Sidecars are the absolutely coolest things you can build, after you've built a bicycle. For those of the kustom orientation they make for a much more interesting project, as the construction makes the engineering more interesting, and the possibility of exciting bodywork and more creative paint possibilities makes the project more sculpturally satisfying. Throw in the extra dimension of finishing off the sidecar's cockpit artistically, and you have a very entertaining experience in its creation.
Here are some interesting examples of the breed, from luxe to basic,
along with some suggestions for taking the concept further.
Here are some pictures of a bike I built for my 3-year-old old son and I:
The bike is a Dyno Roadster with a Nexus 7-speed hub laced to a 24" rim in the rear, and a 26" rim with a dynamo hub in the front. The sidecar body was constructed from wood and fiberglass and the frame was constructed out of aluminum. The sidecar has a door on the side for easy access and a small trunk in the rear. The sidecar alone weighs approx 22 lbs (less than I expected). Fenders and lights will be future modifications as well as a smaller front sprocket. The bike handles great on the rides at the beach and it attracts a lot of attention and offers.
When I designed the Sidecar I had a lot to consider, the shape of the body, placement of the wheel on the side, and the amount of weight it would have to hold. I decided to go with an old design I saw awhile back with the modification of the door, trunk, and moving the side wheel back to align with the rear bike tire. The dimensions turned out to be 16"H X 16 ½"W X 48"L.
I began construction by drawing a pattern for the sides, then I traced it onto a piece of hardboard 7/32" thick that I found at the local hardware store. To make things easier I measured the width from the inside of the body so everything was cut 16" even.
After I cut the sides I measured and cut the door for the right side (the door was just an option for my small son).
The two sides were joined together with a few pieces of 1"X 2" running the width, also using the extra material from the sides cut ¾"W X 16"L as well to fill in as slats between the 1"X 2"'s.
The floor was made from the same material as the sides because it was going to be reinforced by the frame underneath.
The seat was raised 2" above the floor with a box type frame that allows room for the body mounting bolts as well a place for the seatbelt to bolt to.
After the framing of the body was finished I began the fiberglass work
I started with the front and back curves of the body first. I put down a layer of 4oz fiberglass using polyester laminating resin to give the front and back its shape.
Next I used 1oz fiberglass and polyester sanding resin over the entire body to give it a smoother surface that was easier to sand.
Next was lots and lots of sanding to smooth the body out.
.When the sanding was complete I cut the door for the trunk out and reinforced it so it would retain its shape.
After the body sanding was done I used extra pieces leftover from the body, cut them and upholstered them to make the seat.
The frame was constructed with 1"X 1" square aluminum tube
The frame was designed to align the sidecar wheel with the rear wheel of the bike to reduce wheel flex in turns and make the
bike ride more like a trike. The drawback to the long frame and sidecar being attached to a bike like the Dyno Roadster is when you turn the front of the sidecar dips toward the ground approx 1 ½". To compensate for this a little I mounted the frame to the bike so the front sat 1/2" higher.
The frame is just a basic rectangle with 3 ribs running the width
The rear wheel was mounted to sit 6" higher than the frame so there would be approx 7" of ground clearance.
The sidecar frame was attached to the bike frame at 4 points:
Front down tube (near the head)
Frame (behind the bottom bracket just in front of the seat tube)
Seat tube (near the top)
Rear dropout (the bottom portion)
After the frame and body were assembled and tested, I striped them and painted them with 3 coats of gloss black and 3 coats of clear, with auto trunk paint in the interior and the trunk.Larry Hatfield
I N D I A N S I D E C A R :
We think the Indian bicycle is a real antique, but
the sidecar is a "Ghost Restoration" (new fake).
Its creator was selling it on eBay, where I spotted it.
The guy was nice enough to send me the larger photos
I requested. Shortly afterward , my computer lost its hard
drive, including the E-message from him containing his name;
and other info on the project. Rats! But it's obviously all metal.
G R E E N M Y S T E R Y S I D E C A R :
Another one originally found on eBay, with missing information:
"This is a custom made fiberglass sidecar. Body is fiberglass on a wood platform, 4 ft. long, Frame is made from Schwinn tubing. New Redline alloy wheel and Green Kenda tire. Bumpers are aluminum. This rides very similar to a granny trike or 3 wheeler.
Creators of these projects who may see this, let us know your names, and we will update the page.
V A N C O U V E R T W I N S C O M B O :
Paul Neugebauer shows off his recycling instincts in this pretty matched pair of projects- a lightweight stretched cruiser fitted with a gossamer minimalist sidecar..
