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Fireblade combination

Published: 23 September 2001

Updated: 19 November 2014

I hAVE never ridden (driven?) a sidecar – and a FireBlade-engined one probably isn’t the most sensible way to lose my three-wheeled virginity. So I’m grateful for small mercies when I’m told the nitrous bottle is empty as I start the engine and the combination’s owner and builder, Paul Sands, climbs into the chair.

I practice a few circles in the car park to get used to the steering then accelerate off. The Blade engine hauls the three-wheeler along well, then as I change gear it starts to weave. It settles down, but goes through the whole spasmodic dance again as I hook third. By this time I’m laughing my head off.

" The thing about sidecars is, you either like them or you don’t, " says Sands, who quite obviously does. In the past he’s raced them both on and off-road. " I ran out of passengers in the end, " he says with a laugh.

This Blade-based missile was built for sprinting. It has moved his love of the bizarre creation to the next level – one that sees him planning an even crazier creation to take to the Bonneville salt flats and come back with a land speed record for Britain.

From one side, Sands’ machine is easily recognisable as Honda’s finest. It sits a little lower than usual, but the fat tank perched on the thick aluminium beam frame and the compact, lightweight four-cylinder motor, only partially obscured by the big, blue NOS bottle, is all clearly FireBlade.

But go around the other side and you see it has all gone completely Pete Tong. The Charnwood sidecar obscures virtually all of the bike except its totally alien front end, with its leading link forks, Ford XR3 tyre on a Wolfrace car wheel and a front mudguard big enough to be clearly visible from space.

" I built it because I thought it would be a bit mad, " says Sands with a hefty dollop of understatement. " I used a FireBlade as the basis because it’s a good strong motor. You can’t beat a Blade. It smokes the back wheel and will do 150mph flat-out. With someone in the sidecar it will still do 140mph.

" But it slaps like nothing on earth. You end up with forearms like Schwarzenegger. With a passenger you can take left-handers flat-out, but if you go too fast into rights it just wants to plough straight on. It’s true that sidecars don’t handle. Put another wheel on a motorbike and it’s not going to, is it? "

The final comment makes Sands seem even crazier, and my sympathy goes to his mate Terry Bartlett, who left his own FireBlade at home to come up to the photoshoot in the sidecar.

" I’m sick of looking at the underneath of articulated lorries, " he says from his knee-high throne in the glass-fibre sidecar as he nervously pulls on his helmet for the return journey.

Bike: 1993 FireBlade combination

Owner: Paul Sands

Cost: £10,000-plus

Time spent building: Two years

Engine: Liquid-cooled, 893cc, K&N filter, Dynojet kit, one-off stainless steel exhaust system with ART can, NOS nitrous-oxide injection

Brakes (front): Twin CBR600 front calipers and twin CBR900 rear discs. Brakes (rear): CBR900 twin calipers and single CBR900 disc

Chassis: Standard beam frame and swingarm in polished aluminium

Suspension: One-off leading-link front forks held in billet yokes, Falcon front shocks, Ohlins rear shock with lowering kit

Other modifications: Charnwood Classics sidecar, Wolfrace wheels, Dream Machine paintwork, Harris single-seat unit, twin headlights, lightweight Dymag wheels

For sale: £8995 ono. Call: 01753-522720

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