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California Friendship Sidecar: Where to buy windshield? & Roof Repair/Replace

Hello, Long time motorcyclist recently new to the sidecar scene here. While my family did have a BMW sidecar rig back in the '70s I haven't had one myself till recently. This spring I stumbled on a sidecar deal I couldn't pass up. Its an '82 Honda Goldwing GL1100 with a California Friendship sidecar. I have spent the past several weeks refurbishing the bike back to good running and riding condition. I am about to do some refurbishing on the sidecar next.

As you can see in the picture below the windshield on my sidecar has been cut down or maybe it was just a small one. I am not sure the case as I purchased it as shown. I would like to replace the windshield with a full height windshield. I have been looking around for outlets that sell the windshield. The only place I have found so far is http://bikescreen.com Here is the one they sell http://bikescreen.com/collections/sidecar/products/california-sidecar-american-spirit-friendship-i The price is $300 which seems steep to me though may very well be the going rate I guess, especially if its the only place that even has the product.

Before I buy from bikescreen I would like to ask if anyone has any more info on these windshields. Here are a few questions I have:

Is the bikescreen windshield a solid product from a reputable source?

Does anyone else sell these windshields new?

May as well ask does anyone have a used windshield for sale or know where to find one?

Are there kits and/or directions online to make one of these windshields from a sheet of plexiglass? (I am familiar with the process of making a plexiglass windshield. I mostly would need to know size of plexiglass sheet needed and best thickness.)

-------

I wanted to ask about the roof/windows for the sidecar too. I have the original roof/windows and support rib for the sidecar. The vinyl and stitching are pretty rough though. I was wondering are the roof/windows available for sale anywhere for this sidecar? If get it repaired who should I take it too, upholsterer, convertible shop or ???

 

 Any info anyone can share I would appreciate. Thanks.

 

 

 

Attached files

The windshield from Gustafsson, Bikescreen, is what I put on my Friendship II when I rebuit it ten years ago and it has held up amazingly well. I like that you can get the different tints and sizes from them also. This is the stock size with a medium tint.

As far as the top I would find a boat shop and have them build you a top, easy if you have the old one for a pattern.

Bike screen.com is the only place you are going to find this, be glad that they are even willing to still make this screen and $300 is a very fair price for such a low demand item that takes a large mold and is made one at a time by hand. A few things concern me about your rig, one of course is the tire size is to wide, a 145 13 is a the tire it calls for and really does not fit all that well as the sidecar was designed for a very narrow 16 inch wheel and tire however the 16 inch wheels were failing so they switched to the 13 inch wheel. You may also still have the old ball collet type lower mounts which are known to fail. If you tighten these up using a 1/2 inch wrench then they are the old type that fail. If you use two 15/16 wrenches to tighten up a 5/8 nut and bolt they are the new type that do not tend to fail. Also you may have the old type upper clamps for the frame, these do not have 1/4 inch cross bolts, latter ones do. With out they tend to fail. Also check your sidecars suspension. There are 5 flat bars that act as springs, they are known to fail and on early sidecars can come out causing the swing arm to separate from the sidecar. Later ones had a welding rod welded over the opening so that if the springs fail they can not fall out. Florida sidecar products has the springs. While in there also check the bronze bushing the entire suspension pivots on, this is a high wear item and should be replaced about every 10K or so as you will be hard pressed to keep an alignment with a worn bushing and keeping the front end from shaking with a worn bushing is not easy. We offer the bushing as well as mount up grades. I put 150K on a GL1100 Freindship 1 rig and have had 3 of the four mounts fail as well as suspension failures. This was all before a learned about the up grades. Also take a look at how the upper front mount is done. Normally the moutn is mounted up higher and a hold is cut in the lower fairing.
Jay G
DMC sidecars
http://www.dmcsidecars.com
866-638-1793

jaydmc - 8/8/2016 10:45 AM

Bike screen.com is the only place you are going to find this, be glad that they are even willing to still make this screen and $300 is a very fair price for such a low demand item that takes a large mold and is made one at a time by hand. A few things concern me about your rig, one of course is the tire size is to wide, a 145 13 is a the tire it calls for and really does not fit all that well as the sidecar was designed for a very narrow 16 inch wheel and tire however the 16 inch wheels were failing so they switched to the 13 inch wheel. You may also still have the old ball collet type lower mounts which are known to fail. If you tighten these up using a 1/2 inch wrench then they are the old type that fail. If you use two 15/16 wrenches to tighten up a 5/8 nut and bolt they are the new type that do not tend to fail. Also you may have the old type upper clamps for the frame, these do not have 1/4 inch cross bolts, latter ones do. With out they tend to fail. Also check your sidecars suspension. There are 5 flat bars that act as springs, they are known to fail and on early sidecars can come out causing the swing arm to separate from the sidecar. Later ones had a welding rod welded over the opening so that if the springs fail they can not fall out. Florida sidecar products has the springs. While in there also check the bronze bushing the entire suspension pivots on, this is a high wear item and should be replaced about every 10K or so as you will be hard pressed to keep an alignment with a worn bushing and keeping the front end from shaking with a worn bushing is not easy. We offer the bushing as well as mount up grades. I put 150K on a GL1100 Freindship 1 rig and have had 3 of the four mounts fail as well as suspension failures. This was all before a learned about the up grades. Also take a look at how the upper front mount is done. Normally the moutn is mounted up higher and a hold is cut in the lower fairing.
Jay G
DMC sidecars
http://www.dmcsidecars.com
866-638-1793

Thanks for the info guys. I am more comfortable paying the money on a product known to be of reliably good quality. I just didn't want to spend a big chunk of change on a windshield to find out it didn't fit well, bent over at speed and became brittle in short order. Its sounds like the product bikescreen offers is of high quality though and will last so I will be getting one from them. I understand what goes into making a good windscreen from vintage boat and snowmobile projects family and friends have undertaken over the years. To make make something nice requires a good mold and some craftsmanship which it sounds like bikescreen has.

