Shopping for a Sidecar

Shopping for a sidecar to attach to your motorcycle isn't easy. There's just a few manufacturers, and let's face it, sidecars are a small part of the motorcycle business. Good information about sidecars IS hard to come by. If you can find someone near by (say within 300 miles) who sells and installs sidecars, you're lucky. One of the best ways I know to get general information on sidecars is to contact the United Sidecar Association.

USCA, 130 S. Michigan Ave., Villa Park, Il. 60181

The two factors that occur to people when they begin think about sidecars are, PRICE and LOOKS. As far as price is concerned, historically sidecars have run about 30% to 50% the cost of a new motorcycle. If you have a $15,000.00 touring bike, expect to pay anywhere from $4,000 to $7,000.00 for a good sidecar for it. If you start looking at some small imported sidecar that is priced at about $2,000.00 for your Honda GL 1500 or your Harley FLHTC, you're kidding yourself. In fact Harley's factory sidecar for the Ultra Classic is about $6,000.00. Don't buy a cheap, used sidecar and try to get it on your bike with home made hardware to see if you'll like sidecars. I guarantee that if you have a mismatched, ill handling rig, you'll never like sidecars. Safety should always be your main concern in motorcycling, and motorcycle sidecars should be no different.

You wouldn't try to put on the front forks from a Honda 350 on a big Goldwing or Tourglide would you? Of course not, and you should never bolt a sidecar onto your bike using clamps attached to the crash bar. That may sound silly to you, but believe it or not, some manufactures have actually done it this way. I've seen sidecars installed in just those ways, and it makes me shudder every time I hear about that kind of thing. After all you're going to put your wife and kids into the sidecar, and it definitely has to be safe for them, doesn't it? Don't do anything when mounting a sidecar that seems the least bit foolish or marginal. WHEN IN DOUBT, MAKE IT STOUT. That's how we design and build sidecars here at Motorvation Engineering.

Another good way to get information about sidecars is to get out to sidecar rallies and events and talk to sidecar owners. They'll generally be more than happy to share their experiences with you, and you'll find they're a pretty nice bunch of people. Again, The USCA can help here because the SIDECARIST lists sidecar events all over the nation.

A list of questions to ask sidecar owners:

1. Does it continually pull to the right when you add a passenger, ride into a headwind or the road is crowned to the right?

2. Does it lift easily in right hand turns, or do you have to carry extra weight to hold it down.

3. Does the sidecar push the motorcycle to the left under braking?

4. Did you find the mounting instructions you received with the sidecar complete and easy to understand.

5. Can you rest your arms naturally on the sides and is there shoulder space in the sidecar to be comfortable on long rides?

6. Can two kids or Mom and one child fit in the sidecar?

7. Did the company you bought it from return your calls promptly when you tried to get more information or to receive after purchase service from them? (Post sale service is very important)

Of course you want the paint on your sidecar to match, but even more important, you need the engineering of your sidecar matched to your motorcycle. A sidecar rig should have good stability when making right hand turns. To test a rig, just step onto the left peg of the motorcycle, grab the bars and see if you can pull the sidecar up in the air by throwing your weight to the left. If it comes up easily, it's not a good match. The mounting hardware should be designed to take not only normal stresses, but the exceptional pressures developed in hard turning avoidance maneuvers. "Universal mounts" for sidecars can't do the best job. Always make sure the sidecar has mounts designed for your motorcycle. Remember "The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price disappears"

At Motorvation we engineer each motorcycle/sidecar application. We make video tech-tapes each time we mount a sidecar to a bike in a new application. This way we can study what we've done,and show our customers how they can install their Motorvation sidecar correctly (the first time). I hope these tips on Shopping For A Sidecar will make the process easier for you. Thank you and safe riding.

Motorvation Engineering Sidecars and Trailers
941 Fourth Ave.
Sibley IA 51249
712.754.3664 800.305.3664

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