The most attention-grabbing motorcycle is not an MV Agusta F4 or even a vintage Brough Superior. It’s a sidecar rig: Park up near a sidewalk in any city in the world, and you’ll immediately notice the foot traffic slowing down for a better look.
It can’t just be the rarity value. After all, even the most untutored eye would recognize a Brough Superior as something special. People must like the idea of travelling two-up, or perhaps going on a road trip with a week’s supplies stuffed into the footwell.
Ural dominates the sidecar world these days with its tough, go-anywhere machines, complete with 2WD if you wish.
But many a custom builder has toyed with the idea of attaching a third wheel to a more modern motorcycle, and the latest to travel down this delightful path is BAAK Motocyclettes of Lyon in France.
The rig is based on a 2015-model Triumph Bonneville T100 Black. The sidecar body is a Precision model from Alternative Side-Car in northern France; crafted from steel, it’s a design that has changed little since the 1930s.
The chassis is linked to the Bonneville via six attachments, using a mix of fabricated clamps and already existing fixing spots.
The chassis was built by Alternative Side-Car’s Jean Burdet, who has worked with the Bonneville before. “We simply fitted the sidecar body over his chassis before setting it up on the motorcycle,” says BAAK main man Julien Demaugé-Bost.
“The sidecar has one 320mm Hagon shock absorber, and a 19-inch wheel. It’s 550mm (22 inches) wide and is an ‘approved’ vehicle—so removing the sidecar from the bike is allowed. It takes about one hour to do the job.”
BAAK have installed a lot of their own parts on the rig, amplifying the Triumph’s old-school charm without compromising usability.
That includes the brushed steel handlebars, the fenders and leather fork gaiters, and the headlight unit with its integrated speedo.
The aged leather saddle sits on a custom aluminum loop that can be fitted without welding. The mini fender right behind is especially neat, incorporating the license plate and taillight without upsetting the retro lines of the bike.
Where you might expect to find a classic peashooter exhaust is a simple, short ‘bobber’ system from the BAAK catalog, with stainless steel headers and a sleek aluminum muffler. Under the engine is a discreet stainless steel sump guard.
The uprated shocks come from the binational English/French company Shock Factory, and are about an inch shorter than stock. They’re matched to progressive springs in the forks.
“The sidecar feels very safe, contrary to most people’s beliefs,” says Julien. “It brakes and turns well, and has good handling thanks to the wide bars and the light weight of the sidecar itself.”
A sprinkling of classy accessories ties the bike together: A leather gas tank strap, a Monza cap and chunky Biltwell grips. And the mini aluminum blinkers are so small, they’re almost invisible. Nothing detracts from the Art Deco charm.
It’s got us thinking about leisurely jaunts between the country villages of the Rhône-Alpes, a stone’s throw from BAAK’s Lyon headquarters. A simple, unhurried antidote to modern life.
Anyone care to join us?