurance at Technical centre. (or elsewhere)
  11. Go to main desk and get registration plate and new Croatian registration document.. Pay fee.
  12. Back to insurance desk and get Green Card.
  13. Fit new plate. All done.

Tuesday 12 February 2019

Exchanging your UK or other EU Driving Licence for a Croatian driving licence

So, we decided it was time to swap our UK driving licences for Croatian licences. The reason for us is that we have been here almost 2 years which is the legal limit and also with Brexit about to throw the Uk out of the UK amidst utter chaos, it seemed like a good idea to do it now rather than later.

The process was remarkably straightforward and inexpensive.

We took out residency cards (Visas) to the local police station in Obrovac where the lady that looks after foreigners saw us. This is the same office that sorted out our 5 year Visas for us.

We handed over our UK licences (having taken photos of both sides before, just in case of an errors) and our Croatian residency visas.

She filled out the form for us, which we signed. We then had to go to the post office with a payment slip (151 Kunas each) to be paid and also to get a 15 Kuna stamp each.

There was some minor confusion as on our UK licences we had various categories for trucks etc. which are provisional entitlements, but once we made it clear that all we required was car and motorcycle entitlement (A and B) this was sorted.

We then took the receipt back to the police station office and she gave us a temporary receipt / licence each.

We now wait for 1 month, then go back and collect our new Croatian driving licenses. Simple and Easy!