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Getting Hacked and Lovin’ It: 41st Griffith Park Sidecar Rally

Woody Wagon: Just one of several custom sidecars Doug Bingham has built over the last 40 years, this one, owned by veteran sidecarist Russ Smith, is matched to the new Triumph.

Woody Wagon: Just one of several custom sidecars Doug Bingham has built over the last 40 years, this one, owned by veteran sidecarist Russ Smith, is matched to the new Triumph.

Photo Credit: Paul Garson

Paul Garson
November 1, 2012
Filed under Latest News, Rider Magazine Blog, Touring and Rallies

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The Los Angeles famous Griffith Park is known for its sky-high observatory, its world class zoo, its miniature train playground for children, its vintage merry-go-round and acres of picnic grounds. And for the past four decades it’s been home to the annual Griffith Park Sidecar Rally, a traditional pilgrimage for fans of three-wheeling, aka “hackers.” In this case the event marked the 41st such rally for sidecar fans with several hundred riders and spectators showing up to enjoy both vintage and modern variations. Last year, the event was held in November, rain showers dampening things a bit, but this year it was moved to September and brought a deluge of sunshine.

A Sidecar with Attitude: Tucson, Arizona, engineer Mitch Hart took a new 2009 XR1200, bought a welder and started modifying, then added a Ural sidecar for his dog Sally. He molded two factory seats together to make a wider comfy saddle for himself and wife Reesa. “Harley didn’t make an off-road dual-sport so I kinda made one myself. It’s fun and it’s fast.”

A Sidecar with Attitude: Tucson, Arizona, engineer Mitch Hart took a new 2009 XR1200, bought a welder and started modifying, then added a Ural sidecar for his dog Sally. He molded two factory seats together to make a wider comfy saddle for himself and wife Reesa. “Harley didn’t make an off-road dual-sport so I kinda made one myself. It’s fun and it’s fast.”

The event was originally founded by Doug “Mr. Sidecar” Bingham, the nation’s leading force behind the promotion of the joys of sidecar riding. Back in 1969, Doug formed a company called Side Strider and began designing and building street sidecars. Besides production sidecars from Harley-Davidson, Doug’s “Bingham MK-1,” when introduced, was the first sidehack made available to the public for literally decades.

It was no surprise to see some racing “cars” at this year’s event since Doug himself was a longtime competitor, having campaigned a BMW R60 production sidecar at the famous Laguna Seca circuit in California, circa 1974. His hands-on experience with road-racing sidecars and off-road outfits contributed to the success of his growing business. His reputation also garnered him, in 1972, exclusive U.S. distributor status by Watsonian, the world’s oldest and best known sidecar manufacturer.

Doug was inducted into the U.S. National Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame for his achievements as a designer/inventor, as a racer and for his contributions to the advancement of motorcycling in general. Doug has also been Director of the Sidecar Industry Council, which addresses standardized engineering, promotes a focused strategy for marketing and a greater cooperation with government agencies, as well as the dissemination of information.

Event founder Doug Bingham with longtime pal Evan Bell, owner of famous Irv Seaver Motorcycles, the shop specializing in BMWs for 100 years!

Event founder Doug Bingham with longtime pal Evan Bell, owner of famous Irv Seaver Motorcycles, the shop specializing in BMWs for 100 years!

Doug has adapted sidecars to untold numbers of bikes of all makes, from the small to large, and is always ready to offer his technical expertise and years of experience to both veteran hackers, as well as to people interested in trying some hacking for the first time. For many years, he helped film the L.A. Marathon and other events via his specially equipped “movie” sidecars and also built special rigs for the U.S. military.

The Griffith Park annual rally is his baby, something akin to a family reunion. Many of the sidecar rigs showing up were built by him 30 or more years previously as new builds fresh out of the molding. He’s literally seen generations grow up in some of his “cars,” kids now taking control of their own machines. Many of the participants have a wall full of the cool rally plagues he makes for each event, this rider/writer included. Three-wheeling really does open up a whole new, wider world of possibilities and Doug keeps that window wide open.

For more info about all things sidecar, visit sidestrider.com.

Super Swoopy Victory: Ray Anderson and wife Nancie travel thousands of miles in a 2008 Victory Vision Tour powered sidecar combination. Ray has owned over 60 motorcycles including an entire collection of the Honda Gyro scooters. When asked why he picked the new Victory cruiser from all other bikes, he said, “Comfort," then laughed and added, “At my age it all has to do with how long I can sit on a motorcycle. This is my first Victory and the hardest thing to do on this bike is stay awake since it’s so smooth."

