As a little forward here, this is kind of long with a number of photos and would be a waste of time unless you are interested in a low tech, low cost sidecar for your pedaled or motored bike.
I’ve been thinking about a sidecar for my bikes for a good while now. At present I use an Instep Lightning model bicycle trailer to share rides with my little buddy, Aaniimoosh The Wonder Dog. I first became enamored with sidecars long before I had a motorbicycle, way back in the prehistoric times of childhood when my brother and I declared a shared intent to someday have an Indian motorcycle with a sidecar. Being older, he’d run the motorcycle and I’d be in the sidecar. We would both have cool leather helmets and goggles. Six decades have passed by and no doubt my brother has forgotten about it. Being in a perpetual state of childhood, I have not. I’ve been following fasteddy’s amazing sidecar build for his Monark with great interest, a lot of admiration and admittedly some envy. When I ask myself if I could build something like that I have to be honest and say, “no”. I don’t have the skills, tools, a real work place or the financial resources. But I’d still like to have a sidecar of some kind. They’re just cool. Like antique motorboats and old locomotives, I’ve never seen one I didn’t like.
Last summer I found an instep bike trailer at the landfill where I shop for dead bicycles and other potentially useful things for an adolt child. It looked to be in very good shape, but was missing the wheels. A little later in my shopping spree I found a kid’s 20” bike and removed the wheels as donors for the trailer. It was another fine day at the dump, the real Mall of America. I already had an almost new Instep for the dog, however, and immediately started thinking about some way to adapt the found one into a sidecar. It seemed like a good candidate except I couldn’t figure out how to mount it to the bike. Due to the way it is constructed, I figured I could move the attachment arm to the rear of the trailer and attach it to the axle hardware in the same way it did as a trailer, but what about the front mount? I didn’t want to permanently change anything on the bike… no welding, for example, and knew there was some way to do it which I could not visualize. I brought the trailer with me cross country to my handyman/caretaker gig for the winter months here in Maryland, but winter has come and gone, the trailer is still a trailer and it will be time to migrate back to northern Minnesota in a couple of weeks.
A few of days ago I ran across something I hadn’t known existed: a manufactured bicycle trailer type of sidecar made by Chariot. When I saw the photo I felt vindicated in my fuzzy vision of the found trailer becoming a sidecar. There it was, sort of, super light weight and attached to a pedal bicycle. I looked over their user manual file and got even more enthused when I saw how it was mounted… just a single mount affixed to the pedal crank area. And the mounting hardware could be purchased separately so that the sidecar could be used on a second bike. It did say that the sidecar was not compatible with many bicycles and I figured even the mounting hardware wasn’t going to be cheap if the sidecar was priced at $500.00. Dat’s a lotta money, about what I live on every month, so I figured I would have to come up with my own mount. I also figured that I would use two mounts, fore and aft since it would be stronger and safer. The Chariot is rated at 55 pounds cargo while the Instep is a hundred pounds. With two mounting points it would be stronger yet. Not that I need to haul anything heavier than a 30 pound dog, a little tool kit, maybe extra gas, lunch and perhaps a bag of groceries or something like that… a bucket of minnows… a 1947 Studebaker somebody left by the side of the road. Mostly it would be for the canine taxi cab service
Back to the home made mount. At first all I could see was the one Chariot made… trying to see how I could make one like that. I didn’t get very far and dropped that idea, focusing instead on the principle of a fixed tube sticking forward and parallel to the ground. Then I saw it in my head, a section of handlebar cut off and mounted under the pedal crank and bolted to the frame at the point where the lower front of the rear fender attaches, and also attached forward of the crank somehow… maybe a U bolt with a block between the handlebar tube and bike frame shaped to fit between… maybe something like a hockey puck shaped with the dremel tool. It could also be bolted from behind vertically where on most bikes a side kick stand is fixed and there is a little plate above… it could get bolted there, too.. There’s no way it could move and it would be plenty strong.. I visualized an arm coming off the front of the sidecar frame which would have a tubular T, like maybe a 2 inch copper water pipe fitting. The top part of the T would slide over and on to the 1 7/8 inch handlebar tube pointing forward from under the pedal crank. That arm could then pivot on the handlebar tube allowing the sidecar to flex some on left and right turns. The rear mount is also designed to flex, so there shouldn’t be any problem with handling. The inboard wheel of the trailer (left wheel) would be removed so the sidecar just had the outboard wheel (right wheel)..
So that’s what I am visualizing and I think it will work. If it does and I like it (and the dog likes it), then I’ll maybe customize the sidecar by possibly making it narrower so that it would take up less roadway. That shouldn’t be real hard to do. I could remove the fabric and paint the frame and hardware to match the bike, then recover it in birch bark stitched to the frame work with split roots from the black spruce tree, like on a traditional Ojibwa birch bark canoe.
My hope is that the basic ideas outlined here can be of use to others. The sidecar could be totally home made. It is the mounting setup that makes things possible. If you have the arm and hardware from a bicycle trailer and a dead handlebar then you have the beginning of a light weight poor boy sidecar. Even when you don’t have much money, can’t weld and have never done it before there are still cool things we can do and make for our rides.
I’m asking at this point for some feedback. I haven’t done anything yet but a lot of creative staring and I did cut the handlebar to size so that I could better picture things. Maybe there is a better, low tech (must be low tech) way to do this. If you have any ideas or see a problem in what I’m thinking, please share your thoughts. I have pretty thick skin and if there’s a better way which will lead to more successful results then learning before is better than after. Many thanks,
More photos coming...
Someday when I grow up I will probably lose interest in toys with wheels, but until then...
Last edited by silverbear; 04-28-2010 at 06:52 AM.
Reason: A handlebar is 7/8 and not 1 7/8. The fitting I was looking for would have been 1 inch and not 2.