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Sidecar build for HAITI - builders please chime in


Hi all

I have run a nonprofit in Haiti for a couple of years now and and here is the plan. It may sound crazy, but sidecars could be extremely useful there. The roads are (they eat tires for breakfast), accessing remote areas is almost impossible, 4x4's are a fortune and gas is over $6 a gallon. A motorbike and sidecar could be VERY useful to many of us there. Here's a few things to consider:

1. The largest bike that could be functionally used is a 200-250cc. NO LARGER. A dual-purpose would be ideal. Hondas, Kawasaki's etc are available from the DR (Dominican Republic) but are expensive to import. There ARE Chinese models available in Haiti to buy. This is a better alternative as they are relatively inexpensive ($1,500), parts are readily available and the local mechanics know how to fix them.

2. I could easily forsee building several there. And that is key, they would need to be built IN Haiti. This way we could support the local economy in buying what we need there. Also, the welders, mechanics etc are very talented there and work cheap. Again, I'd rather they get the work and money.

3. Sidecars needed>> to use for mobile clinic; use for mobile emergency water filtration; ambulance; portable educational center.

4. From the little I know about fabricating, it would need to be very lightweight to attach to a 250# 250cc bike. I'm guessing around 80#, no more than 100 #. And it would need to be able to carry at least (1) 200# person. Would aluminum be the best medium to work with?

The idea is simple. Use a single frame, wheel setup. From there, top it off with whatever it will be used for.

I have about $1,500 budget for a protege. I also own a 2005 Kawasaki KLR250 that I will sacrifice for testing. In the end, I am looking to be able to put a Chines bike and sidecar together for less than $3,000 each. It can be done because like I said, the bikes are around $1,500 new.

I have some sketches with ideas I can post here, also some photos. If I do will you guys take a look at them? Do you know of any fabricators in the NY/NJ/PA area?

Thanks. I'll put the sketches up in a couple of hours

PS. I am sure you will want info from me. I will be in Haiti the end of Feb. I can find out answers then. For example, get pics and measurements from the bikes there, find out what materials a readily available, talk to welders, etc. If I have a list of things to do, I will get them done

In the sidecars for sale section look at the ad for the ROKON unit and the ad for the off road car from Lonnie. Also any of the red menace pictures of his off road units. Max

So here's what I'm talking about below. A few things to consider are:

1. Road conditions are atrocious in Haiti. Imagine the worst road you know then multiply it by 100. You guys who have been to Iraq know what I mean.

2. Its rainy and wet there almost all year long. Things rust quick

3. The storage area and 5 gallon gas can are mandatory. In rural Haiti, even if there is someone to help you, there are no parts. You need to be able to carry an extra tire, tools, essential parts on board.

4. Lightweight, innovative sidecars are very popular in the Philippines. See examples>>

5. Buying and importing is not an option. Way too expensive here and also expensive to ship.

6. These are 3rd world sidecars. They need to be safe, but certainly not high end. Also, the bike and sidecar will most likely never do over 40 MPH

Attached files

Here in the big island of Hawaii, the single most commonly seen motorcycle vehicle is the Honda Ruckus.
It is only 50cc but it is very rugged. They are used even on the ROUGH back roads to get to unknown beaches.
They only have a top speed of 35MPH but on an island that is acceptable. I suspect that as poor condition as Haitian roads are, that might be an intelligent speed anyway. Locals have ingenious ways of carrying cargo on these things and they get about 100 miles to the gallon. For your stated purpose and going for extreme economy and ruggedness, I would suggest an engine power unit from one of the Chinese manufacturers of scooters in a frame made by your local talent using large fat scooter tires like the Ruckus. I would suggest 200 to 250cc and a variable ratio torque drive such as are common to modern scooters. I would suggest making the sidecar frame integral to the scooter and not detachable. This would make it stronger while allowing it to weigh less. If it is as big as 250cc, it should be geared for about 55 MPH top end. With a variable drive this would give good bottom torque for rough off road situations. Include a strong pad eye welded to the front of the frame where a come along or block and tackle could be hooked for extreme mud rescue.
A cargo box sidecar could have an accessory seat if desired.
The Honda 250cc Ruckus would be perfect except it is no longer made and was too expensive. Google up a photo of the 2006 Honda 250cc Ruckus called the Big Ruckus. You will see the perfect design for what you are trying to do.
Do not try to fabricate out of aluminum. Use steel. sidecars are subject to shocks and vibration on rugged roads and aluminum would not last.
I have had ten sidecars in my life and built half of them myself so I have some experience to draw from.

finaly I found the page
lets go on;) 🙂 😉

Thanks for the info on the Ruckus, but as others have suggested, these are not available in Haiti and way too expensive. The smart way is to buy what's available locally where parts are also available. I agree about steel vs aluminum. We can get steel cheap in Haiti and can powdercoat cheap as well.
The kind of info I need is:
1. What tubing is easier to work with, round or square? (I'm guessing square)
2. What size is sufficiently strong yet keeps the weight down? 1 1/4", 1 1/2". What gauge?
3. Where can I get info on wheels, wheel assemblies?
4. Is a spring system better than using a shock?
etc etc etc
I can't believe no manual exists for this basic stuff?
PS Check your inbox above

Those who continue building sidecars have put years of investigation into their projects. (example Hans in D,Herzberg invested 2 1/2 years development into a simple subframe with pushed swing for a MZ sidecar that would counterarrest the right pulling forces as he raises the load)
You cannot blame them when they want to get some back payment for their work.
By the way each project is so diferent that you cannot make a of the shelf solution at all. And a welder who does not have the proper preperation will build you something that might kill persons easily!
Don't ask how I know.

