Posted 5/27/2016 7:34 AM (#89273) Subject: Help with setup / reason for crash
I have a Velorex I put on a Shadow. I had a real bad experience, and unless I figure out exactly what I did wrong, I am selling the sidecar and probably never getting another, done for good. I would appreciate any help figuring out what happened, and advice to fix the problem. I've been looking for local pros who might help, but the closest I can find is three states away. I don't mind paying for help or parts, but throwing parts and money at the thing without knowing if the problem will be fixed is not going to happen.
Problem: While going down the E-way at a high rate of speed (probably about 75mph), I changed lanes to the right while in or just entering a slight right curve. There was a slight 'canyon' at the white line, you know those 3" wide, 2" or 3" deep cracks they try to fill with crack seal, but never get all the way. The rear end of the bike tried to come around on me. I think I over steered to correct, but the bike starting fishtailing. I had a horrible time with it, swerving through 2+ lanes, eventually going over the curb, shoulder, up the embankment, and finally slowing it enough to regain control and bring it safely to a halt on the shoulder. The sidecar axle was bent (I'm thinking from curbing it but might be from the sideways trip up the hill). The mounts were still rock-solid, nothing seemed a tad changed except the axle, and the forward part of the frame was covered with grass and dirt, so it dipped down pretty low. Which doesn't surprise me much, I was trying like hell to bury that sucker to China, I was looking at turf on my left that seemed only 6" away from my face.
Setup: This is a pretty standard Velorex 526 (I think, you guys know better than me but it looks right). It does not have brakes. It's on a pretty standard 2007 VT1100C Shadow Spirit. The few things I know are questionable are the short space for the lower rear mount. There just isn't anywhere to hook that sucker with a swingarm, so it's not much farther back than the front mount, maybe a foot or 18". The toe in, lean out, wheel lead, car level, all seem pretty good. I went with several sources, including ones from here, and the only stat that might be debatable is the wheel lead. I got anywhere from 7" to 9", IIRC, and set it at 8", which was the most often recommended distance, as well as being right in the middle of all other choices. It ran nicely after tweaking it a dozen times. Tracked straight, no hard steering, I thought it was just wonderful. I started with a lot of ballast, at the time of this incident, I had 50#. New tire, probably around 100 miles. The notorious slipping rear mount was welded on. To get the front upper over the exhaust, the link was extended by adding a piece in the middle. It is pretty much in the same place, just a more shallow angle to reach a bit higher on the frame. The welding was done by a pro, and is better than good. I am thinking if I do get the rig going again, I am going to change to the larger diameter axle Velorex makes, or have my millwright build me one. His welds are better than theirs, the steel I get would probably be better, and I think all I really need to do is weld a threaded piece of bar stock on the old swingarm, and change the bearings in the wheel.
So- I have no clue what made me suddenly lose it on the E-way. I do a lot of riding to work, and was planning on taking the sidecar in the winter. That thing at high speed scares the crap out of me, now. My buddy tells me don't even bother trying to get it back on the road, you survived once, you might not do so again. Anyone have any help they can offer? Also, after that part, am I right about the axle swap? Velorex makes a 25mm, I think I have a 15mm, but I can go as big as the bearings I find if I have my guy make one. If I can find the right set, 50mm isn't out of the question, I'll guarantee my axle will not bend again.
Posted 5/27/2016 11:54 AM (#89275 - in reply to #89273) Subject: Re: Help with setup / reason for crash
We would never consider putting any Velorex on your bike, stronger axle or not. I can not say what happened in your crash, it might of been mechanical, it might have been your lack of experience. I recommend when ever possible taking a S/tep class http://evergreenmotorcycletraining.org/ If you can not get the book "diving a sidecar outfit" by David Hough ( we sell it as does white horse press) and reading the book and doing the exercises.
I also recommend changing to a sidecar that from day one was designed for a bike as large as yours rather then a sidecar originally designed for a 350cc bike and adapted or "up" graded for a larger bike. And never use "universal" type mounts. Proper mounts move the mounting points further apart then the main frame would other wise allow. I do not know what happened but a mount slipping in the middle of your trying to recover from what is going on is the last thing you need. Mounts that are to close together are not as stiff and as such can flex and in effect change your alignment. A stronger axle is only moving the weak point in the system to some place else, you still have a way to light duty chassis and to soft of a shock/spring. And last "no brake" I feel that when ever possible it is best to have a brake on the sidecar, I have said it other places as well, it is irresponsible for a company to offer either no brake on the sidecar or a brake that can not readily work with modern disk brake bikes if the sidecar is intended to be mounted on modern disk brake bikes. Of course I also feel that it is irresponsible to be selling "universal" type mounts as the only mounting option. When we sell a sidecar with "universal" mounts (about once ever 5 years or so) we tell people that they are a good starting point only and work with them on designing proper mounts long distance.
