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Old 02-23-2014, 05:26 PM   #1
canoeguy OP
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hack business plan, let me bounce an idea...

So just sort of tumbling an idea around...

My wife and I are moving to Panama around June. There is a local 4wheeler business that is going gangbusters. We really don't like 4wheelers, but we do love motorcycles, and we are really fascinated by sidecars but isn't everyone!

So anyway I have never had a sidecar so I realize there is a learning curve, but I am not here for advice on that.

Instead what I want to know is your interaction with folks and their interest in your hacks.

We are thinking that we might explore the idea of setting up some rigs and doing sidecar tours through the back roads, jungles, and beaches.

Now here are my thoughts...

Klrs as I like them, they are easy to fix and rough road capable. However I have considered Triumph scramblers for power and a much cooler look. I have ruled.out Urals just on the maintenance aspect alone not to mention parts in Panama.

We would not be on any single tracks or stupid hard roads, just enough to give them an "adventure". But on that note I obviously need something suited for off road. DMC has a few good options and I especially dig the enduro but as there are no sides some idiot would naturally fall out, so I think that one is out.

So a few specific questions. How interested are people in your rides? Interested enough to pay for tours? Keep in mind the tours are the main attraction the sidecar is just a hook.

Any viable two person sidecars out there?

Like I said I am just sort of tasting the idea of this. Thanks for any constructive input.
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Old 02-23-2014, 06:35 PM   #2
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Noobs on Hacks....?

CanoeGuy,

I applaud your initiative to start a business in Panama. A very pro-business country.

The motorcycle tour/rental business attracts motorcyclists of all types from a very large pool of riders on all types of machines. Once you know how to ride a motorcycle, all the rest are pretty much the same. Ask those companies if they rent to people with zero riding experience.

Hacks are a different animal. Motorcycle experience does not instantly transfer over to sidecar driving. There is a learning curve. Have heard many stories from sidecar dealers telling of buyers with extensive motorcycle experience but zero hack experience, not being able to get their new rig out of the parking lot without hitting something.

If you are planning on renting sidecar rigs to noobies or motorcycle experience only riders, expect a higher than normal number of accidents/repairs/injuries or worse. If you plan to cater to the sidecar community only, the rider/driver pool is very small. Yes there are some who will fly down to Panama, rent and ride with you, but am not sure there are enough of them to support a business.

By the way, IMHO traffic in Panama City is not conducive to sidecar riding. The privately owned public buses (Diablos Rojos) compete with each other for customers, so they drag race from intersection to intersection trying to beat the other buses there in order to gather more riders.

If you want to test the market/demand for your idea, pick up a couple used 2007-2012 Urals to rent. They are all steel body and frame, easy to bang back into shape if need be, solid, simple mechanics and yes, you can get parts sent to you from the states if needed. Most Panamanian mechanics will know how to fix a Ural, it's half a VW air cool engine. No complicated electronics or computer needed. If your business doesn't pan out, you can sell them locally, or a fly-n-ride for gringos to ride north.

The highway speeds in Panama will not be a problem for a Ural. You did not say where in Panama you would be based. The city of David has nice cool mountains to explore, less traffic than P-City and a lower cost of living. Plus it is any easy flight from the City to David.

Good luck to you and yours with your new life in Panama. Way back when, I lived in the Darien jungle and the Chiriqui mountains for couple of years

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Old 02-23-2014, 06:35 PM   #3
ag_streak
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Do you mean:

A. Renting hacks to riders to drive on their own? Or...
B. You doing the driving? Taking people for rides in the car?
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Old 02-23-2014, 06:53 PM   #4
canoeguy OP
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Yea...let me clarify...

There is no way in hell I would rent them out. I am thinking taking folks out for rides. This is why I am interested in a sidecar that hold more than one, if that is even feasible.

Just giving them an adventure to tell their friends when they get back is my thought. It doesn't take a whole lot a little mud on their face, an abandoned beach, some amazing wildlife. Sort of an upscale thing. Maybe picnic lunches and seeing some natural beauty that is in a non-touristy area. I will be in Bocas del Toro, but the tours would likely be out of Alimirante on the mainland. A 15 minute boat ride from our planned hostel.

I haven't fully explored the area but I certainly know.what to expect, rough dirt roads. Beautiful beaches, and Jungle.

Eta: I am not far from the Costa Rica border. Nowhere near Panama City which has atrocious traffic.

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Old 02-23-2014, 07:19 PM   #5
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Feel free to give me a call if you wish. We can do a body pretty much to your specs.
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Old 02-23-2014, 07:22 PM   #6
ag_streak
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Ahh... OK!

Sounds like a fun thing to try! Maybe it will take off. Worst that could happen is you don't make any money doing it, but at least you'd have a nice rig to ride around in Panama!

Unless you're going to have multiple guides, I think you only need one rig. And yes, you can get a car to squeeze two people in, and I would definitely recommend that, so you can take two folks at a time to share the experience.

But, you're not gonna pull around two people and a hack with a KLR. You would need a tug with more grunt. I would suggest a V-strom 1000 or a BMW R1200GS with an M72DX from DMC. There are wider, more comfortable cars for two people, but I don't know if they can handle the rigors of your application.

Just my 2 cents, and worth maybe half that! Keep the change!
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Old 02-23-2014, 07:54 PM   #7
FR700
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canoeguy View Post
Yea...let me clarify...

