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Just came back from the HU meet at Ripley and she who must be obeyed thought that our household could benefit from a bike and sidecar combination . I saw a really good looking BMW r60 with a chair and also a more modern blue plastic looking combo that I never even got close to.
A brief amount of research revealed that good r60 rigs go for a lot of money. I saw Austin and Lois's talk on their Trans Am trip on a Ural and my opinion is "no thanks".
I own a 2003 Thunderbird Sport (the one with a megaphone pipe on each side) that doesn't get much use. I'll admit here, I know jack sh!t about sidecars. So, apologies in advance if my questions seem un-thought-through or naive.
Has a TBS ever had a side car bolted onto it? Would it be hard to do? What's involved? Is it imperative to replace oem front forks with leading link forks? Ideally I like the option of leaving the chair in the garage and just taking the bike out for a ride every so often.
Leading link forks are a bonus, and it is not really practical to change back to a solo once the outfit has been setup with the 'toe in' etc, for more info try the Federation of sidecar clubs.
PS They are great fun, and if you want a 'fast' ride around the lanes and need a passenger, give me a call !!
That's a Thunderbird, rather than a TBS, but I don't think the chassis are too different. Good to see it has standard forks. On the FoSC site they talk about all sorts of mods that could be done. I'm more of a rider than a fettler and would prefer a simple option. I'm off the the States in a few days so any project is likely to wait until the winter.
I like that design of that chair. I think it would look great on this bike:
The TBS is a good starting point, BUT, you say you know nothing about sidecars, so lets not get too far ahead IMHO.
Taking the chair on and off like a trailer is entirely impractical in the UK due to insurance and the MOT and in any case you'd constantly loose the set up, be riding the solo on squared off tyres, be unable to fine tune the bike for either use in terms of steering dampers, battery mounts, etc. Also note that the chair is going to trash your clutch, wheel bearings, eat tyres and maybe bend the frame. If you are fond of the TBS you need to think hard about doing this.
Don't let the old boys at the FED (Edit to add; no offence intended) loose you in their constant discussion about car tyres, leading links etc. This stuff can make an outfit better handling, but it's only like power steering on a car, if you are fit you can live without it and at this stage you need to spend the cash on a good subframe and less glamorous bits of iron mongery.
The first thing to do is get a drive of an outfit and I mean DRIVE. These are completely different vehicles to a bike, they don't lean, they move left and right on the brakes and throttle and so on. There have been many bike riders who've driven an outfit for the first time and found they simply don't like the constant mental process of judging speed against camber against load.
If you find you do like it, you are honestly better buying a rig that's already set up. That's where Urals (slow are horribly time consuming and overpriced as they are) come in, but keep an eye on E-bay. You'll pick up a decent rig for £2-3000. This compares with maybe £4000 to have one of the sidecar companies fit one for you. You can go DIY, but unless you want a 20HP JAWA "universal" fitting kits are useless so you need to know someone who can weld and make fittings. I'll post a link in a paragraph or 12 where there is more info on set up.
There are many great things about outfits, like the ability to ride on snow, carry loads of kit, dogs, kids etc. I won't be without one in the garage. If however, you are a bike sort of guy who just wants a bigger tent I'd think about a Wing with a trailer too.
Sorry if this is raining on your parade, but thought it was best to be honest. Links and a bit more info starts here:
Threewheelbonnie, that's a far better description you have given Chris than I could manage, I just hope you haven't put him off the idea now, and I wondered how long it would be before you replied!.
I really enjoyed my old pre unit Thunderbird outfit many years ago!
Chris, do you not remember this thread that became a 'war zone' about 3 years ago, which resulted in Susan Johnson removing 66 posts?
Many thanks for the detailed reply. I appreciate the honesty. I do need to get the wife, son and me out in a rig to see if we like it. I have an open mind and could probably adjust to most things bike related. I take onboard all you said about converting a bike that I cherish and see the point of buying a complete outfit.
I'll be reading your website and will get back to you later on. I'm off for the summer now, so will get back in touch in the autumn.
