The day dawned bright and clear, the air redolent with the pleasant fragrance of Burley Tobacco being fired, of burning leaves and soybean dust from fields freshly harvested.
And from that point onward it got more and more ridiculous....
Here's what happened. You see, this beautiful autumn morning, I spent a couple of very enjoyable hours, making final connections and adjustments on my ongoing sidecar project. And by dint of hard work and dedication, doing some cutting here and some welding there, and some grinding over there too, by along about mid-morning I had the frame of my Hannigan sidecar wonderfully and tightly bound to my bike. Ready to go try the thing out!
This is a momentous occasion, for I not only have never ridden in a sidecar, but had in fact have never driven a sidecar....so I started out in my yard, slow speeds, gentle accelerations and assiduous attention to long smooth curves.
Good enough, time for the road. I hit the highway and moseyed on up to 35 or 40 mph with no problem at all (beyond my camber being way off....and coming to the realization that whatever that sidecar wheel hits; bumps, ditches, sody water bottles, dead opossums and so forth, ALWAYS affects the bike in a big way).
So heading on around a nearby curve, a 25 mph curve I routinely take at 50 mph and over on my bike solo....now going about 30 mph, the sidecar wheel took off and attempted to go into orbit! What a surprise! What a good thing no one was coming in the other lane....and that the road is uncommonly wide right along there.
So, back to the shop and running around the yard again, proper camber established this time, slower speeds and more careful attention, and just a tiny hit on the throttle....and that bloomin' sidecar frame headed for the sky again, while the bike and I, with sidecar too, headed directly toward the pond. Fortunately, I was able to stop before taking a swim, but singlehandedly backing that rig up and getting turned away from the pond was a real pain.
Ridiculous? Yeah....its ridiculous how fast that right wheel takes to the air. And just as ridiculous how hard it is to hold down on even the most gradual and slow curves.
I expect I'll need to add the body to the frame, maybe Mrs. Sahagan or other appropriate ballast as well....before getting too froggy about hitting the highway for some fast twisties and fun.
Looks like the learning curve on this one is going to be steep, mighty steep....
Posted 11/1/2003 9:41 PM (#1392 - in reply to #1391) Subject: RE: Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!
Definately time to ponder. I'm new to this sidecar thing too. You're one step ahead of me with regard to gettig out there and riding, I'm still trying to get the Vetter coupled to my 85 GL1200A. But in the mean time I've been hitting the books. Try adding ballast(a pair of 50 pound weights or something similar) to get the hang of driving that rig, no point scaring your wife, she may never want to ride with you again. Experience can be a good teacher and practice is a good tool for gaining expereince if its based on sound knowledge.
Edited by Wingerrich 11/1/2003 9:42 PM
Posted 11/1/2003 10:35 PM (#1394 - in reply to #1391) Subject: RE: Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!
Yeah, its a new and exciting experience, no doubt about that....but one I'm looking forward to getting under my belt. (By the way, love that winger-rich moniker, what'cha gonna name your rig when finished?)
It took me quite a lot of time to get my hookups made. In fact, I designed and re-designed the whole thing a couple of times (my Concours has lots of plastic, and the motor is a stressed member of the frame, making it hard to find good attachment points). Now, I'm going to remove my frame, and all my sub-assemblies and so forth....and paint all my fabricated parts a nice flat black, thereafter to spend the winter getting the body painted and fitted out properly.
I'm hoping to debut my finished outfit on the Dragon's Tail come spring, and then make it to the USCA rally in Indiana the latter part of June. Maybe we'll see you there....if its isn't too far to ride.
I'd appreciate your keeping us posted about the trials and tribulations you run into getting your set-up up to snuff. In my estimation, something like that is MUCH better than reality tv....
Catch you later!
Posted 11/1/2003 10:46 PM (#1395 - in reply to #1391) Subject: RE: Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!
Don't be too hard on yourself! If I read you right, you were running without the body. With just the bare frame, the hack is sure to be too light. Put the body on, throw a little ballast in a try it again. ;^) How did your mounts do? Any movement in the mounts? Did the frame feel nice and stiff? With no body on, the shock was probably much too stiff. You'll still get feedback when the sidecar wheel hits a bump but with more weight, the suspension should work better.Don't give up, you're getting there! It was fun wasn't it?
Posted 11/2/2003 12:39 AM (#1398 - in reply to #1397) Subject: RE: Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!
Location: Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Originally written by kfskmccall on 11/1/2003 10:56 PM
Am I to understand correctly that you were driving with frame attached, but no sidecar body attached to the frame?
