In the early 70’s I was a poor college dropout determined to make my way through life on 2 wheels
rather than four but I lived in Schenectady, NY and was forced to cope with severe winter weather.
Fortunately I discovered sidecars; otherwise I may not have survived. In addition to negotiating ice
and snow bound roadways, sidecar ‘outfits’ enabled me to carry large loads or two humans or a
large dog when needed, and ultimately were used to ferry kids to school and bring home the wife
and groceries. I still had at least one two wheeler but I knew early on that I would need to always
have a ‘chair’ ready when needed.
Fast forward 40 years. Still riding bikes, still keep a sidecar machine ready when needed. I owned a succession of three wheel rigs through the decades culminating with a ‘Side-Bike’ purchased in the early 90’s: a French sport touring chair based on an FJ1200. It was very nearly as fast as a sport bike in dry conditions and much, much faster in rain or on gravel or snow. Not really very practical though and of course it was totally at odds with the RetroTours concept. After 15 years I was ready for a change.
EML is another European sidecar manufacturer, based in Holland. EML sold high quality sidecar conversion kits for popular bikes in the seventies. I had read about them with great enthusiasm but of course I couldn’t afford one. BMW engines are well suited to sidecar work and incredibly, the EML kit for 1970’s BMWs included a complete frame for both the motorcycle and the sidecar, which enabled geometry and alignment that was perfect for sidecar handling. Together with a leading link Earls fork front end, 14 inch car wheels and tires, 4 disc brakes and 5 Koni shocks, the resulting rig is both sure footed and nimble. The extra large fiberglass ‘boat’ offers comfort along with a huge trunk and weather protection extends all the way to a removable wrap around perspex screen and a rag top convertible roof.
At the end of the 1970’s, a Mr. John Collins in Tennessee began a sidecar project: he used the engine from a ’77 R100/S, the fairing from an R100RS, an 8 gallon hand made fuel tank and an EML frame and sidecar kit to create a lovely classic rig. This was sold in the late 1980’s to Stuart, a high school friend of mine who lived in Tennessee. Stuart moved to Israel in the 1990’s and sold it to a mutual friend: Bob. Bob had it for 10 or 15 years and was ready to move on in 2010 just as I was preparing to divest the FJ1200. The FJ sold easily along with a few other orphans from the collection to finance the EML rig which by virtue of its heritage, age and usefulness promises to blend right into the RetroTours fleet.
I have taken it on several tours already, and it has served very well: carrying ample tools, parts and supplies, a big first aid kit, groceries and beer, and 3 humans when needed. In fact the EML manages to swallow all of everyone’s luggage. This is a real benefit as it enables riders to cruise along unencumbered by bulging tank bags and overloaded luggage racks. Plus, at every rest stop the trunk pops up and bottled water, granola bars, beef jerky and other essentials of the road are made readily available to all. I am content to drive the rig all day long if needed, but when other sidecar qualified drivers are along they can take a shift on the EML which is a hoot to drive at speed! It doesn’t go on every trip, but when it does go the R100S/EML is the RetroTours ‘chase vehicle’ par excellence.