USCA Sidecar Forum

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New and have some questions.


Hello to everyone,

I was interested in getting a sidecar rig because my wife tips over from a loss of balence. I was interested in a reliable rig that was relative low cost. I can't justify 30k+ for a rig to putz around in. I looked at the Ural and was wondering if it would be more cost effective to get a motorcycle and add a side car to it. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Welcome mike. It's been my observation that it's generally cheaper to get a complete used rig as opposed to buying bike/hack/mounting hardware separately. Lots of caveats to that. If you already have a suitable bike a used sidecar can be purchased and attached but one needs to have a modicum of knowledge or pay someone that has. I had a bike and purchased a used sidecar and attached myself. The necessary subframe for my bike was expensive ($1000+) and setup process was frustrating. I've come to believe a used rig suitable for the intended purpose and professionally installed and setup would have been my best option if starting over. YMMV. Lost of used rigs for sale here and on the Adventure riders subforum entitled "Fleabay and Craigslist stuff goes here". Good Luck, ask questions and opinions here before buying. Stay away from sidecars being sold as "Suitable for all bikes" or being "Universal". See this topic . Can't advise on Urals. Advantages and disadvantages there.

I bought my rig about a year ago - complete rig from a seasoned rider/driver. Took a while to get used to it, but now I'm ready to move up. So, I'll be advertising the rig soon. It's a 2003 Suzuki VL800 with a Velorex 563 car. It's an older rig, but very serviceable and the price was right for getting into something I had no experience with, what-so-ever. When I got it I thought the 800 cc bike would not be suitable to power the car, but it has work out just fine. Made a 600 mile trip with it two weeks ago - much fun. If I can provide any assistance or guidance, please PM me and we'll talk.

Later, Bud...

I agree with Valk. I had a cheap beater bike, and got a cheap (but I thought decent) sidecar, almost the same kind Bud has. BTW Bud has helped me out with it, good guy, and honest. If you want a project and like to tinker, you can go the route I went. The perfect sidecar with the perfect bike WILL be a project, it will not be a turn-key, plug & play, solution. Nothing in this off-balance hobby goes together seamlessly, it seems. If I had to do it over, I might still tinker with assembling my own combo, but knowing what I do now- it wouldn't be the same combo. Of course, I would probably just have different headaches, but it took some time to figure out what the troubles were with that bike and that hack. Those headaches will all be settled for a used rig, presumably. Ask around here about whatever bike & hack combo you're looking at, and there will be knowledgeable people to answer. Jay from DMC is one of the gurus, Claude, there's a handful of them who really know their stuff. Bottom line, I guess, is how much you want to mess with it. Little to none=buy a whole rig already assembled. If I get a $2000 bike and a $1500 sidecar (and that's pretty low) and only find $10000 combos- it seems to me it might be worth it, even though it doesn't look like it at first glance. That cheap bike is going to need some modifications to run a hack, maybe. It's also in poor shape or old, otherwise it wouldn't be cheap. Same with the car. It might have (like mine) a design flaw that needs to be corrected. And as Jay says, you should have a brake on the car. I don't, but I don't think it's too big of a deal. Longer stopping, etc, drive carefully, but as mentioned, if it keeps you out of the hospital one time, it's worth the cash. Urals seem fairly decent to me, but a) they have a fairly small engine and b) the car is too small for my fiancé to fit. (She is 6'4".) I did almost buy one, though, the modern ones are pretty reliable, if not quite up to competitor's standards, they're also not up to their pricing. They are also, AFAIK, the only current manufacturer offering bikes with sidecars. You cannot go to any national dealer for any other sidecar, I think. Not that it's a bad thing, some of the independent companies are fantastic, it's just they can only be in one place. (They do work with local dealers- it's not like you can't have Jay do a rig for a local dealer and they'd both be standing behind if there's trouble, they do this all the time.)

