You might have seen us riding around. This strange vehicule is a side-car and is called Zeus.
It is not a classical motorbike with a side car as it was made out of a single piece. Both are embedded in a unique chassis providing higher security, comfort and control for both the pilot and its passengers.
We are a family of motorcyclist who enjoy adventure and riding across Europe (for the time being). We come from switzerland and also have a FB group where we share our stories https://www.facebook.com/groups/zavalbitumes/
Feel free to comment or say hi and do not hesitate to use google translate of you are curious about our roadtrips.
Our sidecar is probably the most original you have ever seen. In switzerland only 17 were imported and the manufacturer only produced 500 units before going bankrupt.
Zeus is a french invention. The manufacturer – Side Bike – was originally building side cars (that can be attached to a motorbike). They dreamt of building a mono-chassis which would cover for usual disadvantages of a sidecar: going left when you break, right when accelerating, lifting… Their idea was to create a mono-chassis for stability and robustness. Placing the engine at the central rear, the machine offers a very reliable balance. The engine was borrowed to the the Peugeot 206, S16 (what an engine!). The bike wheels are directional, while the two back wheels (that of the bike and that of the side) are traction wheels.
Although disruptive, the concept is seducing. It does not lift, rides fast thanks to its excellent torque and horsepower. It is so efficient that I can follow almost any bike. I am little sensitive to wind, it turns flat. It is not very pleasant in the left turns as centrifugal force tends to drag you out but it is more psychological than anything.
And the traction wheels prove very efficient on snow.
The only problem is rain as it tends to fill the breaks and violently dragging your machine to the left when you break. You need to get use to it and drive slower with higher safety distance when raining.
The front with its asymetrical look, the handlebar of a scooter (with buttons to change gears, left to go down, right to go up), pedals like in a car (clutch to the letf, breaks and accelerator to the right), the machine is hybrid and disturbing. The first time press your right handle to break realizing the break is at your feet is a scary moment, until you realize it breaks very well.
The futuristic look of the machine is having its likers and haters.
The big advantage is for passengers.
Protected by the roolbars, passengers are free from wearing a helmet as long as they attach their seat belt. The advantage is key when traveling with kids for whom having 1.2kg on their head is difficult and tiring. And the heat warms you comfortably in winter creating a car like comfort for passengers traveling with you.
Here are a few indications borrowed from the site Trike-europe which unfortunately shut down, so I saved this info before they disappeared.
4 adults (not to big) can sit: two inside the side, two on the motorbike. When riding with a passenger behind you, the room for the legs can feel very small.
Lots of room for luggage
The machine has two trunks. One at the back of the side (which tends to be burning as the engine is right below), ans one below the saddle (which tends to be very humid over time). Overall you can benefit from 400L of loading capacity (equivalent to a small car), provided you use small bags as the space is a bit crooked.
The machine as a towbar allowing to attach a 300kg max trailer. Ideally we would love to have a luggage trailer but they are difficult to find.
Pleasant to ride
I only rode a « real » side car twice so I can hardly compare. I don’t fear the side lifting which make the ride feel very safe. I goes straight and breaks straight too.
The sidecar is so efficient I can easily follow motorbikes, even when riding fast. The only thing, which can be disturbing for my followers is my trajectories. I have those of a car and not of a bike. My position in the lane if left sided, unlike bikes who ride in the middle, otherwise the side part is out of the road!
I got used to the machine within one hour. The hardest to learn was the gears. The robot which pilots the gears is somewhat slow and fragile. You don’t change gears fast. Therefore you adjust, and torque is helping a lot.
I mostly ride in 3rd or 4th gear.
The vehicule remains difficult to ride from a physical point of view. You tend to be seated asymetrically with you right leg on the pedal while the left does not much and pushing a lot on you right arm, fighting against the forces taking the side to the right when loaded with passengers. When riding fast, you are better of – especially when small like me – using your chest to move left or right, giving your arms more strenght and agility. At least this is how I can take most advantage of my machine.
A few sidecars were Handi-adapted. I must say I admire those who ride such a machine with only one arm or one leg, considering how physical it is.
I litterally fell in love with this machine and ride it as often as I can. As I am a mother of two, I named it the « mothership » which represents best what the Zeus is to us.