Scurrying through the immense exhibition halls at EICMA there’s so much to see that you really have to spend your time (or battery life, in my case) wisely. But on my way to the Ducati stand I happened upon a custom bike that brought me to a full stop: the Abnormal Cycles Union sidecar.
At first glance I thought it was fake. It looks too polished, too finished like an amusement park ride with ornamental parts that give the illusion they’re functional. Then I saw the motorcycle end of this sidecar and I knew I was looking at something special.
The bike was built by hand by the guys at Abnormal Cycles, an Italian based custom bike shop near Milano. I’ll admit I’m not current on the custom bike scene here in Italy nor much elsewhere, so I don’t know whether or not building sidecar show bikes is trending. But then again I did attend this year’s Motorcycle Concorso d’Eleganza at Villa d’Erba and saw in person, the class winning Brough Superior Four, 1932. There, I happened to rub elbows with some judges and could pick their brains about why it won. Competing in the “glamour” class at this year’s show, the Brough Superior took the cake for it’s refined style and mechanical prowess, including liquid cooling, electronic ignition and centre differential. Read that again and remember this a 1932 model.
Normally however, the bikes used to bind a sidecar fall more on the utilitarian, practical side than on the stylish. Which is why the Union is so special. In this bike, Abnormal Cycles used a Harley-Davidson Flathead motor cradled in a bobber style, rigid frame. Custom front suspension, solo seat and slammed to the ground. To say, “the attention to detail paid here” would be a cliché and an understatement. Just look at the paint job. It looks like brass patina, like a well used saxophone. Then to balance it off they polished up the foot rests, forward controls, head covers and custom primary. The rear fenders have impossible tolerances and they go nearly all the way around the wheels. The wheels themselves, with matching rears and wired by hand are a thing of beauty.
On the sidecar end you can see what looks like a wooden interior, color matched to the bike seat and hand grips. Unfortunately, the piece was behind ropes so I couldn’t verify that. Regardless, you can see the storage compartment located behind the passenger’s seat, accessible by key. I also appreciate what looks like a step located in front of the rear tyre. Perhaps to give assistance to the passenger climbing in and out of the sidecar.
This build won “Best of Show” in EICMA’s Custom World Championship 2011. With that, I will end this write up here with nothing but my first impression. Check out Abnormal Cycles and more on the Union here.