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New to Sidecars - Advice?

Hello All,

I am interested in getting a sidecar rig, and would really appreciate some of your advice. First off, I currently ride a BMW R1150R. I really love the bike. However, my wife and daughter would really like to share my hobby with me, and I would like to share it with them as well. My daughter cannot reach the rear pegs anyway, and I still wouldn't put her on the back for a few more years yet even if she could reach them. Also, it would be nice if all three of us could ride together.

So, I'm trying to figure out the best way to start. I would, ideally, like to buy a less expensive rig, either already built or doing the work my self. My problem is that I am not sure what bikes would make a good starter bike for getting into sidecars. Also, I would like to keep a solo bike if at possible as well, but I still want to keep my overall costs down (relatively). So I would like your thoughts on the following:
1. Which bike(s) & sidecar combos make good choices for starting out? (Note: This would start out only as a couple hours at a time, at most, on back country roads. No highway travel.
2. Would it make sense to try to get a sidecar for the R1150R and remove it when I want to ride solo? I know that there are problems with that, and I have yet to see a sidecar on an 1150R.
3. If I do two bikes, would I be better selling the 1150R and getting a nicer rig and a less expensive solo machine OR would I be better keeping the 1150 and getting a less expensive rig?
4. Does anyone have any thoughts, comments, or additional help that might point me in the right direction? 🙂

Thanks in advance for all your help.


The R1150R is a great bike! There are a couple of sidecar vendors that aim at the "occasional use" market. One of them is right there in Kentucky - Hannigan - There is another in New Jersey - Armec -

Sidecars can quickly become a big chunck of change!

The USCA National Rally will be in Bean Blossom, Indiana this year - not too far away from you. There will be lots of rigs there to look at and lots of people to talk to about what they think works and doesn't work. check that out at I'll be there with my daughter on our rig.

Check that out at

Good luck - hope to meet you there.


You can switch back-and-forth between a rig and riding the bike solo IF you have two sets of tires for the bike. For simplicity's sake, this probably means two sets of wheels, too. Sidecar use causes tires to take on a flat "square" profile because the rig rids straight-up all the time. Trying to ride solo on "square" tires can be, I've heard, a VERY "white knuckle" experience. Having two sets of tires and wheels is expensive but, I guess, cheaper than two bikes.

Check with Jay at Dauntless Motors for a subframe to attach a car to your bike.


Hi Dan
Steve & Sarge have you going in the right direction, But.
Lets not put the cart before the horse!!
While at you should order the Yellow Book (Driving a Sidecar Outfit) this will guide you through all of the important stuff, before you even hit the road.
This is one of USCA links here, another good source of how to's.
Hal Kendall's books:
Best of Luck, hope to see you on the road Hack'n some where.

Our advice to people like yourself,who want to get their feet wet with sidecaring is: Follow your own ideal: You mentioned either getting an inexpensive rig already setup or setting one up yourself. The second choice is the more rewarding path due to "sweat equity" if you're handy with tools. One can also find an existing "cheapie" and tweak it a bit at a time to suit your needs.
Do not go directly to an expensive dedicated rig using your Beemer as a platform. You may find sidecaring isn't all you expected after a large investment that compromised your usage of the bike as a solo rig.
The on again - off again sidecar is something a lot of people desire at first, but later find it is either on or off, period. It seems like a snap. Fifteen minutes and it's off. Great for dealer maintenance. However, when it's time for that ride, most don't want to take the time to play switchem'. Two separate rides is a lot better way to go.
As for a good starter bike, there are a lot of early 80's Japanese cruisers around for reasonable prices from 650 to 1,000 ccs. These make excellent sidecar platforms. Most have very good front end suspension, adequate brakes, good low end torque, more than adequate horsepower, shaft drive, and some are water cooled (if needed). Parts availability is good. The best part is, these bikes (with conventional double loop tube frames) are quite easily converted to a sidecar tug. Good frame access for the usual four mounting points needed, if a lighter car is used no steering modifications or damper is needed. With a heavier viscosity oil in the front forks and perhaps a small ABS pipe shim on top of the fork springs the front end is pretty solid, just add decent rear shocks (perhaps from a larger bike) and you're good to go with a minimum investment. If you find sidecaring is not for you down the road, there are a lot of folks out there who will take it off your hands and you will probably get all your money back, or maybe even show a profit if you did the work yourself.

Good Luck in your quest,

Lonnie Cook
Northwest Sidecar

We are thinking about a sidecar in the near future. Does anyone have experience or knowledge with the one-wheeled Fleximum?


Hey Dan,
Why not go to a rally where you can take a demo ride with a sidecar before you decide if you want one at all. My husband bought mine because I was dumb enough to ask for something that I knew nothing about because I thought it would be easier than riding with just two wheels. Ha, Ha! Then I had to learn to drive the thing. And drive is what you do, not ride. And it is much more work than riding a two wheeeler. But, if you're not going to be taking long trips with the sidecar and you don't mind a little bit of grunting and sweating, you can take the sidecar off (the easy part) and ride on those flattened tires. If you're not riding with the sidecar much, they won't flatten-out much. My husband and son have often ridden my bike with the car off (and I do ride a lot). Then they have to put it back on for me(the hard part). By the way, I do love my sidecar, but I hated it when I first started riding with it./ My husband and I just spent about 4 days touring around in KY (Pikeville-mostly) with friends from Indiana. Beautiful country!

Originally written by stevewoo on 5/20/2004 10:45 PM

The R1150R is a great bike! (snip) - Armec -

I'm reading this thread with interest, as this winter I'm puting together a rig with my R1150RT. I'm trying to decide what and how. The R1150RT is not a straight forward install for a sidecar, since the motor is part of the frame, and there is a lot of plastic on the bike. As a pilot who has not owned a rig since the early '70's, the Armec Sidewinder looks SCARY! Should a rookie like me even consider such a rig?!? What happens to the rig and the steering when you stop quickly, or accelerate quickly? What happens on a rig like that, on gravel roads, when the bike slips about a little on the gravel? Are flexing rigs actually safe to ride?