Many thanks for the link. I don't recall that particular mud fest. In what's left there's very useful info that I need to read up on. I have a sneaky feeling this thread won't end in a disarray.
, I just hope you haven't put him off the idea now,
Absolutely, sidecars are about the fourth most fun thing you can do with your clothes on (not going to mention the earlier ones on the list, family site an all that Although these days it could be up to third.... ). No intention what so ever to put anyone off.
I dread to think what got 66 posts deleted , I do recall the thread and was probably up to my neck in it though . Apologies for the off the cuff comment "old boys in the Fed" above which having re-read it I guess might offend if not taken in the way it was intended. I shouldn't post before the second cuppa gets to work. Like many topics on this forum and others we can get bogged down in technical details and ignore the human ones. Links and car tyres on outfits rumble on like oil threads on classic forums and soft bag versus tin box somewhere here abouts
I've just notice Chris and myself are perhaps not a million miles away from each other, so PM sent.
, I had a weeks holiday a few weeks bad and while nailing the outfit across the moors notice a guy pushing a sportsbike. I stopped and as it turned out he needed a lift rather than a loan of tools (of which an outfit can carry lots along with the snow chains, BBQ, crate of ale....) or a go on the syphon tube. So, Karen and Gooner left on bike guard duty off we went with our new friend in the chair. Ten miles later he's decided outfits are "a bit tasty" but perhaps not for him . All without breaking any traffic laws , although it was probably a good thing he hadn't eaten recently . He did not believe I was actually saving wear on the sidecar tyre .
I came back from hu similarly fired up about a combo, I had an almost finished r100 with chair in the garage which I finally put on the road last weekend. I took it for a trial run around the lanes and after a very enjoyable 60 miles test ride I was rounding a left hand bend when a sidecar mounting stay nut came off and I carried straight on into a tree, ! fortunately I only bashed my head into the tree causing no real damage to the tree. The lesson being, if you go for a chair make sure it is properly attached, avoid that on the buses moment.
I had two t'bird sports, an early one which I bought on the spot when I saw it in the shop, then a later version that mrsC could ride on the back of, without her knees getting mangled by the jockey's riding position on the early model.
here's a picture I took in Glen Maye at Isle Of Man in 2005:
I didn't get to talk with the owners then, but met them at the Manx gp a couple of weeks back on Douglas prom'. The tbs is driven by a woman, who carts the kids in the chair, followed by her hubby who rides a Norton rotary.
Having read Andy's initial post I'd like to add to it:
I agree with what Andy wrote!
It was basically everything you need to know but I'd also like to add a few experiences of my own as 2007 Ural owner.
Yes, new they are over-priced and yes they are slow, but few outfits for the road are desperately quick.
The +'s of a Ural:
Very robust (although prone to surface rust as it is not galvanised)
Updated internals and electrics since 2005 and so nearing BM Airhead reliability. (German pistons & gears inc reverse, Japanese electric components, Ducati ignition system, Brembo front brake)
Electric and kickstart
Built to be a combo, not a bike-chair compromise
Easy to work on (except balancing the f***ing carbs)
Millions of bolt ons if that is your thing.
The -'s of a Ural:
Can rust if not cleaned.
Carbs are a pain in the **** to balance.
Servicing is annoyingly frequent if you use the bike a lot...
Ground clearance of end-cans is not ideal if you want to off-road.
Fuel efficiency of a John Deere (assuming John Deeres are not fuel efficient): I have squeezed 45 mpg from mine, but mostly your looking at 35-40 mpg... on a good day!
I bought mine to overland and as such I've needed to tweek and bastardise it a lot. But if it is to run around on roads: no prob...
It has 5000 miles on the clock and the only failure I've had that was not down to me abusing it in Estonian forests, fords, snow or sand was a knackered ignition switch. £5 to fix, but did leave me stranded!
If you're not a fettler, then I'd say a Ural is probably not the best choice for you but, if you have a bike, then do look at fitting a Ural chair to it using univeral fixtures.
They are cheaper than most bolt on chairs and tough as old boots. They would also look good, style wise next to a retro such as the TBS.
Making sure you actually like the sensation of riding a combo, as already stated, is very advisable!!
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