January 5, 2014

Alfred LeRoy Rides Classic Harley Sidecar 50,000 Miles With No Legs and One Arm

Originally posted on Riding Vintage.

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Alfred LeRoy was not your average cross country motorcyclist.  At age 15, he was struck by a train, losing both of his legs and half of one arm.  Once released from the hospital he was determined to ride a motorcycle and after eight years of saving he purchased his first.  He had many different custom machines over the years, including makes like Minneapolis and Thor, but his 1916 Harley-Davidson J-series is probably the most well known.  It is on this motorcycle that he completed a 50,000+ mile solo tour of United States in the late teens.

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In order for Alfred to ride the motorcycle, a number of creative changes were made to the twin cylinder Harley.  A left hand mounted sidecar was chosen because it allowed Alfred to have his “good arm” next to the motorcycle.  A straight rod was then attached to the end of the left handlebar, so Alfred could steer the motorcycle with his “stump”.  His right arm was used to operate the spark advance, throttle, clutch, shift lever and brakes.  He also used his right arm to hand start the motorcycle.

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The sidecar had a number of improvements which converted it into a mini-RV of sorts.  Alfred kept an inflatable mattress, pillow and bedding stowed in the nose of the sidecar.  When the seat was removed, these could be laid out inside the sidecar making a comfortable sleeping arrangement.  He carried a rubberized canopy that could be pulled over the top to keep out the weather.  Mounted to the front of the sidecar was 2 gal canteen in a metal container.  When the canteen was removed, the container doubled as a washbasin and even had a corked drain in the bottom.  Cooking utensils and other supplies were stored in the trunk.  Last but not least was a “mini sidecar” mounted to the left of Alfred which carried his trusty dog.

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As the ride progressed, Alfred enjoyed a small level of fame.  He was featured on many postcards and even landed some advertising endorsements.

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Still he faced many hardships on the road, from fouled plugs to flat tires, but the worst experience he recounts was being ejected from the sidecar after hitting a large bump.  Imagine trying to chase down a runaway motorcycle with no legs and only one good arm, this guy must have been tough as nails.

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Filed under Classic Harley History, History, Panhead Jim's Blog, Trike & Sidecar by PanheadJim

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