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Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar
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Campanula
Posted 8/19/2005 10:11 AM (#9351)
Subject: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar


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Location: PA, USA
Avoiding the handling issues (I would guess fiberglass is more responsive than steel due to it's weight) which is safer in a wreck?

I am guessing steel would be better in a wreck, but I would like some input from folks who have actual data and aren't just guessing based on assumptions about the two materials. (Wish I had insurance information on this.) Of course educated guesses are welcome as well!

thanks,

c/jack
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SidecarMike
Posted 8/19/2005 1:55 PM (#9353 - in reply to #9351)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar



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In June of 2004 I was hit by a minivan that turned left from the right shoulder of the road into my Dnepr sidecar. We were doing about 40 when it happened. She swung wide to the shoulder, then cut hard left to turn into a farm field road. I was passing her when this started. The minivan's left front bumper hit the sidecar fender and forced me off the road, through about a six foot deep ditch, through an electrified fence, and I stopped with the Valkyrie's windshield pressed up against the flat bed of a farm wagon. It put a dent in the fender, but not enough to break the turn signal. The minivan, a 2004 Dodge, suffered a little more damage. She never left the pavement, but the front bumper curled into the left tire, popping it and somehow caused the McPherson strut to break. When it stopped the wheel was laying flat on the pavement and the van on top of it.
My wife likes metal sidecars! Photo of total damage to sidecar is in SidecarMike Album
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claude #3563
Posted 8/19/2005 2:25 PM (#9354 - in reply to #9351)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar



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I have a feeling you will hear pros and cons from both sides. I also feel that both sidea are 'correct' from their own experiences. In reality it probably depends greatly on the type and serverity of the crash.My own feelings are ,in light of what I wrote above, is that your odds are probably best with a metal sidecar in most crashes. Could be wrong though.
Fiberglass can desintegrate which may be a bad thing.
Metal may not desintegrate which may be a bad thing.
Trapped or not trapped in the tub?
Which situation gives the better odds? Who knows?

Edited by claude #3563 8/19/2005 2:26 PM
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Uncle Ernie
Posted 8/19/2005 5:14 PM (#9356 - in reply to #9353)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar



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First, it depends on the MC, and then how good the SC frame is. Parenthetically, I don't think a fiberglass SC is any better handling. Hate to say it, but again it depends on the MC, and how well the rig is set up. As Claude said, it depends on what type of accident. If it lands upsidedown, a steel rig may fare better, but your passenger (and you) are going to get tossed around pretty badly in any event.
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claude #3563
Posted 8/19/2005 6:22 PM (#9357 - in reply to #9356)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar



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If you knew you were going to get smashed while in a container would you rather be in a soda can or a styrofoam cup?

Edited by claude #3563 8/19/2005 6:25 PM
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Campanula
Posted 8/20/2005 8:52 AM (#9365 - in reply to #9351)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar


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Thanks. Seems the thoughts I had are along the same thoughts you guys are having.

Hopefully I will never need to find out how the monkey would fair, but I am having a hard time imagining putting my wife in a fiberglass container and zinging her down the road at 65mph a foot or so off the ground. I guess I'm a fossil and I just trust steel more.

thanks again,

jack/c
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claude #3563
Posted 8/20/2005 9:00 AM (#9367 - in reply to #9365)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar



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Jack,
Then go with steel. You will be in good comapny either way
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Hack'n
Posted 8/20/2005 12:21 PM (#9374 - in reply to #9365)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar



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So Jack,
How safe do you feel zipping along a foot or so off the ground at 65 plus with NOTHING surrounding you?
Unless you live in tornado alley (or have high cholesterol), the safest pastime might be to order in a pizza and watch speed channel.
If you think about it, a lot more casualties are incurred by people in oversized (steel) SUVs than all the bikes on the road, two or three wheeled.

Drive as if they are out to get you and you'll do fine with glass or steel.

Lonnie
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claude #3563
Posted 8/20/2005 12:25 PM (#9376 - in reply to #9374)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar



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Good post Lonnie. I did hurt myself watching the Speed Channel once though so do not let your guard down. I bent down to pick up the remote so I could mute that commercial about 'here's' bob' and hit my head on the table. Things are tough all over buddy.


