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Old 05-28-2011, 06:40 AM   #57
Neptune03 OP
Adventurer
 
Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Tallahassee, Florida
Oddometer: 78
Yamaha FZ1 dual sport sidecar build & ride report





I found a boat seat on EBay that I liked. I knew it would be water resistant, it had good lateral support and it looked comfortable. The only problem was that it was white. To rectify that, I purchased a can of adhesion promoter and landau black leather and vinyl paint from Eastwood Automotive. The adhesion promoter cleans and softens the vinyl preparing it for the paint. I wasn’t sure how well it would work but I am really surprised. The paint didn’t make the seat stiff and so far it is holding up very well.



The other reason I liked this seat is that the front portion of seat folds up and back. On a boat this allows the “captain” to stand up to see better while docking or stand to absorb the shock while pounding over waves. For sidecar use, it makes room for the passenger to stand up over the really rough stuff or move around (hang off) in turns or on off-camber terrain.




This shows the radiator guard and the back side of the flush mounted turn signal. The only problem with mounting the radiator in front of the passenger is the heat. It’s not real bad, and will be welcomed in cooler weather, but during the heat of Florida summer adds a little simmer to the ride.



Well, I have ridden somewhere between 400 – 500 miles of dirt and pavement since finishing the bike and I am having a blast. There is a section of graded dirt road about five miles long not far from the house. The road has no real tight turns but a bunch of fast sweepers of varying tightness. It also has a variety of surfaces consisting of soft sand, hard red clay, red clay with a thin layer of sand on top and gravel. While building this thing, I would go to bed at night dreaming about pitching it into the corners with the back end swung out and throwing dirt. I have to say, the reality is even better than the dreams. All I can keep saying is, “that it is a blast”. The power, speed and aggressiveness that I missed while riding the F650GS with Ural, is there in buckets on this bike. I know the speedometer is not correct because of the larger tires, but on the short straight sections I have glanced down and seen 100 on the speedometer and the corners are taken somewhere between 50 – 80 on this section of road. The bike is also very stable, going about 10 mph you can just whip the bars to the left and the backend will slide around doing a 180 and powering away in the other direction with no problems. I have noticed that when doing this, because there is not a lot of clearance between the tire and chain, the chain slightly rubs the tire. I believe it is happening because centrifugal force throws the chain into the tire and maybe there is some flexing of the tire’s sidewall. That is the only time it does it and the contact is very light.

I love watching World Rally Car Racing and am amazed at how much control they have on gravel, dirt and sand surfaces (WRC is very popular in Europe and they run very modified Citron, Subaru and other four wheel drive cars with big power that fly through the woods at incredible speeds over a variety of terrain). The tires I have on my bike and sidecar are the same tires they use and now I understand a little better how they can do it. I was shocked by how much traction I got off road and how quickly it stops on soft surfaces. My only concern is how long they might last on pavement. I have the Hayabusa with RDS for street use, but to connect the dirt roads around here a pretty good amount of tarmac will have to be run. I’ll just have to wait and see how well the Rally Tires hold up.

Between the taller tires and the adjustable shock links I installed, the bike is much taller than stock but it still has the stock rear shock. I thought that it would be way too soft but I have been pleasantly surprised. I haven’t been on really rough stuff yet but even over the washboard roads I have been riding, the back end seems to respond very well. The thing I was most concerned about was the sidecar’s suspension. I assumed that the shock on the single sided VFR swingarm would be way to stiff, but it seems perfect and provides a good ride for the passenger. The one area I need to address is the front end. Over washboard surfaces, especially while cornering fast, it seems like the shocks are not responding quickly enough so the ride is harsh. I have about ¾ inches of sag and the shocks seem to be using all their travel but the ride is still jarring. I don’t know if the problem is the springs, the shock’s compression dampening or the weight of the wheel, tire and swingarm. Bill suggested that I see how much weight is on the front end then remove the shock’s spring so I can see how much travel I am getting and finally call Progressive to see what they can recommend.

My Hayabusa, and the two bikes I had before that, have all had center hub steering which is AMAZING, so this is the first bike I have owned with leading link forks. Compared to the other outfits I had with standard telescopic forks (before the center hub ones), the leading links are like night and day. The steering effort is very light, there is no pull to the right or the left and there is absolutely no head shake at any speed on pavement. What I do notice is that on dirt roads the front end is easily deflected by ruts and other irregularities. I just ordered a VW steering damper from EBay so will have to see if it eliminates this problem.

Overall I am very pleased with how it handles and performs. I know its performance is not even a fraction as serious as Scott Whitney’s (HogWild) outfit, but for a street bike that was home built it is about perfect for my needs. I look forward to kicking up the dust around Tallahassee, riding the beautiful forest roads in North Carolina and maybe someday riding some of the Trans American Trail.

At some point I hope to post some videos of the Yamaha in action but until then I hope you enjoyed my build post. I sure had fun building it and look forward to seeing where all those dirt roads go that I couldn’t explore on the Hayabusa. If you have any other questions about my experience riding the thing or the build, please do not hesitate to ask.

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