Lots of things to consider here. First, you ask about a Ural. There are many post on this and other forums such as that cover the pro's and cons of the Ural I a lot more depth then I care to. I like to say that Ural's are real fun toys never to be confused with transportation. As to buying an already set up rig, this can be a great way to go or a nightmare depending on what it is and how it is set up. Do not assume that if it was "professionally" set up that it was done right. There are many companies out there that should not be doing any sidecar work. Several of the importers of sidecars will let pretty much any one be a dealer for their products and once a dealer technically they are now "professionals" even if your sidecar is the first and perhaps only sidecar they have ever assembled. Many of these companies have no idea how well a sidecar should work and more often then not are installing sidecars designed for small bikes onto far to large of bike for safety. Bottom line with these if the price seems to good, more then likely there is a reason. You get what you pay for. If you are thinking of going this route read the safer wholesale post. Setting up your own rig could also be a good way to go, this way you get what you want not what some one else wanted. If you go this route either have a company do it that does know what they are doing or do it your self. If you want to do it your self off my companies web site are links to three video's. The first tells you about us. The next two show the entire installation of our Tomahawk SE onto an Indian Roadmaster. While the specifics will be different for you (unless of course you are doing an Indian) the concepts are exactly the same. It is really fairly straight forward as long as you go with a sidecar and company that is supplying proper bike specific mounting hardware not a bunch of "universal" clamps that they tell you will "fit" your bike. Does your wife now have a bike? If not the most important thing about choosing a bike is to find one that "speaks" to her. If she does not like the bike in the first place while adding a sidecar might help you are already starting off on a bad footing. When we went to buy my wife's first bike about 30 years ago now we went to a dealer that had two bikes that interested us. A BMW /2 which already had sidecar mounts from the factory and suspension (earls fork) designed for sidecar. It was the bike I wanted to buy for her, it made the most sense. So she still has the Moto Guzzi Eldorado that was parked next to it at the same price. The Guzzi Spoke to her, the BMW does not. So now 30 years on she still rides a Moto Guzzi and when we go to Moto Guzzi club events, I am still riding a BMW as the BMW speaks to me, the Guzzi her. The BMW would have never been the "right" bike for her. Next important thing about choosing a bike is unless you can get it to a company such as ours, Claude's (freedom sidecars) or a few others around the county make sure that proper sidecar mounts are made for it. Next thing to think about as long as you are looking for a bike is does any one make steering modifications for it? And last if you are going to rack up a lot of miles can an automotive tire be put on the rear? If buying a bike you may as well make it as easy as possible to make it into a great sidecar bike. Also, many women who in general are not as tall as men think that they need to make sure to get a bike that they can hold up, I.E. put their feet down at stops. With the sidecar this simply does not matter. My wife is a tad over 5 feet tall. She rode my last BMW R1200GSA which was a new 2014 before I had a chance. We finished it up, she hopped on it and took it out for the first ride while I was still putting my gear on.
Another thing to consider, how and where are you going to ride. If it is long distance touring, rule out the Ural. Are you saying on pavement or going off pavement? Highway use or round town? One rig you can set up your self more or less on the "cheap" that will do EVERTY thing you ask of it adequately but not really all that well would be to go with a Kawasaki KLR 650 with the Sputnik sidecar we offer. You can get good KLR's in the $2500-3500 range used (new for not a whole lot more) and the Sputnik complete with mounts is only $3495. Once she out grows it (assuming she ever does) you can usually recover most if not all of what you spent to assemble the rig. I usually keep one or two around (none now) for my employee's to play with and learn on before I allow them to ride the expensive rigs.
If you do go used feel free to contact me before you even go look at the rig. Some rigs simply are not safe and are expensive to make safe. If you are going for a used sidecars same holds true.
I also recommend you both take a sidecar class and also buy and read the book "Driving a sidecar outfit" by David Hough. We offer it off of our web site
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

First off I want to thank all of you for the replys. I really appreciate it.

Let me share some stuff about myself and my wife. I am 72 and my wife is 70. I am 5' 11" at 210 lbs and my wife is 5'4" at 125 lbs. I am in good shape and health. My wife walks with a cane and falls over (balence problems). We live in Denver, CO.

I rode and owned several motorcycles in the past. I sold them and did not ride for several years. About 5 years ago I bought a 50cc scooter to ride (it is fun). My wife does not ride solo. She loves to go with me though.

What we would like to do is go for short rides up into the mountains. Not nesessarily offroading. I have watched tons of videos and read lots and lots of information on sidecars.

In a couple of days I am going for a refresher course on motorcycle riding. In Colorado if you get an endorsement for a motorcycle you can ride anything. But, if you get an endorsement for a three wheeler you can not legally ride a 2 wheel motorcycle. I wish to do both. Which does not rule out taking a 3-wheel class at a later date.

I used to do a lot of mechanical work on cars. Now I only do a little bit of mechanical work.

