by Sev Pearman
Way back in Autumn 2005, we at MMM decided to add a sidecar to a solo bike. While many of you liked the idea of a hack rig, you didn’t necessarily want a second bike/sidecar combination. How easy is it to add a sidecar to an existing machine?
Let’s review. In part one, we answered basic sidecar attachment questions. In part two, we selected and purchased a Suzuki GSX-1100G shaftie as the mule. Part three explored different sidecar options and why we switched from a Ural car to a Velorex 565. Finally, in part four, we tackled the installation of the Velorex to the Suzuki.
With the expertise and practiced hand of Lee Bruns, our installation was easy. We easily mounted it over a weekend, though Lee could’ve completed it faster without my “help.” My photography and my incessant note-taking slowed Lee down. I could have taken the completed rig home after the first try, but Lee wanted to increase the stiffness by moving the Lower-Rear mount on the Suzuki rearward. He kept the rig and machined up a sub-frame. Our next attempt was a success. By moving the Lower-Rear mounting point on the bike further to the rear, we dramatically increased the overall stiffness of the complete rig.
The next problem was what to do about the oil line? The Suzuki GSX-G, like its GSX-R and Bandit cousins, runs an oil cooler. Space is tight at the headstock with the frame, gas tank, cam cover, the oil cooler and its lines, and exhaust headers, all fighting for room. When we offered the Upper-Front clamp to the frame, we hit a snag. While we could’ve mounted the clamp lower on the frame and avoided altering the plumbing, Lee argued for sidecar strength and chose a clamp location that would require us to modify the right-side oil cooler line.
This was pretty straightforward. We removed just enough line to permit the placement of the mounting clamp on the frame. After some loose test fitting, we installed the strut clamp and refit the oil cooler and gas tank. The oil line was temporarily patched with rubber hose and triple clamps.
I giddily drove the rig back to MMM Heavy Industries World HQ and tackled the wiring. I de-wired both right blinkers on the motorcycle, and patched in the sidecar loom. While there were no instructions, it was pretty easy to figure out. Beluga now had front and rear blinkers, a tail/stop light, and a front marker light. Yeah!
My Sanford & Son oil line repair loomed like a wart. I brought the rig over to Pirtek on University Ave at Vandalia in St. Paul. They came up with a discreet, elegant solution. The stock line has two rubber sections near each end to isolate engine vibration from the frame-mounted oil cooler. Pirtek had to braze fittings onto the remaining bits of the stock line; fabricate a hard line with several bends that would fit behind the exhaust headers, between the gas tank and cam cover, and allow room for the new sidecar strut clamp.
They went to town and hit it on the first attempt. I brought the line back to their mandrel for one minor tweak, then permanently installed the line. Their solution is a success: it has a hard section in the middle and two rubber sections that connect to the stock engine and oil cooler ends. The new oil line does not foul any component on the bike, isolates the frame-mounted cooler from engine vibration, doesn’t leak and is repairable in the field. Cost? About $100.
We now had a complete street-legal hack rig. I drove it over 6,000 miles in 2006. Exact figures are unavailable as I lost the speedo cable and didn’t get around to replacing it for nine weeks. (I estimate the total using fuel receipts) Beluga attended the SKUNK Sidecar Rally (Cameron, WI) in June and ran 24 hours without a hiccup the Minnesota 1,000 where it tied for 3rd in class. It shuttled me around Northern Minnesota over a week’s vacation. Beluga led the way to the 3rd Annual East Central Sidecar Rally in Anamosa, Iowa.
Autumn saw the change of seasons but no winterization. I found a Continental knobby, originally for the BMW R1150GS, which fits the Suzuki GSX rim. Snow tire on, Beluga delivered an overall 3rd place trophy in the annual I-Cycle Derby on New Year’s Day. We weren’t as successful in February in the Popsicle Derby in Watertown, South Dakota. Snow packed up the front wheel turning it into a ski. Next winter, I’ll run a knobby on the front as well. The DNF still burns.
What is next? I want to put a leading-link front end on the rig. This will aid in comfort and reduce fatigue. I also want to install a larger battery in the sidecar. Never designed for sub-30º riding, the wimpy stock battery struggles to start her below 20ºF. I would also like to add fuel capacity. With the stock tank, I am currently limited to 100 – 115 miles. It is late March as I write this and I am planning to pull off the snow tire, install fresh street rubber and remove the winter grime.
Look for future articles as we continue to modify and enjoy our home-brew sidecar. See you down the road.
Lee Bruns: Sidecar installation and custom mount fabrication. firstname.lastname@example.org
GLMC: Host of Popsicle Derby
National Motorcycle Museum: Hosts East Central Iowa Sidecar Rally, Anamosa IA. 319.462.3925
Pirtek: Custom hose fabrication. 651.641.1414
Side Strider Sidecars: Sidears, installation, mounts, Unit® leading-link forks and literature. Doug Bingham, 818.780.5542
SKUNK: Host annual sidecar rally.
TeamStrange: Hosts annual Minnesota 1,000 endurance event. Known sidecar enthusiasts.
Travelers MC: Host annual I-Cycle Derby on New Year’s Day.
Velorex: Sidecars, accessories and literature.