Watsonian re-launched their Meteor sidecar at this Year’s Motorcycle Live show, more than sixty years after production of the original version ceased.
Only 601 of the initial Meteor were built by Watsonian, between 1946-’49, using a batch of RAF Mosquito bomber reserve fuel tanks that they had bought from the Air Ministry shortly after the end of the Second World War. Made from stretched and spun plywood, the tanks were were light and aerodynamic, so Watsonian adapted them to use as sidecar bodies.
The body shell of the modern Meteor is produced from glass fibre, using a mould taken from one of the original plywood bodies. It sits on a tubular steel chassis, manufactured in Watsonian’s Cotswold factory, which is uprated from the 1940′s design with addition of a shock-absorber and 16″ wheel. Measuring 2100mm x 1000mm, the Meteor has a 390mm wide seat. A fold-down screen is mounted on a cast aluminium bar in front of the cockpit and the seat tilts forward to provide access to storage space behind.
Priced at £3995 including VAT, the Meteor is available in a range of gel coat colours. With more than 100 years experience, Watsonian offer fittings for a wide range of both modern and classic motorcycles and can provide a factory fitting service.
For more information call 01386 700907, visit www.watsonian-squire.com
Demand for British-made sidecars is increasing. Watsonian, who have been making sidecars in the Heart of England since 1912, report that sales rose by 30% in the six months from March to August this year, compared to the same period in 2012.
Demand is coming from a wide range of customers; recent fitments include a 1950′s BSA Golden Flash, Harley Davidson Sportster, Triumph Bonneville and Thunderbird and Suzuki Burgman maxi scooter.
“We’ve recently experienced a resurgence of interest in our Monza sidecar” says Watsonian sales director Ben Matthews. “It’s been in continuous production since the 1950′s, when its was considered very modern, and seems to have come back into vogue”.
Although the majority of new business is coming from British customers, Watsonian are also benefiting from demand in emerging markets and have just established a distributor in Indonesia for the first time.
Watsonian will be unveiling a new sidecar model alongside updates to current lines on their large stand at Motorcycle Live this November.
This year’s Mike Ellis Memorial Run will depart from the Watsonian sidecar factory near the Cotswold market town of Moreton-in-Marsh on Sunday 22nd September 2013. Held in memory of the company’s workshop manager, who died in a tragic accident in 2012, last year’s inaugural outing attracted more than 70 motorcyclists and this year organisers hope to increase the attendance to one hundred. Setting out from the factory at 10:00 am the group will follow a circular route around the North Cotswolds to the Malvern Hills, aiming to return at lunch time. Suitable for riders on most machines, marshals will be provided by the Cheltenham and Cotswold Advanced Motorcyclists group so that participants can travel at the pace that best suits them. Riders need to arrive at the Watsonian factory by 9.30am to sign on and a donation of £5 per bike would be welcome, all proceeds going to the Mike Ellis Memorial fund, raising money for life saving emergency equipment. For more information call 01386 700907 or visit www.watsonian-squire.com.
Stan Dibben opens new showroom
Former World sidecar champion Stan Dibben was guest of honour at Watsonian Sidecars’ annual factory open weekend on 22nd-23rd June. Stan, who won the 1953 world racing championship in partnership with Eric Oliver on a Norton motorcycle/Watsonian sidecar outfit, officially opened the company’s refurbished and expanded 1200 square foot showroom in Blockley, near the Cotswold market town of Moreton-in-Marsh.
Now in its eighth year, the event drew visitors from as far afield as Scotland and Germany. Local photographer Irene Jutton was snapping away over both days and has uploaded more than 200 images to her website at http://www.irenejutton.com/. There are a wide selection of pictures showing the people and machines that made the weekend so special. In order to view the photos you’ll need to use the password sidecar.
As well as a chance to see inside the factory where Watsonian have manufactured their sidecars for the past 30 years, guests had an opportunity to tackle the new sidecar driving skills test. Using one of Watsonian’s demonstrator sidecar outfits, contestants had to tackle several challenges, including knocking a tennis ball from a post into a bucket by nudging it in using the bike’s front wheel!
Other guests at the event included the Chester Belter London Leatherworks, a new business designing handmade leather pieces using traditional skills, and automotive artist Martin Squires, who could be found sketching the more eye-catching bikes and sidecars in the car park. Motorcycle author and world traveller Gordon May also made a welcome return.
Local produce featured prominently at this year’s open weekend; there was freshly cooked food from an award-winning Worcestershire butcher and hand-made treats created by the Cotswold Chocolate Company from nearby Stow-on-the-Wold.
