A GS? A sidecar outfit? Yes! But not as we know them!

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R1150 GS Outfit In the course of a dash across Germany, towards the English Channel, last year, Ann and I pitched up at a hotel on the outskirts of Luxembourg city for a night’s lodging and spied, in the car-park, an interesting-looking black outfit based on an R 1150 GS. A quick mooch around it showed it to be a truly unique piece of work, a flight of fancy of some enthusiast with engineering skills, time on his hands, a truckload of enthusiasm for motorbikes and a very unconventional mind!

It was so magnificent and unusual that I determined there and then to tell club members about this wonderful BMW-based chariot — for it deserves no less an appellation than that. So, I shot off a set of pictures and spent some time crawling over, under and around this rare beast, hoping that it would not turn feral and sink its fangs into me for my brashness and intrusiveness.

Right Side View Back in the lounge of the hotel I was burbling-on to Ann about the machine when I saw a man, in his middle years, sitting quietly nearby with a book and smiling quietly to himself. Guessing correctly that not only did he understand English but was also most likely the owner of the outfit, I approached him and we had a chat. Turns out he came from Melton Mowbray, an English town more noted for its delicious pork pies than its exotic motorbike confections. When I asked him why he had built it he simply said he had had a vision and the GS seemed the most suitable bike for his purpose. No-one rode in the chair, for it was indeed a ‘chair’ and not a sidecar by any definition, and he had just felt like building such a machine for his amusement; a bit of a short term hobby.

I’m not technically highly literate so I give you a general description and ask that the techie types in the club forgive my misuse of terms and possible misunderstandings of what I saw. For that reason, this article merely supports the pictures that accompany it and attempts to describe the main features. So here goes:

From the front it presented a solid, heavy appearance (see figure 1); a broad front wheel, a rebuilt steering and suspension system, the black fibreglass chair is square, wide and tall with a tube-steel framework on the outside (which I took to be there to support the fibreglass body of the chair).

Front On View

The complete front-end of the bike has been rebuilt. It has a very heavy-duty tiller type of steering arrangement with a damper and a remote shock, heavier than the standard one. The telelever is welded solid to a cross-strut of aluminium billet and there is a massive steel plate fork brace. The same billet is used for two huge vertical frame members. Two rods project from the top of this frame brace to allow the steering head to pivot normally. The frame members mean that the exhaust cross-flow pipe is removed but the rest of the original two-into-one system remains. At the bottom of the frame members are two longitudinal frame members of box-section steel running to just below the footrest. The tiller is a complex piece of work, also huge and solid in character (presumably to ensure minimal flexing and accurate steering). The shock, which has a spring of very heavy wire but does not look progressive nor have a lot of pre-load adjustment, is bolted to the tiller arm and to the cross-strut at the top end.

From the right, the bike looks more conventional. It has a single seat with GIVI top-box mounted on the pillion-seat plate. The pillion pegs remain so, I suppose, the pillion seat can replace the top-box as needed. An Aeroflow screen protects the rider. The front wheel is a mag with a single disc; the calliper mounted vertically on the leading edge (see figure 2). The rear wheel is also a mag but this has a fluid drive-shaft, mounted to the left side of it, for the sidecar wheel (see figure 3).

The chair has a floor of aluminium plate and a locked trunk of the same material, suitable for the family jewellery, with a hinged top that forms the plain but padded bench-seat which places any passenger sitting somewhat uncomfortably behind the fibreglass bulkhead with its tube-steel bracing (see figure 4). A padded backrest is fitted. There is a grab-bar in the passenger area and another, which carries the backrest, behind that compartment — presumably so the postillion can stand there on the aluminium plate floor. This grab-bar would also serve for lashing on luggage. A wide but graceful black fibreglass wheel arch covers the mag wheel and carries the brake, indicator and outrigger lights. It is certainly not be a sidecar where any passenger could exist comfortably for any length of time. I told the builder that, to me, it was very reminiscent of a trials or moto-cross chair, and he agreed and said that this had been in his mind when he designed it; he did not carry a passenger, except occasionally.

The left-side view is dominated by the sidecar. The sidecar frame is partly square-section and partly round-section black tube steel of heavy gauge. The braked and driven wheel matches the front wheel. The sidecar wheel is, of course, fitted with a shock and damper.

A glance down the centre of the rig, between bike and chair, shows a plumber’s nightmare of linkages and the rear-brake master cylinder which may have some mechanism to adjust the braking forces between the bike and sidecar wheels. The cockpit was quite conventional although an extra, digital speedo had been added and a clip-board to hold maps or documents. I was assured that no other mechanical changes had been made except to change the gear ratios for the sake of the weight and extra inertia to be overcome.

All in all, this was a most interesting machine, a venture into the realms of motorcycling fantasy in one man’s inventive and skilful mind. And it was based on the most popular model in BMW’s range. Certainly for the type of outfit he had created, I think he chose the right bike. What do you think? I hope you enjoy looking at it as much as I did.

All the Photos of this outfit can be found in our photo gallery