Honda 125cc sidecar
Dismissing small capacity outfits is a mistake as there is a reason the most successful outfit of all in terms of longativity and numbers built, the Nippi, is only made in 125cc and smaller capacities.
Some people may see a smaller bike as but a steping stone on the path to getting mobile again after a catastrophic injury, a sort of interim confidence builder, but the advantages for a wheelchair user are the same as for the hundreds of small scooters clogging our cities; low purchase, low running costs low rego and insurance. Traveling within the city limits, 70km/hr or less is easily within the scope of as 125cc wheelchair sidecar carrying a rider in a manual chair, knock 10km/hr off if in a small electric chair. If you have really gone to town on the junk food and/or use an electric chair of 100kg or more, then maybe a 250cc would be a better starting point.
Above 125cc the single-rear wheel drive Nippi trike layout just doesn’t work, the power overcomes the handling and the results can be brutal. It’s at this point that you need to drive both rear wheels or, go to a sidecar where the front wheels alignment with the driving wheel resists the torque effect that is trying to twist the unit about its centre point.
The owner of this fun machine had worn out a Nippi, worn out his welcome at the local mechanic and worn out the good will of his road side assistance service! He had tried the Australian built Nippi alternative that is powered by a 150cc 4-stroke but didn’t have the upper-body strength to safely control it and passed it on to a para after 12 frustraighting months. Hunting around the WWW put him in touch with his builder who convinced him of the benefits of a sidecar and was convinced an automatic scooter could be used as the tug.
Built in steel square section, tacked up in the garage then professionally welded the result is strong if with agricultural aspects. This is mostly because of the lack of final finishing due to the Nippi’s irreversible death one month before the sidecar was finished, Painting went out the window and the paint you do see here was slapped on with a brush before riding off to work!
Suspension is a rubber torsion unit more commonly seen under boat and box trailers. Rated at 250kg it is, only just, better than no suspension at all. In hindsight the 125kg rated unit would have done. The sidecar is attached to the scooter by a subframe that bolts to the scooters steel backbone in three places.
The neat disc carrying spider was a custom fabrication by Zeb Lowe, a fitter who also sorted the steering, rear ramp and many of the odd jobs that take so much effort at the end of a build. Side and front brakes are linked and do all the work, the rear is not adapted for the owner and not missed. Many thanks to Zeb and Neil Lowe Motorsports for their many hours.
How does it handle, good enough for 40,000km in three years as a totally reliable daily hack. Fine around town it also saw its share of freeway work where it is less happy, lack of top end and nervousness from the short wheelbase, wide track means it really is a town bike and that is where it’s in its element.
The “cute” little sidecar is also a social tool, ask the owner how he gets by without reverse and he can reliably confirm that the outfit and rider can be easily pushed backwards by the shortest skirt, highest heel combination walking the streets today!