Saturday, January 5, 2013

"The silliest thing I've ever seen"

+9°F, it seems like it's warm enough to try out the sidecar. I had borrowed a snow machine trailer from a colleague from the university. I had brought it home a couple of days ago but thought it would be better to wait until the weekend before trying it out for the first time. Yesterday evening, I double checked the alignment with the help of my son. I used a string stretched between a couple of jack stands and just barely not touching the rear tire about 4" off the ground to get a line between the front and rear tires for toe in. With him sitting on the bike, I checked the sidecar level in both axis and the lean out using the rear brake disc. My wife, Bridget, provided the pictures and the video at the end of the post (as well as comic relief).
Once we put down the ramp, we realized that the ramp was narrower than the rig by a couple of inches. After a little bit of thought, I removed the ballast to lighten the sidecar and my two sons supported the weight while I used the engine to move the bike up the ramp. This worked out just fine though images from Funniest Home Videos came to mind.
Once it was on the trailer, it was a simple task to tie it down. The trailer itself was pretty nice with plenty of tie down points. Plus I was only planning on taking it down to the church parking lot less than a mile away. That seemed reasonable for this first venture out.
After unloading using the same technique and just using the clutch to control the speed down the ramp, I put the ballast back in the sidecar and started to do loops around the parking lot. Left turns around the center cones, right turns around the center cones, figure eights starting left, figure eights starting right, circles left, circles right, braking in a straight line, then increasing speed and fairly hard braking before the turns both right and left. The sidecar never felt light and pulled to the right while accelerating and pulled to the left when slowing down as expected.
There are two parking lots and the road running in front was straight and relatively clear of snow so I went down the road a couple of times between the lots getting up to about 40mph. No shaking in the steering was evident though I did have the stock steering damper turned up all the way. I can see why many modify the steering as you get a real upper body workout steering. I think that it'll be fine for now and still don't plan on modifying the steering. With the rear sport bike tire, it was really easy to break the rear end free when turning and drifting around a corner was a new experience for me.




After circling the parking lot and running down the short section of road for 1½ hours, I rode to the University museum and headed back home. I think that this would be a great time to figure out what is wrong with the heated grips as my right hand was pretty cold by the time I got home. The temperature had dropped to -6°F by then. I rode home to avoid the task of getting the bike back up onto the trailer. Even when cruising at 50mph, there was no evidence of vibration in the steering and it pulled slightly to the left so I need to adjust the lean slightly. I think that this was a very successful first ride and now need to work on the lights, all of the bike maintenance that I haven't done yet, some painting and get a better rear tire such as the IRC TR-1 motorcycle trials tire.
If you listened to the whole video, you can hear my wife's assessment of this activity and the title that she accidentally recorded.

34 comments:

  1. Richard,

    Great to see the first test although your wife's comments after riding in what you describe as a "warm" 9 deg F does leaving me shaking my head in admiration!

    I may have missed it in a previous post, but has your wife agreed to be a sidecar passenger???

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    1. No, you haven't missed anything. I don't think that she has ever agreed to be a sidecar passenger. My right hand was the only part of me that was cold after all of the riding around. I think it's because of the constant pressure in your palm as you hold the throttle.

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  2. Richard, first - way to go Bridget for standing out in the cold while hubby practices tight turns with a side car, and for naming the post! Looked like you were really trying to lean ... I always thought it would be more like riding an ATV - all steering. I find the ATV requires too much upper body strength for me, but you had a smile on your face!
    I had trouble with the streaming of your video through the blog - so went direct to YouTube, which was okay - got to see the moose and zero G as well.

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    1. It is more like riding an ATV except quite a bit of leaning is required since the sidecar is on one side so it's necessary to move your body to move the center of gravity. Especially with right turns. Also, no counter steering. If you want to turn right, you need to muscle the bars to the right.

      I'll look into what's wrong with the video.I think that this is only the third video I've ever posted..

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  3. Richard,
    Way to go! It sounds like a very successful first voyage. And, remember, it is this sort of silliness that keeps you vital.
    ~k

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  4. Oh, and I really like the last photo.

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    1. What silliness are you referring to? You don't mean going for a ride at 9°F do you? I'm sure that you would do the same...

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  5. I'm glad things went as well as they did. That had the potential for a "hold my beer and watch this" moment. -6° is a bit too chilly for me to think about riding, even if I could keep it up on the local ice covered roads.
    Have you thought of Heidenau K60 Scout tires? They have quite an aggressive tread pattern.

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    1. It didn't feel too cold until after I've been riding around for a while. I was surprised at the temperature when I was headed back home.

      The front tire is a Hiedenau K60 and I used to have one on the rear as well. It wore out on my trip south and I had to get a new tire in Corvallis, OR. The trials tire has a square cross section so there will be more tread on the road and will, hopefully, last longer. Other riders on Advrider say that the IRC TR-1 is easy to stud if desired.

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  6. Richard, you had a lot more fun yesterday than I did. Agree with Keith, that last photo is a keeper; even with that cold sun in the background, I feel warmth though it will be nice to see both you and rig out in weather more spring-like.

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    1. I had a blast yesterday even though it was a little cold. If my heated grips worked, it would've been difficult to get me to come in out of the cold.

      I think that is the noontime sun. That's about as high as it gets this time of year.

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  7. I nearly choked on my toast laughing when your tires made that very familiar rubbery squeeky sound that snow provides. And then your wife's voice...perfect.