Super Swoopy Victory: Ray Anderson and wife Nancie travel thousands of miles in a 2008 Victory Vision Tour powered sidecar combination. Ray has owned over 60 motorcycles including an entire collection of the Honda Gyro scooters. When asked why he picked the new Victory cruiser from all other bikes, he said, “Comfort,” then laughed and added, “At my age it all has to do with how long I can sit on a motorcycle. This is my first Victory and the hardest thing to do on this bike is stay awake since it’s so smooth.”

Ex-jet aircraft mechanic Tom Ridyard recycles electric “mobility vehicles” into unique street legal sidecars. This one was made from a crashed go-cart. Two 12-volt batteries, one for each wheel, reach speeds of 5 mph and a range of 17 miles. Says Tom, “It’s all controlled by a single joy stick and you can go any which way you want."

Ex-jet aircraft mechanic Tom Ridyard recycles electric “mobility vehicles” into unique street legal sidecars. This one was made from a crashed go-cart. Two 12-volt batteries, one for each wheel, reach speeds of 5 mph and a range of 17 miles. Says Tom, “It’s all controlled by a single joy stick and you can go any which way you want.”

This heavily diamond plate armored sidecar features a Halloween pumpkin running light. It's a 1993 K1100LT ridden by Mike Colburg.

This heavily diamond plate armored sidecar features a Halloween pumpkin running light. It’s a 1993 K1100LT ridden by Mike Colburg.

Screamin’ Yellow Yamaha: Cool combo sports classic custom flames.

Screamin’ Yellow Yamaha: Cool combo sports classic custom flames.

Traveling in Style: Tom and Sharon’s 2001 Suzuki 1200 Bandit was rescued from the salvage yard and rebuilt before Tom added the Bingham Special sidecar, which features a motorized and heated passenger seat, full audio system with six speakers, and two hi-tech horns.

Traveling in Style: Tom and Sharon’s 2001 Suzuki 1200 Bandit was rescued from the salvage yard and rebuilt before Tom added the Bingham Special sidecar, which features a motorized and heated passenger seat, full audio system with six speakers, and two hi-tech horns.

Takes Two to Tangle: Yes, that is a skateboard double as tandem sidecar. Tom Hal, a retired pharmacist, and his wife have been riding together for 50 years! He carries the little electric scooter and special passenger “chair” on the back of his full-sized side car.

Takes Two to Tangle: Yes, that is a skateboard double as tandem sidecar. Tom Hal, a retired pharmacist, and his wife have been riding together for 50 years! He carries the little electric scooter and special passenger “chair” on the back of his full-sized side car.

Vintage Streamliner: Jerry Young matched his Honda Goldwing to a classic late 1970’s Jacwal SuperWedge fairing, coloring matching it to Watsonian sidecar. Note “shock absorbers” balancing out the combination.

Vintage Streamliner: Jerry Young matched his Honda Goldwing to a classic late 1970’s Jacwal SuperWedge fairing, coloring matching it to Watsonian sidecar. Note “shock absorbers” balancing out the combination.

Beautiful Beemer: Classic Art Nouveau styled Steib Sidecar teams up with a 1954 BMW.

Beautiful Beemer: Classic Art Nouveau styled Steib Sidecar teams up with a 1954 BMW.

Comments

4 Responses to “Getting Hacked and Lovin’ It: 41st Griffith Park Sidecar Rally”

  1. Daniel Wennerholm on December 3rd, 2012 6:34 pm

    Hi Doug

    The 012 rally got past me. I was hopping to make rally this year and missed it again. Sorry: Dan Wennerholm

    [Reply]

  2. John Busby on January 1st, 2013 12:03 pm

    These are great pictures. I have a 2003 Kawaski 1500 Vulcun. I want to be able to go on trips and ralley’s but my wife and I can’t because we also have a black lab (90 lbs) and a mini-pinicher dog. When we travel we travel in our truck, but we would love to travel on our bike. We live in Indianapolis, IN. Is there anyplace that makes sidecars for my bike?

    [Reply]

  3. Edo Ishihara on January 22nd, 2013 9:19 am

    Those side cars are prefect pictures of what vintage rides are. They all look amazing.

    [Reply]

  4. Magazine Software on January 23rd, 2013 8:27 am

    Good information. Thanks for sharing.

    [Reply]

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