A Bit Off The Side.

With the way things are at present I’ve taken the sidecar off the R12 to ride it as a solo for a while.

This is not a difficult job, worst part is manoeuvring the detached sidecar around.

All it takes is to slack off the two bell clamps, remove the bolt through the upper clevis of the upper brace, unplug the lights and I can wheel the sidecar away, not even a ten-minute job!.

When it comes to replacing it things are just as easy, and because of the design of the sidecars fittings I will not have to re-align things, it literally just plugs straight back on.

However, taking the sidecar off brings with it another problem, but it’s one I would have had anyway, Tyres!

Both tyres on the old lady are a bit worn and are well past their “use by” dates, so it’s been onto the Internet to see what is available.

With the old girl having been built back in 1940 she runs on the old imperial sized tyres. While these are still available choice is a bit limited.

Strangely enough, if I wanted sidecar use tyres it would be easy because suitable tyres are still in production because they are used on pre-war cars such as the Austin Seven. Being a sidecar tyre though they have a flat profile and that does not give good handling on a solo machine.

A rake around the Web turned up some options using modern tread patterns, not ideal for use on a vintage bike, and then I found a MITAS tyre in the correct size and with an older profile, one more suited to the age of the bike.

These are of East European manufacture and while possibly not really suitable for use on a modern “crotch rocket” they are perfectly adequate for use on an elderly side-valve machine like the R12, so it was out with the card and order up a pair, along with new tubes and rim-tapes.

Even with current hold-ups delivery only took a couple of days and now it’s just a case of fitting them and now is an ideal time as the current heat wave heats up the new tyres and make them more supple and easier to fit.

When it came to removing the old tyres they showed their age, you could just about strike a match on their side walls they were so stiff and hardened!, I was glad of the extra tyre lever I had bought some years ago that’s almost half as long again as the standard ones that came in the R80 BMW’s tool kit!.

I fitted new inner tubes and rim tapes while I was at it, after all the old ones had been in there for some 30 years now, I checked the date code on the old tyres, 1984! they were well time expired even if they did still have reasonable amounts of tread left.

The new tyres went on easily as they were warm, I cleaned up the rim bead areas, soaped the tyres beads inside and out and did not need the levers to mount them, the one bead slipping on with hand pressure and the other being “walked” on. As soon as the new tyres were fitted I put about 40 psi of air into them and bounced them all round their perimeter and the beads snapped home without any problems.

Then it was just a case of adjust the tyre pressures and refit the wheels.