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Easy steering
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Posted 8/17/2005 12:26 PM (#9324)
Subject: Easy steering


Posts: 4833
Location: Boise, Idaho
After avoiding the Harley Davidson sidecars for several decades, I have finally purchased a factory sidecar outfit. A 95th Anniversary RK Classic.
The main reasons for not owning the Harley car in the past were the solid axle, lack of a trailing link swing-arm suspension, the unsprung weight factor, the high "banana" body style and the ripple effect the sprung body has on the steering.
The first two twisty backroad runs with a passenger were quite a workout due to the heavy steering (with stock damper) and the need to hold left at most speeds causing numbness in my right hand after a few miles. Part of this I attributed to the width of the outfit and wind resistance, but the work in even the slow turns seemed excessive.
Since I have a chunk of sheet metal in my left arm, two bad elbows, two bad shoulders and am older than some of the stalactites in the Oregon Caves (Really!), I called up Pete Larsen in Seattle, co-owner of Liberty Sidecars and a fellow member of the Sidecar Industry Council. We arranged to have a set of his raked triple trees installed on the RK.
After fighting my way down to his shop in south Seattle via a much needed repaving I-5 (rough enough to break one of the fender struts on the sidecar from bouncing), I left the rig there on Monday after a tour of his facility and some of his projects and picked it up yesterday (Tuesday).
Pete had rewelded the broken strut on the car and he and Patty greeted us with a box full of no longer needed parts. Surprisingly, one of which was the steering damper unit, that he said would no longer be needed.
The on ramp to I-90 is only a few blocks from his shop and he said I would probably be able to tell the difference before I hit the freeway.
That statement was more than right on. I felt the lightness of the steering before I left their driveway. It was so light in fact that I had a tendency to oversteer for the first couple of blocks. The quickness of the steering brought me back to my sports car racing days. The forty miles back to my shop was like driving a completely different machine than the day before. The bouncy body is still there, however.

If you have an outfit that will accept the Liberty raked triple trees, I highly recommend installing them. You'll be glad you did.

Lonnie Cook
Northwest Sidecar
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