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Sidecar 101

Discussion in 'The Garage' started by gordonscott, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. gordonscott

    gordonscott XS650exhaust.com

    Hi Guys, I've been getting some emails about sidecars and how to set them up and why the use of leading link frontends etc... If ya all don't mind I will make this the sidecar thread of answers and how too's. Like everyone, I learn from others and the info I will put out here is info that I’ve acquired from looking and asking those who knew a lot more then I did. Believe it or not sidecars are complicated beasts and there is a lot to them, it’s a big topic that can’t be covered in 5 minutes. So to help those who have asked and to save me time in responding to the emails I receive on the same subject I will start this thread. Sidecars are a lot of fun but if not done right they can suck to drive (you will lose interest fast) and get you in a heap of trouble! My first year with my xs650 sidecar was horrible and I had to learn a lot before I finally got it all sorted out and started having fun with it. To save some grief to anyone wanting to get into sidecars I will post all I know and have learned over the past 3yrs playing with these things. First a few pictures to spark some interest, these are off the web and I do not own any of them but do know a few of the owners. P.S. If you think sidecars are just for the old people who can't hold up a bike anymore better think again! [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 8, 2011
  2. gordonscott

    gordonscott XS650exhaust.com

    This relates to chopper building too so even if you are not interested in sidecars this is good info to know for builders. This is from Pete Smith, he knows his stuff :wtf: [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  3. gordonscott

    gordonscott XS650exhaust.com

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2011
  4. gordonscott

    gordonscott XS650exhaust.com

    Now for proper setup of the sidecar, there are three critical factors. Lean out (cycle lean away from the sidecar), toe in ( of the sidecar wheel) and wheel lead (sidecar wheel in relation the the cycles rear wheel),they are shown here. [​IMG] If after following this setup and you have a rig that is not performing as it should follow these trouble shooting tips. [​IMG]
  5. JDS1

    JDS1 XS650 Enthusiast

    Thank you!! This will probably be my next XS650 build and all the information I can get would be appreciated. From some of the pictures I've seen it looks like the front end has to be built quite solid to take quite a load. Is there any way to run a leaf spring type setup? I was also curious if sidecars for something like the XS should be built from scratch and if so if plans were available for this?
  6. gordonscott

    gordonscott XS650exhaust.com

    You are very welcome. I like to be an ambassador for such a fun thing as sidecars. You can run a leaf setup no problem and will post pictures of those setups. You don’t have to build a sidecar you can just buy one but think of the fun in making one from scratch. I am going to build an enduro sidecar from scratch and will post the build with info here. I do not know of any ready plans for building a sidecar but I will share all build info I can. You can go simple or complicated, as your skills will allow. Good luck if you go for it and please keep me posted.

    [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
  7. Just for fun....my '77"D"--yes, I know it's a '75 tank--and my mid-1960's Spirit of America chair...

    Attached Files:

  8. xjwmx

    xjwmx It's just the unknown. Top Contributor

    All I can say is hubba!
  9. gruff54

    gruff54 XS650 Enthusiast

    Just subscribed to this thread. I've got a Velorex to hang on a '79F. Maybe this is the push I've needed! Got to fab one of the lower mounts, but I've heard the stock ones are kinda weak as well as being too expensive for my budget. Claude Stanley(didn't he build your Strom rig, Gordon?) recommends a subframe, I think mainly for the ease of adjustment/setup. It's supposed to keep both lower mounts on the same axis. I'm having trouble visualizing one, but I'll keep at it. The light bulb's bound to go off sooner or later. If anybody has pics, please share!

  10. gordonscott

    gordonscott XS650exhaust.com

    Hi Mike, I'm just about to start talking subframes and proper mounting. Claude Stanley of “Freedom Sidecars” is a great guy and I consider him a friend. I’ve learned a lot from Claude and he is one of the premier sidecar builders and experts in the U.S. I bought my Vstrom outfit already built and Claude did not build it unfortunately, wish he had as it needs some re-engineering that I am doing now. The stock Velorex mounts will do but the bottom rear is the weak link in that setup. I will show how to make a better one real cheap that you can afford. I will show pictures of subframes built by Claude Stanley, I'm sure he won't mind as he is the one that posted them on the web. Some bikes need subframes and there is no way around it, others can get by without them. One problem is that sometimes the bikes frame does not allow for good mounting points and things can get in the way too like the exhaust and such. Here are what subframes/sidecar frames look like... [​IMG] [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2011
  11. gordonscott

    gordonscott XS650exhaust.com

    Hi Barb, If you would not mind can you post pictures of your mounting setup? I have alot more on this subject comming soon.....
  12. willyguzzi53

    willyguzzi53 XS650 Addict

    Great thread. I can see this being one of those 12 page threads. I have accumulated information on chairs for about 25 years but never made the jump. Maybe now is the time. BTW, big fan of your pipes gordonscott.
  13. Hi, Guys,

