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First Recreational Drive

It was noon, with temps promising to be in the mid 40’s, When my wife and I left on the Royal Enfield and sidecar, for our first recreational ride.

Early this morning, I braved 25° temperatures in the garage, to install the windshield that I had just picked up the day before, which belonged on the sidecar. Thank goodness for slotted holes predrilled! The alignment was tight but I was able to get it done successfully. It figures the nuts and bolts would be metric! 10mm, in fact. After all, the bike was built in India! I pulled the cover off The sidecar, and went back in the house to get warm.

I had received a text last night that I didn’t see until this morning, from a friend of mine who had bought a new CanAm Spyder from the same place I bought my Royal Enfield, and he wanted to get together and go for a ride, with our wives.

We had a couple of errands to do, and postponed our grocery shopping, which we would normally do on a Saturday morning, and told him we’d be back at the house by noon, which was the time of day that he said he would arrive at our place. We got home in time, and he and his wife arrived shortly after that.

After a few minutes of letting them get warmed up from their half-hour ride to our house, and already having pulled the Royal Enfield out into the driveway, mostly ready to go (in chaps and so forth), I went out to start the bike, and she started right up. (I wondered if anybody would notice that my wife and I were wearing our Harley Davidson helmets, and she was wearing her Harley Davidson leather?!)

The plan was, that my wife was going to forgo the wearing of chaps, because she would be in the sidecar. I grabbed her a blanket that she could wear around her legs, which was not really the best choice, because it was more of a cotton type blanket, as opposed to a windbreaker material, which allowed the wind to penetrate.

Our plan was to take all secondary roads, and our first stop was to go get gas, about three blocks from the house. The odometer read 40 miles, and I’m trying to be disciplined about stopping at the hundred mile mark for now, at least until I know how many miles I can get out of a tankful. I put 93 octane in. It only took about three dollars worth.

We were not at the gas station more than five minutes, when a guy in his mid 60’s walked over and started asking questions about the rig that I was riding on.

This kind of questioning and interest in the bike, is quickly proving to be exactly what they said. I had been warned that I needed to build time into my trips for those who would stop me and ask questions, and I’m learning how true that is!! This was only the second time I’ve been on the bike. The FIRST time, when I rode it home from the dealership, I was asked about it twice, when I stopped.

Leaving the gas station, I was not paying attention to where I was, in relationship to the curb. Or more particularly, where the SIDECAR was, in relationship to the curb, and my wife got a rude jolt, as the sidecar jumped over the edge of the curb. It didn’t hurt her and it didn’t hurt the sidecar, but it hurt my feelings, because I felt like an ass! Lesson one!!

With my friend and his wife on their Spyder, following the road that we were going to lay out for them, because they did not know the area, we headed off through suburbia Ville. On this particular leg of the trip, I stalled it out twice, at two different intersections. I just didn’t give it enough gas, leaving from a dead stop in both situations, and I’m proud to say I didn’t make that mistake again, for the rest of the trip. I had given the bike plenty of time to warm up before we left, so I can’t blame it on the bike “being cold.” It was simply my fault. That’s all there is to it.

At about the halfway point of the trip that we intended to take, we stopped at a McDonald’s to get a coffee and get warmed up a little bit. 45° as you know, can still feel pretty cold when you’re on a bike. When I asked my wife if she was comfortable on the ride she said “yes,” she was “comfortable,” but the blanket wasn’t really stopping the wind that was coming in on the two sides of the sidecar, by her hips. I begin to wonder if maybe wearing her chaps might’ve been a better choice after all.

Just like at the gas station, there was a fellow at the McDonalds, who got out of his pick up truck and came over and wanted to engage me in conversation about the bike. He wanted to know the typical things, like “what brand is it,” and “what year was it made,” etc.. I am patient with those who ask, and give them all the answers that they desire.

One thing I’m learning about this bike, is that it is slightly under-powered for some of the hills we have around here. I had to downshift to fourth gear on some of them, and down to third gear, on the more extreme hills. During the duration of the trip, the maximum speed I attained on the bike, was 60 miles an hour. I would give her all she was worth in fifth gear, with the throttle twisted as far as she would go, in order to get a running start, to make the next hill, but the longer grade hills forced downshifting.

