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right turns

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I am very new to sidecar driving, about a month, and am still a little scared of the right twisties in Pa. I have 50 lbs of ballast weight in the sidecar and have not lifted it so far, but they still have me worried. I have been reading all sorts of articles on the subject on what to do if the wheel lifts, but still am not sure if i really understand what to do. Can any of you tell me what is the proper thing to do and counteract if this ever happens? I know one of these days it will happen and i want to do the right thing and not cause serious harm to me or the bike, so give me all the info i will need to be prepared.

Lawrence Goldfarb has reacted to this post.
Lawrence Goldfarb

when I started I went to a parking lot and did right hand circles till I could lift the wheel. After practicing this I got a feel for it and became confident that I would not freak out when it happens on the road. Really it is kinda fun, enjoy it

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Lawrence Goldfarb

Tom, thanks for the reply, but i would like to know what to do if this happens at like 50 mph and what happens when the rig comes back down, does it go to the right or left?

First if you can, take a class we also offer the book "Driving a sidecar outfit" by David Hough $34.95 This will answer questions you do not even know to ask.
You have not said what bike and sidecar you have, How it is set up can have a lot of effect on how it rides. Ballast is fine if the sidecar is strong enough for your bike with a strong enough suspension, wheel and shock however often people will put way to light duty of a sidecar on a bike, mount it narrow and then add ballast. This often provides you with a rig that is some what less then safe. You should be able to stand on the left foot peg, grab the handle bar and lean back and by bouncing should not be able to get the sidecar to come up more then an inch or two. If it comes up easy then your sidecar is not heavy enough or in some cases wide enough.
Jay G
DMC sidecars

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Lawrence Goldfarb
Jay G DMC sidecars 15616 Carbonado South Prairie RD Buckley WA 98321 866-638-1793 Hours Monday - Thursday 6-4:30

My ride is a 2014 Harley Heritage softail with a Texas Ranger sidecar. I will try standing on my floorboard and grabbing the handlebar thing and see what happens. I also hope to get a lot more info at the rally at Corning NY next month as i will be there Friday and Saturday.

captdan - 6/26/2017 11:11 AM

Tom, thanks for the reply, but i would like to know what to do if this happens at like 50 mph and what happens when the rig comes back down, does it go to the right or left?

Slow down and or go left a little. Practice on empty parking lot slow and then faster. Have ballast in sidecar.

I am not an expert, and have never taken a class. However, I had a few miles of parking lot/side street riding before I bought a rig in Phoenix and rode it home to Minneapolis. There were two occasions when the car lifted unexpectedly on that ride. The first time was on a twisty mountain road with no shoulders, or room for maneuver. no sight line to see if anyone was coming the other way. The car lifted a foot or so as I made my right turn. I held my line through the turn but shifted my weight, like I would have with my two wheels, leaning far out over the sidecar, right foot firmly on the footboard, (peg). My weight shift brought the car down slowly as I exited the turn. Speed control: I made no abrupt change, but held a constant speed. (at least that is what I remember during the intense event)

The second was as I was negotiating a roundabout. The sidecar wheel rode over an angled curb as I clipped the right hand apex exiting during the right hand turn. The wheel lifted and I used the same weight transfer move ,but less pronounced, than I used the first time.

Since, I have been carefully trying to lift the car (In safe conditions) and have found that the pronounced left hand turn maneuver does not immediately bring the car down, but certainly moves the rig into the oncoming traffic lane. It all seems counter intuitive, but it has worked so far.

I also look forward to talking to more experienced riders, and I hope to get to the rally in Corning. Perhaps more knowledgeable opinions will weigh in here. for reference: the rig was an old Wing with a California I sidecar with 2 40# bags of sand for ballast. I currently ride without ballast.


2014 CB1100 Std, 2000 ST1100 with DMC Classic, 1981 CB650C

I have 50lbs. of ballast in the tub now and it seems to be doing the job. My wife and i never plan on placing a live person in our rigs, but we are going to place some mannequins in them and dress them up with crazy wild outfits, for fun. I will also try to get the rig weighed and see if the balance is correct at the Corning rally. Thanks for the response and ride safe. I still get a little worried about those right twisty turns here in Pa. and take them right at the speed limit, but as soon as i get back to my home in Fl. i will feel better and can get the much needed driving time.

captdan - 6/26/2017 3:22 PM

My ride is a 2014 Harley Heritage softail with a Texas Ranger sidecar. I will try standing on my floorboard and grabbing the handlebar....

Captdan, my first sidecar was a Texas Ranger mounted on an 883R Sportster. I started out with 75 lbs ballast in the car, dropping to 50 lbs after ±500 miles. After another ±500 miles and a S/TEP class, I dropped the ballast to 25 lbs. I tried no ballast, but the sidecar was just too light for safe operation, particularly evasive maneuvers at 45+mph. I eventually mounted a 25 lb weight to the floor behind the seat which, along with ±15 lbs of tools, became the base ballast. The rig would often lift the sidecar in right corners, but typically handled most curves well at up to 5 mph over the yellow sign as long as I used appropriate driver weight transfer (plus a little trail breaking). The whole rig rode smoother and generally traveled better with an extra 100+lbs in the sidecar, such as passenger or dog & travel gear. The young lady that owns the rig now often puts a 50lb bag of sand in the seat simply because it rig is more settled on the road, with less "bounce."

Harley's are typically geared "tall" such that lowering the gear ratios can be beneficial. For example, we installed a one-tooth smaller front pulley on the 883R, but it's generally easier to change the the primary sprockets on a big twin. Also, the modified triple trees for sidecar/trike duty not only ease steering effort, but help eliminate the handlebar moving from when the sidecar wheel encountering imperfections in the road - making the rig much less tiring to ride. We installed 5-degree triple trees from Hawg Halters with excellent results. When operated within its proper limits, the 883R/Ranger combination became a great rig:

Paula let me ride the rig again at the recent East Texas Sidecar Muster.

Lee / Summer Grove, Louisiana: Ural cT, CJ750, Burgman/Texas Ranger, Zuma 50F, MB5, TW200, CRF250L, GTV300

In my 25 years of sidecar driving I find weight transfer to the sidecar does little to nothing if the sidecar is already airborne. To me this weight transfer technique is only valuable to keep the sidecar wheel from lifting in the first place.
Steering should remain constant, any steering changes or weight transfer may do more to upset the outfit. Speed should remain constant or slightly reduced and the attitude of the sidecar should remain up until the turn is completed.
Then utter a little prayer if you were going in really HOT.

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