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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am wanting to buy a sidecar motorcycle at some point in the near future.

I wanted to know if anybody knows of a rough minimum engine size/power for a motorcycle to pull a sidecar and trailer. For example, I have a seen a couple of Yamaha XJ900s for sale with sidecars already attached. Would a bike like this be powerful enough to also pull a small trailer?

I'd like to go camping with this set up. I don't want to be asking too much of an engine to have it die very prematurely you see. I also don't want it to be too sluggish, not that I expect to be going anywhere quickly in a sidecar rig, never mind whilst towing!

Another caveat here is my licence, I am in the UK and so due to my age I can only ride bikes up to 47bhp until I pass another test, (which I can't do yet). I can ride bikes up to twice that power (94 bhp) as long as I restrict their power down to 47bhp. If I bought an XJ900 as an example, then restricted it down to 47bhp, would it still have enough oomph to get me, a sidecar with a mate, and possible a loaded trailer around? Or should I wait until I can ride whatever I like when I upgrade my licence?

I've heard Urals have something like 32hp, which makes me feel more confident.

I know this is a pretty odd and unique thing to want to ride, but I want to give it a go! (Couldn't explain why, it's just appealing to me.)

I am also planning on riding a lot with the sidecar (as well as getting some formal training) before attempting pulling the trailer.

Many thanks for all input!
 

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UK roads really don't relate well to North American roads, we travel crazy distances and some go through big altitude changes to go anywhere. On average you would need a bigger rig here.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
UK roads really don't relate well to North American roads, we travel crazy distances and some go through big altitude changes to go anywhere. On average you would need a bigger rig here.
Hmm okay, if I said the furthest I would likely take the rig (with trailer) is about 400 miles (that would include a max change of roughly 2000ft in altitude over the entire journey), would that help?

Usually I would be going much shorter distances, roughly 40 to 150 miles.

Again, anything is useful, I'm not looking for exact figures, I just don't want to buy something severely underpowered.

Cheers
 

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If the bike has a shaft drive, you can not change the gear ratio. Typical old British bikes with sidecars were 500cc singles.
Fine for speeds up to about 80kph. Faster than that the car has a lot of wind resistance. At a steady 100 to 120 clicks you need about 90hp or more. And the fuel economy drops as well. My bike has 95 hp and a shaft drive. With that much power I had not need to change the gear ratio. UK
 

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I don't know if you are our only active sidecar'er or not UK, but for the OP, you can't get better info than from UK when it comes to sidecars. That's his pickup and he uses it a bunch. But I really hope we still have other sidecar'ers. I know we used to have a few more but just don't remember if they are still with us. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I don't know if you are our only active sidecar'er or not UK, but for the OP, you can't get better info than from UK when it comes to sidecars. That's his pickup and he uses it a bunch. But I really hope we still have other sidecar'ers. I know we used to have a few more but just don't remember if they are still with us. :(
Good to know, hopefully soon I'll be another one of these rare sidecar'ers!

I was thinking, if I do go ahead and get this rig set up, I would have a lot of carrying capacity (for a motorcycle), would I even need a car anymore?... :unsure: It probably would be useful to keep around... but the idea of being without a car is appealing to me, since learning to ride I want any excuse to take the bike rather than the car.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
That's amazing, I can see you're hauling all the essentials in your second upload.
 

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If the bike has a shaft drive you can alter the diameter of the rear wheel to change the road speed.
 

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If the bike has a shaft drive you can alter the diameter of the rear wheel to change the road speed.
That is correct, if you can find a similar bike, with a smaller back wheel. Do you know of any this side of 1985, with a frame that can accept a side car? The smaller wheel would also lower the rear end a bit, that might require correcting. UK
 

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That is correct, if you can find a similar bike, with a smaller back wheel. Do you know of any this side of 1985, with a frame that can accept a side car? The smaller wheel would also lower the rear end a bit, that might require correcting. UK
It's what I will be doing if I build my K bike into a kneeler sidekick. The rear tire is going to need to be smaller diameter and wider. Super easy on a K bike considering the single sided rear swingarm being directly connected to the engine and transmission unit and using a 4 bolt pattern for the rim ;)

Lots of BMW's have run sidecars over the decades and all kinds of goodies are available for them. Even Earles leading link forks so you can run car like tires on the front wheel.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·

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My bike is a 79 Yamaha XS1100. There is a one inch difference in wheel size with some models. A smaller ( less diameter ) tyre would best the easiest to change. Width is critical on some bikes, as the tyres run very close to the swing arm. I could not find a car tyre that would fit my bike. 17 inch I think. So instead I use bias tyres. Half the price of radials and they work fine. The tyre on the car may wear out sooner the the bike tyres.
I have an oil cooler that I will be fitting to my bike some day. I adjust my alignment so the bike will go straight at about 120 kph. The wind drag and road angle will try and pull the rig in the direction of the car. The steering on mine is heavy on winding roads. But for motorway riding, I prefer the straight line stability, over steering ease. I will not be changine the steering head angle.
You can find lots of sidecar guys in England. There are lots of theories, some good, some not so good, IMO. UK
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
UK, how much would you say you use your sidecar? Would you say it's your main vehicle?

I've found a lot of the sidecars for sale appear to be more of a collectors item, rather than daily driven/used vehicles.
 

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UK, how much would you say you use your sidecar? Would you say it's your main vehicle?

I've found a lot of the sidecars for sale appear to be more of a collectors item, rather than daily driven/used vehicles.
I am on an Island. Using my van on the ferry, on a regular basis is a problem, and a pain, and a waste of time.
Bikes are half the price of a cage. The sidecar rig is still a bike. For the ferry, and going to the village at the top of my Island, it gets used often. Going to the golf club on Friday nights, for darts and beer, the sidecar is handy as it does not fall over. However, with twenty minutes of work, I can remover the side car, and ride Yami solo. It is the winter bike, and gets dirty and rusty. I try to keep the other bikes clean.
Usually my main vehicle is a Triumph trophy 900 in the summer, and Yami in the winter. Plus a couple of others if something fails. UK
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I am on an Island. Using my van on the ferry, on a regular basis is a problem, and a pain, and a waste of time.
Bikes are half the price of a cage. The sidecar rig is still a bike. For the ferry, and going to the village at the top of my Island, it gets used often. Going to the golf club on Friday nights, for darts and beer, the sidecar is handy as it does not fall over. However, with twenty minutes of work, I can remover the side car, and ride Yami solo. It is the winter bike, and gets dirty and rusty. I try to keep the other bikes clean.
Usually my main vehicle is a Triumph trophy 900 in the summer, and Yami in the winter. Plus a couple of others if something fails. UK
Very nice. One of my fears with bikes in general is exactly what you've mentioned, dirt and rust.

I don't think I'll ever own too nice a bike, I just wouldn't trust myself to keep it in pristine condition.

Does anybody have any tips for preventing rust and corrosion? If I do get this sidecar rig, I'd like to use it a lot, and don't want it to just rust away due to salty roads. Of course washing and waxing is a given, but are there any other secrets to keep rust at bay?
 
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