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1st sidecar?

Aloha-sorry not sure where best place post is...

Kate from Oahu here been lurking for a while- I don’t have a Sidecar but desperately want one. They are hard to come by on the islands. I ride a 2018 sportster 1200 custom. 

i did have a chance to test drive a 2014 Royal Enfield 500cc rig from a soldier that was selling it. My husband was worried it would be underpowered Especially with a passenger. I did take it on the highway (Empty and in a very windy day) and max speed was about 50-55mph and definitely felt more stable on the side roads. I also felt like I was flying a wooden plane and I’m really glad I have done a lot of reading on how to drive a Sidecar haha.  I really don’t intend to ride it on the highway and thankfully here most island roads speed limit 25-45mph max. I would use it more to run errands/take friends for lunch tool around town. But would this be like buying 250cc first bike and quickly outgrowing it? 

Mahalo !!! 

Kate, I'm sure others will answer but I'll say your Sportster would make a fine tug for the right sidecar. The Royal Enfield would give you a chance to learn to drive a sidecar and let you know if you enjoy the experience while searching for one for your Sportster. Jay at DMC could help you out in the regard. I don't know if he has any Spudnics left or not but I think that's a good possible fit. There are resources on this web site and this forum that might be useful in the learning curve. Good luck, and here's to many adventures. One last comment- the price of membership in the USCA includes a subscription to the Sidecarist magazine. A slick quarterly publication that is worth the price of membership.

Thanks Tom, yes I’ve thought about that too, right now my 2 wheels is my daily driver. Not sure how complicated it would be to attach and reattach a Sidecar when needed but something to look into....

yes I receive your magazine and love all the stories and pictures!!!! 

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Once everything is set up especially if you change the trees so it steers easily, it's best to have a dedicated sidecar rig and a separate solo rig. Rather than mounting and unmounting the sidecar. Unless you find like I did some years ago that the preference for the sidecar negates the desire for a solo bike. I have my '96 FLH/Liberty and an '03 FXDWG/Spalding in the garage now. Haven't had a solo bike for years. And at one time I believed I'd never ride or appreciate three wheels. Oh well. Never say never....

Haha I will never say never because all the time I’m wishing I had a side car to put groceries in — u can only fit so much in a sissy bar bag. Or when I run to the garden or hardware store in my car I always wish it was a Sidecar to make journey more fun. Lots to think about. Mahalo!! 

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The Enfield might be the way to go however a couple of things, the sidecar they use often is not attached using the best of hardware, often more "universal" then anything else. Also in my limited experience with these bikes I have never seen one where any one has modified the steering. 
When ever you add a sidecar to any motorcycle you have heavy steering, you can live with it, or do some thing about it. The Enfield being a fairly light bike with up right seating and wide bars I would suspect most people find it good enough, It could be better.

You are already having second thoughts about this bike, It might make perfect sense on paper which I think is what you are wondering but at the end of the day, if it does not put a smile on your face. It is the wrong bike for you. Yes you could learn sidecar riding with it but I suspect you will soon have the bike up for sale so you can build a bike and sidecar that "speaks" to you better.

You own the Sportster, adding a sidecar with proper hardware is not all that hard to do. There are many companies that make triple tree's to lower the steering effort on the Sportster. This link will tell you about our hardware for your bike and why "universal" is not the way to go

We ship out of the Port of Seattle and for Hawaii shipments usually deliver the sidecars to the port keeping shipping costs down. Yes they are more then shipping to the main land but not all that bad.

If we can help we will be glad to.

Jay G
DMC sidecars


Jay G DMC sidecars 15616 Carbonado South Prairie RD Buckley WA 98321 866-638-1793 Hours Monday - Thursday 6-4:30

Thank you Jay! Very helpful! 

yes the reviews on RE were mostly not good but I guess I was feeling desperate as only one for sale here on Oahu in years. As I mentioned I felt as though I was taking off on a wooden airplane and was never so happy to exit the highway. 

maybe I will look into getting a second sportster to create my Sidecar dream. It’s a fairly common bike for sale around here. 

I appreciate all the advice!! 
Mahalo!! Kate

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Kate,  I'm much like Tom in that I have a solo bike, but I haven't ridden it in 8 years.  We do quite a lot of touring with our rig, so the 1500cc engine and a sturdy sidecar has been the way for us to go.  Your Sportster should handle most sidecars well.  It seems your problem lies in not having much choice in bike/sidecar combination.  You might get along fine with the Royal Enfield and the sidecar mounted on it for local riding where you rarely have a speed limit over 45 mph.  Do you ever ride into the mountains?  That is where my old 1100cc tug came up short.  On long uphill grades I couldn't maintain the posted speed limit.  I had to keep shifting down to lower gears to keep RPMs up for power.

Hi Kate:  Sportster's can be good sidecar tugs.  In my experience, look for a "mid-size" sidecar that weighs, including ballast, ±200 lbs.  For example, we had a 165 pound Texas Ranger ballasted to ±200 pounds mated to a 2002 XL833R, a really good combination now owned by a wonderful lady in Texas.    We recommend two modifications to a 1200cc Sportster to make a great sidecar rig:  1) gear "it down" with the front belt pulley from an 883cc Sporter; and 2) install modified triple tree as discuss above (our rig had 5° trees from Hawg Halters).


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Lee / Summer Grove, Louisiana: Ural cT, CJ750, Burgman/Texas Ranger, Zuma 50F, MB5, TW200, CRF250L, GTV300

so cute! I love your set up the proportions look perfect. 

I was thinking a 1200 would be better for more power but sounds like 883 may be enough? There’s a lot more 883s around for sale.  

you lost me at the technical part haha but those are things I will have to read up on when I get there. 


883 has plenty of power, if you buy an 883 and latter you decide you "want" more power then you can always have the 1/2 inch larger pistons put in it making it a 1200, often still being money ahead over buying a 1200 . You live on an island, if you have to fight a heavy head wind where the extra power might be nice, so what you will get where you are going a minute or two  latter its not like you are going to be crossing Kansas fighting a head wind.

When we had a company 883 equipped with a Sputnik back in 1998 what I found was that 5th gear was pretty much worthless, however this was also the case with out the sidecar as such we just ran at a bit higher RPM on the freeway in 4th. In any event, the 883 more then likely will move the sidecar better then the Enfield you were looking at.


Jay G
DMC sidecars


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Jay G DMC sidecars 15616 Carbonado South Prairie RD Buckley WA 98321 866-638-1793 Hours Monday - Thursday 6-4:30

George Rahn, the long time BMW dealer and later a Royal Enfield dealer in Fairbanks, AK rode a 500cc Royal Enfield with a Cozy sidecar.  He almost always had his dog with him as he rode around town.  One day we were supposed to meet George for lunch at a place called Hilltop, but George did not show up.  When I called him he said his rig wouldn't make it up the grade to the cafe.

Kevin - Team Pterodactyl's Montana Outpost Silver City, Montana

883s can be built to produce a lot of power. Something you might keep in mind if you buy one and need more beans.

I am waiting on 5 deg trees to lighten the steering on my '79 Ironhead. Apples to oranges I know, but it has adequate power with a stage 2 S&S 72 cu in Stroker motor.