Previously published in “Motorsport”, no 2 – 1978
English translation: Gerard Geertjes
Klik hier voor de Nederlandse versie
Just imagine riding by an open pond in the dead of winter and discovering a sidecar box floating around on it, would you believe your eyes? There are even two people sitting in it, and instead of anxious cries for help, you hear the murmur of a small Yamaha outboard engine that gently propels the outfit across the surface. The sidecar as a boat. Formerly such ideas were only expected to arise in England. But if anything special happens in the area of sidecars nowadays, there can only be one man behind it: Ed Pols from Amsterdam, the high priest of motorcycle grand tourism. At the last RAI exhibition (a major Dutch motorcycle exhibition, ed.) he presented the prototype of his Moturist sidecar as a folding camper. This RAI will bring the world scoop of a sailing Moturist sidecar body. And what’s more, any existing Moturist sidecar – there are more than 60 of them on the road by now – needs only minor adaptations to be used as a fishing boat. We from ‘Motorsport’ considered this such a tremendous stunt that we gladly reserved our front page for this motorcycle product ‘Made in Holland’.
Help! Sidecar adrift.
Sometime, somewhere there probably was someone who set a sidecar box afloat. But, as far as we know, such a thing has never been marketed anywhere in the world. Well, now it does happen in watery Holland. As a matter of fact the idea emerged about ten years ago, when the Moturist company didn’t exist yet and when Ed Pols still practised his original profession of structural engineer, but already had his passion for motorcycle grand tourism.
One beautiful day while they were motorcycle camping on the shore of Lake Garda the Pols couple stood gloating over the enormous fuss made by a group of German motorists before their inflatable boat was finally ready to be launched. Ed looked at Nettie, and Nettie looked at Ed, and Ed knew that Nettie knew what he was thinking (please read again if necessary). Ed thought: “Wouldn’t it be easy to lift the box off the sidecar and simply put it in the waves?” A genuine brainwave, right? Unfortunately their hack was a weighty affair, heavy as lead, firmly attached to the sidecar frame, and for local lack of a fridge the idea disappeared into the back of the head.
Sailing Moturist Sidecar
That same back of the head where so many other brilliant ideas were stored. For instance, the idea to start a motorcycle store exclusively aimed at grand tourists. No one had ever thought of it or believed in it, even after Ed had founded it. Or to start importing the Münch four cylinder. Or to single-handedly design and produce a sidecar. But all these things were successfully achieved. Within a few years the tiny chock-a-block store had to be abandoned for much roomier accommodations in the Van der Hoopstraat (Amsterdam). What moved along was the sociable atmosphere of this pure motorcyclists’ scene. There was even room to tinker on your own bike (where else can you find that?).
In the new premises there also was room to realise the sidecar plans. Before long the Moturist sidecar was developed in it’s current shape. Not cheap, but exactly suited for its purpose. Typifying is the frame with two girders, the body can simply and quickly be clamped on. If you wish to take the family for a ride on Sundays, deliver a few crates of vegetables on weekdays, and every now and then carry an off-the-road-bike, the Moturist is the sidecar for you. And now it even takes to the water! Ed Pols actually claims that he accounted for the possibility of sailing years ago, when he was designing the sidecar body. Anyway, when
the first stock sidecar box was launched, it stayed afloat splendidly, even with Sylvia and Hendrik aboard together. It was just a little wobbly to embark and disembark. A little 2 hp Yamaha outboard engine took care of propulsion. But those little outboards have to be turned backwards in order to go in reverse:
So, chapter two in operation splash concerned mounting two small outrigger floats and using a 4 hp Yamaha that is equipped with luxurious niceties like a remote control and a reverse. In all silence and favoured by wet snow-fall a small crew of die-hards set out for a deserted lake near Amsterdam. We should absolutely keep in mind that sidecar-sailing is invented as a form of summertime recreation. The idea is to pick up the ultra light weight sidecar box between two people, splash down the beach in your bathing suit, just far enough so the tail of the engine is free from the bottom, climb aboard and off you go, right? But it’s all a little different when it is snowing, the water temperature is barely above freezing-point and the highest available top boot reaches just below the knee. But they just had to have us take pictures. Alright then, launch it from a barge by four men. Big shock: the hastily constructed floats sit too deep in the water and the 4 hp giant clearly weighs more than its 2 hp predecessor. Out of the water, mount the floats the other way around, move the engine’s petrol tank to the front and back into the water. And then…… someone lets a line slip from a frozen hand just a little too soon. Blub, blub, blub….
Ed Pols and the Sailing Moturist Sidecar
But, when anyone else would crawl blubbering behind the warm stove, not so Ed Pols and his midwinter-rally-type of motorcycle friends. Three days later we received a phone call: “Hey, by now we realise that we know little about boats, even though the sailing characteristics of the Moturist turn out better than expected, but now we’ve had technical advise by ship architect Hans Brood, who also designed new floats. We constructed them, and now it sails splendidly.” “Even with that 4 hp?” we asked suspiciously. “Come and have a look!” was the elated answer. Alright, we went and had another look, and got so excited that we told Ed to find a swimming pool dealer to install a large basin on his next RAI-stand and have his amphibious sidecar float around in it. A free test boat-trip for all at the next two-wheeler RAI. This was the first time ever that Ed Pols and your editor exchanged a slightly unbelieving glance in reverse direction. OK then, no pool at the RAI, just go and have a look without it. But actually there really isn't much out of the ordinary to be seen. Of course that doesn’t sound very stimulating to pay a visit, but we can’t help it that the stock Moturist body floats so well. However it can be distinguished from a standard Moturist by the inboard presence of engine- and rudder- controls. When riding, the outboard engine is carried in a case between motorcycle and sidecar. The two little outrigger floats are stored there as well. To be able to sail, the sidecar fender and the trunk lid are quickly removed. The outrigger bars of the floats are installed and the outboard engine is installed on the stern, which is sufficiently solid according to the builders. Twelve to fifteen minutes work, that’s all. Ahoy skipper, and eh….have a safe journey!
More pictures of the Sailing Moturist Sidecar
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