Silverbear's sidecar

Discussion in 'Motorized Bicycle General Discussion' started by silverbear, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Silverbear’s Sidecar

    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,
    Silverbear

    More photos coming...
     

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    #1 silverbear, Apr 26, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2010
  2. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Here's what I'm working with...
     

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  3. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    ...and here is the handlebar I cut off to use as a front mount.
     

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  4. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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  5. Steve M

    Steve M New Member

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    I have one question on which side should it be on? Would you want to be more out in traffic then your puppie dog? Just a thought. I like the idea, I have a dog that i think will enjoy a trailer and may get one for her.
    Steve M.
    (^)
     
  6. fasteddy

    fasteddy Well-Known Member

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    Silver Bear, PM me your home address and I'll make up a mounting plate like the one I am using on my bike. It will mount on your seat stay and chain stay and the nut on your axle. You will just have to drill the holes to fit your bike.
    I have to cut out the mounting pads for mine and I'll cut yours at the same time. I plan on using U bolts to hold it on and they should be easy to get.

    I'm thinking if you bought longer rods to replace the axle and the rod on the tow handle so they stuck out far enough to clear the peddals and bent the ends in an L, they would fit in to right sized pillow blocks mounted on the plate and with a washer and a pin to hold them in place you should be good to go.

    I did read today that it was better to have a third arm to hold the sidecar rigid to the bike but until I've tried it I'm going to see if I like it as it pivots up and down and the bike leans.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

    Steve.
     
  7. fasteddy

    fasteddy Well-Known Member

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    Steve M, I think the law would say the sidecar had to be on the curb side. Passenger on your right.

    Steve.
     
  8. fasteddy

    fasteddy Well-Known Member

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    Silver Bear, just looked at the trailer again. Need to know how far from the front cross bar to the axle.

    Steve.
     
  9. Steve M

    Steve M New Member

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    You are right after I think about the side always is on the right. The pic at the top thru me off.
    Steve M
     
  10. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Steve M
    Yes, I was figuring the sidecar to go on the right, but didn't realize it was required by law to be on the right. I was thinking more in terms of how I normally mount my bike (from the left side) and that the china girl exhaust is on the left side and would not be directly next to the sidecar. I know that my brother's dog liked riding in a trailer behind my brother's bike and my little friend Aaniimoosh is bonkers for riding in her trailer. She will sometimes sit next to her trailer and bark, asking for a ride. I once bought a hard plastic bodied trailer at a yard sale as a replacement for the first Instep Lightning she wore out after a thousand miles (fabric died). She rode in the plastic trailer once and would not ride in it again after that. I realized later it was a noisy and less cushioned ride. Dog knows best. The exhaust has never bothered her at all. If it had she would not have asked to ride. I did attach a mud flap to the rear fender to cut down on gravel/junk kicking up on logging roads. I find it hard to look behind me to check on her while riding. I've ridden past foxes on the side of forest roads, spooked many deer and a couple moose, one timber wolf. Dogs will be dogs and I'd like better to look next to me to be sure she isn't about to launch herself out of the trailer in hot pursuit. It has never happened, but still. Same with if my passenger is one of my grandchildren or aneighbor kid, it would be good to have the passenger next to me and not out of sight behind. Nice used trailers show up at yard sales...
    Make sure the dog's first ride is a good experience... nothing freaky happening, praise and maybe a treat since it is a new experience. No reward needed after the first time. I've seen her get into her trailer when it was just sitting there detached from the bike and curl up for a nap. It's nice having a riding buddy.
    SB
     
  11. diceman2004

    diceman2004 New Member

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    man i realy like that storebought unit in your first pic , i really like the mounting .
    you are a pretty ingenious guy , i,m sure yours will come out nice
    i,ve been looking for a trailer for my bike ( there were lots for sale last week on kijiji )
    but i was broke , 1 week of nice weather and now theres none to be found ( well at least no cheap used ones anyways .
    can,t wait to see the updates
     
  12. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Steve fasteddy,
    You are very kind in your offer of a mounting plate like yours. I appreciate it and will take you up on it as a rain check for the next "real" sidecar which I intend to build next winter and which will be heavier and more in need of a substantial mounting setup. It may even get an electric wheel and be a pusher sidecar. For this little bike trailer of tubes and fabric I don't think it will take much to secure it. If the Chariot can get by with one mounting point, then the two I have outlined should work well enough unless there is something wrong in my thinking. Now I want to find out if it will work and of course I'm hoping it proves to be a simple and low cost way of your average guy having a sidecar made from a bike trailer. I'd love it if somebody else made one and was giving a grandchild rides, spreading a little motorbicycle joy. It would feel like I contributed something and gave back after all that has been given to me. It wouldn't matter if anybody remembered where they got the idea or if it was third hand by then. I know you understand where I'm coming from. After pondering this for sometime and coming up with what I think is a solution I just have to find out if it will work out. I think it is going to, especially if others also help think this through. What you have come up with is at the top end of sidecar 'technology' and mine is at the other end of the scale, but the pleasure in figuring out a solution to the problem is much the same. I also can't help it. I just like making something out of nothing, or changing one discarded thing into another. It is like someone on this forum who made an exhaust pipe from a handlebar, Bairdco's lay back seat post also made from handlebar. .. Rockenstein's (and now mine, too,) juice can gas tank. The leaping tuna air cleaner. I have to find out if I can make a sidecar out of a bike trailer with found stuff and simple tools. I gotta.
    If you will cut a second mounting plate, the same size as yours , I will make my next and more grand sidecar frame of the same dimension as yours. And I won't have to think up how to secure it to the bike, thanks to you. I'm still thinking a few feet from the end of an aluminum canoe might work for a sidecar body. Or make one of cedar strip, but a little square stern 'canoe'. I live in canoe country next to the million acre Boundary Waters Canoe Area, so I think it would be appropriate. Thank you. Steve.
    SB
     
