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Cheapish tug?

Discussion in 'Bike Reviews, Questions and Suggestions' at netrider.net.au started by Rip, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. As a way to escape the frustration of the streetfighter (engineer won't return phone calls :-({|:], I've been considering the next project. I'm thinking of taking a perfectly functional motorcycle and bolting a third wheel on to it...

    So what would people suggest as a somewhat cheap and cheerful sidecar tug? Budget would be sale price of my old VFR plus change.
  2. theres an awesome sidecar biker that i've seen a few times on maribyrnong road. for some reason i always expect to see a dog sitting up in it as i go past, and he never returns my vigorous nods, but i still love him.

    i'll try to get some footage of it when my camera comes.
  3. damn, i thought you found a cheap rub and tug place, moving on :-w
    • Like Like x 1
  4. For cheapness, it's hard to go past the various aircooled shaftie fours that the big four were turning out in the early 80s. GS1000G/GS1100G/Z1000ST/Z1100ST/XS1100 etc. Tough, torquey and sufficiently bad handling that bolting on a sidecar won't spoil them. GSX1100G would also be good if you can find one. Trust me, you really want a shaftie 'cos sidecar outfits are very hard on the driveline and fiddling with chains gets old quickly. OTOH chain drive does give you scope for playing with the gearing but if you get a grunty enough tug that's less important.

    Overengineered ally wheels are good, unless you like tightening spokes and getting paranoid over cracks. Better still would be a car wheel conversion, which can be done with pretty much anything, although it's getting hard to find wheels and tyres narrow enough to suit most suitable tugs without major engineering.

    BMW K100s have all the right characteristics but the lack of frame makes hooking up the chair a bit of a performance, involving bolt-up subframes and the like.

    Budget for a set of leading link forks or, a the very least, new yokes to get the trail down to about half what you need for a solo. Otherwise the steering will be very heavy indeed. My first outfit had unmodified teleforks and I wouldn't do it again. The steering had a distinct lag. Turning the bars twisted the forks and then steering would start to happen as they unwound again :shock:. Flexi-spaghetti or wot :D. I had some serious arm muscles though. Having experienced them, leading links rock :D.

    Notice that I didn't suggest anything under about a litre. That's because, on an outfit, a wild excess of torque over grip is a significant safety feature. When you overcook a left-hander (and everybody does, sooner or later), the way out of trouble is to open up to get the back wheel drifting out and the sidecar down. A big engine that doesn't care what gear it's in is a huge help here.

    On a similar note, tyres for outfits are dirt cheap because, with the possible exception of the front, you don't want too much grip. Ergo, you can chuck on any old secondhand rubbish and it'll work.

    Most bikes can be persuaded to haul a chair though. My first was built around my much abused GSX550 and was surprisingly competent. In the UK, CB250Ns and CX500s were popular, and I remember regularly seeing a CBR1000F complete with minute single seater and L-plates. Still, if you're starting from scratch, I'd say 1000cc+, shaft drive, twin shock, ally wheels (pref 18" for tyre choice), biggest fork stanchions you can get (unless going LL) and triple disc brakes.

    Have fun :D.
  5. Thanks for the comprehensive response. In retrospect, "What makes a good tug?" would have been a better question, so appreciate that thats what was answered.

    Why twin shock?

    I'll take advice there too... : )
  6. Cheaper and easier to put heavy duty suspension units on (IMHO). Not that you'll find all that many cheap, monoshock shafties anyway.

    Don't forget that at least half the weight of the chair will be supported by the bike, so stiffer front and rear springs are desirable. Once again, my first outfit didn't have them, but it would have been nice.
  7. Not to blow my own trumpet but there's a thread here about how I don't recommend you build a combo :D.
  8. Gotcha.

    Entertaining reading in the linked thread - I'd missed that one.

    On the ubject, it amazes me that the UK, while apparently futher down the beige, wrap the populace in cotton wool road than Australia, doesn't seem to have an issue with allowing brutalised machinery (no slight intended against the fine vehicle in the link) on the road.

    In the mean time, I have to submit to the inquisition for having the temerity to go a bit Kaiser Soze on my subframe.
  9. Havent owned one but have a ridden a couple a few times, z900, cb750, cbx1000 and harley powered. When theyre setup theyre a delight to ride and awesome fun, if theyre not, fargin scarey. Read the link and that covers just about everything you need to get an idea on starting out. I didnt end up in a ditch on my first left hander but came close. Boss I used to work for was good at getting them to handle correctly, I've forgotten everything he ever said about it tho. The only thing I can remember is a vague diagram he drew showing the chair wheel should have between 1 and 2 inches of toe at about 6 feet from the wheel.
    Good luck, it will be an adventure..
  10. Do you know where that cbx is these days ? : )

    From what I've read, setting them up seems to be a bit of a black art...

  11. Mid 80's in Darwin, no idea on any of them..
  12. Just remembered another one we had.
    Honda N50 express.
    More an outrigger than a chair and just for the christmas party.
    Laps around the workshop..
  13. It's not actually that bad. Sidecar axle about 200mm ahead of the bike's rear wheel spindle, about 20mm of toe in at the front wheel and, possibly most important, the bike vertical when normally loaded. As I said earlier, ideally you want a set of LL forks giving you about half the trail of the solo bike. I know many treatises on sidecar setup recommend some lean-out of the bike but, in my experience, if the bike is leaning to the right at all, it will feel very scary on left handers. Given some experience it's not actually as bad as it feels, but there's no point handicapping yourself more than necessary when you start out. The heavy duty suspension I recommended helps here too, as it keeps the outfit more upright under cornering forces.

    Given those basics, you'll be sufficiently close to the ballpark that you'll survive long enough to do any fine tuning required. THe other critical thing is that there must be no movement in the mountings. This is non-negotiable. Loose sidecars are lethal to everyone in the vicinity.
  14. No matter what wallace and grommit say, it doesnt work if the chair falls off.