The wheel on my sidecar is a 13". I am stuck with it for now I guess. What effect does the 13" wheel have besides being a little wide and sticking out? Should I be concerned to change it to something else or just leave it?

I realized today I don't really know how the suspension works and actual hadn't taken time to look at the design. Since buying the rig I have had it with the sidecar tight up against a wall in my shop stuck there as I worked on the bike. I just got the rear wheel back on the bike this weekend and now rolled the sidecar out today to see the suspension. What I see is a rod sticking out and the swingarm wheel mount is clamped to it. There is some type of internal spring mechanism. I will need to disassemble it to find out how it works. I am not sure if there is the mentioned later design that holds parts in place if something fails. Below is a pic of my suspension. Do I have the newer safety design or the older style?

Whatever suspension design I have I am assuming the bushings are reasonably good condition as there is only a little play when I grab the wheel and because the rig tracks straight and true without wobble from slow speed to interstate cruising. I am not sure where the play is that I do have, maybe the wheel or maybe the linkage. Before I really say how great the bushings are I will need to get the wheel up in the air though for a proper inspection.

I am not familiar with the different types of mounts for the differing years of sidecars so I am a little confused as to what I type have. On mine the large bolts clamping the tubes coming from the car use a 3/4" wrench. The clamps on the tie rods use a 9/16" wrench. The lower ball joints on the bike use a 1/2" wrench. Do I have the stronger mounts or the weaker ones? Below is a picture for reference. The front mount is higher and does go through the right side lower fairing.

Thanks for all the info guys. I definitely appreciate the positive recommendations on the bikescreen windshield. With the information given on wheel, suspension and mounts I will do more research to figure out what I may need to do. Any info that can be shared to steer me in the right direction I would appreciate. Thanks.

Attached files

Do not be intimidated by the suspension, I have 60,000 plus miles on mine all over the country and Canada with only one issue and that was my fault. I do not know where you are located, helps people help you if you fill out your profile, but any after market Volkswagen place can cut you new springs. Spring information is here: https://dirtydr.smugmug.com/Other/Friendship-Torsion-Springs/
The only big thing is if you have bushings or bearings and you will have to disassemble to verify that unless Jay has a way to check, I would still take it apart and check the springs because you will want a new set in there so that you know when they were replaced. I replace mine around every 10,000 miles and take it apart and grease everything at least every Spring.
Here is a link also to the installation manual; https://dirtydr.smugmug.com/Other/Friendship-I-and-early-II/i-wjVQTGw

DirtyDR - 8/8/2016 11:50 AM

Do not be intimidated by the suspension, I have 60,000 plus miles on mine all over the country and Canada with only one issue and that was my fault. I do not know where you are located, helps people help you if you fill out your profile, but any after market Volkswagen place can cut you new springs. Spring information is here: https://dirtydr.smugmug.com/Other/Friendship-Torsion-Springs/
The only big thing is if you have bushings or bearings and you will have to disassemble to verify that unless Jay has a way to check, I would still take it apart and check the springs because you will want a new set in there so that you know when they were replaced. I replace mine around every 10,000 miles and take it apart and grease everything at least every Spring.
Here is a link also to the installation manual; https://dirtydr.smugmug.com/Other/Friendship-I-and-early-II/i-wjVQTGw

I also just run the 13 inch tire with no issues but you do not want too wide of a tire or it will hit the fender well.

I guess I will need to pull the suspension soon. I don't know how many miles are on the bushings and springs. The rig s new to me. The bike has 70,000 on it. Judging by the model of the sidecar and wear it could have been on there the whole time.

I am in Denver It's in my profile now. I am not sure what sidecar shops there are in the area. I think there may be one up in Fort Collins called Unique Rides though I am not certain how much of their business is sidecars.

That would be Randy and Tammy up in Ft. Collins, really good people and a Ural dealer. They have sold a lot of the Colorado Urals as a matter of fact.
I am just up in Edwards or Hotchkiss depending on the moon phase.

There really is no big deal with the suspension on them and it should be easy to find an aftermarket VW bug shop to cut a set down for you since they are the same springs used in the old VW torsion suspensions just shorter. Like I said there are two types, the older one has bushings and the newer has bearings and Jay should still be able to supply you with bushings. I actually have two of them if you end up needing them since mine uses bearings in it.

Upholstery guys can fix your top. Where in Denver are you?

I am in west Denver almost to Lakewood. When it comes time to redo the top I guess I check around to a few types of shop. I may be able to fix the top myself. I haven't looked into too much since it doesn't fit with the small windshield. I would like to maybe have a top made though with racecar like webbing instead of windows for more air flow since the sidecar's main passenger will be my dog. Will probably get to the top project this winter I am thinking.