  13. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    I took a few minutes out this morning to remove the original arm which is designed to attach to a fitting at the rear axle. As it was is the first photo. I set the trailer next to the bike With the wheel removed and discovered that I could use the same mounting holes and just reverse the arm... couldn't be easier! So the rear attachment modification took all of five minutes. This may be even simpler than I had imagined. I can see that the center stand I use on that bike (63 American Deluxe) will have to go to make room for the front mount. But being a sidecar along with the original side kickstand it will stay upright without the center stand. Maybe I'll also make a rear drop stand for that bike. for when the sidecar is not attached. The photo taken from behind shows the arm fixed to the axle of the bike. The sidecar position seems about right to me as it is. Cool. Later today I'll drive in to town for a hardware run and see about a tubular T fitting if one is made in a 2" size. Hope so. Aaniimoosh The Wonder Dog is ready to ride, even if I am not.
    By the way, this model trailer is an Instep Ride N Stride. Another model might well be different in how it mounts, etc.
    SB
     

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    #13 silverbear, Apr 27, 2010
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2010
  14. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Yeah, that Chariot is very clever. I like it, too. But I'm sure we can come up with our own ways to adapt a used bike trailer into our own chariots of the dogs (hmmm, I like that "chariots of the dogs") for a lot less than $500.00. That seems a little excessive to me. If you find a trailer at a yard sale or in the paper (don't know what kiiji is) make sure you get the mounting hardware. I know you can buy just the little axle hardware piece by itself from instep, but with shipping it isn't cheap and you might pay more for it than you did for the trailer. Although I imagine there is a way to make that piece, especially if a person can weld, which leaves me out. Next time I take pictures I'll make sure I get a closeup of the hardware piece that came with the trailer originally.
    So far we haven't really changed enough on the trailer that it can no longer be a trailer again. That would be cool if it was pretty easily convertible.
    SB
     
  15. fasteddy

    fasteddy Well-Known Member

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    Silver Bear, sorry, didn't think about messing with the heart of a tinkerer. What's more sacred than the 'made this out of nothing'. Other than a bit of plywood that I bought, my sidecar and frame are just what we had around the house. Frame was square tube my nephew bought and never used, the wood was in the work shop and the mahogany was door and window moldings taken off the house over 25 years ago and kept because they were to good to throw out.
    Now I look at tin cans differently thanks to you and Rockenstein.
    Trying to find a use for all the hot air pipes that are under the ivy behind the work shop.

    The trailer looks like a natural sitting beside the bike. Puppy should be pleased because she is beside you and is also close enough to give you the puppy eye and that means more treats. Nobody avoids puppy eye! Human heart isn't strong enough. LOL

    Kijiji is much like Craigs List but is only in Canada I think.

    Steve.
     
  16. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Hey Steve,
    I knew you would understand. I think the quality of your found stuff is a little better than my found stuff.
    Yes, the dog kept staring holes through me today when I was tinkering with the bike trailer, practicing her telepathic command skills on me to go for a ride! Which didn't work since the trailer is in the works and the clutch is still awaiting the puller.
    SB
     
  17. curtisfox

    curtisfox Well-Known Member

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    Not only that when the passenger gets smart you can get closer to the curb. And the naxt parked car will shut them up.
    Just kidding. I have had thoughts about a side car have to keep watch for one......Curt
     
  18. pj-pirate

    pj-pirate New Member

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    Homda for basic
    One of these days I will add a "hack" to my MB. I have this one on my Honda for work commute. Dog used to sneak in and hide in the nose till I was under way....many a u-turns to dump off the dog! I have had several over the years and the most fun was a Watsonian left side hack from England. Used to give rides to people whom I found were not paying attention to what was going on and I would "hang" them over the center line into traffic. Would get their attention! I made the fatal mistake of pulling that on my wife---still have scars on my left leg from nails! Found it wise to get rid of the "Left hack" and stay with the curbside models!
     

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  19. weekend-fun

    weekend-fun New Member

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    Ooooooh.
    That's a unique way.... But sounds good

    Sam
     
  20. silverbear

    silverbear The Boy Who Never Grew Up

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    Hey Curt & Sam...
    pjpirate, that's a very cool sidecar for your Honda. Smart dog you've got there!
    SB
     

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