Friday 21 February 2020

Motorcycle sidecar books from 3WB

The Sidecar Guide, Sidecar Technical Guide and Sidecar Legal Guide books are the first new books of this type written in many years. Over 800 copies sold.

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 all 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.

Recent reviews on Amazon
Essential reading, the sidecar driver's bible.

Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 10 September 2019

This is potentially a lifesaver for the new sidecar driver and certainly a good reminder for experienced drivers. It has tips on what to look for in an outfit. What to avoid in an outfit and much more on the aquisition of your first and subsequent outfits. It busts open a few myths as well with good experience and some logical arguments.
Then there is the learning how to actually drive the beast, not just to get from A to B but how to have fun and really enjoy the new skill of driving something so unusual and quirky. He starts with basic skills progressing on to much more advanced techniques, and explains along the way the science of these very individual and interesting machines.
The important information about setting up and maintaining your outfit is not to be ignored either as again it's not particularly difficult if you look after your motorcycle, but it's different and in very important ways.
I'm so glad I brought this as driving an outfit is very different to riding a solo machine and the question "how hard can it be" is answered "harder if you don't read this, to the point where fatal is a possibility".

Excellent and a very comprehensive introduction to sidecar construction

Reviewed in the United States on 3 February 2020

"The technical guide is a informal but comprehensive manual that introducing fabrication techniques. The author has shared his vast experience as a sidecar builder. Mr. Young explains fabrication techniques that could only be learned by years of experience. The tips he gives are useful in any form of metal work and not just sidecar building. As an iron fabricator myself I gave Mr.. Young's Sidecar Technical Guide 5 stars because of the simple and clear explanations about working with metal and the excellent section on sidecar electricity. The rig set up and problem troubleshooting sections are excellent. You just won't find a lot of the information in the sidecar technical manual anywhere else - both about sidecars and fabrication. His warning about bad design or poor fabrication practices is right on: The first thing that happens is that you crash, the second thing that happens depends on luck. Yet it is true that if you do good work, don't take shortcuts, fix what is obviously wrong, and think things through most anyone should be able to build a sidecar. Three wheels are better than only two."

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 diagram

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.

**NEW** The Sidecar Legal Guide provides 50 pages of information on the legal aspects of sidecars. It covers driving license rquirements needed to ride a sidecar, when and how to get your license, vehicle registration with the DVLA, sidecar construction and design regulations, MOT testing requirements,insurance and towing.

The Great Britain version is currently available. I will be adding U.S. and Australian versions as soon as they are complete

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

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-books: 3WB The Sidecar Guide

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

Two Wheels Good, Three Wheels Better!

Thanks for your interest,

Rod Young 3WB

Wednesday 19 February 2020

Motorcycle sidecar subframes

As we all know, most modern bikes require some sort of subframe to allow a sidecar to be fitted.
This is a complex area and often, sidecar riders are looking for an easy, off the shelf solution for this.

Unfortunately, this is a rarely realised solution. This is because most sidecar companies are very small, they do not have the capacity or the demand, to build subframes for every model of bike and keep them in stock. Nor do they have the jigs etc, required to build them because they haven't fitted all the bikes that were ever made.

So, when you call the company and they say, "we don't have one, we need your bike for a week or so whilst we build it" that's about par for the course.

In some cases, for a popular bike like Triumph Bonneville for example, they might be able to build you one without your bike. But this doesnt always go well.

Even though bikes are mass produced, often, pre-made subframes don't quite line up when they arrive. Or you have accessories fitted or modifications that prevent it from fitting.

It is of course possible to build your own subframe. If it's a simple subframe, you might not even need to be able to weld, you can bolt sections together.

In the Sidecar Technical Guide, I go into great detail about subframes. How to design them, where the best places are on the bike to fit them, what materials to use etc. Photos and drawings back this all up.

If you aren't able to fabricate yourself, you can often find a fabricator locally, it doesnt need to be a sidecar specialist. Using the information in the Sidecar Technical Guide, you can work with the fabricator to get one made for your bike.

The Sidecar Technical Guide can be found here.

It is available as an eBook directly off my website, or in print at Amazon. (just search Google or Amazon for The Sidecar Technical Guide).

Sunday 16 February 2020

Acoustic Memories

Something different today on my 53rd birthday.

