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sidecars... where do i start looking, what am i looking for?

Discussion in 'Riding Gear and Bike Accessories/Parts' started by Coconuts, Dec 12, 2005.

  1. my uncle really wants his first unrestricted bike to be a sidecar. he's not a real confident rider and for some reason he feels that having a sidecar will make things easier for him (i dunno about the logic there)

    anyways, i was wondering where to start looking for him. i've seen a few around the traps, but they all seem to be REALLY expensive for mostly very dated bikes. i understand that the sidecar is going to add a certain amount of value to it, but i still would have thought they could be had somewhat on a budget.

    first question would be, can you buy a bike and strap a sidecar to it, or do you need specific bikes? ie. could i find him a nice old comfy bike and have a sidecar attached, or would i need to buy a bike thats either made for a sidecar or that has been modified to take one?

    second question - should i be trying to talk this wobbling road menace out of doing this :LOL: i know that handling a bike with a sidecar would be VERY different, but i've never done it so i dont know how much, if at all, harder it might be to pick up. bear in mind that this bloke gets the wobblies at 100kph still after over a year on the road (my dad pinched all the motorbike riding genes from that generation :LOL: )

    third up - what kind of bikes are best suited to this? should we be looking for something big and cruisy like a beemer, or maybe a little more rigid and exciting like a 750/4 or is it all down to preferance just like riding a bike without the sidecar?

    excuse the noviceness of this, i really have NFI with sidecars. any help would be appreciated, and any offers on vehicles, doubly so :D
  2. You need to PM Chairman - he's the authority on such things.
  3. Doubt you could go simply bolting a sidecar onto just any bike, I know a lot of bikes in the past used to come out specifically designed to take a sidecar - usually with reinforced frames and engines designed more at producing low to mid range torque than peak power.
  4. yeah, he was the first person i thought of when i decided to ask for advice. hopefully tho, he wont steer me towards something that uses more oil than petrol and sounds like a firecracker in a beer keg with every rotation of the piston :LOL:

    i kinda figured as much, but i wasn't sure due to seeing a few sidecars for sale. cant hurt to ask tho eh :D
  5. Well i don't know much at all about them but my dad knows a fair bit however he is at work at the moment so i cannot give you info. However i do know that the front suspension has to be changed/modified and the the bikes with side cars generally run skinning car tyres(i.e. a flat profile tyre as opposed to a round bike one).

    I'll try and give you more information when dad get's home.

    Josh =0)
  6. John Daley knows a bit about sidecars, he races them.
  7. Re: sidecars... where do i start looking, what am i looking

    Different, but I don't know about easier. Conventional wisdom is that solo riders make very bad hack pilots. A sidecar handles entirely differently. For a start, it tips the wrong way on corners (kinda - the explanation is more complicated but the short version is that solo riders get a nasty surprise on their first fast left-hander)

    My sidecar was pretty cheap ($1200ish) and yes it does "strap on" (hmm...that explains the shape...). I'd rather have it welded, but the option of removing it is attractive. This would be half a day's work so I don't do it often.

    Most sidecars, if they're not already welded on, will require some engineering to get the mount points sorted. A stock bike will work but will be very tiring for long rides. Because you dont lean, steering is by muscle power alone and the third wheel resists turning. To lighten the load the bike can be fitted with a leading link front end that reduces front wheel trail. I don't have this, but it makes a big difference.

    The ideal bike is one with bags of torque - my next sidecar bike will probably be an XS650, and even that will be underpowered. However, plenty of Triumph punted chairs around in the pre-Japanese days so you can still have fun on a smaller machine. I can say with authority that a 400/4 will do the job, but I spend a lot of time at full throttle.

    What is he looking to do? Summer Sunday cruises to the beach - the sidecar would be great. Take the grandkids for a spin - excellent. Visit the family in Mildura - maybe, after some weight training. You won't get the wobbles on a sidecar, but you do need to prepare for idiosyncracies - like the way they head for the gutter under acceleration and the white line under braking. Tapping the back brake in a right-hander will produce fabulous side-ways action or donuts (ask MartyH!!!) A fast left hander will lift the sidecar into the air (woo hoo) and too fast will bring the sidecar over on top of you (boo hoo) But I'm guessing your uncle wont go in for this much.

    They are more expensive to run. Tyres don't last - ideally you get wire wheels and relace them for a car rim so you can run skinny car tyres. Get used to chicken strips, because the tyre never leans. Chains and sprockets take a beating as do brakes.

