The brother’s sidecar
It has been said that you can judge a man by the quality of his friends; we all have fair weather friends but how many of us are sure our mates will be there when the shit hits the fan?
By this yardstick Pepe was a great man; I never met him, but I’ve seen what his brothers built for him after an accident took his legs. What can you say to a man in a situation like that, what can you do? Can anything be more appropriate, anything more uplifting for the human spirit, anything more demonstrative of love than building a man without legs a sidecar?
Pepe didn’t get to ride his outfit for long before cancer took his life.
Today the brother’s sidecar is ridden by another wheelchair user, passed on in sadness and love. Pepe’s memory, sculptured in metal, riding the roads of his native Holland still.
Using a sidecar for stability when mounting, dis-mounting a motorbike is a no-brainer, using the sidecar as wheelchair storage makes obvious sense if your a chair user. Further-more having the sidecar setup so you can push your chair into the sidecar before moving across to the bike gives you the ability to fine tune the position of the relative seats in terms of height and separation to make the transfer as easy as can be.
Pepe’s sidecar has an opening rear door / ramp allowing the chair to move to the exact transfer position. You’d have to look hard at the photo’s and just as hard in the metal to realise this, so well is it disguised. Obvious in the video linked below, the rear of Pepe’s sidecar swings sideways, the ramp is lowered, he enters, closes the ramp by simple rope and reaches around to close the gate. Easier to do than describe, simple and very very neat. Your chairs go with you, no folding, no lifting, perfectly positioned for the reverse transfer.
Legs, even non-functioning legs, provide balance and lower the bodies centre of gravity. For Pepe, without lower limbs to assist with stability while riding, the outfit has been built with swing away bars either side of the seat to catch his hips. To transfer, the inner bar is raised to give an unobstructed path, then lowered once the transfer is completed.
Rear brake and gearshift obviously needed modification on the brothers sidecar, brake is easy with an additional left hand lever and master cylinder although rather than choosing the thumb brake or parallel levers others have adapted, Pepe intriguingly rotated the clutch 180 degrees to sit underneath his left wrist thus allowing an unobstructed multi-finger pull on the brake.
Gearshifting proved more problematic. In theory the thumb button operated electric actuator is a straight forward adaption many successfully use however Pepe was not happy with it’s operation and moved to a hand shift. You wouldn’t want to ride a sports bike that way but for a cruiser, why not, it was stand fitment for the first 40-50 years of motorbiking!
An excellent youtube vid of one of Pepe’s first rides is located HERE, demonstrating the entry, transfer and general ease in getting mobile better than words can do.
With riding the outfit was tuned and personalised as all highly individualised tools are, leading links replacing the original telescopics for lighter steering and better stability, actuator replaced by hand shift, transferring getting easier and faster with more practice. It’s a classy outfit and a credit to those who built it and to the man it was built for.
Ride on Pepe.