38 years ago I was 14 and obsessed with the guitar. I did little else.
Motorcycles hadn't yet appeared in my world aside from the occasional dreaming whilst staring at these unobtainable machines in the local bike shop.

Recently I rediscovered these 4 guitar tracks that I recorded back in 1982.
The music was composed by me, recorded and mixed on a simple four track machine with other sounds and beats provided by a Roland SH101.

I've recorded some fractal video and put them all together in a YouTube playlist.

Some German guy has complained that my 1st track video is his copyright (it's not, it's a free fractal on an open license from Pixabay) so track 1 is currently unavailable while we sort that out with Youtube.

The set is called "Acoustic Memories" and consists of:

Track 01: "The Universe of Her Dreams"
Track 02: "Force of Nature"
Track 03: "Sueno"
Track 04: "El Domino del Desire"

Monday 10 February 2020

The Treble Express – 2300cc Triumph Rocket III powered wheelchair motorcycle sidecar

A custom built motorcycle and sidecar to give a young disabled motorcycle fan, the closest possible experience to riding a motorcycle, with his Dad in the riding seat.

It’s a familiar story, your Dad had a bike or maybe your Uncle did, you were just a snotty kid and everyone else was into cars, but you knew right from the first time you saw that bike that one day you’d have one. It was all that mattered, you’d spend hours poring through magazines or staring in the bike shop window; years before you were even old enough to hold a licence. You hit 16 and if you were lucky, you’re parents would allow you to have a 50. Soon you were 17 and that meant a 125, or if you’re a bit older, a 250. You still ride a bike now and you’ve filled your life with motorcycle related memories.

Nothing was ever going to stop me from having a bike; which is why I decided to build a rather unusual project for a young man named Luke.

Luke has a deep passion for motorcycles, he has done all his life, but for him there was to be no 50cc moped at 16, no 125 at 17 and for him, it was beginning to look as if he’d never get any closer to a bike than he was when aged 4, in the photo, next to his Dad’s Z1300. Luke and his Dad Alan are regular visitors to Mallory Park, where Luke especially enjoys the sidecar racing. The only thing stopping me from riding a bike at 16 was my parents, I just ignored them and got one anyway.

It was late Spring 2011 when Luke’s Dad first contacted me, with a simple enquiry. Would it be possible to fabricate a sidecar that would take a heavy, (122kg) powered wheelchair?

I thought about it for no more than half an hour and replied that basically, yes, it could be done and yes, I’d love to build it for him. You see, Luke can’t ignore his reason, he was born with cerebral palsy and will never be able to ride his own bike or even ride pillion. Sod that, I was going to build him one that he could ride.

Luke’s method of travel so far, has involved driving his wheelchair into the back of large converted car and spending the trip effectively in the boot. This is no way for a biker to travel. We exchanged a few more emails and soon decided to meet up.

Luke and Alan came to see me and we sat in the workshop talking about bikes and sidecars whilst I showed them some photographs of various sidecars that might spark some design ideas. Whilst we knew that this was going to be an extraordinary sidecar for it to be able to take Luke in his chair, we quickly established that it also had to look exceptionally cool and would not look like any kind of invalid carriage.

One other thing we knew, was that if we were going to do this, we’d need a large, powerful bike. Luke and Alan decided to go ahead with the project after much discussion and Luke soon became the owner of a low mileage, 2006 Triumph Rocket III, bought from their local dealer, Windy Corner. I sketched up an idea of what I thought the finished sidecar might look like and we agreed a complex and exciting specification. Not only would the sidecar be a unique and exciting design, but the bike would also be heavily modified. Luke was no sleeping partner during the whole design process, his ideas have shaped the design and specification from the start. I regularly receive messages asking if we can incorporate his latest idea into the design.

I named the project the Treble Express, as there is a theme of ‘3’ throughout the design. Those three huge cylinders on the 2300cc engine, three wheels in total and a stainless steel, triple tube designed upper space frame. The sidecar fittings are all custom made with stainless eye bolt fixings. The bike has a cut down back end to expose the huge 225 section flat profile tyre, the front end has been replaced with a super chunky, stainless steel leading link front end, with custom billet alloy yokes and a wide car wheel and 205 section tyre. A whole new brake system has been built, the rear brake activating the sidecar wheel and we have custom brake calipers along with custom wheel hubs. The exhaust system exits on the right hand side and be styled like the Triumph X75 Hurricane, three pipes in a stack, but much bigger! The sidecar has an entry ramp system that rolls away out of sight, underneath the floor whilst Luke will ride the sidecar from an aluminium-panelled cockpit, exposing him to the elements.

