Transport is sidecar delight

2012-10-29 07:34

There are many different ways of getting around the Mother City: bicycle (as 30 000 do once a year), scooter, car, luxury coach, open-top bus but how about a trip around the Cape Peninsula aboard a classic motorcycle with sidecar attached?

You may have seen these outfits – I certainly have while going about their business, but always in the opposite direction to that in which I’d been travelling.

Finally, last weekend, I caught up with one of the team near Boulders Beach, just outside Simonstown, and managed to find out more about Cape Sidecar Adventures and the bikes they use.


If the CJ750 (Chang Jiang) mode of transport that these tour operators use appears similar to BMW motorcycles of yesteryear that’s because they are virtually the perfect clone of the original. This was the aspect of the business that caught my attention.

Before the start of the Second World War in 1938, and to get over the “slight inconvenience” of not being able to produce anything military due to the 1919 Treaty of Versailles, BMW entered into a joint venture with the Russian Ural/Dnepr factory which was then able to build their own version of “the best motorcycle in the world at the time”, the R71 side-valve boxer.

Well into the war, and when the chips were down for the Germans who had been working on the brilliant M72 version, a motorcycle combination (bike and sidecar) that boasted unprecedented mobility, performance and reliability via its “driven” sidecar-wheel, reverse gearbox, locking differential and a selectable low-range gearbox.

As we all know, the war was virtually over for the Germans, the blueprints, factory drawings and original BMW tooling were “‘handed over.”’ To the victors, the spoils…

Fast forward to the 1980’s and in China alone there were quite a few manufacturers churning out very fair copies of the R71. By way of confusion, Chang Jiang, Chandong, Xiang Jiang, Fengdong and Hongyang all seemed to be building what amounted to the same bike with sales figures reaching into the millions!


Today, only Chang Jiang survive in China with Ural/Dnepr the top Russian manufacturer which still today export their rugged and tough workhorse machines around the globe.

As far as Cape Sidecar Tours is concerned, they can offer you an unforgettable adventure. Their sidecar tours can cater for as many as 50 people at once (25 machines), their drivers are qualified and know every inch of the Cape Peninsula.

So, you can take your pick from a variety of itineraries (this is, of course, left up to you), ranging from a spin around the city to a full day/overnight trip. Don’t worry if you’ve forgotten your gear – they can supply warm leather jackets for either sex; crash helmets and goggles are available as well – classic style, of course!

• You can visit the website for more info e-mail them or call them on +27 (0)21 434-9855.