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Old 12-29-2009, 01:50 PM   #16
claude
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sidecarjohn
I can't account for previous bearing installation on my machine, although I know the guy who worked on it last, and trust his ability. On the other hand, I'm happy about the repair job done for me.

However, I have to say the large bearing doesn't inspire me with confidence for what I'm asking it to do as a sidecar man. The large diameter seems fine, but the narrow width is another matter altogether. That BMW has varied the number of ball bearings in the recommended spec bearing also creates some doubts. I operate on a principle that if it doesn't look right, it maybe isn't, and for me it just doesn't look right.

Comparison between the rigours of Iron Butt and European use, to me is questionable. Long straight highways there might be, but with no cornering loads (solo use), it could be a machine is less stressed. Equally, the idea that the USA is made up of desert temperature conditions, which therefore influences mechanical integrity, is open to debate.

I do concede that some folk enjoy trouble free motorcycling, whilst others have different experiences, even with the same model. I find much to make me happy with our BMW, and just need to remove lingering doubts about one facet. Maybe a radical solution will be the judgement of others, but it all became radical the moment the original owner fitted a sidecar, plus made associated alterations. All part of the obsession really.
This discussion is probably one that could go on forever with little to no results apart from how each person here personally feels.
With no reservations I can say that we have done many many BMW sidecar hookups and have had no problems with the single sided swingarms. I can also say that Hannigan has done many many more than us and seem to have no huge concerns. We see that some here with much more experience under varied conditions than many of us have stated they see no real issues. It is historically true that EML did have a double sided setup but got way from it.
I did have concerns with the single sided swingarms years ago and questioned those who I felt had experience with them. Lowell Neff was one of these folks. He has a well earned reputation in the USA and is well respected. He said he didn't feel there was a need for concern from his experience. In speaking to others I get the same type of responses.
With all of that being said I did know of one person who had a Ural on a K75. He was new to sidecars and was doing well in learning to operate them etc.. Then he kind of quit cominuicationg after he had went to Texas on a trip.
He said that 'Someone' convinced him that he must have a double sided swingarm to be safe with his outfit......oh well.
So, all in all, to me anyhow the overall track record of the durability of the single sided swingarm speaks pretty darn good for itself. But like I said everyone must do what THEY feel neds to be done to give them peace of mind....so it goes.
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Old 12-29-2009, 05:44 PM   #17
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Single sided comments

I might as well throw my two cents in. My '98 R1100GS is only a "part-time" rig but it is always ridden hard and overloaded with weight. When the sidecar is on I switch to car wheels. Prepairing for our last Mexico trip, with the hack attached, (12,000 total mi. approx.) I had our friend Tom Cutter rebuild the final drive. This was at 66k miles and was only done as a precaution. At that time the pivot bearings came out in small pieces. As previously mentioned in this thread the stock needle bearing are not suitable in this application. Bad BMW engineering choice. Of course I installed Tom's brass bushings kit at reassembly. All that squeaking and side-play went away. The bike is all apart right now for a ceramic clutch job and a 100k inspection of everything. The brass bushings look like new and the final drive seems nice and tight. I believe that properly setting up the final drive is crucial (Thanks Tom!), and I change my final drive oil often to look for metal particles. Any type of machinery that is stessed more than normal needs a little extra attention. This is true of hot rods, racing cars and bikes, and certainly sidecar rigs. I'm not saying that one sided final drives will never fail. Anything used beyond its design limits will break or wear out.
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Old 12-30-2009, 08:25 AM   #18
Sidecarjohn OP
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Closure

Take Claude's point totally. Let's terminate this thread, so that we can absorb ourselves elsewhere. Thanks for everyone's interest and contributions.

For what it's worth, when I've eventually got my expected amendment completed and fitted, I'll report back.
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:53 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sidecarjohn
Comparison between the rigours of Iron Butt and European use, to me is questionable. Long straight highways there might be, but with no cornering loads (solo use), it could be a machine is less stressed. Equally, the idea that the USA is made up of desert temperature conditions, which therefore influences mechanical integrity, is open to debate.

I do concede that some folk enjoy trouble free motorcycling, whilst others have different experiences, even with the same model.

Just wish to clarify a couple of points.

I specifically stated that I do NOT believe that the failures that are being seen are a result of extra load/stresses being placed on the final drive units.

I believe that it is primarily a situation of incorrect assembly/shimming of a few units, possibly combined with excessive heat soaking from long high-speed runs and not changing the fluid frequently enough (oil breakdown/contamination).

