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Bike specific mounts


Sorry if this is lame, no experience or exposure to sidecars. Bike specific mounts are pricy and I'm too new at this to know why. I know some folks say bike specific mounts are a must. But it seems there are a whole bunch of folks using universal type. So what makes bike mounts specific to a particular bike? Is it possible that mounts for one bike could be adapted for use on another different model? For example, 1988 Suzuki Cavalcade mounts being used on a 2004 Honda Shadow or. 98 Honda Valkyrie? I don't recall seeing any "universal" mount kits being sold except with some sidecars. Are they available independently? The reason I ask is that I'm considering a used sidecar that I hope to mount to one bike, a 750cc Honda Shadow to learn to drive a hack and gain experience before moving the car to a Honda 1500cc Honda Valkyrie. The car in question is a Champion Escort and was attached to a Cavalcade. Don't mind buying a dedicated mount set for the Valk but not eager to do so for the smaller Shadow. Thanks

"Universal mounts" are a "one size fits all" sort of solution. If you happen to be in the sweet spot for the universal mount it MAY work for you. Here's the negative side... since they are not made for any specific bike, they don't really fit ANY bike. They usually depend on frame clamps. Frame clamps in and of themselves are not necessarily a terrible thing but they are seldom used properly and they are subject to slipping. It is possible to use frame clamps successfully but they need to be arranged in line with the stress that they are supporting and that is seldom possible. In addition, they must be made in such a way that they do not slip. Good frame clamps, such as those provided by Motorvation and a few other makers are expensive. Don't confuse them with the clamps you get with a universal fit mounting system.

A well designed mounting system spreads the load over a large area and usually that means connecting two or more points on the bike [like both down tubes if they are available] to support a single attachment point. Universal kits usually just use a clamp with a strap and hope for the best. The diagonal braces in a good mounting system are sized for the length that is needed while universal braces are often too short and depend on a large amount of exposed thread to span the distance. The threaded portion of the brace is probably strong enough for the job but having a properly sized brace with a correct length tube is better.

If there is one more thing to consider, it may be the quality of the hardware used for clamps and fasteners. If possible, always use Grade 8 or better for critical connectors. Some of us like stainless steel but it is NOT AS STRONG as Grade 8 and if you choose to use it you must inspect your fasteners regularly. Be safe, go for good hardware.

One extra good thing about quality mounting systems is that they are in high demand and it is easy to sell a used system after you outgrow it. A while back I advertised a used subframe for a BMW airhead, I got at least half a dozen calls and sold it for just a hundred dollars less than I paid for it. If that hundred dollars kept me safer it was worth it.

If you decide to go with a universal system. Get help from an experienced person installing it. The position of the clamps is critical. Once corrctly installed, make witness marks so you can see if [when] the clamps slip and check them BEFORE EVERY RIDE!

Good luck!

Al, thanks for being such a help as I try to disciper what's what in the sidecar world. I live in an area with virtually no activity as far as I've been able to find. Anyway here is a picture of the car being considered. Perhaps you or someone could venture a guess if the linkage seems to be complete. Other than mounting, I'm not looking for a project that will entail much more than specific mounts and don't want to have to pay for a bunch of missing hardware not included. I think the car looks good but I know squat. Wish it were just plain black though. Doesn't really match either of my bikes. Does have tilt and steering damper though.

