Saturday, August 3, 2013

Shiny and Flashy

The sidecar had a very stiff coil over shock and I could put all my weight on the sidecar frame and maybe get a little movement on the suspension. I don't know what they planned for you to carry in the sidecar with that stiff spring. This is a Progressive coil over shock that was one of two on the rear of my airhead until I returned from my California trip last summer. I noticed that one of the shocks had leaked a lot of oil so I took both of them off and put the original equipment shocks back on. This is the remaining good shock and it fit with a little bit of monkeying around and a trip to the hardware store. The length is 1" longer than the original but with the weight of the sidecar on it, the length is identical and the car frame is still level. I can now easily flex the sidecar suspension and maybe tomorrow, I'll try it with a passenger. The spring on this one is readily adjustable for additional weight and is on the lightest setting right now.

Handling is different with it especially noticable on left turns. On right turns, I need to shift weight more aggresively as the sidecar feels lighter. I think that the stiff suspension made the rig much easier to learn on as I can now easily lift the sidecar wheel. Time for more parking lot practice.

At the MOA rally in Salem, OR, I picked up a farkle. These are Skene Designs visibility lights marketed as the Photon Blaster. They included replacement hardened bolts for the front caliper and are pretty straight forward to install. They tie into the front turn signals and the brake light. When the bike is running, they flicker but only in your peripheral vision. When looking at them straight on, you don't see any flickering. They also flash with the turn signals and if you tap the brake twice within one second, they both flash very brightly with some pattern designed to attract attention for about two seconds. With normal braking, they don't do anything. I've been looking at these for a couple of years but was somewhat put off by the cost. Now that I'm riding more often in the dark (think winter), they seem like a good investment in visibility. Of course, the texting driver still won't see them.


redlegsrides said...

interesting, RichardM, how the shock change induces easier lifting of the tub, very interesting.

more ballast until you get used to it?

you do have a pretty light sidecar for your tug.

I wonder if going to the heavier preloads makes any difference?

RichardM said...

I think that in a right turn, the sidecar suspension "unloads" with the wheel still touching the ground, the bike leans to the left. At the limit of suspension travel when the sidecar wheel lifts, the bike is leaning more to the left than it is with a stiff suspension on the sidecar. Increasing the preload would eliminate this after releveling the sidecar due the higher ride height.

What do you think?

Trobairitz said...

Visibility is always a good investment.

Cool that you get to fly the sidecar more easily, but maybe that isn't a good thing.

redlegsrides said...

RichardM, I believe you're right in your thinking of what's going on.

Due to the "lightness" of the sidecar, not sure that lessening your leanout will help much though might be worth a shot before you resort to more ballast.

The key safety point remains, learn to drive the rig without "extra" ballast. My "ballast" is all the tools/spares one carries as a URAL rider. :)

RichardM said...

No "extra" ballast right now. With the scissors jack, extra sidecar specific tools (larger wrenches) and the spare tubes, the little trunc compartment is pretty full. No other ballast at this point.

The sidecar weight is over 1/3 the wet weight of the bike and according to the DMC specs, outweighs the M72D by about 40 pounds. So it isn't as light as it looks like it should.

RichardM said...

I think that visibility is improved even during the day. I was originally looiking for LED lights that I could mount to the forks but this may be a better option. If the number of waves I've been getting from buses and trucks is any indication, it may have helped visibility.

VStar Lady said...

Richard your mechanical talent continues to amaze me. The more visible lights sound like a good idea though I can't quite visualize them or exactly how they work, but sounds like the bus drivers see them so they must work.

RichardM said...

When I first saw the lights a couple of years ago, I wasn't sure whether or not it was a gimmick or not. But the flickering does seem to attract attention. Their web site has a video of what it they look like when running. I had installed blinking brake lights about four years ago and I still get comments from drivers at stop lights about how easy they are to see.

Unknown said...

Hi Sir, i have a cozy sidecar like yours! I am looking to change the shock on it.
Can tou give me the exact model you put there?


RichardM said...

The shock pictured here is a Progressive shock for a twin shock BMW airhead. I don't know the specific part as it was something that I found lying around. It was much softer springing than the stock Cozy spring over shock.