Thursday, December 29, 2005

Sidecars: To Lean, Or Not To Lean?

I've been doing a bit of research lately on ways to add luggage space to my bike. I've already got hard luggage comprising of sidecases (Kappa K40 - 40 liters each) and a topcase (Givi E450 - 45 liters), add to this an expandable tankbag that holds up to 30 liters and it adds up to a total luggage capacity of 155 liters. Now I can almost hear alot of your moans that "if you need more space, get a car!" Although I hate passing the blame, the simple truth is that my SO requires more space than I. When I'm riding alone, I can easily make due with what's on the bike now - but when my wife tags along, we run out of space pretty darn quick!

One of the first things I checked out were trailers. I didn't like the idea of towing something that didn't lean, so I looked into the selection of single-wheel trailers. The most popular probably being the Uni-Go; a small (140 liter) single wheeled trailer with great styling and nice features being made over in New Zealand. Unfortunately, it costs an arm and a leg (which can be a problem when shifting); with the base "Touring" model ringing-in at over $3,000 CAN. I kept searching until finally I came upon the Monogo trailer manufactured by a small company in Quebec; only half-a-day's ride from home. These guys took an interesting approach; rather than re-invent the wheel and build a trailer from scratch, they used a car-top luggage box (i.e. Thule), added a wheel and a hitch and voilĂ ! The great thing about using existing parts is that they can manufacture them for a very reasonable price: $995 CAN. Another very good thing is that it's very light (54 lbs) and the wheel is positioned close to the middle, which means very little weight on the hitch (tongue weight). Monogo isn't the only company to use a luggage box, there's also the Piggy-Backer out of South Carolina, but it's a two-wheeled rig.

I was almost ready to put down a deposit on the trailer when a friend of mine mentioned sidecars. At first, I shrugged and laughed because the image I had of a sidecar was a URAL rig or something out of a WWII movie. Then he made the remark that "with a sidecar, you could bring your dog along with you". Being a dog person (and very cheap), I'll admit that it saddens me to leave the dog at the kennel when we go away for a few days of riding... It saddens me even more when we go to pick her up and have to pay the bill! But again, doesn't a sidecar equate to little more than riding a three-wheeled car (i.e. no leaning). Not necessarily, there's a company out of Switzerlan called ARMEC that manufactures a sidecar that allows you to lean. This is achieved through an ingenious bottom-mount. This is a very interesting option for me, as it would not only allow me to bring the dog along, but also add about 120 liters of luggage space. The great part is that it can be removed from the bike in about 10 minutes with little more than an adjustable spanner. Oh yeah, did I mention that it also costs an arm and a leg? Oh well, maybe someday...

"The more people I meet the more I like my dog." - Unknown


Anonymous said...

I had a Chez made sidecar on my 1978 Goldwing. It was a Velorex, and wasn't too expensive in 1981...about $1500.00. My wife & I along with a 22 month old toddler set out from Indiana to California and back. 6000 miles in 3 weeks. I also pulled a 2 wheel trailer made by Califia (1975). The side car was a lot of stress on the bike as well as me, the driver. I wouldn't have another sidecar if someone gave it to me. On the other hand, the trailer cost me $250.00 in 1977 and is probably the best purchase I ever made. I am currently rebuilding it, as it only had 6" wheels, and I couldn't find new 6" tires due to D.O.T. regs. Happy Cycling!

Lucky said...

Thanks for the tip! I never would have considered a sidecar had it not been for the cool little video on the ARMEC website where you see the bike leaning while the sidecar stays level. And I probably wouldn't enjoy riding with a sidecar all the time; but for those weekend trips with the dog, it sounds like a cool accessory.