-----

If redesigning this area on your rig is what it will take to make you feel confident in the reliability of your bike, don't let anyone talk you out of it.
Having lingering/nagging doubts while riding/touring will ruin your enjoyment of the experience. And that just is not worth it.

What I have done to quiet that little voice for myself is to do the research; talk face-to-face with as many high-mileage owners as I can to get my OWN statistical database; and then found a good price on a used final drive to keep on a shelf, ready to be shipped to me as needed, if the worst should happen while out on a trip...

You need to do whatever it takes to quiet your own little voice...

YMMV...
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Old 05-08-2010, 01:45 AM   #20
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BMW single-sided final drives & sidecars?

Discussion moved to here from link below, so as not to hijack the tread...
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...2#post12880992

Quote:
Originally Posted by LeighSA
Quote:
Originally Posted by windmill
It's final drive will last longer than a BMW's.

Obviously you mean the final drive on a BMW solo machine and NOT a sidecar! All this carp about BMW final drives etc being crap, I can understand solo guys getting upset when their final drive gives trouble but sidecar guys need to look closely at the weight and load the put on these final drives
I dunno....
Yes, there are some failures, but not nearly the percentages suggested in the uproar created by the "internet amplification factor".
(And I hear that Ural is having some problem with holding the final drives together on their rigs lately, with that massive 40hp they are cranking out...)

The K12LT is about the only one that I know of where the final drive is probably a bit underbuilt for the bike's weight. They took the earlier design and pressed it into service on that bike when it should have been beefed up for the added mass.
The "open axle" version came about due to the need for a final drive to handle the increasing horsepower & weight of some of the newer bikes, and the tendancy of some owners to overload them with trailers and such.
Most of the failures of the this new model were earlier units when BMW said lifetime oil fill, and some owners were stupid enough to believe them. Not even doing the initial 600 mile drain to remove the bedding-in debris from the oil.

My bike came to me as a salvage wreck where the P.O. had slid the back wheel into a post and had hit it so hard that it totally lunched the rear wheel. Broke a huge chunk out of it!
This is what the wheel looked like when the bike arrived on a pallet


Yet even after taking that kind of devastating hit which had to have transmitted quite a shock to the bearings, my final drive is still going strong after more than 30,000 total miles, and 20,000 hard sidecar miles...
Never even took it apart to inspect. Just change the oil regularly and ride.

This bike has a HUGE and HEAVY sidecar attached, and I am not known to baby it when riding...
(see my Deal's Gap, gravel/mud, snowpacked and other pics at my travel pages...)
Just out in town yesterday I did a left-hand power-slide with it to feed into traffic quickly during a U-turn. Just gave it a bit more throttle and let it come around quickly for me.
Didn't want to stop and wait for the approaching traffic...

My early version 2005 final drive has been seriously abused.
Hammered into a post at speed by the PO.
Hammered down miles of dirt & gravel when heavily loaded with the sidecar and touring gear.
Attach the twisties near my home regularly where I am sliding a bit to the left, and raising the chair to the right, with a wide and sticky winter car tire giving me plenty of grip...
It has been run fast after being frozen-solid overnight outdoors in winter, mudslung, road-salt soaked, and ridden for hours non-stop in desert heat on the way to the National Rally last summer (with more than a couple of mountain pass attacks before/after).



But I change the F/D oil every 12,000 miles and don't worry too much anymore.
It is still solid, dry, and no play.

YMMV
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Old 05-08-2010, 06:23 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWzenrider
Just wish to clarify a couple of points, then I will let it go.

I specifically stated that I do NOT believe that the failures that are being seen are a result of extra load/stresses being placed on the final drive units.

I believe that it is primarily a situation of incorrect assembly/shimming of a few units, possibly combined with excessive heat soaking from long high-speed runs.
Surely the extra Weight and side load must have some affect on the life shortening of these final drives, when you consider the wheel bearings and the crown wheel bearings are the same item, anyway that's what my opinion is and looking at some of the BMW sidecars and knowing what some of them weigh (over 1160 kg's) that weight and load MUST have some affect. That's my 2 cents worth. ---

If redesigning this area on your rig is what it will take to make you feel confident in the reliability of your bike, don't let anyone talk you out of it.
Having lingering/nagging doubts while riding/touring will ruin your enjoyment of the experience. And that just is not worth it.

What I have done to quiet that little voice for myself is to do the research; talk face-to-face with as many high-mileage owners as I can to get my OWN statistical database; and then found a good price on a used final drive to keep on a shelf, ready to be shipped to me as needed, if the worst should happen while out on a trip...

