URBANISM: SIDE BY SIDE WE RIDE

Published August 14, 2022
Razi Nayyer putting his SideCAR design into shape | Photos courtesy Razi Nayyer
Razi Nayyer putting his SideCAR design into shape | Photos courtesy Razi Nayyer

Every time he sees a family piled on a motorcycle drive past him on the road, Razi Nayyer cannot help but wince. He is immediately reminded of a small family of five — a young couple and their three children — who met with an accident some 40 years ago on the roads of Karachi.

Recalling the accident that has left a mark on him, Nayyer says, “The 27-year-old mother was seated sideways behind her husband. She was holding her two-and-half-year-old daughter and six-month-old baby boy. Another four-year-old son was sitting on the petrol tank of the bike in front of the father when the accident occured.”

Shielding her babies, the young mother took the entire force of the fall upon herself. She died instantly. The rest of the family survived but the impact of the tragedy weighs heavily on their souls to this day.

Nayyar is so affected by that tragedy because he is now related to that family. “The little girl in the accident is my wife. The young woman who lost her life in the tragedy was my mother-in-law. I never met her, but I feel I know her through her family. What an unnecessary waste of a young life that had everything and every reason to live for!”

A classic car enthusiast has set about manufacturing a life-saving motorcycle combination

It is a personal loss for him too. “I was not there. But I can feel their pain,” he says.

The conditions of our roads and the haphazard movement of traffic with drivers breaking traffic laws make our roads a safety hazard. For motorcyclists, particularly, the risk is manifold when you have pillion riders or, worse still, more than one pillion riders.

A young Razi Nayyer in his hand-made improvised bike
A young Razi Nayyer in his hand-made improvised bike

Nayyer was pushed to come up with a safe solution for motorcyclists and their families. For as long as he can remember, Nayyer has been a lover of cars, especially of the vintage and classic variety. He collects classic cars and motorcycles as a hobby. Maintaining the machines has kept him involved in the mechanics of it all.

He is also co-founder of Team Nayyer, a company which manufactures custom, lightweight, commercial vehicle bodies, such as the Body Cab used in small delivery pick-up trucks.

Last year, on his 46th birthday on July 26, he launched the Nayyer Motor Company. And this year, on his company’s first birthday and his 47th birthday, he introduced the SideCAR. “The driving force behind the SideCAR, and my main objective, is to provide safety to motorcycle riders for their family commutes,” he says.

You may have seen motorcycle sidecars in World War II era films, when they were quite popular and were used extensively by the armed forces as well as ordinary folks. They basically turned a motorcycle into a three-wheeler, with an extra wheel under the sidecar, attached to the side of the bike.

Sidecars were, in fact, invented first in 1893, as a safe way of carrying passengers on motorbikes. The Jaguar automobile company too, in fact, began life as a sidecar manufacturer. But sidecars fell out of popularity as cars became cheaper and more popular.

A model of the SideCar
A model of the SideCar

Nayyer’s SideCAR has a fibreglass body on a steel pipe frame and a metal chassis. It has an independent suspension with specially designed coupler locks to attach and detach the sidecar from a motorcycle within seconds. “It is a single-person operation,” he explains.

Off the shelf, the SideCAR comes in two colours, red and silver, to match the two basic colours that motorcycles are usually available in. However, Nayyer says that his company can make sidecars in other colours on custom orders, too.

“Like helmets, sidecars must also be mandatory for families with a motorcycle as their sole means of transport. That way, one family member may ride on the pillion and two or three may sit in the sidecar. It should also work for two or three passengers travelling on a single motorbike, as then there will be no pillion riding or double pillion riding,” he says.

“The introductory price of the SideCAR is 85,000 rupees plus tax, which comes to around half the price of a motorcycle. I wish I could make it cheaper than that, but this is its raw material and manufacturing cost,” he says. Meanwhile, he has been requesting the government not to impose any taxation on the manufacturing and selling of sidecars.

“I have a moral and social responsibility here. We are working in the national interest. We are not looking to make profits,” Nayyer says. The SideCAR can serve many purposes for the middle-class family, he points out. “It can serve as a small family car, a taxi, a car, as well as a loading pick-up, an ambulance during emergencies, or a second car for the househelp to buy groceries, etc.,” he says.

But Nayyer’s main concern remains the safety of families. “There is a ban imposed on pillion riding for every other occasion, but still no one says anything to the families on motorcycles. They are not fined, though they should be, just like two or three men riding on one motorbike are made to pay a fine.”

Sidecars will help reduce accidents that occur due to motorcycles skidding or slipping during the rains, when the roads are wet and slippery, Nayyer points out. These accidents lead to a high number of casualties.

“The government must understand the benefits of the product to help make it popular among the masses. Sidecars are a necessity of our times. The sooner we realise it, the better,” he concludes.

The writer is a member of staff

She tweets @HasanShazia

Published in Dawn, EOS, August 14th, 2022

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