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Sidecar for "occasional" use -- practicality?

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I'm interested in getting a sidecar. I plan to take the S/TEP class first to be sure and to get some skills. I'm a good rider and I'm sure I can pick up the substantial differences in how to pilot a sidecar.

I'm mostly interested in taking my dogs and/or grandkids for rides OCCASIONALLY -- Like maybe once or twice per month in the good weather. Of course I might ultimately like sidecar so much that I'll use it a whole lot more for camping or whatever.

I want to still have a solo bike and I can't really afford a solo bike PLUS a dedicated sidecar rig. A lot of folks say that it isn't really practical to convert between solo and sidecar on an "as needed" basis. Apparently this is based on:

1. Time and effort to mount/dismount the sidecar and get it set up properly each time.
2. Built in assumption that the tug will NEED to be modified in ways that make it unsuitable for solo use.

...is this really true? I've seen a post from ONE person who said that they did indeed use their sidecar in this "convertable" fashion and it wasn't too bad.

Any comments, especially from experience, would be welcomed.

Thanks!

Depending upon which tug and sidecar you use, there are different ways to approach the occasional use setup.
We mount many sidecars without needing modifications to the bike that render it unusable without the sidecar. Sportbikes and touring dressers almost always need sub-frames and mods that make the bike not all that practical for solo riding. Mainly due to ground clearance problems.
A naked cruiser bike or vintage middleweight is a good choice for an on and off tug.

Lonnie
Northwest Sidecars

The biggest alteration I have ever done to the motorcycle is the installation of a rear car tire, but that doesn't stop you from riding on two wheels. For years, I rode to work every day on two wheels, then mounted the sidecar every weekend.

Here is copy of an old post on how I do it;

*********

It varies a lot from sidecar to sidecar and from bike to bike. If you make sure all mounts are straight up and down, making all bolts horizontal., you'll find you can remove it in about ten minutes and reinstall in maybe twice that. The big thing is to get it down to a sequence that you do the same each time.
I start by raising the sidecar and placing a dolly under the tire.

This allows me to move it away from the bike at 90 degrees. Next I mount something under the left frame of the sidecar. It can be another dolly, or a set of home made casters. In the case of my current car, I got a set of these when I bought it.

Once these are clamped on, I unplug my wiring, pull the two top strut bolts, lean the bike over on it's sidestand, and pull the bottom two.

Now I can roll the sidecar straight away from the bike and roll it straight back in to the mounts without disturbing any adjustments. As an added plus, now I can roll it out of my way or move it around at will.

You'll probably find that as time goes on you won't remove it nearly as often as you think. When my son was small, I would mount it every Thursday after work. That allowed us to load up and leave for the campground when I got home Friday. Then on Sunday night I'd drop it for my daily commute. Then I started to leave it on for a day or two so I could haul groceries or tools or garage sale treasures. Pretty soon, I discovered that I prefer to ride with the sidecar. Now I only pull it off if I need to service the bike and want it up on my lift table.

Hack'n - 1/13/2011 12:48 PM

A naked cruiser bike or vintage middleweight is a good choice for an on and off tug.

Lonnie
Northwest Sidecars

Thanks. I'm close to replacing my current bike (650 V-Strom) with a Yamaha Star 1300. Sounds like that bike would be reasonable for this purpose.

SidecarMike - 1/13/2011 2:04 PM

You'll probably find that as time goes on you won't remove it nearly as often as you think.  When my son was small, I would mount it every Thursday after work.  That allowed us to load up and leave for the campground when I got home Friday.  Then on Sunday night I'd drop it for my daily commute.  Then I started to leave it on for a day or two so I could haul groceries or tools or garage sale treasures.  Pretty soon, I discovered that I prefer to ride with the sidecar.  Now I only pull it off if I need to service the bike and want it up on my lift table.

 

 

I'm guessing that you are correct, but this sort of "stepwise transition" is more my style than "big bang"

...all of this is good news so far. I need to get the new bike "sorted out" and get some miles on it. Then I plan to take the S/TEP course. After that, I'll be looking to add a sidecar

You are in the same place as most of us when we start. At first you think to take it off an put it back. Then end up having one side car rig + one single bike... then you double it... then you .....

If you must have a two wheel machine, and would like a sidecar, It is my opinion, (based on 45 years experience) that you need two machines.
Without even going into the modification that make a rig safer and more managable, there is a serious safety consideration. When a machine is used with a sidecar, the tires take on a different wear pattern that usually makes them slightly asymetrical and less than safe for two wheel use. If you take a sidecar off a bike, you should put new tires on it for 2 wheel use. This alone is reason for owning two machines, more so if you modify the steering in any way.
Either have a rig or have a two wheeler, or have both as separate machines. Do not expect to be happy switching one machine back and forth.

Phelonius

Bryan -- Like the others I got a hack that could be mounted to my GS or left off so I'd still have the two-wheeled option. And like many others it hasn't come off yet. I now have a pair of 07 R1200GSes, one with a hack and the other without. It really is the best way to go!

BryanD - 1/13/2011 10:56 AM

...is this really true? I've seen a post from ONE person who said that they did indeed use their sidecar in this "convertable" fashion and it wasn't too bad.

Any comments, especially from experience, would be welcomed.

Thanks!

I took mine on and off a few times. My plan was same as yours above. I wanted to have my cake and eat it too.

In the end I bought a second bike for solo and keep the hack hooked up all the time. It's just too much trouble ... IMO.

On the bright side, drive the hack is fun as can be, even when empty, and now I have a perfect excuse to own a second bike.

two bikes are the best bet.and with the economy the way it is you can find a bike with a sidecar for a decent price.toys go first .

horrorguy - 1/24/2011 4:14 PM two bikes are the best bet.and with the economy the way it is you can find a bike with a sidecar for a decent price.toys go first .

Of course, that's also the reason a lot of us don't have multiple motorcycles. 🙂

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