USCA Sidecar Forum


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Towing a trailer with sidecar rig.

I have a Valkyrie with a (new to me) Motorvation sidecar attached. I'm new to the sidecar world. When riding on two wheels only, I've often towed a Piggybacker trailer on trips covering several thousand miles with my wife on the back of the bike, and am very comfortable towing a trailer.

QUESTION: Is it safe to tow the trailer hooked up to the same hitch on the motorcycle (once I'm well practiced on handling the sidecar setup without the trailer)? Are there other things I should be aware of when towing a trailer with a sidecar rig?

Many tow this way with no problems except the extra width of the outfit on narrow roads. Towing from the inside rail of the sidecar makes for a much more compact outfit.
Where it really matters is when towing a wide camping trailer.

I've repaired a few rigs that went off the road in the mountain twisties due to excessive width. It was either that or take on an oncoming vehicle.
In no case was there an injury except to the sidecar rig.

Northwest Sidecars

I have been wondering about the same thing. I pull a home made trailer made from a Harbor Freight trailer kit behind my GL1100. I'm getting ready to install a 91 Hitchhiker rig that already has a trailer bar built onto it's inside rail.

Now what I'm wondering about is the extra stress the trailer will put on the sidecar rigging and how much extra side pull it will place on the bike.

I plan on trying it both ways to see which one handles better.

I still tow directly behind the bike after originally thinking I'd move the hitch to the center of the rig. I don't see any reasonable way to do that with the Liberty. My cargo trailer is fairly narrow and I sold the Kwik Kamp pop up tent trailer as part of the means to buy the Liberty. I've had no problems at all...

Attached files

Yea, i have a friend in Ft. Worth that has a hack and pulls a trailer. He also pulls the trailer the normal way right behind the bike. Besides, I don't have to re-wire for the trailer when I'm already going to have to do some re-wiring for the sidecar lights.

If you want you can modify the beam of the trailer and make it in S form. So you keep your original hook behind the bike's back wheel but the trailer will run straight behind the full setup. This way the space you occupy on the road is just the space of the normal rig. On windy roads your gas consume will appreciate it too. If it helps on less right pull I am pretty sure, but have no personal experience to confirm it.

PS: damn it, I should be programming a PLC right now ... or fix my sidecar's seat... Outside its grey , but no rain yet. I'd love to be scratching mountain serpentines somewhere hidden behind the clouds, in stead of sitting in the office

I pull directly behind the bike.It makes more cents to me to keep the forces of the trailor inline with the power source so as not to add anymore pushing and pulling off to the right side,not to mention the extra stress on the mounts.

I have no problem whatsoever doing this,Its almost to easy to forget the trailor is there.
I can park the whole rig easily in a standard parking space,spin it all around,pull up to any awkward gas pump,easily run at highway speed(although I prefer 2 lanes) and when on a trip, never unhook and leave it behind,thats where I keep my lunch.LOL

It is also a harbor freight frame,But I have narrowed it 7 inchs when I built it.

Attached files

I've done it both ways, but prefe it between the bike and sidecar. This is especially important in inclement weather or on bad roads. Centering the trailer puts it's wheels in line behind the bike and sidecar wheel. That way you have only two tracks to straddle obstacles and potholes.

My current rig pulls the trailer behind the bike. I did this because my camper is narrower than the saddlebags on the bike, so I saw no reason to build a new hitch. I was wrong.

I leave four distinct tracks in the snow. The only way I avoid anything is by changing lanes, which isn't always possible.

This topic is also one where there is no one correct answer. But why should it? Everything about a sidecar and its operation is one of delicate compromise so why should this be anything else? There are pros and cons for each. I had a 100o Laverda 3C with Watsonian GP - a typical rig. I pulled the trailer, actually, a small Sears auto trailer of 300 pounds capacity on the inner rail just at the rear of the wraparound frame. That was a very convenient place. As for the extra load, I mounted a fifth strut from just behind the ball directly to the main frame near the upper left rear strut. This made for a very solid rig and there was no movement between the sidecar and the bike. On one occasion I pulled a load of hot ashphalt in the trailer - about 1050 pounds. Was resurfacing my driveway and did not want to get the rear of the car messed up. Braking and startup was a trifle sqirly but the Laverda had lots of grunt.

One additional good factor when pulling from the inner rail - you are pulling from a line about in the center of gravity of the sidecar rig to the center of gravity of the trailer, in addition to reduced overall width - a big factor if one has a H-D with H-D Ultra and a full width trailer. Also, the trailer, pulling from the center of the rig, tends to keep the entire rig more stable on those dreaded righthanders.

At the USCA we once devoted several issues to this problem. As I recall, there were almost as many who pulled from directly behind the bike as there were pulled from the center of the rig.

Hal Kendall