This bike is an 18-speed stretched cruiser. The frame is almost identical to my 3-speed cruiser BLUE (previous issue of BR&K) except I added a lot of extra gussets for reinforcement . The sidecar is attached where the kick stand would have gone, and to a plate which joins the top, steering and down tubes. I had intended to write an article about this project but I am not a wordsmith (or a photographer) and that part of the project eluded me. The sidecar wheel is mounted in a frame which is made from the back end of a BONY bike. The sidecar frame is a large oval with a couple of modified BMW Lexan motorcycle fairings screwed to it. The seat is from an office chair and slides forward for smaller riders. The rest of the bike is made from five other donor bikes. All tubes are sleeved and welded. I hope that this example inspires some of you to try the same. I may, in the future, create a sidecar which could also be pedalled. My son is not very heavy, but I have had men of over 220 lbs. in it and would not like to try that on any hills.
Good luck; I am interested in meeting Vancouver, Canada Kustomizers,Paul Naugebauer
S I L V E R H A U L E R:
$ 5 F R A N K ' S " F A C T O R Y " S I D E C A R :
We happen to know where this one came from. It's from the collection of BR&K friend, "5$ Frank"Webster. While it isn't "Kustom", it shows the connecting/mounting linkage very well; therefore it's a good reference for people interested in rolling their own sidecar. This one was originally from the Philippines.
D E S I G N R E F E R E N C E : Antique-style boat bodywork.
The boat form was very popular with early designers of both bicycle and motorcycle sidecars, probably because it was a form and technology with which many people were already familiar. This has great potential as a "Ghost Restoration project; think old Chris-Craft runabout with mahogany veneer deck strips separated by contrasting caulking, topping a white hull. This style was popular due to its suitability for simple fabrication from sheet aluminum, but it lends itself to almost any material.
A N O T H E R I N T R I G U I N G P O S S I B I L I T Y :
This image was found at a motorcycle sidecar site- hackd.com. By doing some creative thinking, it would be possible to come up with a very cute vehicle combination using this idea. Need I mention that there are some very cool fiberglass kart and pedal car hot rod bodies out there?
Sidecar for a dog, by Cody Customs
T H E P R O J E C T I L E S T Y L E O F H A R M U T B U B E N Z E R :
Streamlined and lightweight military surplus "Drop Tanks" have a long connection to hot rodding. They were the bodywork of choice for builders of "Salt Flats Streamliners" back in the SCTA days; and they're still being used .
Mr. Bubenzer uses these slick tanks as the basis for motorcycle sidecar bodies.
Their characteristics make them a likely prospect for bicycle purposes. The tanks are pointy at both ends, but Harmut truncates them at the rear for compact- ness. For bicycle sidehack use, they could be shortened even more.
S I D E C A R S C A N B E C A R T O O N I S H - S O M A Y B E G O F O R I T ?
The sidecar designed for Nick Park's Wallace and Gromit characters, as seen in this model kit, would make a superb bicycle sidecar, providing the technical challenges could be met. And don't we all love a good challenge?
T H E R E ' S A R E A S O N T H E Y C A L L T H E M " C L A S S I C " :
A L L T H E C O M F O R T S O F H O M E :
What's cuter than a red Vespa?
1915 Wolf sports windscreen/top.
Cast model shows closed body work.
If you haven't pulled out a sketch
pad by now, maybe you should
check your pulse?
A N D T H E R E ' S A L W A Y S T H E S P A N D E X T R I C K :
Yet another early sidecar body technology is that of fabric over struts, the same method used to make early aircraft through the '30s. In this technology, fabric is stretched and sewn over a rigid framework of wood or metal strips, then "doped" with a cellulose-nitrate based liquid, to shrink it and make a weatherproof drum-like lightweight skin. The spandex trick is similar, but it involves stretching Spandex fabric over the framework, rather than linen or duck, and saturating the fabric with epoxy. It also gives a rigid drum-like lightweight skin, but it isn't prone to rotting and combustion, as it's totally synthetic and inert. Early streamlined sidecar and auto bodywork like this was called "zeppelin-style", after the pre-WW2 German lighter-than-air craft which used it for the rigid outer envelope.The example below is a different sort of vehicle, but it works perfectly well for a bicycle sidecar, due to its light weight. The rigid framework is fabricated from knife-cut foam-core board, which weighs almost nothing, but is very stiff when properly-designed, joined, and encapsulated in a spandex/epoxy membrane.
. your text.
Remember those fiberglass bodies for karts!!!
Above: This child's car bodywork is made from Spandex stretched over easily-shaped styrofoam and foam core board over plywood formers, saturated in epoxy resin, and given the usual primer and spray paint finish. The entire extremely light body envelope, without the chassis, weighs about as much as one of its wheels.
influence, this '57 Chevy-styled rig suggests further ideas- '59 Caddy, anyone? I don't quite get the outrigger location for the offside wheel, though.The sidecar would look even finer with wider bodywork enclosing the wheel.
