USCA Sidecar Forum

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newbie questions...


I am very new to this list, I was delighted to find a sidecar group!
I am starting my quest for a side car rig and have many many questions.
I have ridden different bikes for 30+ years and since for some reason I am not getting younger, more limber or stronger I thought I would look for a unit that will be a bit more forgiving (?) to travel with.
First, is there any training within 6-8 hours of Phoenix? I'd like to learn to do it "right" from the beginning.
I am also thinking I need a bike with reverse, how hard is it to push back a rig (say a 1000 cc size bike) should you foolishly park somewhere that you can't drive out? It seems reverse is only in the Ural and Goldwing.
What is the most stable unit to drive? Can it go highway speeds safely (65-70)?
That's it for the beginning.
Thank you

Welcome to the slightly off-center world of sidecars!

Is your goal to ride blacktop only or would you also like to do some two-tracking? A Goldwing with reverse is a big bike and needs a big car. Not so suitable for off road. A Ural is great off-road, but not as powerful on the interstates. I think you can get some Harley tugs with reverse.

Someone should be along shortly who can advise you on classes. You are wise to learn first!

Lots of great advice can be found on this site. And don't be afraid to ask questions. Pretty friendly group here.

doing some gravel would be good....I have a dual sport now, but honestly I just don't know. From what I've read the Urals look great for that but I don't want to deal with all the maintenance with them and my husband and I tour whenever we can, that's why I was thinking of the Gold wing and just do the dirt on the WeeStrom. I'm really up in the air on this.

katie - 6/9/2014 7:16 PM
doing some gravel would be good....I have a dual sport now, but honestly I just don't know.... I'm really up in the air on this.

Hi katie - Welcome to the offset sidecar universe. I second the suggestion of sidecar training - altho a rig looks like a motorcycle, it sure doesn't drive like a motorcycle.

There are many shapes & sizes of sidecars for many purposes, but among the best all-rounders are the combination of a mid-size (650cc-1000cc) standard bike with a perimeter frame with a properly mounted sidecar., such as the below Triumph rigs from New Mexico, which can travel the highways as well as some unpaved roads. It's better to select a tug that has the mounts, subframe, steering modification, etc. readily available.

Lee Summer Grove, LA R1100GS/CSM Sidecar, Burgman/Texas Ranger, Zuma 50F, MB5, TW200, CRF250L

Most sidecar rigs get by without a reverse gear. They are easier to push backward than a solo bike since you don't have to balance the bike as you move it backward. Just get off and push.
Usually folks with solo bikes, or sidecar rigs, park so they can leave going forward.
With no training sites available, one of the best ways for getting sidecar familiar is to download the books available for free on this site and peruse them for the basics of three wheeling. After choosing your rig, find an unused parking lot and practice, practice, practice the range exercises till you are comfortable with driving it.
For a rig that can keep up with freeway traffic, I would suggest a tug that is around 1 liter (1000cc's).
Freeway touring and off-road work are on two different spectrums of sidecaring. With that in mind you should make your choice of rig one that will work well with what type of driving surfaces you will wish to do most often.
Then what will you be using the hack for will come into play. Passenger or not, a dog?, camping, day tripping, long tours? There are many compromises to consider.
Visiting a sidecar rally is a good way to compare different styles of rigs and most owners are glad to share their experience with others.
Your choice of tug should be one that has good customer support and will need a minimum of maintenance. I've found offerings from Yamaha and Honda seem to have less mechanical problems and some of the best parts availability, especially for older models.
There is no "One best rig" for all purposes.

Good Luck in your quest,

Many others are good tugs but have fewer dealers to choose from on the road if a breakdown occurs.

Hi Katie:
I just looked at the available rigs on ebay. There is quite a selection. They are located all over the country. Lonnie's comments are quite to the point on the subject of reverse. Reverse would be nice but I have riden 70,000 miles on two rigs and have not needed reverse. Of course you have to make sure not to go places that you "have" to back out. I have learned to use gravity when I can. Beyond that my wife is a good reverse.

Your post doesn't indicate where you are located but you should be able to find someone in your area to advise you. There are area directors and representatives in the USCA. Most are more than happy to help in whatever way they can.

Will Short
Rapid City, SD
North Central Director

We started with an '81 GoldWing and currently have a '98 Valkyrie on a Motorvation Formula II LTD sidecar. Neither has reverse. As Lonnie says, try to park so you can roll out, though I've been fooled by parking areas that looked level, or even sloped the opposite way I thought. The Valkyrie handles Interstate Highway speeds very well, but we prefer the 2-lane roads. We were on some pretty great roads in southern Indiana last week.

Thanks for all the input. It sounds like I could do pretty well without reverse, that sure opens up some interesting possibilities.
Has anyone heard of training in the SouthWest? We live in the Phoenix area, very happy to go a bit of distance but don't want to head to the East Coast for this.
What affects stability they most? I'm thinking of for highway it bike weight? car adjustment? combination? My husband is a fantastic mechanic with all our other bikes but is baffled by my desire for a side car...translates to doesn't really care to learn about them. Silly guy. So I'm looking for something that is ready to go not in need of many tweeks.
We both have had very good luck with the V-strom (Suzuki DL 1000) have you seen/heard about these with a car attached?
Thank you

The V-Stroms are quite popular these days for tugs. Mainly for Dual Sport activities. Not the most comfortable touring rig though.

Just figure the most usage you have planned for the rig and go from there.


First and foremost what ever bike you chose make sure that proper mounts are made for it, It would be best to start with a bike that every thing is already developed for. If you are going to do some off pavement riding I would start with a dual sport type bike, If on the other hand you are just riding pavement then a Goldwing works fine. If you are doing a lot of highway driving a heavier bike works out better. You did not say if you are looking for new or used. Like Lonnie said the V stroms' work out well in both the 650cc and the 1000cc size. We offer bike specific mounts and steering modifications for the V strom's there are also photo's on our web site of V Strom rigs. I like running the BMW GS type bikes. In the used market the R1100GS is a great value as it has dropped in price about as far as it is ever going to while the older bikes are going up in value. Some other nice things about the R1100GS is it is one of the least expensive bikes to modify the steering, the parts run only $350. When ever you add a sidecar to a motorcycle you end up with heavy steering unless you modify the front end. You need to move the front wheel forward by about 2 inches, lots of ways to do this, some very expensive some not so much. The BMW having a Telelever front end rather then a standard type fork makes it one of the least expensive bikes around for front end modifications. The R1100 is the least expensive, The R1150GS a bit more ($1000 for the parts) due to a completely different design. The R1200GS is still more complicated to make the parts so it runs $1200 and the new water cooled GS runs $1400 for the parts unless you want to go all out with it in which case we now can even run a BMW GS rear wheel on the front of the new R1200GSA giving you all 3 wheels interchanging. Another issue with sidecars is that they are hard on rear tires, Some bikes you can mount a car tire right on the stock rim, others you need special wheels. For the R1100GS we have an automotive wheel conversion $1295, which is also the price for the R1150GS however the R1200GS the price is only $895, simpler parts to make.
As to reverse, it can be added to some bikes mostly Harley however with the sidecar reverse is much less needed then with out a sidecar as all you have to do is push. With a two wheeled motorcycle most of your effort when backing is making sure that the bike does not fall over. Not an issue with a sidecar, get off an push, not hard to do. You can also coast backwards into parking spots so that you can motor out.
As to training here is a link to the Evergreen safety council which administers the training nation wide
We build 12 different models of sidecars along with bikes specific mounts and would be happy to work with you or just advise you on this.
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