His wheelchair is held in place by electrically controlled belts.
Luke has his own set of Triumph Rocket instruments, speedo, rev counter etc., to help him achieve the full bike experience. All functions are enabled.
The body panels and the bike are painted in a blue and white scheme, the colours chosen by Luke, after much deliberation.
Luke collected The Treble Express from the Ace Cafe, on Sidecar Sunday in 2012.  He took his first of many rides on that day. There wasn't a dry eye in sight. It was emotional.

The Treble Express was shown at the London International Custom Show where it attracted much attention and admiration.

Sunday 9 February 2020

5. Don't be a dinosaur!

Side(car) stepping around the electric revolution...

The Government's new legislation for 2035 has been taken by many to mean that only pure electric cars and vans can be bought new from that date.

This is not the case. It states only that they cannot be petrol, diesel or hybrid powered.

This leaves gas, either LPG or bio-CNG as valid alternatives. But whether or not they will get any investment and become available from manufacturers is far from clear. The Government is pushing only fully electric powered vehicles in the case of cars and vans.

Where does leave us?

Well, we know that we will be allowed to continue to use our petrol engined outfits past the 2035 date, but we don't know how much we will be penalised for doing this in terms of taxation and being banned from city centres etc. We should assume that these penalties will get stiffer as time goes on.

So we need a plan. A plan is always better than hoping for the best.

There is nothing in current legislation nor is there anything suggested, to prevent us from converting an existing engine to run on gas, LPG or bio-CNG.

An LPG powered engine produces 11% less CO2 than a petrol engine at the tailpipe. Overall, well to wheel, which includes production of the fuel, LPG produces around 27% less CO2 than petrol. This is the real life figure. Bio-CNG is even cleaner.

LPG and bio-CNG also produce far lower other damaging emissions than petrol and diesel.

LPG is widely available in the UK at filling stations and you can also have a large tank installed at home if you wish. You could currently have a Bio-CNG tank at home, but it is basically unavailable on the road in the UK.

Sadly,  gas doesn't help us when it comes to low emission zones. LPG vehicles must pay the charges to enter them.

The benefits of an LPG conversion are many. The fuel itself is considerably cheaper. It's widely available and is unlikely to rise in price alongside petrol, which petrol surely will as 2035 approaches. If correctly registered, you will get a lower VED taxation rate as well.

If and when bio-CNG becomes more widespread, (like it is in many other countries) then your LPG powered outfit can easily be switched over to the new gas.

If your handy with the spanners, you can buy the neccessary parts and convert any bike engine to LPG yourself, then, if you want, take it for inspection by an approved LPG installer and get it registered with the DVLA as a LPG powered vehicle.

I'm going to look into a DIY LPG conversion on my BMW R80 outfit. I don't need to, I live in Croatia, where there are currently no plans to implement a petrol vehicle ban. But I can still do my bit for the environment and save almost 50% on my fuel costs at the same time.

I'd like to have an electric motorcycle outfit but the cost is too high for me. This is a shame because many of the journeys I make are feasible with electric power. I'm really not bothered about the noise that a petrol engine makes. I certainly don't subscribe to the nonsense often spouted about pedestrians being struck down by the silent EV assassins. That's just nonsense. Every pure electric vehicle produced has to make the same amount of noise as a petrol or diesel vehicle up to 19mph. That's the law in the UK. Also, I believe you are supposed to look each way before stepping into the road. It might help if you removed your earphones too.

Riding an electric bike is a good experience too, they have astonishing torque, all of which is available from 0mph. But sadly the cost prohibits them for me.

I am intrigued by electric powered bicycles though. Bear with me here, there's a lot going for them and there is sidecar potential.

In many European countries, people are using ebikes in rapidly increasing numbers and cutting out uneccessary car or motorcycle journeys. The specific type of ebike use that interests me here is the so called "Cargo eBike". These bikes have an extended frame with a large cargo carrying section up front of the rider. This load area can carry all manner of goods or passengers. Many parents are using them for the school run. They can load up 2 or 3 children and take them to school, or into town.
eBikes don't suffer from the extended charging periods that plague cars and motorcycles because their  batteries are much lower in capacity. But you still have a useful range of 50 miles.