There is no way in hell I would rent them out. I am thinking taking folks out for rides. This is why I am interested in a sidecar that hold more than one, if that is even feasible.

Just giving them an adventure to tell their friends when they get back is my thought. It doesn't take a whole lot a little mud on their face, an abandoned beach, some amazing wildlife. Sort of an upscale thing. Maybe picnic lunches and seeing some natural beauty that is in a non-touristy area. I will be in Bocas del Toro, but the tours would likely be out of Alimirante on the mainland. A 15 minute boat ride from our planned hostel.

I haven't fully explored the area but I certainly know.what to expect, rough dirt roads. Beautiful beaches, and Jungle.

Eta: I am not far from the Costa Rica border. Nowhere near Panama City which has atrocious traffic.


There are quite a few companies out there that offer sidecar tours. Perhaps look at what they use and see if any of that could apply to what you wish to do.

https://www.google.com.au/#q=sidecar+tours


I've met these blokes numerous times and talked with their client/s. They were all as happy as a pig in poo.

http://www.triketours.com.au/


Your choice of a simple , cheap, tug , is very practical.

.
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Old 02-23-2014, 09:56 PM   #8
pagomichaelh
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We have a Kenna Double in process of being built and mounted to a Vstar 1100 so as we can ride from Washington State to LAX, where we'll put it on a container and ship it here.

I can't see to let an asset like that to just sit and be used only for fun(!), so we're bouncing around a similar idea for here, just part time stuff, to cover insurance and gas. We get 20+ cruise ships/year, and the old farts on those things are loaded, so some sort of income redistribution scheme could work. 22 mile long island, could do four, two hour tours, two east side, two west side, carrying a couple.

My mate (and employer for my real job) also owns a charter fishing/dive operation, we could also pick up some work running the 'little ladies' around whilst the men folk are doing manly things (typically, drinking vast quantities of beer, and spewing - the western Pacific ain't Pacific! :) ).

The one fly is that if we register the rig as a commercial vehicle (required for this), the duty will shoot up from 10% to 25%, and it's charged retroactively for five years after importation.
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:13 PM   #9
canoeguy OP
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Well here is the thing about bringing the hacks( we plan on several if any) to Panama...

If I buy cheap bikes and put a hack on them, then bust butt straight down and import them it is only the bike that is registered, hence no import on the sidecar as it isn't listed on the title. If I were to ship them in then I would be forced to pay import fees upon arrival.

I have even thought of buying bikes off of riders who might want to end their journey in Bocas. But then I would still need to get the sidecar there. And I believe import fees are 15%.

Maybe I could travel down with guest and basically have them pay for the trip!
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Old 02-23-2014, 10:23 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by canoeguy View Post
Well here is the thing about bringing the hacks( we plan on several if any) to Panama...

If I buy cheap bikes and put a hack on them, then bust butt straight down and import them it is only the bike that is registered, hence no import on the sidecar as it isn't listed on the title. If I were to ship them in then I would be forced to pay import fees upon arrival.

I have even thought of buying bikes off of riders who might want to end their journey in Bocas. But then I would still need to get the sidecar there. And I believe import fees are 15%.

Maybe I could travel down with guest and basically have them pay for the trip!
or you could pay me to come down and weld them up on site... I could do with a working vacation
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Old 02-23-2014, 11:46 PM   #11
3legs
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G'day

I don't want to put you off, I think it's a great idea however before parting with a single dollar get a quote on insurance costs to cover any accidents involving people other than yourself eg the passengers. No idea what insurance covers what in your neck of the woods but here in Oz the liability costs can be astronomical. The last thing you need is some idiot that gets hurt on one of your tours take you to the cleaners because you didn't have the correct cover.

Just my 2c worth otherwise go for it.

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Old 02-24-2014, 04:49 AM   #12
Wolfgang55
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Keep researching & getting enough ''2 cents'' that you may save yourself $$
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Old 02-24-2014, 06:07 AM   #13
Carl Childers
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I had all my ducks in a row to start a Motorcycle touring company for the Rockies and Southwest and then decided not to. I have a contracting business and the wife a vacation rental business and some days the toughest aspect is dealing with the clients, not all bad mind you but it got me thinking that the thing I love most in life and my island in a world of craziness was to be turned into a business I just might end up hating it and I wasn't willing to take that risk.

Everyone's different but it is something to consider before you make the leap.
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Old 02-24-2014, 07:12 AM   #14
canoeguy OP
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I have not actually checked on insurance...naturally I would first. Having said that my impression from talking to others is that the insurance there is quite reasonable. Unlike here in America they are not a society that litigious.

I love the experience of showing people new things. I am an avid naturalist and especially bird watcher. I like to explore and learn all I can. But I really love the look of wonder on someone's face when they witness a sight that takes their breath.

I don't think that the sidecar touring business would pay all the bills. But you never know I have seen more bizarre things work. I think it is unique enough to draw attention.

I assume that whenever you guys are out people come up to you excited by your rigs?
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:11 AM   #15
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Make sure you can insure what you are doing, In the USA this would be hard to do at best. As you are in Virginia now, sidecar classes are offered in Virginia, why not take a class first. Bikes are provided. Our enduro sidecar can be equipped with a seat back and seat belt however our M72D might work better. We can send ship either of these sidecars most any where in the world for local installation.
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