USCA Sidecar Forum

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Finally got a sidecar for the Shovelhead

it looks like a drum rear bike brake - ... i did not think there were larger sprockets for those just a fixed size?

when i was messing with sidecars and shovels i discovered that the wider ratio of trans that could be found was best - first gear needs to be deep when heavy loaded at a uphill stop sign.

65 might be a bit much to expect in a headwind

the stock 4 speed and the stock 3 speed w reverse both had a smaller transmission sprocket stock for sidecar use. the paperwork is getting harder and harder to come by but in the mid 80's i was still able to find the specs for sidecar sprockets in the hd parts list.

even with all the hp of my 07 its geared too tall... some day ill get around to changing the gearing - basically at any point i "have" to take the primary off I'm going to go to trike gearing. 30-70.


Congratulations! Man.... that is what I call a "clean" look! Curb got you too?..... Welcome to the club. Have you gotten your hack up to highway speed yet? I finding a little, short wobble after running over a small bump or rut in the road. You getting any of that? - AZP

You are correct, the rear sprocket is riveted to the drum and comes in one size only. The bike is currently geared for solo highway use with a transmission sprocket one size bigger, as well as a close-ratio first gear. A little lower gearing would definitely be better, but it starts better than I expected - still involves riding the clutch, but not as bad as I had expected. Of course, once hot weather gets here and a heavier load it might be too much. The easiest way for me to regear is to drop the motor sprocket two teeth. My primary chain is too loose, so I need to get in there sooner rather than later. As far as the transmission sprocket and first gear - like you that will change when I have a reason to dig that deep into the bike.

I haven't had the bike out of third gear yet, but I do get a little wobble around 20 mph, and slight head shake on bumps. I have the adjustable sidecar trees and OEM-style damper, and that helped a lot. The damper is reproduction with a "spring" made out of bent sheet steel, so it currently doesn't provide much help. I just got an OEM spring off eBay, so once that is installed I am sure it will improve things.

I have the OEM dampener setup from the factory. I'm thinking that the wobble is "normal" since the bike suspension and sidecar springs aren't in synch. It isn't "terrible" but takes some getting used to. I may take a 30 mile ride this weekend that includes a 6% grade. Since I don't have reverse, I'm interested to see how it all performs on hills in higher gear. (I-8, Telegraph Pass) Your shovel has 10% more power than my pan. It will be in the 90's so I'm taking my temp gun to see how hot the motor runs. I have a Lockhart oil cooler so that should help. I opted for the full "period" windshield but like yours better.

I have to agree on the windshield. If it had the huge original it would have to come off. This one is home made out of stainless and plexi. Very simple, and could be recreated easily as long as you have a sheet metal brake. As for the head shake, pretty much all shovelhead FLs have a wobble around 35 mph, and this isn't any worse that that. At this point, I think this rig will be more of an around-town grocery getter than a long-distance tourer, but that could change. I really want to get some miles on it before I make a gearing decision. Even solo and geared high, this bike was not an all-day 75 mph mile eater, but that never stopped me from riding it all over the country. The biggest thing I am worried about is detonation when the temps get hot.

I'm thinking that the '66 cone side Harleys were the first with the "Banana" bodies, unless the ones I've seen had later model sidecars.
I used 21 tooth motor sprocket with 51 tooth rear on my '50 Pan rig and had no trouble with lugging off the line. Lots of grunt. Not a lot of shifting up and down in town either.


It seems that the transition year from steel to fiberglass bodies is up for debate, but I most often read that 1967 was the last year for steel. Of course, 1984 was the last year for shovelheads, but a few still rolled off the line as 1985 models so who knows when it occurred. Although '66 was the first year for shovelheads, the alternator "cone motor" didn't appear until the 1970 model year.

I got the rig out on the highway and got her into fourth gear today - made the shift about 53 mph. I didn't spend a lot of time at speed, but it handled predictably up to 65 mph. I need to spend some parking lot time doing figure-eights before I have the confidence for highway riding. I did manage to intentionally fly the wheel in a 20 mph corner for a second or two to know what it felt like, but I am not ready to have that happen at speed.

Is it normal to have an occasional clunk from the upper front mount, most often in slow, tight turns? I tightened the spring so it was half compressed and still had room to move, but I am not certain how tight it should be.