Along the route that we chose to take, there is an antique gas station, with old fashioned pumps, and a service building made to look like a 1930’s replica. I had said that I intended to stop there, and park the bike by the tanks, and take a picture. (See attached)

Throughout the course of the trip, my friend on his Spyder, would blast his horn to let me know if I forgot to cancel my signal. On the Road Glide that I owned previously, the signals were self-canceling. That is NOT the case with THIS bike. There were MANY times he had to blow his horn at me. At one point, he said I “went 10 miles, before I finally shut my turn signal off!!” I’ll have to work on that!!

As the trip progressed, I gradually became more comfortable with what I needed to do to keep the bike in the proper line, and to maneuver it appropriately. I learned how tricky it can be, to try to downshift on a hill, and also maintain your speed, without jerking the handlebars.

I also found, that on the straightaways, I was locking my right elbow, keeping my arm rigid against the handlebars, in order to help out my left arm, which was getting tired, fast!

When we finally finished the ride, and pulled into our driveway, the first thing my friend said to me was, “well, according to the statistics on my bike, we averaged 32 mph on this 45 mile journey!!” Huh?! I knew I hit 60 on many occasions throughout the ride?!

We talked about the insufficiency of the blanket; we talked about some of the missteps; we talked about not shutting off my signals; we talked about the slower speeds. We all laughed about all of this stuff, but certainly used it as “constructive criticism” for “things to improve on,” the next time I ride it.

My wife mentioned how the floor of the sidecar was kind of slippery when trying to get in or get out of the sidecar, so later on this evening, we stopped at a store and found a rubber bottomed bathmat, that could be on the floorboards of the sidecar. for a better grip.

We also talked about leaving the sidecar cover attached on the front end and using it as a bit of a windbreaker, in addition to perhaps using a different blanket that would not allow air to penetrate through it, for the next trip, and wearing her chaps.

Although it wasn’t the warmest ride, it still was a learning experience, and I’m glad we went. The slow speeds and the issues connected with this bike, don’t discourage me from riding it. I’m glad I bought it. I’m sure I can overcome the issues. The steps backwards that I took from the touring bike that I previously owned, were intentional.

Tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer!!

Attached files

sounds like you had a great maiden voyage on your new rig. all of the mis-steps you mentioned are minor and easy to overcome

97 1500 SE Motorvation II sidecar USCA # 8913 Double Dark Side # 1522 Goodyear Fuel max 175/60 R16 PILOT ACTIV 130/70 18

Big fun, I'm really enjoying your write ups. I personally don't mind the slower speeds, I have my fun maybe with a little less danger. My RE rig is like yours, makes my arms tired on straight runs at speed, especially if I have a passenger. On a totally flat road mine will track pretty straight at 25 to 30 mph, much faster and it starts to drift right. I know I could align this tendency out of it but I've also learned that the way it is when braking, even hard stops, it tugs a little left but never severely. It feels safer to me this way. Enjoy those gas station stops, it seems more people than not do not realize it is new and think it is some super restored antique. A customer of mine who used to sell Nortons before he retired even fell for it before he started noticing modern engine components. I haven't yet run the sidecar wheel up on anything, I worried about it at first. I think in my case the sidecar extends enough forward that it's always in my view so I tend to naturally center it spatially like driving a car. We used a car mat for a volkswagen, with the ladybug picture on it, in ours. It tends to slide forward, she's always pulling it back. We're expecting an unseasonably warm 60 degrees here today, maybe I should get out for a ride too. Have fun! Cool picture by the way.

Thanks for the comments. I took the RE to go grocery shopping this morning and filled the sidecar with all the grocery bags!!! It was 30° outside!!

Glad to see you got promptly on the road and with a passenger. Yeah it's underpowered but that is probably best at this juncture. In summer you can remove the wind screen and get a bit more from that 500cc single. Locking your elbow is just a way of coping with the alignment, shouldn't have to do that. Trashing the windscreen, a bit added lean-out or some more toe-in will tune out most of that right pull. Your choice of 93AKI for an engine with only 8.5 compression is just a waste of money, stick with 87AKI. Octane has nothing to do with the quality of the gasoline. Have fun enjoy the ride while the temperatures remain mild for the northeast.

If you are not already aware you may find this place informative.

Soupy: Looks like you'll be up to a winter rendezvous. I'll write when I have my bike in New Haven. My bike, BTW, tracks effectively straight on level ground; however, I never use the sidecar windshield. My arms only get tired on hilly curvy roads.


StephanB - 12/5/2017 8:59 PM

Soupy: Looks like you'll be up to a winter rendezvous. I'll write when I have my bike in New Haven.........

Give me a 40ºF day, sunshine, no wind, and no significant snow, salt or sand, and I'm THERE!!!

Roger that.