1980(?) Suzuki GS550 w/sidecar question(s)

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by tattoogunman, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. tattoogunman

    tattoogunman Been here awhile

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    Long post:

    Anyone have any experience with these? I found someone local to me who has a really nice looking '80 Suzuki GS550 that he's converted to a cafe racer (I would convert it back to stock, that's not my thing). He's also got a sidecar that he's including with it, but he's not sure what type - he thinks it may be a training sidecar. Bike only has about 36K on the clock, looks to be in great shape, and the sidecar looks pretty good (sidecar is not installed, but has everything I need). The bike was his daily driver and he had an oil leak. After trying to fix the oil leak, he thinks something happened to the carbs - may just need to be synchronized (bike runs). I'm not a mechanic, but I've wrenched on my bikes in the past and think I would be cool working on this thing. I had an old Kawasaki Concours that I rebuilt the carbs on, etc. and this appears to be set up about the same.

    So here's the question(s):

    I've been dying for a sidecar rig and had been looking at Ural. My kids love them and I want to get them involved in bikes. I've got some money coming my way, but it turns out not to be as much as I had hoped, so Ural is out because they're too expensive (for what I can spend). Had made up my mind to get either a DR650 or KLR650, but this rig showed up and it's got me thinking. The guy is offering to sell me the whole rig for less than most used DR650/KLR650's that I've been looking at and he lives like 10 minutes from my house - clean title, tagged, whole nine yards. I've been lurking in the "hacks" section for a while now and other sidecar related boards, so I have a basic understanding of the whole concept. However, I don't know a whole lot about older Suzuki bikes.

    Anyone know if parts are readily available for these things? He's got new tires on it, speedo cable, spark plugs, and the thing looks almost brand new (some minor issues such as turn signals, minor rust in tank, etc. - nothing I can't take care of). I've looked online and it seems to be hit or miss and I can't find any Suzuki specific boards to ask questions (nothing that old at any rate).

    I have heard of training sidecars, but I'm not exactly sure what that means - anyone know more about them or if there is such a thing? I'm going to check it out this weekend and should have more information then. Sidecar looks solid, outside of it is free of any damage, no rust that I can see, he's treated the inside with bedliner, etc. It's not mounted to the bike, but it appears to have all of the requisite mounting hardware (bars, nuts, bolts, etc.). Sidecar even has a new tire on it, fender, etc. EDIT: He just got back to me and said the sidecar is fiberglass and it does have some cracks, but he said they aren't bad and the car is solid overall - probably fixable.

    What do you guys/gals think? Anyone happen to have one of these things that can provide some first hand knowledge? Anyone have any older Suzuki resources they could send my way? I'm hoping to check it out either tomorrow afternoon or maybe on Saturday, so I can get some decent pics, poke around on it, etc. I told him if I don't pick it up, I'm going to try and help him sell it and will probably post it up on here and some other sites that I know - but I get first dibs :D

    Thanks everyone!
    #1
  2. Marvin and towser

    Marvin and towser Plain Mr. Botany (B)

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    I had a solo GS550 for a while, I should think it would make a good enough tug. The engine was pretty bullet proof though the electrical connectors and general wiring were no better than should be expected on a Suzuki of that vintage. The carbs on "yours" may just need a clean and a tune or it could be he found something nasty and wants rid quick.
    A badly set up rig is an unpleasant and dangerous liability so take some advise when joining the parts back together.
    For my next rig I would be more inclined to go with a more road biased bike (or even a crusier:eek1:puke1) and get the advantages of stiffer suspension and lower centre of gravity. What you get should depend on what you will use it for rather than looks after all you don't look at it when riding it (you mainly look at the ends of the handlebars as you haul it round bends).
    #2
  3. NortwestRider

    NortwestRider TRIPOD ADVENTURER !!

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    I'm running a 82 GS850 rig right now and it makes a good tug.But be careful how heavy of a car you put on it there is not a lot power.My car is heavy and when fully loaded and a monkey in the car we are 1100+ lbs.On a flat road with no head wind it will do 55mph but come to a hill and your doing alot of down shifting.But the GS's are great bikes !!.
    [​IMG]
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    #3
  4. tattoogunman

    tattoogunman Been here awhile

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    Thanks!

    Northwest - any problem with parts or anything for the bike? He's including some stuff with it, but it was supposedly his daily rider until he developed the oil leak. I don't get the vibe that he's hiding anything, so I don't *think* there is anything major, but there obviously could be. Still planning on looking at it this weekend, so hopefully I'll know more.