You need to do whatever it takes to quiet your own little voice...

YMMV...
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Old 05-08-2010, 09:58 AM   #22
BMWzenrider
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LeighSA
Yes, when I first started rebuilding this bike from the wrecked unit that I received I shared that nagging concern based upon the "Internet Amplification Factor."

So, knowing that this original final drive had taken a hard hit in the accident that totaled the bike, I went ahead and found a low-mileage unit from a R1200ST to have on hand as a possible spare.

I also bought it because it is a 2.75 ratio drive versus the stock 2.26 ratio drives in the R1200RT.
Not knowing how the gearing would feel with the sidecar attached, I was also hedging my bets that I might want to play with gearing by changing final drive ratios...

After thoroughly abusing this rig and ORIGINAL final drive for a couple of years and a fair number of hard miles in all sorts of mean, nasty, rotten conditions.
I am feeling pretty confident that my unit was shimmed properly and will last a LONG time.

My point is that if there was ANY final drive that should have experienced a systemic failure, it would be one that had taken a huge shock load when hitting a post in an accident, and has subsequently been subjected to frequent harsh side-loading and reverse loads from hard engine braking while setting up for corners, and then powering through them... Things never designed for by the BMW engineers.
All the while being fed a steady bath of rain, mud, dust, snow, road-salt; and run in some pretty extreme temps (from sitting outside overnight in below-zero Fairenheit and hitting the freeway in minutes, to hours of desert running fulling loaded for camping (1380 pounds total rig weight with rider!).
And it is still working just fine...



-----

Of course, having just said that, it will probably puke on me when I run out to the grocery this afternoon...
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Old 05-08-2010, 10:10 AM   #23
windmill
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWzenrider
Discussion moved to here from link below, so as not to hijack the tread...
http://www.advrider.com/forums/showt...2#post12880992



I dunno....
Yes, there are some failures, but not nearly the percentages suggested in the uproar created by the "internet amplification factor".
(And I hear that Ural is having some problem with holding the final drives together on their rigs lately, with that massive 40hp they are cranking out...)

The comment was made in the spirit of humor, a joke, I intended it to be a ridiculous statement about a wildly exaggerated "issue".

I never thought a comment made in jest comparing a toy to a real motorcycle would be taken literally by anybody.
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Old 05-08-2010, 11:26 AM   #24
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Unrealistic expectations?

Caution:
This post contains my OPINION.
I am labeling it as such, and expect you to respect it as MY opinion.
Others are free to disagree with my opinion.
I fully expect that some of you probably will...
However, lets please keep it civil and to the point if you choose to express your alternative opinions.
I promise to respect your opinion in the same way and only wish to discuss isues/ideas, not get into personal stuff.
'K?
Thanks!
-------------------------------------------------------


I have one other opinion related to the BMW final drives.
And that is one of expanded expectations on the part of the consumer as products have improved over the years.

How many of you would stand for pulling the crank from your engine every 30,000 miles as a 'routine' service these days?

Yet that is EXACTLY what you have to do with the famously reliable old BMW /2 series motorcycles to clean the oil slingers...
The bikes which created the mythos of BMW motorcycles as being the most solid and reliable motorcycles ever made...

People just expect a whole lot more these days,
and quite frankly, there are practical limits on how well a manufacturer can satisfy these every increasing demands.

How many inmates remember their father's spending lots of time in the garage or driveway working on the family car when they were younger?
I learned about vehicle maintenance before I could see over the fender.
My father would pick me up and set me inside the engine compartment of our 1967 Pontiac Catalina while he worked on it.
Replacing water pumps, starters, alternators, etc...
And by the time the car got up to 50-60,000 miles it was time to start thinking about a new car because things just wore out, and that is the way things were.

Cars today regularly go past 100,000 miles with nothing but oil changes and tires.
And if they DO happen to have a bad starter at 50,000 miles, the owner is FURIOUS that it would let them down.
-----

As product design and reliability has improved, so has the standard of what is 'normal' for longevity.
Everyone wants the stuff that that they buy to last forever without ever having to maintain or replace sub-systems.
Yet at the same time the consumer demands lighter, and faster, and more horsepower & torque...

