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Too Much Fun

Well I was about to sell my 74 Guzzi that I seldom rode when a young guy I know from work started making noises about restoring an old motorcycle. Of course, I had to talk him into a Guzzi.

He proceeded to put together one beautiful motorcycle.

This was about 5-6 years ago. Up til then, I was cleaning up the bike in the spring, changing fluids and charging the battery. Then I'd ride to the market a couple of times and maybe a couple of summer evening rides. Total 50-100 miles a year.

So he wants to go somewhere. I started riding again.

For the last three years we have done a couple of 500 mile rides each year and I remembered how much I loved it.

I'm not going to try to make this long story short.

Last year trying to get my bike dialed in for the "Steak & Pastry" run I just couldn't get the carbs right. Now the bike has been setting for eight months and I gave myself a day to get it ready. Not smart but work doesn't allow much more. We had one guy flying in from back east and renting a bike. I called the rental place and rented one myself.
About 500 miles on a nice new Road Glide, a whole weekend without touching a wrench and I had a better idea.

I would buy a "newish" turnkey motorcycle and farm out the mechanical stuff. I'm too old to enjoy that anymore anyway. Right?

A few weeks later I have a '98 EV11 with 3200 miles. Sweet.

Fast forward to the dog. I have an Australian Shepherd pup (she's 3 now) that I have been doing agility with. Someone mentioned that I needed a sidecar. Right!

So I found a great '85 Cal II with a Watsonian Palma. It is 1500 miles away. Oh well, its only money; and it is for my dog. About 5K and three weeks later I have this tank beautiful rig.

I get on this thing and scare the heck out of myself. I live on a dirt road and it is a couple of miles to any pavement but I'm afraid to go that far. So I put around the yard and up and down the driveway wondering if this thing will ever be capable of going somewhere.

Since I am in Southern California and Sidestrider is about 6 miles from where I work, I call Doug Bingham. He answers his own phone, listens to my concerns and tells me what I need to do is get out and ride that thing. He says, if somethings wrong, I'll figure it out. He was right.

So, that's what I do. Wait a minute, if I accelerate on a right turn and ease off on a left I can almost steer this thing. Hey, from about 30 mph up, there's no wobble. At about 60, it seems almost like I am in control. WOW!
The PO had the sc in storage and was using the motorcycle so I figured the tires were not right for a hack. I mounted a couple of Bridgestone TW42s. Dual sport tires per Doug's advice. Since I do live in the dirt, it made sense to me and the rig is even more manageable now. Still a good workout but fun.

I have got about 250 miles on it now. My dog has about 200 and I am hooked.Meanwhile, I found an old Ambassador cheap. Been setting 5 years and needs a final drive. Having just bought the EV and the hack, I had no business buying another bike. I told myself that all day. Then I called. "Too late but we'll keep your number." Oh well. Two weeks later I got the call. A month later I picked it up. By then I had a final drive ready and she was running the next day.
Now I have 3 motorcycles and a sidecar rig. All I want to do is work on them. What? Farm out the work? What if they don't do it right?

In 1985, Moto Guzzi was not selling motorcycles in California. Seems that there was a question of EPA hoops that Guzzi didn't care to jump through. I am being told that I can not register this bike for highway use in California. (No EPA sticker). Well they goofed up before they gave all my paperwork back and gave me a plate and mailed me a registration. My last resort is a CHP inspection. I'm on the road now and will not try for the inspection until after the Nov 7 rally but I think I have to come up with another tug. The problem is; this thing is a tank. I love it and I am afraid anything else will fall short. I'm thinking that I can put the drivetrain from this one in an older loop frame? I can buy another EV type and see how that pulls or...

Just wanted to tell someone my troubles. But I sure am having fun. The dog likes it too.

Welcome to the world of Sidecaring.

Hello OldTinker,
thanks for sharing your story, that's a great read! Good Luck on getting the Rig completely certified, or a "newish" Tug 😉
I also aquired my Rig, in part, for my Aussie, Kaylee. She's a "Blue Merle" that just loves going for a ride in her Kar. Hook her up to her harness; put on her "Doggles", and off we go! (Kaylee, like some Bikers, draws the line at Helmets, unless required by Law )
Have fun and keep us posted on your "problems". 😉

LUVin' Life,


Thanks for sharing, OldTinker!

Like you, I got a sidecar rig for my dogs. Of my three at the time (now four) golden retrievers one was afraid of the rig, one wasn't interested in anything that couldn't be humped or eaten, but the third loved it from the start! So Barley became my traveling and camping companion. He has about 6000 miles under his collar now, with most of that on three camping trips: thru Ontario to Lake Superior, northern PA, and the Finger Lakes of NYS.

One thing I did with Barley that turned out to be a really good move was to make sure only fun things ever happened in the sidecar. He got treats, much praise, and I made it as comfortable as possible for him. The idea was if he ever got startled or frightened while we were several hundred miles from home, he would run TO the sidecar, not away. When he came across a moose in Ontario that's exactly what he did.

As for getting used to took me about 700 miles of riding before I began to feel truly confident, and at some point during the Ontario trip, maybe 1400 miles from home, I gained that same level of intuitive handling skill that I have long enjoyed on two wheels.

Attached files

Take a look at your EV. The frame should be the same diameter and mounting points should be similar. I had a Formula II mounted to my 99 EV for a few years. I no longer have the sidecar, but would be happy to sell you the EV.

Richard, Thanks for the welcome. It seems to be a promising adventure.

Russell, The Chili Dog doesn't love the Doggles but she is getting to where she will keep them on for a bit. With the all-around windshield on the Palma I haven't pushed the issue.
I will keep you all up to date. I'm not going to give up yet.

Glenfiddich, I read your story about Barley when I was doing my research. I can't wait to take an extended trip with the dog. I put Chili in at first, treats & "good dogs", then I just coasted it down the hill without starting the engine. After a couple of days I started the engine and coasted a bit. When I looked at her she was smiling... I put it in gear and haven't looked back.

I also treated the sidecar like a crate for the dog. If I let her out somewhere and the traffic increases or something gets distracting I tell her to get in and she runs to the rig. She knows that's a safe place.

Just riding around is a pretty busy social exercise. I took the dog around one morning a couple of weeks ago and my girlfriend asked how it went. I told her I met a lot of people. Now, for an old desert hermit type I wasn't sure I'd enjoy all the attention but I have to say I do.

SidecarMike, I am leaning toward the EV as a solution. I know that the 1100 has a lighter flywheel and wondered if it has the torque I need. I'm not familiar with a Formula II. Is the weight comparable to the Watsonian?

I may end up parting out the Cal II. Just now trying to figure out how to budget all this. Wisconsin is a little far after freighting in the rig from Missouri.

I may have a line on a local EV that may be reasonable. If that isn't the one, I might look at later models... I don't love the plastic control boxes on mine.

If that is what I do, I will see if I can afford to have Sidestrider set it up. The steering is definately something I want to set up properly.

This thing really is a workout. I can feel yesterday's 40 miles in my sholders today. And, of course I want to ride today.

I enjoyed reading your post & viewing your website and seeing a lot of similarities to my own interests.
I too have a Guzzi sidecar rig and love to tinker. My basset, Koda, is my navigator and also wears red Doggles.
My friend Don lives on a sailboat in Vallejo and has years of experience working on Guzzis and sidecars.
We often cruise the backroads of Sonoma and Napa with him on his Eldo/Watsonian rig. He also has a Convert and an EV.