I was looking at the Ural because it seemed like a fairly good product, although a bit high in price. I read up on them a lot, and the owners seemed happy for the most part. I saw some used ones listed that I am not sure if they are a good deal or not. We have 2 Ural dealers in Colorado and one is about 45 mins from my house. I have not gone to look at them yet though.

Jay, you seem to have some great sidecars. I would just have to get a bike to go with one. I was wondering if the KLR 650 would have enough power for the mountains with the wife in the hack. We have some steep grades and strong winds here. I mean the side roads and not the highways. But then I am sure that you have been to Colorado and know what I am talking about.

Also would it be ok to post links to some of the ones that I think might be ok to buy?

Thanks again for all the help. I am grateful.

Jay is correct about "professional". My intent was to recommend one look at rigs set up by Jay or Claude or some of the hack manufacturers or other gurus here. If you find something interesting to you, post it here and or AdvRiders to get knowledgable opinions. Just me, but for riding the Rockies I'd want something larger. Lots of older Wing rigs around.

Some thoughts on this, First your wife needs to be able to get in and out of the sidecar. Some sidecars are very hard to get in and out of. The Ural is easy as it has a cut down side and a step built into the frame. We also have sidecars with steps in the side and cut down sides. We have sidecars that I would not recommend for you like our classic as you must step over the side and slide down in. If she can not get in and out easy, she will not want to go for a ride. The Sputnik is also fairly easy to get in and out of as the front tips up and it has a step in the side.
The KLR never has an over abundance of power but the Ural is only 100cc larger and a lot heavier as such the KLR / Sputnik rig will be faster. As to head winds and altitude if you want to be able to pass you would need a very large bike. However this is a toy and you are more then likely only out for a day joy ride. If there are strong head winds you will not want to be out riding in them any ways as head winds no matter the bike beat you up and wear you down. Altitude in Colorado you can not get away from however you also do not need to be able to pass everything on the road either, you are out for a joy ride, not in a rush so if on some of the long hills you have to drop in behind a semi and go slow, at the end of the day you more then likely will not have been on the road much longer then if you had the power to pass them and you may have seen more of the scenery by going slower. Years ago we had friends who took a trip to Alaska together, the couple that had a Harley would end up waiting for the other couple who had a Honda CB750A (automatic and SLOW) they had a heavy sidecar and were towing a trailer. When they would meet back up the couple with the Honda would ask if they had seen this or that, More often then not they had totally missed things as they flew right by. Bigger is not always better. This is a toy, smaller light weight bikes can be a lot of fun and go places you would not want to take a big heavy bike. If you did not say you were looking to go for short rides up into the mountains and instead were telling me you wanted to go on long distance rides then the answers would be totally different. I like the KLR as they are fairly cheap, reliable, lots of aftermarket parts for them and do pretty much every thing you ask of them. They do not do anything all that great, but they do every thing. They are kind like the Swiss army knife of bikes. Like the knife there are a lot of better knifes on the market for specific duties but little that does as much. The KLR is also light enough with an up right seating position and wider bars that most people do not modify the steering (we do make a leading link front end for these) As to the Sputnik sidecar, they are not great sidecars. What they are, are great sidecars FOR THE MONEY. they like the KLR do everything "OK" but nothing great. They are also cheap enough that should the time come to sell you are not going to take a huge hit on price. The KLR Sputnik would give you a chance for not a whole lot of money to see how you are actually using the motorcycle sidecar rather then how you think you are going to use it. It could turn out in a year or two that you have figured out that you want to go a totally different way but at least at that point you will know for sure your needs.
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

I like Jay's point about making sure the lady can get in & out easily. Probably not happening with my Velorex & tall lady with hip trouble. I got the sidecar before the lady, though, so it's kind of going to get finished. If she likes the idea but hates the access, maybe I'll talk to Jay sooner than I thought. Maybe he'll take a trade on a beater rig, sounds like he needs one for his people not to beat on his good rigs. 😉

Anyhow, the lady ain't happy, ain't no one happy, make sure the lady is happy. 🙂

Hey Bud, if you want a nice solid rig (not real tippy) just for paved roads but with enough ooomph to handle Colorado passes, and you want a good deal that you won't lose money on if you decide to sell it, and you have $8500, and no garage space problems, and you want a sidecar that's easy for your wife to get into and out of, take a look at the 2004 Goldwing rig for sale right now down in Pueblo on Craigslist. It actually looks like a really good deal.