Sounds like it to me. The Hannigan frame/wheel assembly weighs only about 90 lbs (i know, i lift it into, and out of the van everytime i need to do some measurements with it in the garage, where the bike resides) so the rig would really be too light weight to be driveable as is. Add the 150 lb body though, and things will balance out much more favorably for solo riding/testing.. the trick is getting the body on, if he's doing it alone
Posted 11/2/2003 1:13 AM (#1399 - in reply to #1394) Subject: RE: Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!
Location: Menomonie, Wisconsin USA
If you haven't started painting yet, pick up a couple cans of PJ1 Fast Black Wrinkle Finish paint. It's the stuff they use on Harley cylinders. It puts a texture, almost like Rhino lining pickup bed coating. Kind of rubbery so it tends to deflect all those little things that chip regular paint. Either that, or get a quart of "Coal Tar Epoxy" from one of the bigger Marinas. It's the stuff they paint the bottom of barges with. Either one will handle salt and stone chips and shoe scuffs better than standard paint. I buy PJ1 at the NAPA auto parts house for about $6. a can or Harley sells their own brand but it's quite a bit higher. And I agree with Mole, put the body on before you test ride it next time.
Posted 11/2/2003 7:12 AM (#1400 - in reply to #1391) Subject: RE: Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!
Location: Middleburg, Pa
Trying to ride without the body on the sidecar is a good example of a really mismatched rig :-0
It is also an example of why ballast may be needed.
Secure a bunch of weight to the sidecar frame if the body isn't ready to be installed and take it easy.
Seriously, as someone else alluded to, you may not want to put any 'live cargo' on board until you have had a chance to practice.
Posted 11/2/2003 7:56 AM (#1401 - in reply to #1391) Subject: RE: Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!
Location: Warwick NY
Wow!!! Riding without the sidecar body attached to the frame!!!!! Brave !!!!!!!!! Lets get down to basics here. The unit should weigh about 35% of the bikes weight!!!! TOO light if you have no sidecar body and some ballast especially for a new rider.
You should also attempt practice exercises before going out on the road and as I did as still do on occasions, I drive the road in my car to become familiar with any hazards or dangerous right turns.
I only have several thousand miles under my belt and still get suprised by the unexpected. Practing skils over and over again is fundamental to sidecar driving.
It only takes one mistake! Good Luck !!!! Lenny
Posted 11/3/2003 10:21 AM (#1411 - in reply to #1391) Subject: RE: Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!
Thanks for your insightful replies....and I suppose I did choose a bit of a chancy way to get my first introduction to riding a sidecar outfit.
But I felt testing the integrity of my frame connections was imperative before making my final set-up. (Shucks, why be coy? Fact is, I simply couldn't wait! And I loved it!).
Anyhow, the sidecar frame/bike connection is as solid as a rock. Mrs. Sahagan and I both jumped aboard the frame (combined weight of, well, ummmm....quite a good sum) and commenced to jump up and down thereon. Its a funny feeling, seeing the frame and bike responding as a unit, with no apparent flex or slop anywhere in the system. At this point, I'm confident my set-up will be strong enough for pretty much anything I'm liable to throw at it.
I used a couple of square tubes, laid alongside (but raised three or four inches from the floor) both the bike back tire and the sidecar tire....and factored in between 3/8's and 1/2 inch of toe-in. And unless the added weight of the body and passenger contributes a good bit of force, I'd say the steering at this point is almost effortless....that's something I'll find out soon enough though. At any rate, it didn't pull to either side on the highway and so I feel pretty much on line there.
My rig has an electical camber (linear actuator) adjuster, so that's an issue I can take care of as needed and without a lot of fuss. My thanks again to PMDAVE for showing me how to wire it up properly (only two wires, and you change direction of the actuator by altering the polarity).
So now, for the next two or three months I'll be on the bike solo again, as I put the (many) finishing touches to the sidecar body, the interior and the brake system.
Although....I might just take it for one more test ride today before pulling the frame off. Yeah, I can do that!
Posted 11/3/2003 10:26 PM (#1418 - in reply to #1391) Subject: RE: Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!
Location: SouthEast Ohio
You sound like me. I bought my rig in August over the Internet, drove to Georgia from Ohio, never having any experience with a sidecar before and picked it up. I actually just started riding this year, bought my first bike and then bought the sidecar rig. Rode it around the parking lot of a Cracker Barrel a few times then rode off in a severe downpour rain storm. Then just spent the weekend in Georgia riding backroads before riding back 13 hours straight to Ohio with the wife in the sidecar. Just had to learn on my own, love the "Baptisim by Fire" theory. I have to say I admire your abilities to set a rig up without having any prior experience with them. I would like to do that next now that I have some miles under my belt. Keep us posted, and POST SOME PHOTOS!!!
Posted 11/4/2003 6:05 PM (#1430 - in reply to #1391) Subject: RE: Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!
