In 1989, François Knorreck took a long ride in the sidecar of a friend’s motorcycle and enjoyed it so much that he decided to build a rig of his own. Now, 20 years, 63 bodywork molds and innumerable headaches later, he has it: a handcrafted masterpiece that’s part motorcycle, part Lamborghini.
Knorreck, a 45-year-old French medical technician, started by sketching pencil designs and then built a full-size wooden model. He had worked on motorcycles in the past, but figuring out how to distribute the sidecar’s weight and where to position its single wheel were wholly new challenges. After determining the dimensions, he machined an aluminum chassis and moved the sidecar’s wheel forward to keep the vehicle stable and prevent it from veering. He also had to beef up the motorcycle’s headstock bearing—a piece of the steering column that bears most of the sidecar’s weight.
At the motorcycle’s controls, Knorreck has pushed the vehicle to 125 miles an hour, near its estimated top speed, but never intends to fully open it up. After all, he says, despite the sidecar’s looks, it’s only along for the ride.
Time: Ten years
The original motorcycle had a gravity-fed system in which the fuel ran down to the carburetors from above. But Knorreck found that he had to relocate the tank and place it underneath the body of the sidecar. Then he added an electrical pump to route the fuel to the engine.
Knorreck built the entire frame and body of the sidecar (he had to make 63 different molds by hand to create its various carbon-fiber panels), but he’s no upholsterer, so he had a friend custom-manufacture the seats. Just in case tooling around in a freakishly cool sidecar wasn’t enough for his passengers (it can seat two at a time), he installed a stereo system. For that, however, he kept costs to a minimum, using an old radio from his father.