Prizes were awarded on both days for the best sidecar outfit and solo motorcycle ridden to the event, won on Saturday by a 1938 J-series Royal Enfield paired with a contemporary sidecar that had travelled from Buckingham. For more information call 01386 700907 or visit http://www.watsonian-squire.com.
Sidecar driving skills test
Dates for next year’s open weekend will be announced soon.
Watsonian sidecars will be supporting Dave Molyneux for his Isle of Man TT campaign this year, as part of the British company’s investment programme following last year’s centenary celebrations.
During the post-war sidecar boom, Watsonian was actively involved in motorcycle racing, sponsoring 1954 TT champions Eric Oliver and Les Nutt, followed by Chris Vincent partnered by Eric Bliss in 1962. However, the development of modern Formula Two sidecars in the 1980′s meant that the competition machines had little in common with road going outfits and the company pulled back from sponsorship.
This situation changed when Dave Molyneux, the most successful sidecar racer at the TT, was invited to Watsonian’s centenary rally last year.
“With 16 wins to his name, Dave has a huge following and is really passionate about sidecars ” explains Watsonian director Ben Matthews. “We realised that sponsoring Dave was a great way to remind the public that Britain still has a thriving sidecar manufacturer”.
Ben adds; “Dave also makes racing sidecars, for himself and other racers, and in the future we may well incorporate some of that technical know-how into our frames, suspension and aerodynamics.”
This year is the 90th anniversary of sidecar racing on the Isle of Man, and the 2013 TT sidecar races are planned for Saturday 1st and Wednesday 5th June.
For more information call 01386 700907 or visit watsonian-squire.com.
Celebrate your love for a bit on the side, with this official T-shirt from Britain’s longest established sidecar manufacturer.
Made from 100% heavyweight cotton, the T-shirt features an original promotional photograph of a 1950′s Monza outfit from the company’s archive. Above the image is the slogan “Mr Watson’s bit on the side” (a reference to Fred Watson, who founded the business in 1912).
Available in blue in sizes S-XXL, the T-shirts retail for £12.95 including VAT.
Join us on Saturday/Sunday 22nd/23rd June for our annual factory open weekend. Held at the historic Watsonian sidecar factory, located between the scenic Cotswold towns of Moreton-in-Marsh and Chipping Campden, this event is now in its eighth year and regularly attracts hundreds of riders from across the country.
Attractions include an opportunity to test your sidecar driving skills, riding our demonstrator outfit around a specially created obstacle course, and a chance to take a test ride around the local roads on a Royal Enfield Bullet, accompanied by IAM riders. Don’t forget to bring a helmet, appropriate riding gear and driving licence if you wish to participate.
At the heart of this year’s festivities is our newly expanded and showroom, filled with new and used sidecars, a selection of used solo bikes, luggage trailers, clothing and accessories. There will be a display of the company archives, which date back to 1912, and some historic sidecars. Visitors can also inspect the workshops, where the company produced the outfits used in the filming of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
Motorcycle author and world traveller Gordon May, who has ridden classic bikes to Africa and India, will be there too and other celebrity guests will be announced soon.
Freshly prepared food will be available on site, entry is free and everyone is welcome, whether they come on two, three or four wheels. Prizes will be awarded on both days for the best sidecar outfit and solo motorcycle, of any make, ridden to the event.
After 14 successful years distributing Royal Enfield motorcycles in the UK, we have decided that the time has come to focus on our core business. We have been building sidecars in the Heart of England for more that a century and while we are enthusiastic about Royal Enfield, we are also one of only a handful of major sidecar manufacturers left in the world. So, as of the end of February 2013, we ceased to import Royal Enfield.
motorcycles into the UK
However, that is far from the end of our relationship with this historic British brand. With years’ of experience and a quarter of a million pounds worth of parts and accessories in our facility, we will continue to supply spares to owners of post-1999 Bullets throughout the UK.
We have also expanded and modernised our showrooms, from which we will sell new and used Royal Enfields, factory-built specials, new and used sidecar outfits and motorcycle luggage trailers.
The grand opening of our new showrooms, under the Watsonian Motorcycle and Sidecar Company banner, is on Saturday 4th May. There’s a free BBQ and refreshments, so why not take a ride into the Cotswolds to see us?
We helped pupils at a local school to enter into the spirit of World Book Day by bringing Harry Potter to join them in a replica of Hagrid’s sidecar.
Watsonian Squire supplied several outfits for the filming of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, but then we’ve always maintained there’s something magical about sidecars!