Well it’s been coming up fast for awhile now, but the final weekend is here, and there is still a lot to do. We sent the bike over to Becker Moto Works and had as much work as we could afford done to the bike. The biggest problem is really not possible to fix- it’s the frame. The bike was designed in an era when sidecars could barely hit 100mph flat out, and it was designed to race on the tight bumpy public roads at the Isle of Man; it is impossibly narrow and short in overall size. Combine that with the fact that it was upgraded from the standard-of-the-era 10-inch wheels and put on more current 13-inch wheels, and it sits higher as well. Short, narrow, and high off the ground is the exact opposite of that which is needed to make a road-racing vehicle handle well.
The only thing that could really be done without excessive work (more money and time) was to move the rear wheel outboard. Not only does this have the effect of widening the bike, it also changes the offset between the front and rear wheel, making the machine more triangular in shape. This helps the bike resist the urge to pop up on two wheels when turning left, but also allows weight to come off the rear wheel more easily when turning right. Currently our problem is left turns, but we won’t know if we will suffer more in right-handers until after the first race.
While Becker was modifying the frame and swingarm to accept the new wheel location, he also installed a new rear shock. It’s ariginally designed for the 50cc dirt bikes that get converted and ridden by adults. The heavier shock needs to be small enough to fit in a mini-bike, which means it can fit in a low-to-the-ground sidecar. It has to be an improvement over the 1980’s era shock that was on there before. It was too soft and hand no real adjustability. Also, the rear brake was swapped out. The Erhard brake that was on there is found on vintage car racing websites, so having the smaller, lighter Willwood caliper should help both feel and heat dissipation. The actual rotor (brake disc) is still the same. Speaking of that, the cast iron brake rotor on the chair wheel is warped, and has been causing problems since Pikes Peak last year. Currently I have not been able to replace it; I can only find it on European websites and it’s expensive. It seems to be a part used on old Mini Coopers. A battle for another time I suppose.
Right now we are working full time to finish the bodywork. With the new wheel moved over so far, the tail piece/ seat no longer fits of course. I cut it into 3 pieces and am in the process of fiberglassing it all back together to kit the new shape. It is going just fine, but there is not nearly enough time to get it all smooth enough for paint. We will hopefully have it at least close enough to shoot primer on, which is basically the same color as the satin grey that was on there before. This is all happening while the bike also needs a full servicing and the front tire replaced, and a helluva cleaning. A new air intake also needs fitted, to allow me to get my head out of the wind, and not have my arms at such an unnatural angle to the handlebars. It’s always been uncomfortable, and I can’t wait to try the new, smaller, steel airbox Becker Moto Works is building. It may not be ready in time for the first race though; so much left to do. I still have to do a full service on the van and replace all of the brake pads/shoes as well. I always get caught out like this when a race is early in the month. “Oh, I can finish it later, the race isn’t ’till next month” doesn’t do much for you when it’s the 29th.
Below I put a link to our 2012 gallery. It has a handful of pics showing the work in progress. Enjoy!