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Old 14-01-2005, 04:18 PM
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dozer dozer is offline
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Default Sidecar alignment

Hi.does anyone here have a formula for aligning a sidecar up.
is far as i know i dosent go on dead straight, and is highly critical.
Any help would be appriceated.

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Old 14-01-2005, 06:03 PM
Blackjack Blackjack is offline
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There isn't a "formula" as such, at least not as far as I know.

But there here is a quick rundown.

Lead. This is the amount that the sidecar wheel is in front of the rear wheel, this varies according to the wheelbase of the bike and the width of the side car. Start out with about 10 to 12 inches.

Lean Out. This is the amount the bike leans away from the sidecar. Measured in degrees, the object is that when on a typical road camber the bike itself is vertical. Back in the 1930's roads used to have more camber than they do these days (mostly because they were narrower) so the sort of lean out you find suggested in ancient motor cycle mags isn't what you use these days. Try about 2 degrees, or set it up on the road out side your house using a sprit level to set the bike level while the chair is "down" the camber.

Toe In. This is the amont the front of the sidecar wheel points in towards the bike. What this does is to make the outfit want to turn right (assuming you have a left hand chair), and the idea is to set it so that the tendency to turn right balances the tendency to turn left caused by the drag of the sidecar.Easiest way to measure this is with two straight edges, one set under the sidecar and parallel to the bikes wheels (like you were checking wheel alignment) and the othe parallel to the first one and just touching the rear of the sidecar wheel (in the interest of accuracy its best to raise them off the floor to as near the axle height of the sidecar wheel as possible). Then you can measure the gap at the front of the wheel which is the toe in. The amount is going to depend on the size of wheel you have , but for a 15" wheel about a 1/4" should do for a start, for smaller wheels rduce it accordingly (i.e. 10" wheel probably about 1/8")

Bolt it all up and push it round in a left handed circle on full steering lock. The side car wheel shouldn't start turning backwards, if it does you need more lead. If the wheel keeps turning forward you might want to try it with less lead.

From there you road test it, what you're looking for is that is goes in a straight line when travelling at a stedy speed. They always want to turn left under acceleration and they always want to turn right under braking (unless you have a working sidecar brake. This is also pretty much how you get it to go round a corner......). If the bike feels like its leaning to one side or the other and pulls to one side or the other, try adjusting the leanout first. If you are a particulary big boned individual then you might want to see if the shock preload can be adjusted up before tinkering with the fittings.

If the bike feels upright and the suspension isn't sagging loads but it still pulls then its time to alter the toe in. If the outfit pulls to the left, then more toe in is usually the answer, if it pulls to the right less toe in should reduce it.

Aside from the actual setting up of the chair, a square section side car front tyre, and a fork brace are worthwhile additions. The whole plot now weighs quite a lot more so stiffer springs are indicated. And sidecars seem to prefer shorter trail than solos.

All that aside, sidecars are completely horrible to ride. My experience is that there is no happy medium and the whole thing depends on personal taste. If you've never ridden one before and you find that it feels really unsafe to you, this isn't necessarily because you've set it up wrong (they all feel like that to me). Try and find someone who rides them regularly and get their opinion. I can ride a sidecar with the sidecar wheel in the air going in a straight line or round in a circle (either way), slide one and doughnut one, I've built a few and set a few up. I won't ride one on the road though.

Last thing, if you do decide that it's for you, and you're using bolt on fittings make sure you check them for tightness at least once a week and every time you crash. The cast clamps have a bit of a habit of breaking in half in the event of an impact, or if they're fitted under too much stress. This completely fucks up all your careful setting up.

And there really needs to be FOUR fixing points.

