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Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!


Hey Folks;

The day dawned bright and clear, the air redolent with the pleasant fragrance of Burley Tobacco being fired, of burning leaves and soybean dust from fields freshly harvested.

And from that point onward it got more and more ridiculous....

Here's what happened. You see, this beautiful autumn morning, I spent a couple of very enjoyable hours, making final connections and adjustments on my ongoing sidecar project. And by dint of hard work and dedication, doing some cutting here and some welding there, and some grinding over there too, by along about mid-morning I had the frame of my Hannigan sidecar wonderfully and tightly bound to my bike. Ready to go try the thing out!

This is a momentous occasion, for I not only have never ridden in a sidecar, but had in fact have never driven a I started out in my yard, slow speeds, gentle accelerations and assiduous attention to long smooth curves.

Good enough, time for the road. I hit the highway and moseyed on up to 35 or 40 mph with no problem at all (beyond my camber being way off....and coming to the realization that whatever that sidecar wheel hits; bumps, ditches, sody water bottles, dead opossums and so forth, ALWAYS affects the bike in a big way).

So heading on around a nearby curve, a 25 mph curve I routinely take at 50 mph and over on my bike going about 30 mph, the sidecar wheel took off and attempted to go into orbit! What a surprise! What a good thing no one was coming in the other lane....and that the road is uncommonly wide right along there.

So, back to the shop and running around the yard again, proper camber established this time, slower speeds and more careful attention, and just a tiny hit on the throttle....and that bloomin' sidecar frame headed for the sky again, while the bike and I, with sidecar too, headed directly toward the pond. Fortunately, I was able to stop before taking a swim, but singlehandedly backing that rig up and getting turned away from the pond was a real pain.

Ridiculous? Yeah....its ridiculous how fast that right wheel takes to the air. And just as ridiculous how hard it is to hold down on even the most gradual and slow curves.

I expect I'll need to add the body to the frame, maybe Mrs. Sahagan or other appropriate ballast as well....before getting too froggy about hitting the highway for some fast twisties and fun.

Looks like the learning curve on this one is going to be steep, mighty steep....


Definately time to ponder. I'm new to this sidecar thing too. You're one step ahead of me with regard to gettig out there and riding, I'm still trying to get the Vetter coupled to my 85 GL1200A. But in the mean time I've been hitting the books. Try adding ballast(a pair of 50 pound weights or something similar) to get the hang of driving that rig, no point scaring your wife, she may never want to ride with you again. Experience can be a good teacher and practice is a good tool for gaining expereince if its based on sound knowledge.


Hey Rich;

Yeah, its a new and exciting experience, no doubt about that....but one I'm looking forward to getting under my belt. (By the way, love that winger-rich moniker, what'cha gonna name your rig when finished?)

It took me quite a lot of time to get my hookups made. In fact, I designed and re-designed the whole thing a couple of times (my Concours has lots of plastic, and the motor is a stressed member of the frame, making it hard to find good attachment points). Now, I'm going to remove my frame, and all my sub-assemblies and so forth....and paint all my fabricated parts a nice flat black, thereafter to spend the winter getting the body painted and fitted out properly.

I'm hoping to debut my finished outfit on the Dragon's Tail come spring, and then make it to the USCA rally in Indiana the latter part of June. Maybe we'll see you there....if its isn't too far to ride.

I'd appreciate your keeping us posted about the trials and tribulations you run into getting your set-up up to snuff. In my estimation, something like that is MUCH better than reality tv....

Catch you later!


Don't be too hard on yourself! If I read you right, you were running without the body. With just the bare frame, the hack is sure to be too light. Put the body on, throw a little ballast in a try it again. ;^) How did your mounts do? Any movement in the mounts? Did the frame feel nice and stiff? With no body on, the shock was probably much too stiff. You'll still get feedback when the sidecar wheel hits a bump but with more weight, the suspension should work better.Don't give up, you're getting there! It was fun wasn't it?

Am I to understand correctly that you were driving with frame attached, but no sidecar body attached to the frame?

Originally written by kfskmccall on 11/1/2003 10:56 PM

Am I to understand correctly that you were driving with frame attached, but no sidecar body attached to the frame?

Sounds like it to me. The Hannigan frame/wheel assembly weighs only about 90 lbs (i know, i lift it into, and out of the van everytime i need to do some measurements with it in the garage, where the bike resides) so the rig would really be too light weight to be driveable as is. Add the 150 lb body though, and things will balance out much more favorably for solo riding/testing.. the trick is getting the body on, if he's doing it alone 🙂

If you haven't started painting yet, pick up a couple cans of PJ1 Fast Black Wrinkle Finish paint. It's the stuff they use on Harley cylinders. It puts a texture, almost like Rhino lining pickup bed coating. Kind of rubbery so it tends to deflect all those little things that chip regular paint. Either that, or get a quart of "Coal Tar Epoxy" from one of the bigger Marinas. It's the stuff they paint the bottom of barges with. Either one will handle salt and stone chips and shoe scuffs better than standard paint. I buy PJ1 at the NAPA auto parts house for about $6. a can or Harley sells their own brand but it's quite a bit higher. And I agree with Mole, put the body on before you test ride it next time.

Trying to ride without the body on the sidecar is a good example of a really mismatched rig :-0
It is also an example of why ballast may be needed.
Secure a bunch of weight to the sidecar frame if the body isn't ready to be installed and take it easy.
Seriously, as someone else alluded to, you may not want to put any 'live cargo' on board until you have had a chance to practice.

Wow!!! Riding without the sidecar body attached to the frame!!!!! Brave !!!!!!!!! Lets get down to basics here. The unit should weigh about 35% of the bikes weight!!!! TOO light if you have no sidecar body and some ballast especially for a new rider.
You should also attempt practice exercises before going out on the road and as I did as still do on occasions, I drive the road in my car to become familiar with any hazards or dangerous right turns.
I only have several thousand miles under my belt and still get suprised by the unexpected. Practing skils over and over again is fundamental to sidecar driving.
It only takes one mistake! Good Luck !!!! Lenny

Hey Guys!

Thanks for your insightful replies....and I suppose I did choose a bit of a chancy way to get my first introduction to riding a sidecar outfit.

But I felt testing the integrity of my frame connections was imperative before making my final set-up. (Shucks, why be coy? Fact is, I simply couldn't wait! And I loved it!).

Anyhow, the sidecar frame/bike connection is as solid as a rock. Mrs. Sahagan and I both jumped aboard the frame (combined weight of, well, ummmm....quite a good sum) and commenced to jump up and down thereon. Its a funny feeling, seeing the frame and bike responding as a unit, with no apparent flex or slop anywhere in the system. At this point, I'm confident my set-up will be strong enough for pretty much anything I'm liable to throw at it.

I used a couple of square tubes, laid alongside (but raised three or four inches from the floor) both the bike back tire and the sidecar tire....and factored in between 3/8's and 1/2 inch of toe-in. And unless the added weight of the body and passenger contributes a good bit of force, I'd say the steering at this point is almost effortless....that's something I'll find out soon enough though. At any rate, it didn't pull to either side on the highway and so I feel pretty much on line there.

My rig has an electical camber (linear actuator) adjuster, so that's an issue I can take care of as needed and without a lot of fuss. My thanks again to PMDAVE for showing me how to wire it up properly (only two wires, and you change direction of the actuator by altering the polarity).

So now, for the next two or three months I'll be on the bike solo again, as I put the (many) finishing touches to the sidecar body, the interior and the brake system.

Although....I might just take it for one more test ride today before pulling the frame off. Yeah, I can do that!