USCA Sidecar Forum

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Preferred Tug... V-Twin or 4 cyl.

Looking through pics there's lots of make and models of tugs. I realize most serve a purpose or two.
For around town (city and hwy) use which engine do you guys prefer? V-twins or 4 cyl?

I assume an engine which produces high torque at low rpm's is better suited but would like to get ya'lls experienced thoughts.

This should be interesting. As for myself, I have a BMW R1100RT for a tug on one rig, and a Triumph T100 Vertical Twin for the other. BMW is 1100 cc's and the Triumph is 865 cc's. Both are more than capable tugs for riding the back ways or running the interstates. Just my opinion, though.

The type of engine is not really all that important, what is important is that you go with a bike that speaks to you. However, in general I prefer a bike that does not rely on just air cooling, I also prefer a shaft drive bike and a bike that I can run an automotive tire or one that there is an automotive wheel made for the rear. I also think finding a bike that mounts are made for as well as steering modifications are made for. In the end, engine configuration is one of the least important considerations.
Jay G
DMC sidecars
http://www.dmcsidecars.com
866-638-1793

Jay G DMC sidecars www.dmcsidecars.com 15616 Carbonado South Prairie RD Buckley WA 98321 866-638-1793 Hours Monday - Thursday 6-4:30

Jay makes some excellent points. For me, before I even consider a tug, it has to have the right ergonomics for my body. If the bike doesn't fit, no reason to have it on the list.

Thanks guys, the bikes in question are a Kawasaki KZ1000p and Shadow Sabre 1100. Both fit nicely.
The Kaw has more horsepower than the Shadow but the Shadow seems to have lots of stump pulling torque.

Why chose? Do 2 sidecar rigs. Have lots of fun..

Hey Sal, My gut says the V twin, and here is why: The V twin has long been the choice to tug a sidecar for the low end torque, climbing ability and the ability to motor down through town in top gear at low speed, then just roll it on outta there using the aforesaid low end grunt. I may be biased because one of my sidecars is an '81 H-D FLH that comes from a long line of progenitors going back to 1911, and they all were perfectly suited for yeoman service pulling that hack. Your Shadow 1100 would be perfect for the job.
Your question is not new. Post world war II Watsonian designed a flathead V twin specifically for sidecar duty utilizing a 996cc J.A.P engine. One prototype was built. I have a wonderful reprint of an article titled "BIG VEE TWINS FOR SIDECARRING?", reprinted from the February 1955 issue of The Motorcycle magazine in the UK. The magazine it is in is the winter '94 HACK'D. I love the article and have enjoyed reading it several times over the last few months.

Thanks, I had never looked at it that way... tugs built from the factory were v-twins. Love the straight Jap 4 bangers so it makes it a hard decision.

As of now I'm just cleaning and sorting out the chair. Needs lots of tlc so it'll be a while before putting them together. Thanks

The Honda has both pipes right next to the passenger's head. Some passengers might hate that. But if well-muffled, or you don't plan to ride much with a monkey, not an issue. Both bikes have tubular frames that would provide good attachment points for your struts. The Honda has a seat height that's 3 inches lower. If the pros and cons are running 50/50, I'd choose the Honda. The lower seat height results in a lower center of gravity making the outfit more stable in both left and right turns.

Wow! I like this thread! It's one of those Ford/Chevy, Harley/Honda questions! But, hey, what's wrong with a straight six bike??? I'm pulling my Terraplane with a '84 Kawasaki Voyager 1300 six. This is my second 1300 six rig and I love them. As many have said, the bike had better fit the rider to start with. I really like what Jay said, too, about availability of equipment, for neophytes, but in my case, there are NO mounts available for my 32 year old bike/sidecar combo, nor for the fork mods for the bike, so one has to make up their own.
The 1300 six cylinder engine has way more than enough torque and HP to do the job easily, slow or high-speed. What I like the best is how smooth it is at any rpm, with absolutely no vibrations found in most big twin thumpers at slower speeds. To me, at least four cylinders, or a good opposed twin, four or six is the way to go, AS LONG AS THE BIKE FEELS GOOD TO YOU!
Drone makes a great point about where the pipes are located, too! Gotta seriously consider the comfort of the monkey if you want them to keep riding with you! Blow their ear drums out and they won't hear you next time you ask them to ride! Drone's point about center of gravity is also important for heavier bikes in right turns, too!
Sal, you do have a hard decision to make! I'm not a v-twin fan at all, and really like the Kwak fours and sixes, so I would go with the Kwak based on the Honda's vibrations and right-side pipes. Both have more than sufficient power and torque.

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