Mick Payne reflects on the late Ray Doran’s cleverly modified BMW/Watsonian GP Sport combination.
Last month, our editor Pete gave a tantalising glimpse of the sadly deceased Ray Doran’s lovely BMW outfit, and this got me thinking.
Many years ago, I wrote a regular sidecar feature for Motorcycle Sport magazine and was lucky enough to test many varied combos, from Villiers-powered lightweights up to Blackbird and Hayabusa behemoths, but even then the one I liked more than any of the rest (and time hasn’t blunted that emotion) was Ray’s cleverly modified BMW/Watsonian GP Sport that would always have taken pride of place in my garage.
Back in September 1995, I met up with Ray at Jim D’Arcy’s Charnwood Classic Restorations in Leicestershire, where he explained that he felt his R60 BMW needed a rewire.
While it was apart, an R100RS engine and gearbox were sourced from a breaker, and I was told that, because of BMW’s reluctance to recommend their later frames for sidecar use, this was a fairly common conversion.
The engine is mated to an R90 bevel box secured to the R60 swing arm via a short length of R90 arm. The cycle sits on 15-inch rims, then shod with Firestone 125 section car radials.
Ray had his work cut out convincing his wheel-builder that the very short spokes required to lace the Grimeca four-leading shoe into the alloy rim were a good idea.
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