    BMW would excellent - I'd pick one of the R series. A chair like mine would sit well with an R65 or R75. XS750 - (the old "Midnight Special") would be pretty cool. 750/4 - OK but you'd gear it down, and I'd rather be more upright. You want a nice, upright riding position and wiiiiiiide bars for leverage. I'd prefer fewer cylinders - a V or parallel twin. Shaft drive would be nice - maybe the XS850 triple? (yeah, Voyager, i know - I could have had one for $900 but I wimped).

    I know where there's one in a shed - I'll make some calls.
  8. thanks chairman, exactly what i was looking for in terms of advice :D

    he's very much a sunday sunshiner, riding is a relaxation thing for him rather than a thrill. and i guess his lack of skill will make it easier to UNlearn all he knows so far, not a bad thing by the sounds of things there.

    i'll print this out for him tomorrow and see just how keen he still is. dont go out of your way to find out about this garaged vehicle, just let me know if it happens along in your travels.

    again, thanks for the extended reply mate :D
  9. Re: sidecars... where do i start looking, what am i looking

    I believe the above should be construed as an understatement. Most riders will have the reasonable expectation that steer should equal, turn, not fly. In this case they are likely to be disappointed.
  10. One of the best rigs that I have worked on is my mates Kawasaki ZL1000 Eliminator

    Shaft Drive Kawa Crusier with 1000 cc motor as the rear tyre is a 16 inch you can fit a normal Car tyre to the rear with no mods.

    Yes the bike is fitted with Leading Link Front Forks based on some thick wall tubing and the earls fork lay back set up of the front swing arm they are ajustable for trail and are set up with Konis, and the adjustable link to dial in the amount of anti dive seriously after riding the rig it is just like power steering I would never ever recommend a sidecar rig to be not fitted with leading links, as i think back to riding down dandenong road and chucking a fast right hander and watching the front wheel on a CB 750 standard set up twisting approx 20deg out of line back and forth :shock:

    The best set ups use 5 Link bars I dont have a photo to point you PM me if you need more info.

    You NEED VERY VERY VERY well engineered attachmnet points think of rose joints, welded in and triangulated brace plates frame and the options you need for getting toe (third Wheel) in Lay out of bike (Off Vertical)
    Side car wheel position (12 - 10 inch in front of back wheel)

    Alternatively go to the sidecar clubs meeting and talk to some of the guys they are a great bunch and are willing to help new comers into the field.

    Bit like Netrider really
  11. I would also add that traditionally many outfits were big air cooled twins, but actually they aren't the best choice.

    A liquid cooled motor is often better (less issues with an overgeared revving hard engine travelling slower than it was designed for).

    Also a big lazy 4 cylinder inline motor has plenty of power and mid range torque... perfect for sidecar use.

    Premier Sidecars (which used to be in Melbourne) are now owned by a different person and are situated in Broken Hill.

    For a sidecar (everyone is different), I'd look for something like a low kms good condition Kawasaki GTR1000 or Honda ST1100 or a BMW K1100/1200RS put a premier type 1.5 chair on it and pay for 15 inch car wheels and a leading link type suspension.

    Those bikes all have around 100ps and plenty of torque, bullet proof motors and liquid cooling.
  12. Bang on the money with the recommendation of liquid cooling ZXR1200

    You do tend to get stuck in traffic a lot :LOL: :LOL:
  13. Yah... lane splitting is a bugger :wink:
  14. I've been very happy with both my Eliminators, Bike 1, (daily rider), is now less of a "Cruiser style" and more of a "naked" road bike, since adding lower flatter handlebars, progressive front fork springs, bikini fairing etc. I've made up a towbar for it and am in the process of building a trailer for it. This'll give me extra carrying capacity while still retaining the normal "solo" style for daily running around.

    Bike 2 is sitting in the garage just begging to have a "chair" hung off the side of it for some of the more "back to basics" rallies where the added carrying capacity will come in handy.

    Fortunately I'm in a club, full of "spannermen" and engineers, so help with design etc is close at hand. A few of the guys have designed, built and fitted their own "chairs", on bikes ranging from Yammy FJ's, Beemers, Yammy XS650's etc, including front-end mods to suit ...

    Between the two bikes I'll be able to "gear up" for pretty much any style of ride ...
  15. My evil twin, Pete Thoeming (The Bear) at Australian Road Rider Magazine is a sidecar enthusiast. ARR has had a lot of sidecar articles over the years. Have a look through their back issues for tips.

    Chairman is right about BMWs - R65's or R75's are good but getting more scarce (and you're not getting mine :p ).

    Personally I'd look at a K100 or K100RT BMW. Rock solid engine and pulls like a train. There's a few around with sidecars and the BMW Club or the sidecar club could certainly point you in the direction of their owners.

    You'll pick the basic bike in excellent condition for around $3000 if you look around.

  16. Has you uncle thought about a trike?