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.


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.


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.

3/26/2020 3:28:12 PM

Thankfully, no swastika was added to it. (I hope) and minor point, the spelling of "strabe", I believe is incorrect. "Strasse" is the correct word for street.The 2 "S's" in "Strasse" are replaced by the Capitol letter "B" making the word meant to be used, is "StraBe". Anyone with better understanding of German grammar feel free to correct me as my last class of 3 years of German language instruction was 1971! Otherwise a very cool article. BTW to Dain, I had a many year subscription to Cycle Guide and was unbelievably sad at the shut down of the magazine. If I recall, that issue had a chromed K1000 as bike of the year as was done many years for that award. Stay healthy everyone.

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