There IS a practical limit of design between the competing demands for fast/light/powerful and reliability.
Just ask anyone who races...
As you push the limits of the balance between power/speed and reliability you will always find your "fuse" in the system.
It is vitually impossible to design every single component in a complex system to have 'exactly' the same strength/reliability.
There will always be on part that is the 'weak link' and will tend to be the first part to wear out or fail when the machine is pushed.
-----

Just how many miles DO you expect your bike to be able to go with zero defects?
Especially when they are ridden the way many here at ADVrider abuse them???
How much are you willing to pay for that capability?????

Every design is a compromise of competing demands.
Cost is often one of the MAIN drivers in that equation.

As a design engineer, I am constantly amazed at what vehicle designers ARE able to do these days, and still make them as light/strong/reliable as they are for a competitive price.
I could design/build a single-sided final drive which will never wear out or break, even after 500,000 miles.
But you will not want to pay for it, nor will you want that much unsprung mass on your rear suspension.

Machines need service, and they have parts that are wear items.
It is in the nature of being a mechanism with moving parts.
You design to a certain MTBF based upon an assumed usage.
Unfortunately, some percentage will fail before that design life based upon manufacturing tolerances alone, before you factor in use and maintenance issues.
That is a reality as well, even with 100% parts inspection.
-----

When the Iron Butt riders go out and put 50-100,000 miles a year on a bike riding at warp speed for days on end with minumum maintenace, it WILL affect the failure rate of all parts of the system. And the "fuse" part particularly.
The Iron Butt riders are extreme users. -- Like the mechanic who puts a 2-foot pipe on a 6" adjustable wrench.
A consumer motorcycle is not designed for that level of usage on a continuous basis with zero failures.
No company could afford to do that.

Lets face it people, most of the inmates who regularly haunt these forums are NOT 'average' riders...
We abuse our bikes by all 'normal' societal standards.
And when you use a product beyond its' normal design parameters you have to expect to either put more preventative maintenance into the machine to maintain full operation, or accept a higher rate of failures from the 'norm'.

For BMW motorcycles, the warranty is 3yr/36,000 miles.
Right there the manufacturer is TELLING you what they consider to be 'normal' usage of this product.
As soon as you step outside of that design parameter, you need to start thinking about additional maintenance, or be willing to accept the possibility of higher failure rates in some parts from increased wear.
-----

In the military we had a "Preventative Maintenance" list for every vehicle.
For some components that meant they were replaced at a certain mileage or time-frame regardless of condition.
This is done as a precaution against having a failure when in a mission-critical operation.
Because EVERY part that moves will eventually wear out.
You can either replace it when it starts showing measurable wear (requires disassembly & precise measurements in many cases), replace it on a schedule, or wait till it goes while in operation.

If you maintained your motorcycle like the military, it could get very expensive quickly, but your vehicle's mission uptime percentage would improve.
Inspection/wear-measurement of some parts is beyond the scope of most owners, so most riders go until something breaks.
If it happens on the commute to work, they are annoyed but live on.
If they are stranded in the outback or the middle of a competition they then hop on the internet and cry, "Why did brand XYZ build such a crappy component?!?!"

If your preventative maintenance regiment can be summed up by, "Ride it till the wheels fall off!"
Eventually one of the wheels WILL fall off....
But does that really make it a poorly designed wheel (or final drive)?

--------------------------------------------------------------

Those are just my thoughts and opinions as I have contemplated this issue on my own.
(and as a current owner of more than one BMW Oilhead with the 'suspect' final drives...)

Others will probably feel differently about it.
And that is Ok.
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In Memoriam: Harley, 1993-2010 You will be missed.
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Old 05-08-2010, 11:51 AM   #25
BMWzenrider
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Quote:
Originally Posted by windmill
The comment was made in the spirit of humor, a joke, I intended it to be a ridiculous statement about a wildly exaggerated "issue".

I never thought a comment made in jest comparing a toy to a real motorcycle would be taken literally by anybody.

I was just poking fun right back at ya' with the Ural toss, fella...

The Ural is much more than a toy for many of their owners.
I understand and respect that.
There was a time when I seriously considered one for myself, but being only able to afford one rig, I opted for what I did based upon my PERSONAL needs.
My rig is probably not the right one for many people, but it works for me.
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Old 05-08-2010, 11:56 AM   #26
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Humor or not when the guru's write many of us read pretty closely. FD crown bearing failures has been experienced by many of us. You do the remediation your self and then figure out how to avoid the surprise of another "happening".

Karl (Bmwzenrider) and Claude speak volumes and their efforts are greatly appreciated. In the mean time the "difficulty in shimming* the crown bearing" correctly is a great part of the problem (K1200LT).

