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|Hi all. I've been lurking around for a while, and I've always wanted to learn how to operate a sidecar rig, to see if it is as much fun as it looks like, and to see if it's really something I want to do. How does one go about doing that? They are a very rare sight here in Massachusetts and the only dealer I know of is a Ural shop hours west of where I am, so I've never had the opportunity to ask anyone. I know there are MSF classes I can take, but they require me to provide my own ride. The wife isn't letting me lay out a ton of money for something before I even know if I will enjoy it, or even of I can handle it. Plus the thought of buying some used rig is scary - how would I even know if it is set up right? What's normal? What's weird? What's dangerous? So...how did all y'all get started? Anyone know of any resources in my area that could point me in the right direction? I don't want to spend thousands to kill myself on the way home from the seller, but if I don't, I'll never get the chance to figure this out? Any advice?|
Location: Independence, MO.
|Well, I might not be encouraging to you, but I will tell it to you straight. |
First, it's not wise to just jump on a rig and take off. They handle completely different from solo bikes. Two of my friends who were very accomplished bike riders wanted to try my rig. Both of them crashed it. Thousands of dollars later I had learned never to let anyone "try" it. Basically, as both of them said, it steers almost backwards from a solo bike. And, the more solo bike experience you have, and the stronger your instincts about riding one, the harder it will be to learn the feel of steering a sidecar rig. After getting my first rig put together, I trailered it to a huge mall parking lot to practice before hitting the streets.
Consider your mate's situation, too. I've had two friends who really wanted to ride in my hack, but once in it and moving, they found they couldn't get over the helpless feeling. Honestly, I'm that way, too! I can't be a passenger on the back of a bike, and I certainly can't be a passenger in a sidecar. I can't explain why except that I don't like not having control. Some sidecars are also closed in and can make some people claustrophobic.
You absolutely do have a problem not living close enough to someone who can work with you to learn about them, to give you a ride, to give your spouse a ride. It is a big cash outlay to jump right in and buy one without knowing how exciting they are. You would also need to spend some time in a big parking lot learning to drive one, too. However, I have never helped anyone learn that didn't get bit hard by the bug. Just be sure your wife enjoys it too or it will not be fun for you!
Are you mechanically inclined? If not, your distance away from a dealer or source of service will be a hardship on you. Consider how you will maintain it. Most motorcycle dealers will not touch a rig since it has so much they are not familiar with. It's not just an accessory bolted to a bike.
I got started in 1981 because my new bride had a bad back and she spent a week in traction trying to ride on my Gold Wing bike when we were dating. But, she loved riding bikes. She owned a Corvette and felt quite comfortable with it's seating/leg position, so we found Motorvation Sidecars (in So. Cal. at the time, about three miles from us) and went to talk to them. Jim Sontag took her for a 1/2hr ride in one of his Spyder sidecars, and she was hooked. We placed our order and got the car 2 weeks later. Jim spent about an hour teaching me how to hook it up to my bike and then he double checked my alignment after it was done. We cruised all over Calif. almost every weekend after that! That hack eventually got over 200,000 miles put on it between two bikes! Yep, I was hooked, too, and still am.
I'm sure not trying to discourage you, but from your own description it sounds like you will have a hard time. It also sounds like you need to look around more to find someone close who can help you. I have never heard of anyone living very far from someone willing to help out. Just tell us where you live and ask if there are any others in your area.
You could also make arrangements to spend a couple of days near a dealer willing to take you on a demo ride and to talk to you. BTW, a Ural would be a great rig to own! If your allowable funds are quite limited, you had better be able to buy, put together, fix up and take care of the rig yourself.
Maybe plan to attend one of the rallies around the country and see if you can arrange for a demo ride in somebody's car.
Maybe start by telling us where you live and maybe somebody will offer to meet you and get you started.
Edited by trikebldr 5/20/2016 7:01 PM
Location: Lakeville, Minnesota
|I started out last year. I had ridden a few miles (less than 1000) on smaller light weight rigs when I worked with the Royal Enfield and Cozy/Kozy Sidecar importer. I bought a rig on the internet in Phoenix, rode it around for a few days then headed home to Minneapolis on it. I have been riding two wheels since 1966 and have ridden four bikes to 100K miles and a few more bikes some what less. |
The positives: I was immediately immersed in sidecar travel. It was instant gratification. The rig is beautiful and low miles.
The negatives: There was a learning curve to riding this rig. It was fortunate I was in a rural area east of Phoenix where traffic was light and there was a variety of roads to learn on. The ride home had a few tense moments but I rode a plan that avoided heavy traffic where I could and enjoyed a leisurely trip.
The low miles were deceptive. Once I got it home and began to look closer, it needed a lot of work. It had been neglected. There were issues with the bike and with the sidecar mount. A great deal of help was available here on the forum. And a from a somewhat technical but thorough reference translated from German. After a lengthy discussion of the physics of the sidecar dynamics it gets around to talking about riding techniques.
What I would do differently: I bought a Gold Wing / California sidecar rig. I thought I would use it to replace my sport touring bike for traveling and camping. The rig is big and heavy. I remembered the fun I had with the lighter RE/Cozy that I assembled and tested for the importer. I find I enjoy it more in town and miss the sport tour bike for travel.
Caution is certainly warranted in both the purchase and operation of the side car rig, but it isn't rocket science.
There are many here on the forum with much more experience than I have, lurk around, ask questions, and I think you will find a lot of answers will be here for the finding.
Edited by tinboatcapt 5/20/2016 8:43 PM
Location: Tacoma, WA, USA
There's a school in Plympton MA if that's near you that does not require you to bring your own, but it's a combined sidecar/trike class so you need to contact them to see if they only have a sidecar available for the class, or only a trike, or both.
Another option would be to start a thread here and in the Hacks section of Adventure Rider stating specifically where you are located and asking if there's somebody who'd be willing to take you out for an afternoon. Probably best to have the title of the thread say something like "Noob looking for help in Boston" or wherever you're from. A lot of sidecarists are old retired farts with nothing better to do and would look forward to the opportunity to give a new guy his first taste. I would.
Edited by DRONE 5/21/2016 3:27 PM
Location: Independence, MO.
DRONE - 5/21/2016 2:27 PM
A lot of sidecarists are old retired farts with nothing better to do and would look forward to the opportunity to give a new guy his first taste. I would.
Hey, hey, hey! I resemble that!!! But, you're right! This retired old fart would love to be able to help get somebody hooked,....'er,.....STARTED.....in sidecars!
Location: Billerica MA
|Opine, in Mass, training wheels has a beginner sidecar class where they provide the bikes for you. They had a class in Bedford MA this weekend. Www.trainingwheelsonline.com |
Where in MA are you? I live in Billerica
|Thanks for all the advice guys. I am in Mansfield, so I am going to look into the Trike, Spyder and Sidecar course at Training Wheels in Plympton MA. $425 is still kinda steep, but learning from guys who know how to teach seems like a good plan. Plus you get top try all the styles (thus the name of the course) if yopu don't bring your own.|
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