New Zealand Sidecar racing. What is it you ask? A bunch of crazies racing sidecar bikes? Well, yes and no. New Zealand Sidecar racing is basically a three-wheel bike, a speedway-style bike with a third wheel in a somewhat unconventional position. They are normally powered by a 1,000cc superbike engine that can put out in excess of 180 bhp. With NO BRAKES. Yeah, two people on a bike that can exceed 100 mph in a heartbeat with no brakes. So it pretty much takes a special type, and in this case, a pair of people to ride these things.
You might have seen T-Rod and Rusty of Illusion Cycles build some crazy shit for the road and somehow they decided that he need to build a Harley-powered New Zealand–style speedway hack. What you see here is the end result.
This bike is a marvel of engineering and T-Rod’s fabricating skills. He and Gene Snow basically handbuilt the entire chassis from scratch, starting with the basic wheel position and three 19-inch Harley mag wheels. From there he made it all come together. Once the front rake was set, he fabricated a leading link fork that uses Harley rear dyna glide shocks. A giant spindle mount was machined from solid billet aluminum for the outboard wheel and it was rolling on three. The sidecar racing runs the track opposite of the speedway guys, as in Go Fast, Turn Right. So the wheel gets put on the right side of the bike. Gene Stone is the man who has decided that he will be doing “Monkey” duty on this bike. The “Monkey” is the guy on the back who climbs all over the bike to get the weight distribution right to get as much power as possible to the rear wheel. It’s an insane job, but it’s what gives sidecar racing (in all forms really) its charm. Yeah there is a crazy guy who sits up in the straight-aways, basically throwing himself off the bike in the turns! It’s awesome to watch.
That’s what all the rigging on the right and left side of the bike is; it’s for Gene to use to keep the bike going in the right direction. Tubing and diamond plate is where it’s at, with a rear wheel shrouded in sheetmetal so Gene can’t get tangled up in that rear wheel!
Once he had the chassis figured out, it was time to do the drivetrain. This is where it gets even more interesting. The New Zealand Racers in the USA had for the most part been a “Hooligan” class of racing until recently. They have conformed to the worldwide organization rules. That means a 1,000cc engine. A 1,000cc engine hasn’t been made by the Motor Company (in big twin form) since 1952. So T-Rod had to come up with a solution. With Fast Eddie’s help and Wink Eller’s motor-building skills, they built a de-stroked big-twin engine with shortened Sporty cylinders to make it 1,000 cc. Now you might think this engine will be slower and less powerful than a big twin, well think again. This motor is sick! It revs to 9,000 rpm!!! You can’t do that with your average H-D, no matter what motor it is. The motor wasn’t ready when they first got it running, so they did their initial runs with an S&S 124-inch motor in it! No slouch either…
Transmission-wise, it has a standard H-D five-speed in it, as they have it geared so it’s in First gear all the time anyway. An H-D that goes 80 mph in First gear? Yes sir. To get it in there and tight enough, T-Rod had to shorten an inner primary to get the transmission as close to the motor as possible. With a special short primary chain and the proper sprockets mated to a Primo Pro Clutch, this baby is no slouch.