It seems to me that I could use the drive system, the best of which is made by Bosch, in a sidecar eBike. I can build a sidecar so I could easily build an electric eSidecar bike. I've then got a vehicle that emits no pollution and is so cheap to run that it's virtually free. Especially if we go ahead with our solar plans and top up with free power at home. My most frequent medium distance trip is to the nearest small city of Zadar and back, which I can do on a 50 mile range.
All of this can be achieved without the need for a license, VED tax or insurance costs.
OK, so they aren't fast and I can't go serious distance on one, but I get my sidecar fix in a different way. When I want to go further, the LPG outfit comes out.
I've done some pedally bike cycling recently, after not doing this for several decades, it's actually quite pleasant but my knees aren't really up to it and the hills are a killer. Modern eBikes (or pedelecs as they are known) get around this with a system known as pedal assistance. This has the added benefit of increasing the range.
How does that work?

It works like this. There's a set of pedals as you'd find on any regular bicycle. But they have sensors fitted which translate how much effort you are putting in and assist this with the electric motor.
You can choose various levels of electric assistance, the more assistance you choose, the easier it is to climb hills or achieve your maximum speed. Obviously, the range of the battery drops alongside this.
For many people, it means that on a cargo eBike, you can carry a load and get up hills without getting all sweaty.

A while back I bought a 125cc Honda Grom for use around town and for smaller trips. My thinking was to save the engines on my bigger bikes because they were barely getting warmed up between stops and it just seemed a bit unfair on them. The little Grom has been a revelation for me. The fuel consumption is outstanding and it does everything I need to do over short distances at a low cost.

The problem here is that when we compare something like this to an electric alternative, we only see the negative differences. The Grom is always ready to go with a splash of fuel. It can do 50mph all day long whilst sipping fuel. It was cheap to purchase, insurance etc is cheap too.

But since I've been cycling a bit, my perspective has changed. This is useful and allows me to make different choices. I can cycle to town, get some shopping and cycle back at zero cost. I like that. It takes longer, but that's not an issue for me. I enjoy the journey more because I get to see a lot more along the way.
An eSidecar based on a pedelec system would make me smile everytime I rode it, in the same way that my R80 outfit does. I'm not bothered about travelling 10 miles at an average speed of 15mph instead of an average of 40mph. It's a difference of 25 minutes. That's 25 minutes more sidecar time. I'm happy with that. I wouldn't be sweaty or have aching knees when I arrived either.
I'd have almost zero cost to pay too. A full charge of a 500W battery would cost me around 7p.
Nothing once we get the solar up and running.

Let's compare that to using the most frugal vehicle I own. The mighty Grom 125cc.

If I used the Grom every day of the year for a 20 miles a day, at a fuel cost of  £1.26 per litre, ignoring insurance, MOT, a service and VED tax;  what would it cost me?

The average fuel consumption of a Grom according to Fuelly, is 100mpg.

So, that's 20 miles x 356 days = 7,120 miles.

At 100mpg that makes 71.2 gallons of fuel @ a cost of  £1.26 x 4.55 per gallon.

That's 71.2 gallons x 4.55 = £323.96 per year.

My eSidecar doing the same mileage at 7p per daily full charge will cost me:

£0.07 x 356 = £24.92

In reality, I wouldn't need to charge it every day as my range on the 500Kw battery is 40 miles. But let's be conservative and say I did charge it every night.

That's a fuel saving of £299.04  Let's call it £300.

If I add in my other Grom running expenses, insurance etc. I'm saving at least £450 per year on my smaller journeys.

But for the purposes of this discussion, more importantly, I'm cutting my emissions to nothing for all of my smaller journeys.

If I look at the BMW R80 outfit comparison between petrol and LPG, it shows me this:

Let's say I do 6000 miles a year on the outfit.

At current unleaded prices, as above, that will cost me what?

The average mpg on the R80 outfit is 42mpg.

6000 miles at 42mpg = 142.8 gallons at a cost of £818.67 per year.

LPG costs £2.96 per gallon.

That's a total cost of £422 per year.

I'm saving £396 per year. Let's call it £400.

Add that to the eSidecar savings and I'm up £700 a year and I'm doing my bit for the environment.

OK, so none of this is strictly neccessary in terms of the 2035 petrol vehicle ban, but it's something that I think we could all be considering.