Anything else you want to know, feel free to ask.
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Old 14-01-2005, 09:41 PM
johnr johnr is offline
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Default chairs

firstly, though theres a lot of truth in the above, the fact is that though a badly set up combo handles like a wheelbarrow of wet cement, a well set up, outfit is effortless to ride, ive ridden a hardtail chop with springer forks and it was like doing 90mph on a bmx , but that doesnt mean all solos or all chops dont handle. if you go to www.sidecars.org.uk thats the site of the federation of sidecar clubs, and there are links to sites giving details on how to fit and setup a combo. as for lean out, its got nothing to do with the roads camber, its all about making the outfit run straight and turn well. my last outfit had steeering so light that i had to fit two steering dampers to slow it down as you could change direction by looking the wrong wa. most well setup outfits will handle great if they are ridden corectly. remember outfit riding is nothing at all like riding a solo, its a knack, and outfits are often dismissed as crazy and unmanagable by people who have tried and not managed it, you know what they say about a bad workman and his tools. ive ridden outfits on the roads for donkeys years, both here and in europe, and i can honestly say they are an absolute hoot to ride, the ecret to good stable handling is the forks, anything with large chair or over say, 500cc, really needs leading link forks to make the most of its performance, square tyres on the back are a good idea, mainly cos they are putting more rubber on the road, so last longer, as for th front, ins no matter, an ordinary bike tyre is as good, after all, you are turning the wheeland a flat section will rend to run up onto an edge, so to speak, when you turn. any probs, email me and i will send you my tel number, so you can bell me, they really arent that intimidating. as a footnote, i usually use five fixing points, and always weld mine to the bike, after bracing its frame, nt used clamps for years, never had a failure either.
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Old 15-01-2005, 01:37 AM
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Sir Ewok Sir Ewok is offline
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Rode outfits many years ago as an impoverished apprentice and mostof mine had a tendancy to want to turn left. i could ride my outfit with two fingers, my mate who's M21 I bought and fitted a chair to couldn't ride it without getting into a tank slapper. Problem is most peeps fight too hard and overcompensate for the drag (though as johnr pointed out, should be minimal on a well set up outfit) and most old bikes came with a steering damper as standard. Loved my outfits and did some amazing things with them including having the swan-neck collapse at 75mph, riding home with a roller skate under a collapsed sidecar wheel and doing a right hand 'U' turn on two wheels and the nose of the sidecar.

If you fancy an outfit, go for it, but don't be discouraged. Persevere and you will be rewarded with an experience you will never forget.
Been riding for 40 years and my arse is really sore
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Old 15-01-2005, 11:39 AM
Blackjack Blackjack is offline
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Wonderful for you Johnr.

HOWEVER, I worked for Wasp for quite a few years and may possibly know a thing or two about setting sidecars up as well as building and repairing them. Probably fair to say I might know a bit about leading link forks too.

If you recall Wasp have built moto cross, grasstrack, road and ice racing outfits. And won a few world and national championships with them as well as having customers for road going sidecars and leading link forks in Germany, Japan, America, and Australia.

And incidentally, I believe if you troll through that site you gave a link to you'll find it stated in at least one place that lean out IS related to the camber of the road surface. Don't confuse WHAT it does with WHY it does it.

As for riding the things, my opinion is my opinion and was only offered as such. But any vehicle that requires a completely different technique to negotiate right hand bends than it does to negotiate a left hand one is seriously flawed, if you find that fun then fair enough. The point however is that I've heard way too many stories about people crashing sidecars the first time they rode one to advise someone to approach it with anything other than caution. For every enthusiast you'll find there are at least an equal number of people who tried it and gave it up, vowing never to try it again. While you're right about leading link forks and well set up outfits being completely different to ride, there is a huge amount of expense involved in building the ultimate outfit. Which is a bit of a bummer if you do all that and find that, like me, you detest riding them.

You're right about welding the mounts to the frame but equally you have to be careful about where and how you weld them. Once a person has decided they like sidecars then it's the way to go. But for someone to venture into it, a bolt up arrangement offers the possibility of removing the abomination once they've realised what a horrendous concept it is. The advice I offered was intended for someone who was just setting up their first sidecar and presumably didn't want to spend the kind of money that a set of leading links and car wheels would involve, let alone an integrated centre hub chassis. As I said a lot of it is subjective, but I have to point out that most people who are starting out find a sidecar tyre on the front an improvement over a motorcycle type one in myexperience, whereas most "hardcore" sidecarists would prefer to have car type wheels and tyres.

I fully appreciate that some people like sidecars, but on the other hand some people get their kicks by jumping out of perfectly good airplanes (which is something else that doesn't appeal to me).
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