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Help for Newbie--Seeking advice

Hi Sidecar Enthusiasts,

I have a 2018 Harley Softail Deluxe. I've been considering adding a sidecar to it. First off the Owner's Manual says not to do it, yet when I talk to the HD staff in the service department, they said it wouldn't be a problem, as long as the rig is set up safely. That, of course, is my first priority, since I expect to have the kids ride with me. During my search, I've come across a lot of information, some of it contradictory. I want to do it right, but, obviously don't want to spend money needlessly. Considering the motorcycle, what mods should ne made to it to accept the sidecar rig? One consideration, is that to take the motorcycle in for servicing, I'd have to disconnect the sidecar, because the service department won't work on it with the sidecar installed. The rake on the motorcycle is 30 degrees with a trail of 5.7" (144.8mm). From some of the articles I've read, that much trail would make the rig steering very heavy, stable. That sounds subjective, but w/o any experience, that's all I know. In addition, with the addition of the sidecar, it is recommended I stiffen my shocks. Since the Softail has "cans" over the shocks, you can't put on a fork brace, so it's recommended I put new fork springs and valves. I'm wondering about getting a different motorcycle more suited for the sidecar, Triumph Bonneville 120?

Regarding the sidecar, safety is my priority, but I've seen may pics of sidecars with no brakes. Any and all thoughts/comments are very much appreciated. Best wishes, have fun, and safe riding. Pat Murphy

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Sidecars are a world of their own. The word safety covers a lot of ground. Fact Sidecars put more stress on the drive line.  Brake on the sidecar is a good Idea. Not the end of the world not to have on on smaller lighter rigs. When it comes to setup let someone like DMC go over it with you .What you hear from the they say crowd is wrong 99% of the time. What may seem to make sense in your own mind may not be the answer.

Sidecars done right and driven correctly are safe. They have a lot of great uses. How much front end work is needed depends on many things.  Again the only one that can really help you get it straight in your head as it applies to your bike is someone Like DMC. I have a 750 Harley with sidecar and no front end work the does fine. That would likely not be the same for your ride. What you do to a full size Touring bike compared to a soft tail will likely be different . Once again you can not get a good idea of cost and what your are getting into until to talk with a Pro.  Ideas from someone that does not have their buts in the seat are back round noise.

I have two sidecar rigs. One a basic simple rig that works well. One that is over the top and is amazing. You have just started a journey, don't get discourage . get the facts from people like Jay at DMC.  Listen to the views and experience of those that have one. Try to figure out the real reasons you are looking into them. Also understand that once you have one you find so much more it can do. Your bike is well suited for a sidecar.




Thanks for taking the time to reply. It is very much appreciated. I like to get inputs from a variety of sources and make a judgement after receiving them. Thanks again for taking time to respond. Best wishes with much respect, Pat Murphy

John, you are taking the smart approach, talk with as many Harley sidecar owners as you can find. Each will have their own opinion but am sure you can sort through the noise.

If you are anywhere near the south central part of the US, there will be a couple hundred or more sidecar rigs in Mena, Arkansas the first weekend in June for the USCA National Rally. Non-sidecar riders are welcome. Is a great opportunity to see how different sidecar manufacturers set up rigs, build quality, find out directly from owners what they like and dislike about their rigs, and more important, what would they do different on their next rig.

A visit to Mena will save you a lot of time and money in selecting your first sidecar.


Hi John, I ride a '96 FLH/Liberty rig that I love. I have about 150,000 on it now but not all with the sidecar. It has the 5 degree tree and steers like a dream. I also have an '03 Dyna Wide Glide with a Spalding sidecar. Also changed the tree. I agree with what the others are saying. Pete at Liberty has closed up so on the west coast, Jay is the manufacturer who is still going gang busters. If you're on the east coast get in touch with Claude Stanley. Both will steer you in the right direction.

Tom Wells aka Reardan Tom

I wish every one would do their research before buying rather then after as it would make things much simpler all around as I spend far to much time helping people who have purchased real low end sidecars from places where the sidecar is just another commodity . First make sure any sidecar you go with is strong and heavy duty enough for your bike, make sure that the sidecar comes with proper bike specific NOT "universal" mounting hardware. There are companies who's sidecars will "fit" every bike out there with their "universal" type mounts. In general companies that go with "universal" type mounts are the bottom feeders in the industry and you usually get a whole lot less then what you pay for. And yes, we do offer "universal" type mounts but only end up suppling these every 5 or 6 years and I tell people going into it that "universal" means it fits nothing universally but is a starting point.

Next research the company selling the sidecar. There are some great companies in the sidecar industry, there are also far more that are less then above board.  In any event always pay with a charge card as it give you recourse should there be an issue with the sidecar company. Make sure that any company you buy from has real manufactures liability insurance this is to protect you. There are several companies in the industry that either have no insurance or think that their "garage keepers" insurance will cover you. It will not if they built the sidecar and some of these companies will not even tell you where they are located.

Most companies require a deposit up front and payment when finished. We require a 50% deposit and prefer you not pay in full up front however we will accept payment if full if you need to. I know of one company that requires 75% up front and in cash, I find this worrisome. In the case of the company that is 75% up front I know of one person who dropped off a new bike and by the time they got it done and back from them the factory 3 year warranty had expired.

If a company has a sidecar in stock ready to go for your bike, chances are it was made off shore and was never really designed for your bike and will not have proper hardware for your bike. Quality sidecars are built to order. We currently have about a 5 month lead time however we are trying to hire a second shift in order to speed things up. I do not know were other companies lead times are however I do know of what company that if you have paid in full, you might not see the sidecar for over 2 years if ever.

When ever you add a sidecar to any motorcycle you are going to end up with heavy steering. This is due to the amount of trail on the front of the bike. Bike like yours we usually go with triple tree's to change the angle of the forks moving the front wheel forward. Many people and companies call this "raking" the front end. It is not. We are not changing the rake, it just looks like we are. The triple tree's we offer come with fork extensions and longer "cans" for over the forks such that it still looks good when done. Stiffer springs in the forks would be nice.

Yes you can do a different bike such as the T120 we also have everything for this bike as well however, you are going to be spending a lot of money to do this right, you need to do the bike that "speaks" to you. If it is your current Harley great, if a Triumph would speak to you more great but at the end of the day, this is a toy and needs to please you.

As to brakes, on our lower priced sidecars the brake is an option, on all of our more expensive sidecars it is standard. We make the brake an option as some companies do not offer a brake even as an option and many people do not get past looking at price. I feel that while "Brakes just slow you down" that can be a good thing and if a brake keeps you out of the emergency room even once it was worth the effort. There are some things people never complain of, having to much brake is one of them.

If the sidecar is installed with proper bike specific mounts not universal you should be able to take the sidecar on or off in about 10 minutes for service.

Some sidecars are very easy to get in and out of, others not so much, some sidecars have trunks that open from the out side which is nice, others you have to lift the seat back out to gain access to the trunk area. Some sidecars are wide enough to some times fit two kids in such as our Expedition pictured.

Feel free to either email or phone me if you have any specific questions at all.

Jay G
DMC sidecars


15616 Carbonado South Prairie RD
Buckley WA


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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

One thing I would not go with is with fork extensions, I have enough of them in my scrap drum and in my book that is just as bad as using a universal kit to mount a side car. JMO

Thanks Jay for that honest, thoughtful, and in depth response. Excellent feedback from which we all can learn.