Monday, August 30, 2010

Royal Enfield sidecar lights help
put width to work to add safety

Bike's right turn signal was removed and wired to the car's signal, which also contains a small white running light.

Sidecars are often fitted to Royal Enfield motorcycles. I speculated recently that lights added to a sidecar might increase safety by helping other motorists better judge how far away the motorcycle is and how fast it is approaching.

Drivers, I suggested, are used to judging the speed and distance of another vehicle by the distance between its lights, something a solo motorcycle can't offer.

Ted Wetzler of North Ridgeville, Ohio helpfully sent me the pictures you see here of his Royal Enfield and Cozy sidecar, equipped with a clever set of running lights. He wrote:

Perimeter signals on the bike and car. The car's rear turn signal is also a brake light.

"I thought I would send along some snaps of the bike with car I received last fall. Both front and rear right turn signals were removed by the dealer (Ural Northwest in Bellingham, Wash.) and the signal wires attached to what appear to me to be original equipment signals fitted to the sidecar's sheet metal over the wheel.

Rear combo turn signal/brake light.

"This was no special order and made sense to me as placement was logical, showing the dimensions of the bike to approaching vehicles. The car is a Cozy and the bike is a 2008 Bullet with an engine that has been upgraded slightly to accommodate the extra burden the car puts on the motor's strength.

"I've passed 2,500 miles driving this arrangement during the eight months of drivable conditions in Northern Ohio — back roads and city streets only. Driving this rig gives you a workout. They don't drive themselves.

"I didn't consider this car's signal arrangement was anything special when I got it."

Front combo turn signal/running light.

Perhaps not, but it is interesting.

Wetzler says he chose the color of his Royal Enfield and sidecar in part for safety.

"You see a ton of black bikes roaming in my part of the woods with riders and their passengers dressed top to toe in black as well. Since black absorbs light and doesn't reflect any, they go mostly unseen while driving.

"My choice of color — white — was made in part so the hardware could be seen on the road. (And, yes, i was influenced a little by Hubert driving his white Ural all over the place.) After experiencing a close call where a utility truck did a wide turn into my lane, I started wearing a white shirt as well. So far, so good."


  1. Anonymous9/01/2010

    As much a slights on a sidecar provide a sense of visual balance to the appearance, small lights are somewhat ineffective when it comes to being seen by other road users.
    Experience suggests that something more obvious is probably a better deal, something which strangely most sidecar manufacturers disregard. To be seen and potentially improve night riding, fit more serious light units with obvious beams.

  2. The lamps appear to be Hella's off a Ural Retro sidecar, they match my Retro's to a "T". I'm looking to add a small body mounted carrage or side lamp for forward visability. I converted my signals to two filiment lamps to aid visability front and rear.

  3. Lloyd, it turns out you're exactly right! More on this soon.


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