DOUBLE TROUBLE – Hand Built Sidecar

Introducing your kids to motorcycling in Australia normally happens on the back of a PeeWee 50, but Chad Atkinson’s sons Royce and Sydney have something a whole lot cooler to learn on, and it is called Double Trouble. Chad, the bloke behind Silver Aces Custom Metal Fabrication designed and built almost every skerrick of this super-cool kids bobber himself in just nine weeks.

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“I’d wanted to build a bobber for my boys, Royce (5) and Sydney (4),” says Chad. “The sidecar idea came about due to the fact it was an extra seat and adding that would eliminate the potential for the bike getting tipped over.”

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“The base bike was non-existent as it was all built from scratch by me at Silver Aces. From start to finish everything was done by me, including the metal fab, trim, badges, engraving, and custom paint.

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“What started with bending the tubular framework, then metal-shaping the sidecar body, sidecar seat and floor pan, then shaping the fuel tank and guards, and making the custom foot throttle. The headlight bezel was machined from a large piston to fit the custom bucket, while the alloy sidecar back-up brake lever uses shell casings, and the handlebar has machined copper/alloy handgrips with recessed bolts, while the handlebar came off Royce’s first bike and was modified to suit the bobber.

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“The sprung seat uses valve springs from a motorbike engine, while the steel frame has been wrapped in padded and stitched leather, with a stainless riveted surround. The sidecar uses a padded leather insert on the backrest, stitched by me in a diamond pattern on a mate’s industrial sewing machine.”

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“If it was TIG-welded it was metal-finished. I also used a lot of 1mm sheet steel, rolled with an English Wheel, or worked with a shrinker/stretcher, hammers, and bead rollers.”

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Amazingly he didn’t start with a sketch or even a firm design to work off, preferring to let the inspiration flow into the build as he went.

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“I’d never drawn out plans for this build, it was all done as I went, and thinking of how each part was going to function with everything else,” says Chad. “I never had the whole bike mocked up at once. It wasn’t until two days before the deadline I got my first real look at it, so all the build updates on social media were actually in real time! A few parts had to be remade or changed to achieve the right look or function, including the fuel tank and part of the sidecar.”

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What wasn’t made from scratch was recycled out of the spares bin. “A lot of the parts or materials used to create the parts are actually from stuff I had laying around, and most of it has its own ‘back story’,” explains Chad. “The engine was given to me by a mate, and the frame was basically built around that. I had to fabricate and modify a few bits of the engine, such as the intake, to clear where I wanted the top bar and fuel tank to sit. That, to me, is what hot rodding is all about!”

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Once Chad had the style right Chad blew the bike apart and laid down the custom silver paint himself for a super-smooth finish.

“The paint is a custom mix of silvers, with a few different pearls and an HS clear on top. There were two rounds of primer and block sanding before the base, and clear coat went down, and this is the off-the-gun finish.”

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Given his tin-lids have only been walking a short time Double Trouble doesn’t need a tonne of horsepower and, with a heady 7.5hp as Honda made it, the CT110 single-pot donk is perfect. Similarly, while many bobber builds have hardcore manual transmissions the stock postie bike clutchless semi-automatic four-speed is ideal for a couple of novice riders.

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Down the back, Chad machined an adapter to fit the chain-drive sprocket to the hub of the 12-inch spoked rear wheel. The suspension is all found in the springs on the custom seat, while there is a mechanical drum brake on the back wheel, with a back-up custom handbrake on the sidecar if one of the boys feels the other is going a bit quick!

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After a mad nine week thrash, Chad debuted the bike to a rapturous reception.

“I built it to debut at the West Coast Lowdown show, and it took out three trophies; West Coast Lowdown Choice, Builder’s Choice, and People’s Choice,” says Chad. “But it was never about trophies or winning for me. That show was just a great platform and deadline to have.

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“My goal was to produce something my boys could enjoy and have in the family forever, and watching them ride it for the first time is still is the best part!”

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Hopefully, it kick-starts a passion for fabrication and hot rodding in the boys, and they follow in Chad’s footsteps.

Words// Iain Kelly
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