    GordonS, I will look around for pictures showing the mounting, but I don't have a digital camera yet--the sales are in full swing and it will be soon.

    I can say that I had no idea what a sub-frame was when I mounted this chair to the bike, and so I fabricated crude but strong mounts for the lower front and upper rear mount. The other two were easy, but those two drove me crazy. Well, OK, the lower rear one was kind of a bitch, too......:shrug:

    So conceptually, a sub-frame is simply an extension of the sidecar frame, to facilitate strong and simple mounting to the bike, right? Kind of an adapter kit? I'm very interested in this, since I now have a BMW R80/7, and I think the sidecar--or "a" sidecar--is going on her for very long trips, and it specifically requires a sub-frame.

    I also saw a rig at the Oyster Run here that had hydraulically adjustable lean-out, so it could be adjusted for load and road-crown while in motion. How neat is that?? Heavy load? Push a button, and presto: neutral steering!

    I really like sidecars, and have taken my XS combo from Washington to Montana and back several times, and camped with her all over the state. You can haul LOTS in a chair, and firewood runs are a snap!!

    So, right. Sidecars, gotta love 'em! :thumbsup:
  14. gruff54

    gruff54 XS650 Enthusiast

    Thanks for the pics. They help. What specs are you all(Gordon and Barb, and anyone else for that matter) running on your rigs? Claude recommends 9"-10" of lead, ~1/2" toe-in, and 48"-52" track. I mocked mine up and boy does it look wide. I don't think the stock mounts will let me go that wide. Wider is for stability while narrower is for maneuverability, right? Most of my riding will be rural roads, I avoid interstates if possible. I'll probably go narrower for the handling, but I also would like to keep the whole rig under 5' if possible(to fit on a trailer).

  15. gordonscott

    gordonscott XS650exhaust.com

    If Claude said it its a fact, and "if it's a fact I believe it" :D General sidecar setup is posted above. From what I understand you don't want the sidecar too far away from the bike, the closer to the bike the stronger the mount. If it’s too wide the pendulum effect will be more noticed also, that is when braking or accelerating the outfit will pull or push the bike left or right (left braking / right accelerating) Stability has a lot to do with wheel lead also not just track width, weight of the sidecar compared to bike etc... Like I said in the begining this is a big subject that has a LOT of variables, what measurements that are perfect for one bike/sidecar may not be great for another bike/sidecar but we do have general "rules of thumb" to get us started in the right direction and can fine tune from there.
  16. gordonscott

    gordonscott XS650exhaust.com

    Here is another flip! If you look at the sidecar wheel in relation to the bikes rear wheel you will see there is not a lot of wheel lead :eek: Also there is extra weight on the nose of the sidecar outside of the "three wheel triangle" These factors makes for fliping in left turns an easy job :yikes:
  17. gordonscott

    gordonscott XS650exhaust.com

    And for those of us with a need for speed...
  18. KenN

    KenN XS650 Enthusiast

    Just to throw a Mohnke wrench into this informative post, I recall reading, many moons ago, of a "flexi" sidecar rig. It had a type of solid axle front end mounted sideways between the frame and sidecar wheel. It also had a pivoting connection at the front of the frame. This link allowed the sidecar wheel to lean along with the motorcycle part. Bottom line, the rig steers more like a motorcycle (countersteering), and less like a sidecar. Some info is available here: http://thekneeslider.com/archives/2008/01/02/flexible-tilting-sidecars/
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2011

    RFLIVES Resident Sidecar nut

    Look what I just dragged home. Gordon I will be In touch soon for a left side 2into1 setup. Also I would like to know if you have any tips for the axle swap. I have a 16 wheel left over from my 19/19 conversion.

    Attached Files:

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