ballast question

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by Jimm Dandy, Apr 24, 2013.

  1. Sidecarjohn

    Sidecarjohn Been here awhile

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    Interesting and respected observations.

    I have no doubt that ballast is a positive move for novices and potentially when in the formative miles of riding a new outfit. An early experience of the sidecar wheel lifting, reacting inappropriately, and colliding with a stationary car front wing, all thankfully at almost walking pace, could have put me off the three wheel way forever.

    For sure, I've heard more times than I can remember guys suggesting they'd only tried riding a sidecar once and "no more". The wheel coming up unexpectedly is an issue and therefore deterrent.

    Certainly when riding outfits in the USA, factors such as riding "on the wrong side of the road", plus with the sidecar on the "wrong" side has been enhanced by a little ballast in the sidecar, even with the good lady aboard.
    In contrast, rode a lightweight airhead BMW EML outfit for about a dozen years, sometimes with nothing but a few clothes in the sidecar on windy country roads at more than acceptable speeds with confidence. The sidecar wheel no doubt getting airborne.

    However, a recent purchase of a rather powerful bike with a significantly lighter sidecar than our trusty K model Beemer's very overweight example of the fibreglasser's art, justified a bag of sand in the boot until I feel assured with my ability to handle the beast. For me, even after a few decades on three wheels, more than justified.
    #21
  2. Tarka

    Tarka Doesn't wave back.

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    You`re still going to have to learn how it is without ballast once you`ve removed it.

    So you`re back at square one.

    Which is why I keep saying that you just need to learn how the thing feels 'as is'.....at what point it goes light and is ready to lift (and how it feels at that point)...and how it behaves throughout all situations.
    Again...if it was meant to weigh however much extra than it does,it already would do so.

    I know we`ll never agree on this though. :norton
    #22
  3. StoneAgeMan

    StoneAgeMan Wanderer

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    You're not back at square one because you will have ridden many miles/kms since then. You're not the same rider after 30 days on a new rig.
    #23
  4. Tarka

    Tarka Doesn't wave back.

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    Totally irrelevant comments.

    The mileage covered and the days spent would be on a machine weighing more than the same one would be with the kiddie crèche ballast removed.

    Hence...and exactly what I said...you are back at square one.

    Just learn the thing as it is.
    #24
  5. Sidecarjohn

    Sidecarjohn Been here awhile

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    Tarka,
    I understand where you're coming from. My point relates to theother aspects of what an outfit is all about other than weight distribution and unique balance properies. Our latest outfit is different from what we have been used to these past six years or so. A hot rod throttle, Vboost and attendant performance has to be respected, even after the K1 Beemer, so the chance of things getting hairy are increased. A low powered plodder it most certainly isn't.

    To ignore the potential for things to go amiss would be foolish, so ballast has helped. As the miles and familiarity pass by then the specific ballast will no doubt be made redundant, probably replaced with regular items that we tend to carry anyway.

    Ballast is one of the perennial sidecar debating points that folk can have definitive views about, which is fine. If asked, I do feel it has its merits for some situations, and accept that vehicle characteristics change with and without ballast. Can it assist ih the early stages of familiarising a rider with technique, or a new set up ? I believe it can, but as with anything to do with using public highways, experience is still a major factor.
    #25
  6. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

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    The ballast discussion is seldom if ever going to compare apples to apples. Different outfits are differnt outfits period. Some riders weight 120 pounds and some riders may weight 300 pounds. Ballast? All it is is adding some weigth to balance things out. No big mystery. NO FEATHER IN ONES CAP IF HE or she DOESN'T have ballast. No shame if they do. How many different outfits have most folks ridden who get in these discussions? What is good for one may not be for another one.
    A Ural for instance is a Ural. Pretty stable outfit for what it is. However if the operator weighs a ton the stability factor will be different than if he or she is a lighter weight person. Other outfits vary all over the map. Some are stable and some not.
    The old thing of standing on the left foot peg at rest and pulling up on the right handlebar and shifting weight outward is still a good way to feel out a rig before going out on the raod with it.
    #26
  7. GypsyWriter

    GypsyWriter Sarah

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    Not to threadjack, but I haven't heard of this. What does this do exactly? :ear
    #27
  8. Tarka

    Tarka Doesn't wave back.