Come 2035, I've already got an LPG outfit and an eSidecar that will perform all of my transport needs within the law and at a considerable cost saving to me. Plus over the 15 years up until 2035, I'll have already cut my emissions massively, ahead of the legislation.

Or I could say "you can take my petrol engined outfit off me over my cold, dead body" which seems to be the stance taken by many.  That's not the way I roll.

As the Mobil Oil company said, way back in 1979 during their campaign to save energy, "Don't be a dinosaur".

Saturday 8 February 2020

3. Electric sidecar outfits feasability, super fast charging and the carefully hidden environmental impact of EVs.

Let's talk about sidecars, after all, that is, why you are here.

Now, this is where the humble and largely ignored sidecar outfit has a distinct advantage.

Battery space and plenty of it.

There must be some formula that could be applied to additional battery weight and it's effect on range. So, doubling the battery capacity, doubles the battery weight, obviously, if you use the same battery technology.

But it doesn't double the range due to the additional weight. My research tells me that, roughly, you lose about 20% of the added range on a vehicle the size and weight of an outfit. Its a bit adhoc because there are no actual figures, so I've been conservative. But not at all like Mr Johnson; you understand.

The only example I can refer to is the electric Ural prototype. This outfit, weighing 600kg, uses Zero motorcycles electric drivetrain and batteries. It can cruise at 65mph, get up a maximum speed of 80mph and has a 100 mile range in practice with a 13 hour recharge time on a 13amp home socket.

A lighter built outfit with double the battery capacity, built using existing technology, could achieve over a genuine, everyday 200 mile range without a doubt. With a medium powered charge station, it could be charged to 95% capacity in 7 hours. A 3 hour charge could give you 80 miles.

These figures are a little more like current EV car figures. The just launched Vauxhall Corsa E, is looking likely to provide a real world 150 mile range with a 7.5 hour full charge on a home charge station. By the way, it's hilariously priced at over £26,000

If we apply the latest technology to an outfit, we could easily arrive at a 300 mile range and a 4 hour full charge situation. Now that's useful.

100Kw chargers are here, so called "ultra fast" chargers. One of these bad boys will give a Corsa E 140 miles of charge in 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the current plans do not involve supplying these in anything like a sensible quantity. There are 891 of these in the UK at the time of writing. There are around 18,000 petrol stations by comparison.

So called "premium" chargers are still being installed in relatively high numbers (tiny actual numbers) for some unknown reason. Why do that when the biggest reason that people have for not buying an EV is charge time and range?

Either way, Ultra fast chargers are a game changer. But only if your EV supports them and you can find one. You'd hope that all new EVs would have 100Kw charge ports going forward.

The problem reoccurs when the tech moves forward. We might have a mighty network of 100Kw chargers installed across the nation at huge cost in say, 5 years time. By which time 250Kw chargers are the new tech.

Electrical installations will not always be upgradeable unless the supply is beefy enough. This needs careful planning by our Government. I can see an obvious problem there…

Is electric the future then?

It appears to be, in as much as the UK government has thrown all it's eggs into the EV basket.

But should it be the future

Erm, no. Or at least, I'm not sure it should be.

The problem that I have with electric vehicles is that we are told they are emissions free. They are once they are produced and until the batteries fail. Before and after those times they are pretty damned far away from emissions free and very close up to an environmental disaster.

Do we care? Well yes we should. If we're stipulating the entire known future of personal transport, we ought to at least consider the complete environmental impact. After all, that's why the change is happening at all.

Next time, I discuss the environmental impact of EV's and some potential alternatives for us.

2. Doom and gloom, how useful are electric vehicles, some comparisons.

Is it all doom and gloom though? Is it doom and gloom at all?

Leaving aside the discussion about whether or not we want an electric motorcycle,

let’s look at the practical issues with zero emission vehicles vs. the alternatives.

A few years ago I owned a van, a 2.2 litre diesel turbo engined long wheelbase van. I used it to make four journeys of 1200 miles each way to move home from the UK to Croatia.
Let’s imagine I wanted to do that now and internal combustion engined vehicles were not available.
Currently, the only full size all electric van available is the Renault Master ZE. It has a claimed range of 124 miles under test conditions, but real world tests have shown that to be more like 75 miles. In winter, Renault say this will go down to 50 miles due to the cold weather effect on battery range. At which point you need a full charge which takes 17 hours, there is no fast charge option. Another slight problem is that the van costs a shade under £57,000.
Mercedes, VW, Ford etc. have yet to begin production although they all have plans to introduce all electric large vans later this year or next, but with similar range capacity.
So, rather than being able to do my 1200 mile journey in 24 hours, with only brief stops for fuel, rests and food (which is what I did), how long would it take me with my electric van?