Peter Pan - 1/15/2011 7:31 PM

Those who continue building sidecars have put years of investigation into their projects. (example Hans in D,Herzberg invested 2 1/2 years development into a simple subframe with pushed swing for a MZ sidecar that would counterarrest the right pulling forces as he raises the load)
You cannot blame them when they want to get some back payment for their work.
By the way each project is so diferent that you cannot make a of the shelf solution at all. And a welder who does not have the proper preperation will build you something that might kill persons easily!
Don't ask how I know.

You are correct in most of the above but the guy from Haiti wants to build a light weight 35MPH machine.
At those speeds much of what would be critical on a conventional sidecar could well be superflous to a rugged low speed low power machine.
I would go for the Kiss principle in this case. Keep it simple stupid, meaning simple to build , simple to maintain, low enough speed so that an operator need not be highly skilled to drive it. Note that I have never heard of a fatality from one of those two wheel drive Rokons . You must admit that with no suspension front or back or on the sidecar wheel, the potential for disaster would seem great. However at the reduced velocities that the Rokon is operated at allows easy recovery from errors of the pilot.
BTW there is at least one Honda Ruckus 50cc machine carrying a sidecar in the Kona Hawaii area. I doubt that a lot of technology went into building his unit.



I understand what you are saying but again, this is not about building high performance sidecars. Safe? Yes, but just like Philonius mentions, they need to be simple and efficient. We are talking about functional machines here. If you look below, I have included sidecar pics from the Philippines and Thailand, two places where sidecars are used extensively for daily use. There is even a guy who sells them on eBay for $1400 including shipping from the Philippines to NY.

Haiti is extremely mountainous and the roads are treacherous. In this situation, its a matter of function over form. They don't need to be pretty, or built to go 70 MPH. They WILL break there. They need to be simple so they can be easily fixed and cheap to produce. Rarely will you be going 40MPH. In fact the Chinese bikes there are geared low for the terrain.

I am continuing to do research on design and have found an experienced sidecar and trailer builder in my area. I also have recruited the help of an experienced welder instructor from my local community college. Maybe we can come up with a KISS design. In fact, last night, the discussion was on pull behind trailers vs sidecars. This way we can use any bike available as long as it can pull the trailer and still keep the bike free for other uses. It's a thought.

Check out the pictures below. I love their simplicity and ingenuity. I guarantee none of these cost more than $1,000 to buy.

Check out the rebar being used to attach the bikes. Now THAT'S homegrown ingenuity, using easily available products. Maybe I need to make a trip to the Phillipines and Thailand and do some homework...

Attached files

The Honda Supercup style bikes like the first of your photos and the replicas which were inspired by NSU Fox and Quickly are extremely tough and handy with their semi automatic gearbox.. Myself I had the oportunity to ride a rental one for a couple of weeks in 88. My rig was/is the first in our area after many years. A baker saw it 6 years ago and made up a "side car" for his Vespa. its ugly, week and insane, but it helps him to sell his product.... all what counts for him. long the police will not stop him.
Look up the rules for design in the manuals you find in the download section. they are not very detailed, but give a hint. For removable couplings I would recommend you to take a bunch of piston rod spherical eyes in your suitcase. Excellent wheel bases are the square tube rubber filled trailer axles. that way you achive a progressive suspension which helps to limit the stress on the can be sure they will over load the s/c frecuently!!!.
Good quality tools are more important then parts!
My tip machinery bottoum taps and die sets (with a flute to push out the chip through the front) the together with molibden threading oil are a good investment. Best and affordable choice Butterfield
Drills made out of Cobald sawblades and circular saw out of Bimetal from Banko (Sandvik).
Get you some Inverters (Pricemart 120$ for 1500W and 400$ for 3000W 120VAC out of a truck battery)

3rd world welders (like the Nica "Machine inventors") often are very nasty and seem to have the hobby to destroy important parts and functions like welding directly a bearing!
So teaching is a must but will cause you gray hair...more then you have allready...

You ask why I know? Tomorrow I will step into a technical college internat run by some spanish priests, where I passed since 1998 fixing the tool machinery. the inteligent electricians spoiled again a dozend lathes and several mills....
20 years trying to achive technology transfer taught me the tough way that there is a 500 year old culture that spoiled peoples brain and only VERY FEW personos are willing to learn in deed.
That is the worst task to find exacltly these 0,1-0,3 percent. In a 4 million country I found 10 Persons in 20 years. Each one has his own shop. The rest was lost efford.

God bless your intentions and may give you better results then to me or my friend's church mission in Puerto Principe.