My way of reducing the "lingering doubt" whether it has been 1 mile since I R&R the FD GL or 5,000 miles:

It is the reason I have a "chip detector" with a "warning red light and aural tone" installed on my LT (FDWLS). Failure of this bearing occurs in a very short distance (arguably in < than 200 miles). Without some way of seeing the breakdown of the bearing/ races / ball cage, at least changing the FD GL gives you the chance to look at the magnetic capture. However, a "chip detector" works continously and will detect ferrous and even non ferrous (aluminum) particles. It is designed to give the rider an early warning of the impending failure.

It is apparent that if the FD failed crown bearing is r&r and pointedly the required axial preload is provided by use of the correct shim thickness the bearing will go thousands and thousands of miles. (K1200LT) Preload 0.0020" to 0.0039" axially. Crown bearing failure in the FD is not traceable to Sidecar use or Single sided swingarms IMO.

*Provide required axial sideload
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Old 05-08-2010, 08:59 PM   #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWzenrider
I was just poking fun right back at ya' with the Ural toss, fella...

The Ural is much more than a toy for many of their owners.
I understand and respect that.
There was a time when I seriously considered one for myself, but being only able to afford one rig, I opted for what I did based upon my PERSONAL needs.
My rig is probably not the right one for many people, but it works for me.
I am pleased that You were not offended, sometimes it is easy to miss the true intention of a statement.


For the record Karl, I think Your rig is on of the finest, well thought out, soundly built rigs I have ever seen. It may be 180 deg. from what I desire But I can plainly see the care taken in every consideration of it.

Comparing Our rigs would be like comparing a flat fender Willys with a Mercedes S500. They are so far apart in use and concept, that it would be a fools errand to do so.

All that matters is that it suits You.
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Old 05-08-2010, 09:39 PM   #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BMWzenrider
...

For BMW motorcycles, the warranty is 3yr/36,000 miles.
Right there the manufacturer is TELLING you what they consider to be 'normal' usage of this product.
As soon as you step outside of that design parameter, you need to start thinking about additional maintenance, or be willing to accept the possibility of higher failure rates in some parts from increased wear.
-----
Actually, this is more related to how much a manufacturer is willing to pay for warranty insurance than anything else.

Pam
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Old 05-08-2010, 10:30 PM   #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2Tracker
Humor or not when the guru's write many of us read pretty closely.
Oh, LORDY!!! PLEASE don't tell me that anyone considers me a guru!

I just consider myself another dood who has this strange addiction to lopsided vehicles...
If I flew it would probably be in an old WW-II German BV-141...

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Old 05-11-2010, 04:33 AM   #30
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Old cynic

At the start of this particular "debate", I have to confess to some deep rooted cynicism, som of it rather questionable if I'm being honest. Hauling a sidecar alongside an old Honda 750 with trailer and a family of four all over Europe with no problems, followed by a 1980 Gold Wing outfit for 10 years with little more than oil changes, the occassional clean, and topping up the fuel tank, and neither with any transmission problems whatsoever (never even renewed clutch plates), I got used to a trouble free sidecar life.

Our first BMW airhead twin. Leaking carbs, failing electrics, and transmission failures led to the Gold Wing purchase. Desires for s lighter outfit as the kids moved on, perhaps curiously led to another BMW airhead. The years of ownership, which I stuck at despite a doubting better half, were marred by what were seen as familiar problems. Notably transmission, although an experienced sidecar friend's gearbox repair saw the back of that particular issue.

Our subsequent purchase of a BMW K outfit was seen as moving on, and in many respects it is viewed as worthwhile. Problems have generally been acceptable, especially as it's over 20 years old. Performance is good and the handling a compliment to the guy who created the vehicle.

However, we did experience a bevel drive failure, not the first time the bike has suffered in this way. As we were supplied with a full set of bearings and seals when we bought the rig, there was a message there. The fact that many BMW outfit owners admit to having a replacement bevel drive available to them surely illustrates the weakness. This factor is why I am trying to resolve, if possible this issue. I accept that I am asking more of the bike's rear wheel setup by hitching it to a sidecar.

I do agree with the sentiment that there is a bottom line which we must accept. We are dealing with mechanical devices here, and things can go wrong. My view is that the "ultimate" tag on BMWs is a shade arrogant, and probably colours my approach. Evidence shows they are good machines, but have weaknesses just like all the rest. Sometimes you get lucky, and sometimes you don't.

At the moment we are stil working on our twin sided swingarm set up.
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