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    Read it again and think for a moment.

    Even try it for yourself to find out.

    It just shows effort and force required to lift a static combo.
    Only really of any value if comparing two or more machines,but very interesting if you ever remove your sidecar body from the chassis and try it after doing it to the complete machine. :evil

    Naturally,for combos with the sidecar on the correct and proper side (like ours...on the left) you`d stand on the right footpeg and pull on the left handlebar. :D
    #28
  9. hahnda

    hahnda Been here awhile

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    I find that some rigs need ballast in order to make them fun to ride. Sure you can ride them without any ballast and go slow through the corners but what fun is that? 50 lbs in the sidecar and it will have more stability in the corners and that means you can move through those corners faster.

    Yes ballast can be a learning aid in some cases, but in some cases I think it a great choice to have it there permanently, or at least in use if you don't have a passenger or gear. Besides most sidecars never really were intended to be driven down the road empty.
    #29
  10. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

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    Sorry about th eleft right footpeg thing . Intention is to stand on the footpeg away from the sidecar. Hold onto the bars and swing your body weight away from the sidecar. What you are doing is just testing to see how easy or hard the sidecar wheel comes up. If it is hard to get the sidecar wheel off the ground the outfit is obviously pretty darn stable. If th ewheel comes up and plops right back down it is still stable as is but a little less so. If it comes up easily of course it is less stable and so on. Just a balancing act so to speak. Some outfits such as those for sidecar cross etc require an active passenger. Very light sidecars are not intended to run otherwise or require ballast.
    Everyone seems to talk about the sidecar weight and rightfully so BUT track width also comes into play. A wide outfit even though it has a light sidecar can be very stable as long as the sidecar chassis and suspension are up to the task.
    Some say to pratice with ballast. This is fine when first starting out but it is not he best rule to go by if you want to enhance your skill envelope in a timely fashion. Practicing with an unladen sidecar will magnify the traits that a sideca routfit has at slower speeds. Do this in a safe place. Then when you are out on the road with ballst in you will have done yourself a favor skill level wise. This is why most trainingoutfits are based on small bikes with light sidecars, Stability is not the concern learning is.
    When practicing it is best to try and bet a little above your personal comfort zone. This is the only way to expand your skills. If , lets say, your experience goes to line 'A' and a situation arises on th eroad in th ereal world that may require you to go above line 'A' you are out of your element. Why? Lacl of practice. Taking a traing course is a good thing and should be encouraged. Many instrutors at the end of the course will say " You are now qulified to operate a sidecar at 30 mph in a parking lot anywhere'...lol. Funny? Yes, but th epoin tis that it is still up to the individual to move their personal bar up a little at a time by more practice.
    Each outfit will be a little different. A Dual sport or adventure touring type outfit will no more be a High Perfomance ZX14 based rig than an SUV will be a Ferrarri.
    First off relaize you limits when starting out. Respect th emachine's limits you are on and practice. In time you personal limits will expand and possibly it will be relized that the limits of a given rig were higher than anticipated.
    Some will brag about running with no ballast. This is a non issue and as mentioned earlier much depends upon the outfit, the weight of th e rider and so on. Some are absorbed with lifting the sidecar wheel. Big deal...it is a part of th esport on the right outfit. I still think we would all be bette roff if we would make a line between the so called 'flying the chair' and lifting the wheel in agressive cornering but thta is another topic.
    PRACTICE! Practice in a safe place. Practice unloded and loaded. (talking about the sidecar here...lol). Weight distribution is important! Some say you cannot carry two on the bike? Really? It is ,again, about weight distribution. Can a 240 pound person operate a sidecar outfit? Yes? Okay then can a 140 pount rider carry a hundread pound passenger behind him? Hmmm.
    Practice practice practice...on your outfit. When getting on another persons outfit do th efoot peg test and take it easy until you get to know thta machine a little better.
    Make sense?
    #30
  11. japako

    japako Been here awhile

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    I just finished this thread and your last post made more sense than the others I read.
    I am a newbe to side cars and have been hanging around the forums trying to learn.
    I'm going to use a KLR for a tug, but will probably build my car.
    Tonight I learned about the weight differences in cars and how the ballast will change the way a rig will handle. That's the short of it, still much to learn.
    Thanks
    #31