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Common Tread

Stuff that doesn't suck: Sidehack hack

Sep 11, 2015

I was wandering around the Perkiomen Chapter AMCA Swap Meet with a beer in one hand and a camera in the other when I spied the bike you see above, at about the same angle. 

My internal monlogue went something like this. "Look at that motor hanging way out. Well, I'd recognize that any day of the week! A CBX! How nifty, with a sidecar, too. What fun!"

Then I got a bit closer and saw the bike from the other side. Hey, that's not a CBX!

I failed to do a proper interview of the owner and record his name. (Read: I was busy ogling his work and not interested in turning things into the drudgery that work can sometimes be.) So you get the second-rate account. I'm sorry. Feel free to attack my lack of journalistic integrity in the comments section.

I'll just scooch this motor over a little bit here... Photo by Lemmy.

Now, I had an idea of how this guy modified his sidecar rig, and why he did it, so for those of you who are not following me, you'll be up to snuff shortly. See how the engine is not centered in the frame? It's offset to the right. I asked the old-timer if he did it for better weight distribution, and he smiled and said, "Yes!" (I think he enjoys getting shaken down by someone who knows what they're looking at.) I then asked if I could take a guess at how he did it, and he agreed. My suspicion — which the codger confirmed — was that he flipped the rear wheel, moving the drive line to the right side of the swingarm.

This story is part of our series called "Stuff that doesn't suck." In the moto world, we all see things that aren't major news, but still make us stop and say, "You know, that doesn't suck." Whether it's an inspired customization or an act of kindness or generosity, we want to shine a light on the good stuff in motorcycling. Seen something that doesn't suck? Tell us about it. Send an e-mail to

Next, I figured he measured the distance the sprocket moved after the flip. From there, I presumed he tore the bike down, welded in new mounts to move the engine over, mocked it up, and called it a day. Guess what? I was right!

Now, it took me two paragraphs to describe that, but in reality that's a lot of work. I congratulated him and asked him how it rode. He raved about the ride! (Sidecars have a tendency to come up easily, especially on right-handers. The common parlance is "skying the chair.")

Offsetting the motor to make the whole bike handle better: brilliant! Photo by Lemmy.

This super-cool modification produced a homemade, one-of-a-kind machine but still looks so close to factory that I watched people walk by it all weekend and not even notice it was modified. When I pointed it out to one or two friends, they all spent quite a while just talking and looking. As far as I'm concerned, that's definitely the kind of home-brew ingenuity and craftsmanship that doesn't suck.