    But it looks like a great idea for snow riding. And fun!

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    1. I heard the familiar squeak last Monday when riding around our driveway and thought it was kinda funny to hear while straddling a motorcycle. The other weird feeling was backing up down a hill after loosing traction.

      After downloading the pictures and video, I showed her the clip and she was surprised that she had said it out loud. Great title...

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  8. Richard, what a great start into the riding season although the temperatures are a tad bit too nippy for my taste.
    +1 on the comment from the wife.

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    1. Thank you! Even after al the time outside, the only part that was cold was my right hand/ I think it's because of the constant pressure on the grip where my left hand was free to move around more.

      I thought the comment fit well.

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  9. How did I miss this posting?!

    Outstanding Richard! Welcome to the collective! C'mon now, it was fun right? BTW +9°F is just fine for sidecaring....once you fix that right side grip of course. :)

    If you get a wobble at low speeds from the front tire, dry decreasing air pressure on that tire.

    Be ready to go through pusher tires....sidecar duties are hard on them.

    Did you manage to get the chair up in the air on the right hand turn exercises?

    dom

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    1. I had a blast. I stopped several times to check the mounting points as I was pretty sure I had tightened all the bolts but am still leery of the two strut mounts on the sidecar. They are remnants from the original Cozy universal mount and look really flimsy compared to all the DMC pieces. I did manage to get the sidecar tire up a few inches (though it felt like a mile) but only after I took out half of the ballast. What usually happened when the turns got tighter is the rear end would break loose and I'd drift through the corners. That was also a lot of fun...

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  10. Meant to also add...pulling to the left usually means too much leanout.

    Yep, it's an upper body workout but you get used to it...they do make mods to make steering easier as well, a bit pricy but its an option. You may want to loosen up the steering damper and see what that does for the feel of turning the wheel.

    Make sure you understand about "hanging a cheek" on the tight right turns!

    Now, get that rig road-worthy and lets see what AK looks like in Winter!

    dom

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    1. The pull to the left is very slight so I was just going to try one turn on the strut at a time. I was pretty sore after all of the parking lot exercises and glad that I could turn off my headlight and power the heated liner instead. I'll try loosening the damper but then again, I was never really sure it worked at all until last summer. On the first notch, it eliminated some shimmy at higher speeds. Yes, I understand about using a lot of body english especially on right turns. Hanging off of the seat and putting most of your weight on the right peg initially seemed really weird for right turns.

      They told me that the tire would take a couple of weeks and I'm headed out of town at the end of the week. I was actually getting ready to take things apart again as I need to pull the rear wheel off. That seems like a good opportunity for doing the transmission input shaft spline lube and replacing the rear brake pads.

      And I still need to find turn signals for the sidecar as it only has a running light, tail light and brake light.

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    2. FWIW, I use the turn signals on my Suzuki Tug for the front right turn signal....the rear right turn signal is taken care of by the dmc sidecar's lights.

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    3. The sidecar has a tail/brake light on the rear fender and a marker light on the top of the fender. I just thought it may be confusing to have the turn signals still on the motorcycle. I can't relocate the actual lights from the motorcycle to the sidecar as the rear is a single unit for both sides and the front is part of the faring.

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    4. On the V-Strom, you can see the right hand turn signals from the side as the light is located higher than the sidecar...I could rewire things so that the sidecar's front marker light functioned as turn signal but I've my doubts as to its visibility by others.

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  11. Very Cool Richard!!! I want one! I am going to have to keep working on my hubby.

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    1. Originally, I was just thinking of a sidecar as a Fall/Spring riding solution but I'm thinking that it'll be on for more than that....

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  12. I was curious about that, wondering how you'd decide when to have the car attached.

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    1. I never really considered a sidecar until I started reading of Dom's adventures and experiences in CO. I suspect that the bike will be more economical without the sidecar but not sure if it would be worth removing and reinstalling it due to seasons. It's only four bolts but will also require switching tires. Plus, I need to learn how to pilot this new toy... The closest sidecar training is in WA and I just read that there will be training offered at the MOA rally in Salem.

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  13. I've only piloted one once, for maybe 10 miles when our local dealer gave demo rides at a SE MN BMW Rally. It was a new Ural and I enjoyed everything about the ride. As mentioned before, my garage is really missing a sidecar rig and something will have to be done about it.

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    1. That was more than me. I had never even ridden in one before let alone driven one. This is a completely new experience for me.

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  14. The silliest thing is a can am . Hacks have a long tradition. Read Theresa Wallach' s Rugged Road. Two women (not lesbians) a sidecar in colonial Africa. Your hat will be off.

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    1. I'll look for the book, thank you for the recommendation. I do wonder why I haven't seen too many Can-Am Spyders around here. If you stud the tires, it should do fine....

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  15. So cool that we got to see the sidecar in action. Did you have fun?

    I liked your wife's giggle as she was calling it silly. It made the video.

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    1. I had a blast. At first I was concerned that maybe I forgot to tighten a bolt somewhere or that the alignment was way off. It was a blast to be able to slide around corners on the loose snow. The first venture on the paved road was also a little dicey due to the slick rear tire.

      She still can't believe that she had left the camera recording...

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  16. Good for you, Richard! :)

    And you know - the silliest thing someone has ever seen is quite an admirable feat. Well done, good sir!

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    1. Thank you! Still a little more assembly required. This evening, I'm pulling the carbs and going to rebuild them tomorrow...

      Thank you for stopping by and commenting.

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