Edited by claude #3563 8/20/2005 12:26 PM
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Uncle Ernie
Posted 8/20/2005 9:32 PM (#9379 - in reply to #9351)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar



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Claude/ Jack- have to go with Mr Hackn. There is a certain amount of protection you can create, but anything having to do with a motorcycle is going to be more dangerous than taking the train.
When I worked steel constuction, I saw why the boss said not to get steel-toed boots.
I do slow down when Rosie and Kathleen are w me, though. ~:^D
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Campanula
Posted 8/21/2005 9:33 AM (#9382 - in reply to #9351)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar


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I understand your point, but I'm not nearly as bothered about my safety as hers.

I guess a preference for steel happens when you grow up with cars from the 60's.

jack
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Hack'n
Posted 8/21/2005 11:57 AM (#9386 - in reply to #9379)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar



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Hey Unc,
When I was working a high lead show, felling and bucking back in 1950 the boss borrowed my new Chippewa Caulk boots and was repairing the hydraulics on the bulldozer. He disconnected a line without propping up the blade, the blade dropped on his (my) boots (in the mud) and the steel toes of the boots bent down and cut a few of his toes off.
With fiberglass his feet would have just been bruised.
Oh, by the way, he did pay me for the boots.

Lonnie
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Uncle Ernie
Posted 8/21/2005 12:23 PM (#9387 - in reply to #9351)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar



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Mr Hackn, you're preaching to the choir. Turn around and pass the plate while the singin's getting good.
I understand both sides, but Claude, getting back to your can/egg analogy;
put an uncooked egg in a can and one in a styrofoam cup. Try dropping them together from increasing elevations and see what happens.
While you're at it, I'd be curious to know which one handles better.
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claude #3563
Posted 8/21/2005 7:32 PM (#9392 - in reply to #9387)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar



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>>Claude, getting back to your can/egg analogy;
put an uncooked egg in a can and one in a styrofoam cup. Try dropping them together from increasing elevations and see what happens.
While you're at it, I'd be curious to know which one handles better.<<

Nah, I 'd rather eat the eggs. Go way back and look at my first post. To me it really makes no difference. If you are going to get hurt you just are whether in a fiberglass tub where it shatteres and creates broken pieces all around you ..or a steel tub where you get squashed in it all in one piece. The one in the steel tub would be easier to clean up off the road I think.
Claude ... tongue in cheek

Edited by claude #3563 8/21/2005 7:34 PM
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hal77079
Posted 8/21/2005 8:25 PM (#9397 - in reply to #9351)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar


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If the topic were changed just a bit from sidecars to cars there has been quite a change in the philosophy of design. 50 years ago you designed your cars to withstand the crash, if they could. Even NHTSA got into it. In 1973 they spent $43,000,000 building the ultimate crash-proof car. Sort of like the Hummer H1 on steroids. Protected the occupants from a 40mph frontal colision. Of course, the normal car it hit was wiped out! Sorta like car hits bike, car wins. Truck hits car, truck wins. Train hits truck, train wins. ie, Bigger is better,

But that is no longer PC. In today's PC world, the vehicle is totally expendible. A couple of years ago I was number 3 in a four car pile-up. The entire front of my van from the windscreen forward was demolished, as was the case of the Honda behind me. Not a single air bag went off - otherwise we could have had some serious injury from those blasted airbags popping.

Getting back to the discussion - I would suggest therefore to build a massive sidecar with crushible fibreglass panels but have robust unyielding rollcages running laterally and longitinally for the protection of the occupants as the fibreglass ain't going to do it.
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SidecarMike
Posted 8/21/2005 9:18 PM (#9398 - in reply to #9351)
Subject: RE: Fiberglass vs Steel Sidecar



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Getting back to your original question, but taking a different slant, even though my wife likes the metal car for safety I also liked the fact that it survived with a minor dent. No repairs at all, no down time. My daughter did a low speed push through a chain link fence while practicing figure eights and nearly turned her old California into dust. If you're working on a budget, think old boats Notice how they tend to get little spider web cracks and the chalky dried out brittle look? Now look at the metal. If it's rusty, you weld a patch and if it's dented you whack it with a hammer.
Seriously, I've owned both and find they both have advantages and disadvantages. but I've never noticed any difference in handling. Unless, of course, one of them is too light for the bike.
When in doubt, err on stout.
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