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Say Goodbye to Motorcycle Sidecars on Shanghai’s Streets

Ever wanted to ride around town in a motorcycle sidecar Mad Max-style? You better get a move on. In 2006, the city stopped issuing the specific plates needed for motorcycle sidecars, which each last t...
2019-06-27 09:21:14

Ever wanted to ride around town in a motorcycle sidecar Mad Max-style? You better get a move on. In 2006, the city stopped issuing the specific plates needed for motorcycle sidecars, which each last thirteen years. As of mid-July, pretty much all remaining plates will have reached their natural conclusion – a sad day for the sidecar enthusiast indeed.

I spoke to Thomas Chabrieres, the man behind tour company Shanghai Insiders, who have been providing people with the Shanghai sidecar experience for a number of years now. He puts the situation down to powers that be trying to clean up the city, something we are not strangers to in recent times.

Thomas took me out for what will probably be one of the final tours he gives in his Chang Jiang 750; a motorcycle initially designed by BMW in 1938 but reproduced by the Soviets in 1956 and again by the Chinese in the late 50s/early 60s. At one point, Thomas had around sixty bikes fitted with sidecars in his fleet. Now he just has a handful left.

Humming around the Old Town listening to stories about how the city has changed was excellent fun. While wanting to clean up the city is not a bad thing, it is a shame to see a blanket law apply to every vehicle of that type, especially ones that are steeped in history.

You can still book a sidecar tour with Thomas or another driver up until July 14, but Shanghai Insiders have now turned their attention to convertible Beijing Jeeps, which are not bound by the same road rules that motorcycle sidecars are. Tickets for those are available on SmartTicket.

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