A Little Fun on the Side: 1941 BMW R75 Sidecar

Once a war machine, and now a piece of history, this BMW R75 sidecar is about as period correct as it can be.

| March/April 2019

 BMW-main

1941 BMW R75 Sidecar
Engine: 745cc air-cooled horizontally opposed twin, 78mm x 78mm bore and stroke, 5.8:1 compression ratio, 26hp @ 4,000rpm
Carburetion: Two Graetzin Sa 24mm
Transmission: 4-speed w/reverse (low-ratio 3-speed w/ reverse for offroad)
Electrics/ignition: Noris magneto
Frame/wheelbase: Tubular steel/56.9in (1,444mm)
Suspension: Telescopic fork front, rigid rear w/tube springs for sidecar only
Brakes: 9.8in (250mm) drum brakes front and rear, 9.8in (250mm) hydraulic brake for sidecar
Tires: 4.5 x 16in front, rear and sidecar
Weight (dry/stock): 882lb (400kg) with sidecar
Fuel capacity: 6.3 gal (13.9ltr)
Price then/now: NA/$45,000


Motorcycle sidecars constitute the motoring community’s demilitarized zone. As three-wheelers they separate the mundane and predictable world of automobiles and trucks that lumber along on four wheels from the serendipitous lifestyle that motorcyclists passionately enjoy with their free-wheeling two-wheelers.

But more than that, sidecars are just plain fun to ride. Someone once suggested to me that a sidecar is a motorcycle with a little fun on the side. Perhaps that’s an oversimplification, but it’s true. There’s something magically intoxicating about a sidecar that attracts all sorts of people to admire the odd-looking vehicles.



BMW-ride-view

My first experience with a sidecar occurred in 1979 when I worked for Cycle Guide magazine. Our publication road tested a Harley-Davidson sidecar that summer, so I got plenty of seat time with the Milwaukee-brewed rig. During one outing I stopped at my parents’ house for a quick visit. By chance, Mom and Dad were heading out the door for a dinner date with friends. As the Harley rig and I rambled up to their driveway, Dear Mom greeted me with the biggest smile, followed by, “You’ve got to take me for a ride in that,” her index finger pointing excitedly at the sidecar itself. No matter that she wore a really pretty and delicate evening dinner dress and her hair was prim and proper for her date with Dad, she wanted a ride. I fetched the open-face helmet that we kept stashed in the sidecar for such occasions, and told her to put it on. Then we went for a short ride. She absolutely loved it, this from the woman who, during my formative years, was set against me riding (and racing) motorcycles in the first place.



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