Given a 75 mile range followed by a 17 hour recharge, I would fail to get to the Channel Tunnel on day one. I’d eventually arrive at my home in Croatia 11 days after I left. At least I’d be able to have a good sleep during each 17 hour charge period.
My entire trip consisted of 4 outward bound journeys and 3 returns to the UK, so my total time for the move would be 77 days. That’s exactly 11 weeks. Or 2.5 months of travelling, not allowing for unpacking. That’s assuming I can maintain the same speeds as the old diesel turbo. Which I couldn’t as it would drain the battery even faster.
I’m not sure that’s acceptable for me.

OK, so I’m hoping that some progress will be made over the next 15 years of EV development. But I’m not aware of any revolutionary new battery technology which is likely to be around by then. Let’s say that range can be increased by 100% and recharging time reduced by 200%, I think that’s generous. My house move would take me a mere 1 month and 4 days.
That’s compared to the diesel turbo at 7 days for the complete trip.

It’s not great then, pretty doom and gloomy. I don’t see how vans are going to work, except in cities for local deliveries. What about motorhomes and camper vans? There’s no chance of them being even remotely useful for a touring holiday in the foreseeable future.

There are other serious issues with widespread or mandatory use of all electric vehicles.
One of those is charging and not just the time involved. If you have your own home and a place to park your vehicle off the street, then you can charge up at home. You can install a high speed charge point (at a cost) or use a 13amp socket. But what if you don’t have anywhere to park except on the street, like a large percentage of UK residents? Or what if you live in a shared building, like a flat with parking in a shared car parking area? How can you charge it in this situation? There are no answers for this at the moment.
The other massive issue is cost. Not everyone can afford to buy a new vehicle. These people, which includes me, will not be able to simply buy a new electric motorcycle after 2035 as they do not have the funds. There is virtually no used market for electric motorcycles although this will steadily increase if they become more popular. One factor that will make even this narrow option unattractive is the cost of replacement battery packs. They cost thousands of pounds and they don’t last forever. In daily use, an optimistic estimate is around 5 years. So it’s likely that people will trade in electric bikes just before the time the battery needs replacing, making used bikes an expensive purchase.

Let’s look at electric motorcycles in more detail.

Things look a little bit better here since motorcycles are smaller and lighter, requiring smaller batteries, which means less charge time and better range. Zero are top of the game and have been for a while.
The 2020 model Zero SRF (above) will do 223 miles on a charge and can be recharged completely with the premium charger option at a normal charging station (not at home, unless you pay to have one installed) in 2.5 hours. Not bad. It will also reach speeds of just over 100mph.

However, those are the manufacturers claims. Real world tests show an average range of 90 miles on mixed roads. That includes leaving some juice in the battery, because like any EV, you really are stuck if you run it flat, so you always need to leave spare capacity in the battery.

Real world recharge times depend upon what the charge outlet provides. Its 5 hours for a full charge on a standard 13a household socket, to 1.5 hours for the highest rated socket with the extra super fast charging system optionally installed on the bike. But you're very unlikely to be able to use that in many places at all at the moment.

Did I mention charge cables for the bike? They are big and bulky. So if you want to ride further than 90 miles, you'll need to take them with you. One will fit in the tank locker (so long as you haven't had an extra battery installed here) The other will need substantial additional luggage space. They also don't come with the bike. The home charging cable costs an extra £445.

So, the current peak ev motorcycle has 90 miles useable range and needs at least 2.5 hours at most on the road charge points to get a 10% full battery to 95% full.

How useful is that bike? It works in cities, or for commuting up to 45 miles per day each way.

If i wanted to go to see my friend who lives 110 miles away, im in serious trouble of not making it there without at least an hours charge before my destination and only if i can charge the bike once i get there for 4 hours before i head home, via another charger before i do the last part of the journey. It's just about doable.

Any more of a trip than that and im looking at serious time issues. You can forget European touring. Or any kind of long distance riding.