Attached files

Al's response covers many of the reasons to go with proper bike specific mounts. Some more reasons, when you align a sidecar you first set the toe in and then the lean out. If the bikes lower mounts are equal distance from the ground when you change lean out the toe stays the same, if the front is higher then the rear when you lean it out, it toes it in which usually works out ok, however when the lower rear mount is higher then the lower front mount when you lean the bike out say to fix a pull to the right, you toe it out more causing more of a pull to the right making it hard to find the sweat spot where alignment is correct. Some thing many people do not keep in mind is that the mounts need to not only work statically but also dynamically. That is to say when going down the road over s, curves and such the mounts need to be firm enough to not move and stout enough to not flex. If things flex your alignment changes and you have almost no chance of not having a front end shake. Most sidecar companies tell you that you need to have a steering damper to cover up a front end shake, some companies this is due to their being so much flex in the system that there is nothing else that can be done to eliminate the shake. Also mounts must be stout enough that should you be in the middle of an unplanned maneuver (i.e. trying not to crash) nothing should move or break to make it harder for you to recover. Your safety and the safety of the people you share the road with depends on the mounting system used for your sidecar.
Some things that contribute to the price of the mounts that you claim are "pricy" The obvious are of course materials and finishing. In the case of our mounts eye bolts and "frame clamps" are plated clear zinc. Steel parts are powder coated. Most of our fasteners are grade 12.9 socket head cap screws.
Here are some more items that add to the price. Basic over head for the building we build these items in as well as the several hundred thousands of dollars worth of equipment it takes to make the parts. All of the various taxes, electricity and other utilities and such.
Limited volume. We have to design the mounts for a specific bike and hope that there is enough demand to spread the cost of tooling and design to many people. Some times this works out great, others not so much. When Harley first came out with the V rod we though it would make a great sidecar bike (it does) but it turns out there is little market for sidecar mounts. In the more then dozen years since we designed the mounts we have sold of the first generation and two of the second generation which of course required designing and tooling for another set of mounts.
Another cost that many (perhaps most?) companies skip is proper manufactures liability insurance. This covers you and your loved ones in case some thing goes wrong. It is not cheap! some companies wrongly think that their garage keepers insurance will cover them, in most cases if they made the part it will not, if they installed apart made by another company it may.
Labor, some companies live in parts of the country where $7.25 minimum wage is what they pay, we do not. All of our employee's have living wages, medical, dental, vision, vacation, as well as sick days and even profit sharing as good employees are worth taking care of.
The $775 that we charge for mounts for your bike when you consider what all it takes the question should be why are bike specific mounts so cheap.
One thing to keep in mind as you are planning on moving from bike to bike, if you have a popular bike and you do change to a different bike proper bike specific mounts do have resale value usually half of the original cost so a $775 mount set when you are done with it might fetch $300-$400 making your actual cost only $375-$475 while people are seldom looking for used "universal" mounts.
This article tells you a bit more about the difference in mounts
In our Video section there are three video's the first tells you about us, the next two are the entire installation process of one of our Tomahawk SE sidecars to an Indian Roadmaster, while not the same as your bike it does give you and idea of what all is involved.
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

Of course Jay. I did not intend to disparage the price at all. I apologise. It was just a surprise in relation to the cost of adding them to an inexpensive used car. In fact I did find some universal mounts online and I would have considered the price they were asking as pricy also. They were almost 70 percent of the price you mention for specific equipment. I do understand costs involved for making low volume goods and appreciate all the companies providing quality cars and parts to this small population segment. I'm just learning and the more I find out about the complexity of successful sidecar installation and operation the more "scared" I get at trying to actually get started. Seller does have the old Suzuki Cavalcade it was mounted to he is selling separately. Don't need or want another bike but I might be good to buy a total package just to get experience. Still undecided on the the car.

What about Sidecar frame size? That Champion Escort comes with either a short or a long frame. The one I have is 26" and I have been told that it will not fit on my GW.

The short frame can be made to work with longer bosses ($85) or by using a weld on extension kit we offer for $150. The longer frame is used on the GL1500, GL1800 and Valkyrie's
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

That is good information to have. I was told that I would have to buy a "New frame" if I wanted to use that car on my GW.

Well, I watched the auction end last night without bidding. Someone diid and got the car for the starting price of 2799.00 with lots of options including tilt, convertable top, damper, hitch and a mess of other stuff. It was Hard not to bid. Just too many unanswered questions in my head. It wasn't far away and that was a primary reason I was interested. Rare to find anything close to my local. plus it looked nice. seemed like an okay buy for a fairly large well equipped car.

I bought a Champion Escort in about that same condition for about half that price. I did need to drive 750 miles round trip to get it but was worth it. Keep looking and the deals are out there.