Uh...huhhh; when the big bites, it bites hard, doesn't it?
I've always been crazy about motorcycles, and have ridden many different bikes over the years.
Every now and then I'd see a sidecar outfit on the road, and it never failed to intrigue me....so when the opportunity came for me to obtain my own, I didn't waste a minute. This was especially true when it appeared that one could attach a sidecar in such a way as to leave the bike itself pretty much unchanged....so that removing the hack in order to use the bike solo is a job requiring but a few minutes. As far as I'm concerned, that pretty much gives me the best of both worlds. I do love the twisties on the Concours, but also thoroughly enjoy 85 mph superslab time as well. I believe the sidecar will enhance both those experiences. The whole idea I can start here and, in four or five hours be a couple of hundred miles away, seeing lots of beautiful country along the way, meeting new folks and experiencing new delights simply appeals to something deep inside me.
For instance....and to second your experience, a year ago July 4th (this past July 4th we rode to eastern Kentucky), my wife and I got up early and I said to her, "Hon? how about we ride to eastern Kentucky (we live in western Kentucky), so I can check out some of the iron furnaces there? We'll spend the night and take our time getting home."
To which she replied, "But do they have a Pancho's Mexican Buffet there?"
Well sir, you've got to know that Pancho's Mexican Buffet is inarguably the absolute best Mexican food to be found in the southwest....and I've long been addicted to it. Shucks, you know how memory works? Well, I can taste, right now, as if it were yesterday, those incredible Chili Rellenos, with that superb cheese sauce, a couple of cheese enchilados, a sour cream enchilado, some tacos and maybe a sopapilla or two with lots of butter and cane syrup/molasses....oh my! my mouth's watering right now! Excuse me a moment please....
Okay, I'm back, halfway dry-mouthed again. Anyhow, we pulled out that morning headed west instead of east, and 488 miles later (according to the GPS) we were in Texarkana, Texas, putting a hurting on some of the finest Pancho's we'd ever had. After that incredible meal, we got a room for the night, parked the bike just outside the door so we could check on it occasionally, and at 11:00 a.m. the next morning we were on hand for the Pancho's opening ceremonies....first in line for the buffet and the ahhhs! and ummmms! and ohhhhs! simply couldn't be held in. People around us looked at us kind of funny, you know? Shortly after noon, filled with succulent Mexican delights, we reversed our route and headed on back home.
So yeah, I know how you feel. Not enough time to get in all the riding I want to do, not by a long shot.
Finally, I will append some photos ASAP....I do want to have the hack looking good though, for I know the company I'm in here.
Thanks for your enthusiastic reply, and I for one would love to hear more about your own moto-adventures. I'm all ears when it comes to bikes, and riding bikes, of whatever stripe.
Posted 11/13/2003 12:00 AM (#1534 - in reply to #1391) Subject: RE: Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!
Location: Fremont, CA, USA
I think ever hack driver could tell a tale of their first ride. When I bought my Dnepr rig years ago I rode it home with no sidecar experience. After all its only 25 miles to home, what could go wrong. I was feeling like a king until I made that last right turn onto my home street. Not watching how far my third wheel was out there not only did I lift the chair but ran that wheel up and over the curb which really exagerated the lifting chair. I made it around and everything settled down. I pulled over and let my heart settle down. Lucky no witnesses . . . I think.
Posted 11/13/2003 10:00 AM (#1535 - in reply to #1391) Subject: RE: Ridiculous....absolutely, utterly ridiculous!
Yeah, if anyone had seen that little 'incident', I suspect you'd have heard about it....big time! On my part however, I can't recall EVER doing an embarassing thing without someone seeing it, whether I knew it or not.
And yeah, its pretty clear a newly minted sidecar pilot is going to have to take the time to learn a whole new set of skills. I noticed on my first ride how much time the sidecar wheel spent in the ditch or in alarmingly close proximity to mailboxes and culverts.
The thing is, you know before you even get on the bike that wheel is going to go airborne. And so, you get your mindset just right, prepared to the Nth degree for the very moment the wheel begins to fly....and every single thing you've prepared your mind to respond with, goes out the window too. And first thing you know, you're responding to the shock of seeing that thing fly by turning left, and heading right into oncoming traffic (if any traffic should be oncoming), all your good pretensions and plans having evaporated as surely as the early morning due on a hot summer day.
This is one new skill I'm going to practice on, lots. There are too many things happening in traffic that can endanger not only myself but my passenger as well....to take any chances. So its to the Lowe's parking lot (Wal-Mart stays open 24 hours so that bigger, better parking lot is out). Shucks, if there's one close enough, I'm going to take the safety course as well.
Hey, thanks for the reply. I love hearing about sidecar adventures!