What if we apply the technological improvement guesstimate used above?

We then have a range of 180 miles and a recharge time of 45 minutes to an hour depending on charge station performance.

That's a whole world better. Now it's a real world, useful bike. Not as flexible as a petrol engined bike, but pretty good. You could go touring on that, so long as the charge network was available. And of course, so long as my guesstimate is correct.

Let's hope so.

That still leaves the issue of charging if you park your bike on the street or somewhere where there is no access to a power point and the cost of buying new or used. A new Zero motorcycle with the range discussed above, is around £18,000. Other models are cheaper but you don’t get anything like the range capacity or the faster charging capability. I rarely pay more than £3000 for a bike. I’m never going to be able to buy a new electric motorcycle. If you buy a used bike, with a worn out battery, a new one will cost you over £6000.

Next time, I discuss the pros and cons of electric sidecar outfits.

1. The 2035 petrol and diesel vehicle ban - What does it mean for us as sidecar riders?

This is the first in a series of articles that I am writing about the looming ban on petrol and diesel cars and vans and what our options are or should be.

The UK Government’s newly brought forward date for the ban on sales of new petrol and diesel vehicles does not include mopeds or motorcycles from 2035.

Whilst this might be seen as good news, it must surely be at least an indicator for the future of our chosen method of transport.
In this article, I will look at what this means for us, as powered three wheeler riders.
I will also be looking at the alternatives, including plug in all electrics, hybrids, LPG, CNG and hydrogen cell motors. My conclusions may surprise you.

But first here are the facts and some reasoned assumptions about the new legislation arriving in 2035.

What does the recent announcement by the Government say?

It says that from 2035 onwards, we will no longer be able to buy a new petrol or diesel powered car or van. This includes all passenger cars, all vans and all hybrids.

What will be the alternatives?

The suggestion is that the only alternatives that will be allowed will be all electric plug-in vehicles and hydrogen cell powered vehicles. But this is not the whole picture. Alternative fuels other than petrol and diesel are not included in the ban and could be a viable alternative for our motorcycle engines. More on this later in this series.

So, what about motorcycles and mopeds?

Currently, the Government has excluded these from the ban. However, they have rapidly changed the date from 2040 which was only set three years ago; to 2035. They have also cancelled the zero emission vehicle grants available and then immediately said that they weren’t cancelled, only being phased out with no specified end date. So in reality, anything could happen in the near future including a ban on new petrol powered motorcycles and mopeds.

How will this affect us as motorcyclists?

Will it be possible to continue to use existing, pre ban petrol, diesel and hybrid vehicles?
Yes, there are currently no proposals to extend the ban to existing vehicles.
However, it would seem likely that post 2035, the Government will bring in measures that will effectively make the use of those vehicles more expensive in an attempt to incentivise us towards making a switch to a zero emissions vehicle.. These could include a higher level of duty on fuel, a higher level of VED (road tax) for example.
The Government very rarely impose new legislation of this nature that act retrospectively. In other words, it is unlikely that they will ban vehicles produced before 2035 that do not comply.

Is this the end of the petrol engined motorcycle?
Yes. There’s no other way of looking at it. Whilst I have no doubt that we will be allowed to continue to use our liquified dinosaur fuel engined vehicles for some considerable time yet, way beyond 2035, they will, like the dinosaurs, die out as nobody will be producing them. There is no doubt that these new rules will be applied to motorcycles and mopeds and in all likelihood, this will happen not too much after 2035.
Remember 2 strokes? It wasn’t that long ago that you could buy a new, mass produced 2 stroke motorcycle. Actually, it was around 2007. 13 years ago. They weren’t banned, they were squeezed out of existence by ever more stringent emissions regulations.
In 15 years time, that’s what we are looking at for most internal combustion engined cars and vans, and shortly after that, motorcycles.
How many 2 strokes do you see on the road these days? Very few, only those that are kept by enthusiasts and classics. The same will happen again, though probably faster, because this time the change is a blanket ban on sales after 2035.
It seems likely that in cities at least, only zero emissions vehicles will be allowed even earlier than 2035; which will have a dramatic effect on sales and consequently on production, before the 2035 ban comes into place.

Prices of combustion engined vehicles will rise as we approach 2035 and prices of zero emission vehicles will fall as well, the closer we get to 2035.

Next time I ask the question, is it all doom and gloom?