To brake or not to brake – that is the question

Mick Payne opens up a discussion about the merits or otherwise of fitting a brake to your sidecar wheel – and he’d like to know more about your own preferences.

Although the sidecar has been around almost as long as the motorcycle itself, there wasn’t a TT race for them until 1923, 16 years after solos had first raced on the Island in 1907.

Making history on the Isle of Man in 1923 – Freddie Dixon is seen in action on the banking outfit that won the very first sidecar TT. Mortons Archive photo.

Interestingly, the very first sidecar winner was quite an unusual machine, a Douglas flat-twin fitted with a banking sidecar that could be controlled by the passenger. The rider was the well-known Freddie Dixon, who’d taken a Brooklands Gold Star that same year with his
‘co-driver’ Walter Denny.

Not only was the lean of the chair controlled by Denny with a large lever, but the bike and sidecar were also fitted with disc brakes – very unusual.

Although I have ridden a banking outfit myself, it’s the aspect of braked sidecar wheels that are the subject of this piece. While writing my monthly sidecar piece for Motorcycle Sport, I was lucky to be entrusted with many hugely varied machines, from rigid vintage combos to a state-of-the-art Suzuki Hyabusa and a Honda Blackbird.

Read more in February’s issue of OBM – on sale February now!

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