I hope you will give sidecaring another try, I hope you will get training and l hope you will go with a more appropriate sidecar as offered by most of the made in USA manufactures.
Safety must always come first! I often turn down sales to people for better mounting hardware for their Velorex sidecars if I do not feel that the Velorex is a safe match for their bike. When we do have a Velorex in our shop at this link you can see how we "fix" them. http://www.dmcsidecars.com/the-result-of-improper-sidecar-mounting-...
Posted 5/27/2016 12:12 PM (#89276 - in reply to #89273) Subject: Re: Help with setup / reason for crash
Location: Columbiaville, MI.
I am certainly not a expert, and am not qualified to try to figure out what happened, but it looks to me, it is possible that the sidecar axle may have bent when you crossed the grove in the pavement. It sounds like that is where you control problems started, if that is really the case a heavier, stronger axle may be the answer. If you would like to keep the rig, and ride it safely I think I would take it 3 states away to have it looked at and safely mounted, if only for my peace of mind, and hope that I could ride it without worry. There are enough dangers and threats that we have no control over, without riding with a hazard that we can control. Good luck with it.
Posted 5/29/2016 10:44 AM (#89295 - in reply to #89273) Subject: Re: Help with setup / reason for crash
Location: Houston Tx
Get with Lonnie Cook (forum member). He has a replacement axle for the 15mm Velorex axle that uses a trailer wheel.
Folks that have used them seem to be very satisfied and it looks good also. Besides Lonnie is very easy to deal with and a nice guy.
Posted 5/29/2016 1:49 PM (#89296 - in reply to #89273) Subject: Re: Help with setup / reason for crash
Location: Boise, Idaho
Thank you, Sal.
I have mounted Velorex sidecars to many 1100cc Shadows with no adverse feedback as long as the Shadows have been around.
I recommend using my proprietary bolt on HD swing-arm conversion (with 1" axle) on the early Velorex cars that have the 15mm axle to support the larger cruiser bikes and keep from wallowing in the turns and bottoming out.
The late Doug Bingham (Mr. Sidecar, who passed last January) also made a similar conversion. To my knowledge we were the only vendors of this conversion. I sell mine for $300. including US shipping, Doug got a little more for his.
FYI: Velorex does not make a 25mm axle.
The lower two pix are of my personal Harley 1200cc FX Sport Convertible with early 562 Velorex (Bigger and heavier than an 1100 Shadow).
Posted 5/31/2016 1:48 PM (#89312 - in reply to #89273) Subject: Re: Help with setup / reason for crash
Dear Jay at DMC,
Several years ago you sold me a mount for BMW R80 RT. I failed several times to mount my Velorex. The pictures and instructions show my bike and mount, but the mount you sent is totally different. It lines up on the bottom of the bike frame, but the upper rear has no mount. The piece that's supposed to tie the two sides of the together do not fit at all. I believe this mount is for a GS 80. I've complained about this before and got no resolution.
Posted 6/1/2016 11:07 AM (#89323 - in reply to #89273) Subject: Re: Help with setup / reason for crash
We have several different versions of this mount, if you contacted us with photo's there is no doubt we would have come up with a fix at the time, more then likely we would not have had it sitting on the shelve but should be able to make it. It is just a matter of figuring out which frame your bike has in the rear which is year dependent and depends on if it is a dual or single rear shock RT.
Posted 6/6/2016 7:49 PM (#89394 - in reply to #89296) Subject: Re: Help with setup / reason for crash
Thanks, Lonnie, I just wanted to let the others know I did get with you privately and you're giving me some good ideas. Wish I knew what caused 'the incident', but it sure sounds like no one has ever had that happen to them. I'm going with the guy who sold it to me, curbed it, bent the axle, then straightened it and sold it to me. I think the axle might have suddenly bent before the problem, not after. That would give it all sorts of strange steering, especially doing 70+ !!