Road-legal R1 sidecar makes perfect sense

Published: 20 May 2002

To make your R1 stand out from the crowd you could fit an end-can. Or you could treat it to a flash paintjob, or all sorts of other goodies. What you probably wouldn’t do is stick the motor in a racing sidecar and make it fully road legal, creating a vehicle that can do 0-112mph in 3.2 seconds, and over 180mph!

Unsurprisingly its creator, Geraint Roberts, used to race sidecars. It would have to take someone with the mentality to race one to even consider putting one on the road… and then use it for touring.

" I did 5000 miles on it last year, went to Wales, Anglesey and the Peak District with the girlfriend in the chair. Got some funny looks on the M6 though, " said Roberts.

Roberts, a retired engineer, built the outrageous outfit himself with the help of girlfriend Dagmar. Oh, and the police!

He added: " The local cops were fantastic, I told them what I wanted to do and they loved the idea and gave me loads of advice on how to make it road legal. They contacted the DVLA and an inspector came around and showed me what I needed to do (see panel, right). "

Obviously not the ones who pulled Roberts over during MCN’s photoshoot. But after checking over the amazing road-going sidecar they had to let him on his way.

" The police loved it. In the past I’ve been with other bikers when they have been pulled over for small plates etc. and the cops just laugh and wave me past, although I do keep the MoT certificate on me at all times! "

Underneath the fairing the R1 motor is housed in a tubular steel chassis, designed and built by Roberts, with Maxton suspension and grippy road-legal competition tyres. The engine is completely stock, however Roberts has altered the carbs and exhaust system to suit the sidecar design, which has boosted the power to 162bhp at the rear tyre. With lowered gearing this is enough to spin the rear at 100mph in top gear and get from 0-100mph in just over three seconds! Well it does only weigh 166kg (365lb) – the same as an SV650.

Amazingly he hasn’t had any problems getting the vehicle insured. It costs 49-year old Roberts just £200 a year for TPFT cover and the only concession he made to the design to get insurance was to fit a seat for the passenger to sit in.

On the road he reckons the sidecar is unbeatable. " It is amazingly quick, it just flies around corners, but it is also practical. It will happily cruise at 70mph, I have just sold my Hayabusa because I use the sidecar instead. "

Despite the prone riding position, Roberts actually prefers driving it to a normal bike. " Because you are lying down your weight is spread out and not concentrated in one area, I can drive it all day with out getting any aches, " he said.

In fact the only real problem with it is the lack of lights.

" Obviously I can’t ride at night and quite a few times I have had to leave it at people’s houses because I have been caught out by fog, " he added.

" I just love sidecars and speed and didn’t see why I had to be consigned to the track.

" Oh, and I do like to get noticed a bit... "

Points of law:

Roberts’ sidecar has what’s called a " daytime MoT " . This allows a vehicle to be used between lighting up times with one hour leeway either way.

No lights or indicators are needed, but a two-wheeler must have a working brake light. A sidecar, however, does not even need this. If any lights are fitted, they must all work.

You need a horn, working speedo and two independent means of stopping – a front and back brake. All other MoT criteria, such as legal tyres and noise limits, must be met to pass the test.