If you live near Cape Town, as I do, you’ve certainly driven or cycled along the spectacular Atlantic Seaboard many times. However, I have never before been ferried in a sidecar attached to a WWII-style motorbike. It is something not to miss.
Tim Clarke, owner of Cape Sidecar Adventures, was our personal motorbike chauffeur when photographer Louise and I took a trip in one of these.
We met Tim at the eclectic Sidecar Caffé and bike depot in Sea Point, on a breezy summer evening and we were immediately drawn in by the setting. A room full of WWII bikes and sidecars (no, these aren’t straight from the battleground, see sidebar for details of origin) were packed side by side in the most intricate parking arrangement imaginable. We wove our way through the bikes into the quirky adjoining café decorated with old motorcycle parts. Sipping on some refreshments we noticed Tim’s endearing but aloof hound Brody, who only has eyes for his master, hanging around the depot. His presence added to the relaxed vibe.
From the available routes, we opted for a drive along what must be one of the most beautiful coastlines in the world, along Victoria road towards Llandudno, with the Atlantic Ocean beneath us to one side and Table Mountain National Parks’ Twelve Apostles mountain range rising above us on the other.
We were issued with Cape Sidecar Adventure bandanas (one has to look the part) and helmets with goggles reminiscent of an era long gone, as we readied ourselves for an idyllic trip along the Atlantic Seaboard.
I’m not unfamiliar with cruising on the back of a motorbike on a warm summer evening. That is always enjoyable. What makes the sidecar trip so special – besides the vintage appeal – is the unique vantage point it offers you. You find yourself cruising low to the ground, I don’t think you could travel much lower.
The wind tugs at your clothes as you cruise along and the change in viewpoint brings a new sort of magic to the drive. Familiar surroundings exude a different ambiance and looking up at the back side of Table Mountain, the angular rocks seemed to have been assembled in a natural construction of majestic proportions (eat you heart out Frank Lloyd Wright fans). It’s hard to imagine what must go through the minds of foreign or first-time visitors to Cape Town. Even as a born-and-bred local, my breath was taken away.
Sitting in the sidecar is more relaxing than sitting on the back of a bike, you’re cocooned and comfortable and don’t need to hold on. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy a leisurely ride and lap up your surroundings with the hum from the 750cc side valve engine.
If sea views are not your thing, Cape Sidecar Adventures offers a host of other options that can be tailored to suit your needs. If there’s a road, they can take you. A popular option is a day trip out to the Cape Winelands where, because you have you own driver, you can taste Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir to your heart’s content.
Plan your Adventure
Best time to go All year round (except rainy days in winter).
What to bring Just yourselves. You will be issued with protective leather jackets, helmets and goggles.
About the bikes The motorbikes with sidecars are Chinese ex-military motorcycles, namely the Chang Jiang CJ750 motorcycle. The technology for the bike migrated from the original pre-World War II BMW design (manufactured in Russia because, according to the Treaty of Versailles, Germany was prohibited from manufacturing arms or military vehicles) to post-war Russia. They were then bought by China in 1957.
Cost from R 1 725 for two hours.
Visit www.sidecars.co.za for details.
Words: Elise Kirsten
Photos: Louise Patrick