Tilting 3 wheelers received a lot of attention last year, with the Piaggio MP3, the Brudeli 625, the Harley tilting trike patent, the tilting Vmax and several others I haven’t mentioned. The one thing I had not seen was a sidecar with a tilting wheel and, as it turns out, the idea for tilting sidecars has been around for a long time.
Back in the early 1920s, dirt track racing in the U.S. had sidecar events with rigid mounted sidecars and a permanently tilted motorcycle. Then one year, Reading Standard came up with a flexible chassis mount built by the Flexible Company of Loudonville, Ohio. The motorcycle and sidecar were upright in the straights but in the turns, all 3 wheels tilted. It took a unique riding style to turn at speed since there wasn’t quite enough tilt available so riders had to jam their foot against a footrest to maintain maximum tilt and then put the whole rig in a slide around the turn. A few years later, dirt track sidecar racing was banned due to too many injuries and fatalities but restarted in the 1930s with more restrictions. After another few years, it ended due to lack of interest and too few riders.
The Flxible Company (Flxible was the correct spelling after a name change) went on to make buses for many years, going out of business about 10 years ago. The sidecars are just a footnote in their history and I doubt very many riders ever heard of these flexi tilters. Doing a little digging I found a couple of patents for tilt wheel sidecars, nothing very recent, though, and I’m not familiar with any flexi type sidecars currently being made. If you know of any out there, let us know.
With all of this “new” tilting technology out there, it’s interesting to see how long these very similar ideas have been around.
Photos: Cycle World magazine