    As for the weight issue, the car is fiberglass, so I would *think* it would be reasonably light weight? The only thing I would be hauling inside of it are my kids and general stuff (maybe some camping gear if I took it, etc.), nothing crazy heavy except for me :D

    I agree about the set up issue(s) - if I do this, I'm definitely going to take my time with it and get it right. Worst case scenario and everything is salvageable, there are a few places out here that I could take it for proper set up/install, etc.

    I'll see what I can find out this weekend and get some pics posted up. I think I may have figured out where the sidecar came from, so I'm going to try to track down what make/model it is.

    Thanks again everyone!
    #4
  5. NortwestRider

    NortwestRider TRIPOD ADVENTURER !!

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    The electrical is ify like all suzukis but other than that there great bikes.We just hit 1,000 miles on this trip and all is good so far .My car is also fiberglass ( about 60lbs ) but the frame and suspension is whats heavy.I built it all and I built it to last !!.My build thread is called " The 12x12 build ".


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  6. tattoogunman

    tattoogunman Been here awhile

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    I've been going through online pics trying to figure out what kind of sidecar it is - I think I've narrowed it down and I *believe* it is a Verlorex. I'll have to see if I can figure out the weight because I think the GS550 only had like what? 49hp or so? I'll check out your build thread too.

    Thanks again - keep it coming if you guys/gals have something to add :lurk
    #6
  7. NortwestRider

    NortwestRider TRIPOD ADVENTURER !!

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    Yup that sounds about right,my 850 had 60hp 30 years and 23,000 miles ago.


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  8. Leaf

    Leaf Been here awhile

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    I have a Velorex on a 34 pony 400cc vertical twin I suspect a 550/four would perform about the same, or slightly better. It does fine for what it is if you keep the bike tuned up and don't do the Slab much and don't mind high-RPM buzzing and vibrations and wearing your engine out fast; will make 70 on the flats in 6th or pull gentle hills at 55 in 5th. A fully grown passenger bogs it down pretty noticeably. A kid or normal luggage/junk in the tub, not so much. I get about the same performance out of it with chair as one gets from an Unhacked Honda Rebel 250 or somesuch.
    #8
  9. tattoogunman

    tattoogunman Been here awhile

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    Thanks Leaf - I'm going to go look at it this weekend, but I'm starting to doubt if I'll pick it up. I've been scouring the 'net for GS550 resources and they seem to be fairly slim. Parts seem to be a problem unless I want to by complete bikes for parts, etc. For the price, I think it's probably worth the money for the sidecar alone - so who knows?

    The problem I have is that, after I spend my bike allowance money, I'm not really going to be able to do too much. So if I buy this and it doesn't pan out, I've basically got a grage full of parts. Kicking around the idea of putting the sidecar on something else, but again, I won't much money left over to buy another bike.

    I'll post updates when I find out more. If not, I promised the guy I would help him sell it - it's all good :D
    #9
  10. NortwestRider

    NortwestRider TRIPOD ADVENTURER !!

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    Go to. GSresources.com
    They are the biggest website for Suzuki GS's.EVERYTHING you need to know is there !!!!!!!.


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  11. tattoogunman

    tattoogunman Been here awhile

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    Is that a good site?? It just opens up one of those sites that act like a search engine??

    Figured it out, it's www.thegsresources.com :)
    #11
  12. NortwestRider

    NortwestRider TRIPOD ADVENTURER !!

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    It's by far the best!!.I have been useing it since I bought my 850.There is stuff on there that the factory probably doesn't know !!


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    #12
  13. SoberSidecar

    SoberSidecar n00b

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    I love my tug. Perfectly geared to pull and slow the hack without sidecar brakes. To answer your question on a training sidecar, I've never heard of one, but I think the bike is the more important factor in making the entire rig more of a "trainer" situation. The gs 850 g is a strong tug so I have to be conscious of speed on all right turns. Otherwise, just put more weight in the sidecar to keep it down and I'd say you probably want a little more than a 550 if you want the ability to go more than 60mph. The gs850g will do about 95 or 100 with passenger but with low miles, new carbs and larger jets.

    my videos on youtube with american idol winner -taylor hicks https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-cF2oDtMQBc .:freaky
    The SoberSidecar 1980 gs850g w/ ural or bmw hack
    #13