THIS BIKE WAS CHOPPED & RAKED BY MYSELF! "FAT-BOB" of "EAST-SIDE" CHOPPERS.... THE FRAME IS 18" LONGER THEN STOCK, THE PAINT IS METAL FLAKE AND CANDY SILVER, IT HAS A 12-VOLT BATTERY THAT RUNS THE LIGHTS, HORN AND A 20 Gal. LIVE WELL THAT I USE WHEN I GO FISHING.... THE SIDE CAR WHEEL ITSELF WAS FROM A WHEEL CHAIR, THE PARTS AND THE FRAME WERE HAND MADE AND WELDED.... IT ALSO HAS A 12-SPEED, AND I ADDED A FRONT BRAKE AFTER THE PHOTOS WERE TAKEN... THE SIDE CAR IS NOT ATTACHED LIKE ALL THE OTHERS YOU FIND! IT IS HINGED AT THE FRONT AND BACK CENTER OF THE BIKE WITH A DESIGN THAT I CAME UP WITH MYSELF, AND IT LEANS INTO A CORNER LIKE ALL BIKES DO WHEN THERE IS NO SIDE CAR. IT GIVES THE RIDER THE FEEL AS IF IT HAD NO SIDE CAR AT ALL.... IT IS A VERY NICE AND EASY BIKE TO RIDE! ONE DON'T EVEN FEEL THE SIDE CAR WHEN ONE RIDES IT, WITH A FULL LOAD OR NOT. THE SIDE CAR CAN HOLD ABOUT 285 to 300Lbs. Robert Cammarata, "EAST-SIDE" Choppers
in the UK, has
a site to do with
a bike sidecar project he
gives very good information on what is required
to build a well- functioning sidecar. A must- see for anyone considering building one of their own. Click Here.
These piccies (sorry about the quality) may interest you.
I built this for my boys, principally the one with the red Fez.
As you can see by the chipped paint, it is a work in progress, and tends to get rather flogged by its owners.
The thing I noticed about all the examples on your site is that none seem to include consideration of steering geometry. The 'Earles' type fork set up has a caster of 45mm as opposed to the usual 120mm+ of a
standard bicycle frame- enough to keep it running straight yet not requiring a gorilla to turn it. The addition of suspension also has obvious benefits. (ex mountain bike)
All the components are either second-hand bike bits from the local tip shop or, where good engineering was actually required, new off-the-shelf items, ie: ball/rose joints. The adjustable nature of said ball joints allows for easy and accurate truing of front wheel alignment and variable caster, if necessary. It made the jigging for construction much easier as well. The front brakes are coupled with a 1950s 3.5" Sturmey-Archer drum brake in the outfit, laced into to 20" ex BMX wheel. Having
a brake on the outfit, and having it coupled, makes a huge difference to braking control and function. I have used a motorcycle clutch lever, with its excellent mechanical advantage, with a piece of 3/8-10mm rod and 1/2 RHS cut to shape, as the adjusted mounts for the cables. Needless to say it is set up with as wide a set of gear ratios (18) as possible. Click for Details.
Toe-in of the outfit wheel is afforded by using an old set of front forks welded into the chassis. The slots give plenty of adjustment, if you get it within the ballpark at the design stage. Likewise the front swinging arm is an old 24" mountain bike fork, which of course comes fully engineered with good post mounts for high quality "V" type brakes as well as the axle mounts. It has an alloy mud guard (ex motorcycle again) which, at the time of the photograph, was in the process of being re-engineered, as can be seen by the squirt of etch primer on the mounting tabs.
The boat body is built with 1.5mm aircraft ply over 6mm thick plywood ring frames, all epoxied with fiberglass mat reinforcement in all joints. The top of the boat is a piece of 8mm ply as a concession to boy-proofing. Maybe not as flash a finish as those beautiful outfits pictured in the article, but very functional, robust and a delight to ride for the hoons at our
place and their friends.
I have also done a number of road-registered dual-purpose motorcycle sidecar outfits over the years, based around mid- to large-capacity dirt bikes, but that's another story. Cheers, Peter Watson
We don't know whether this is an actual old bike and sidecar rig, or a clever ghost restoration. Very nice, either way.
I built the bike and side car on very short notice for a timed contest. It was built almost entirely from parts in my yard and garage, including the side car body made from an old damaged wood strip canoe. The hand made brass and copper tank shoots flames from each side making rideing the bike while torching a bit risky.
The bike frame was a rusty hulk laying in the front yard overgrown with hunnysuckle vines, the side car frame also started life as a rusty bike frame. I made the custom Tractor style saddle from fiber glass and covered it with the same naugahide as the side car interior and adorned it with some copper trim. Since these pictures were taken I have done a few more things to the rig and added a few details. I am also starting on another which will be of similar design but I will be under no time constraints so it promises to be even better. Very little engineering was done prior to building the bike though I do have almost thirty five years of experience in the bicycle industry which may have been of some help. It rides well and although it could stand some additional brake power is a joy to take my son to get a burger in. Rick Gilmore... www.vroomart.com