Frame modification - Legal or insurance issues?

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by MarkC, Oct 11, 2017.

  1. cycleman2

    cycleman2 Been here awhile

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    You ask a bit of a loaded question. Traffic laws up here and I believe in the US as well, are regulated by the provinces/states so I don't think you are going to get a blanket answer.

    For example importing a trike from the US into Canada can't be done unless it is a factory HD trike, as it has to be a manufactured product, but you can import a sidecar rig because it is classed as an accessory not a modification, which the non HD trikes get caught up in. This is under Federal legislation not provincial/state. I'm sure you have similar import/export conditions on items as well.

    With respect to provincial legislation in Alberta, where I live, if you bring the bike in from another province in Canada or the US ( in addition to meeting Federal Import requirements if the bike is from the US), you have to have the bike safety inspected, tires, brakes, lights, they take it for a short ride to make sure everything is OK, and then you get a piece of paper that you take to your where ever you register your bike. Saskatchewan where I lived before, didn't have safety inspections, just the requirement to run the serial number on bikes with over 650cc ( To see if stolen ). So this varies from province to province and I'm sure state to state.

    Ask yourself is what you are doing a modification or an accessory. If what you are doing easily removed ( relatively speaking ), then it is an accessory. Accessory's are not going to trigger any real problems as they didn't change the bike itself. Sidecars are a case in point, as most subframes bolt/clamp to the bikes existing frame. EML builds ( at least they did, not so sure anymore ) their own frame and puts the bikes engine etc into it. They are imported into the US similar to any imported car etc, so they would have to meet whatever Federal standard you have in the US. After that I don't think the states are a problem.

    So if you are really worried about the insurance aspect, then I'd stay away from the mod, but if you don't have any problems sleeping at night, then go ahead and do what you will. What you are doing is really no different than lengthing/reinforcing swing arms and so on. Once its painted, nobody will be any the wiser. Above is just a ramble and an opinion, so good luck.
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  2. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad World's Foremost Authority

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    You rang?

    Stiffeners transfer loads, gussets spread loads. More often than not, the gussets or stiffeners result in a new place for failure.

    The KLR is a very popular tug for offroad and dual sport. I've not heard of frame failures but then I've never been a fan of green bikes and don't pay much attention to any problems they may have.

    Perhaps the OP has a link to said stiffeners and or breakage issues that we could see? I did a quick Google search and could basically only find rear subframes that had broken. You don't want to be using a bike's rear subframe as a mounting point for a sidecar!!!!

    I'm pretty sure CSM & DMC both make KLR mounting kits, perhaps Jay or Claude could chime in with their experiences.
    #22
  3. FR700

    FR700 Heckler ™©®

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    Off topic; are there fires nearby to where you are?






    Some forum members have experienced the odd 1 or 2 DNF's. His narration alone makes it worth the read. http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/resurrecting-janis-creating-the-indestructible-klr.843744/




    [​IMG]




    Very few with a sidecar. None that have used a quality subframe, as far as I'm aware.


    Vernon's tale of woe with his KLR' hack.

    http://advrider.com/index.php?threads/need-klr-650-frame.511656/




    .
    #23
  4. MarkC

    MarkC ?

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    OK, I guess I wasn't completely clear what I was asking.

    My Intent:
    What is your experience with rego/title/Inspection and Insurance from you're own region (UK/EU/AU, US States, Canadian Provinces etc.) if you have welded on your motorcycle frame?

    This is to be a reference for those who are considering welding their motorcycle frame (though more specifically for adding strength when adding a sidecar/sidecar sub frame) with possible ramifications regarding to specific jurisdictions and the insurance from those regions.

    Doesn't matter the type of bike. I realize there are sub-frame commercially made that would not require frame welding, but many here have made their own versions and many more members in the future will also make their own. Back-yard shed builders come up with all different ways to attach a sidecar, frame welding may be one of them.
    #24
  5. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    In the U.S., I don't think there is any state or insurance company who cares. If you have a valid U.S. title, not a salvage title, you can register the bike. I've only heard of salvage titled bikes requiring any kind of inspection. And, even then, they are looking to see if the bike is in compliance with the law. For instance, in my state, the requirements are listed here ---> Motorcycle (RCW 46) - Washington State Patrol which includes some weird things like the grips can't be more than 30 inches higher than the seat. :twitch

    Sidecars are not registered and don't have titles. They're considered an accessory to the bike for title/registration purposes. The only legal ramifications of attaching a sidecar involve operation and licensing, not titling.

    Insurance companies are the same way. Year, make, model, VIN, and what coverage do you want. Do it online. They do not have the resources to go out and physically inspect some guy's motorcycle, nor anybody knowledgeable enough to see that you'd made any changes. The sidecar is considered an accessory and you insure it by increasing the "Accessories Coverage" limit.
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  6. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad World's Foremost Authority

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    Thanks for the links!

    The Northern California Fires are right about 400 miles away, the one in the south is around 80 miles. Waiting for our turn to burn, My backyard is undeveloped hillside owned by Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy. Every 10 or 15 years it burns up to my property line. I come from a long line of local firefighters dating back to the 1920's, so I'm well versed in wild land fires.

    Back on subject:

    I would have tossed the frame called Janis in the scrap heap. Too much flexing/stressing additional areas with the effect of work hardening every time it breaks. I think that some people forget that even simple welding adds stress to the area.

    I have yet to see a quality home build where mounts were welded directly to the bike's frame. If the KLR frames are indeed as thin walled as they appear, all the more reason NOT to be welding mounts to it!!

    No regulatory agency or insurance company in California inspects motorcycles, sidecars, or even cars & trucks for modifications to structural members. No inspection of trailer hitch additions either. They will inspect the hell out out of your engine compartment for modified emissions equipment!
    #26
  7. MarkC

    MarkC ?

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    I never wrote about insurance/rego/title/ issues with a sidecar. It's common knowledge that a bolt on sidecar is considered an accessory (at least in the US). Perhaps if the sidecar's frame was welded directly to the bike's frame it may be a different classification in some jurisdictions.

    I never wrote to weld a mount directly to a motorcycle frame (though one could weld them to a Ural frame as the factory does). People tried that back in the 70s to BMW frames unsuccessfully, hence the sidecar mounting subframe.

    But making a custom subframe and attaching it to an already weak motorcycle frame is where I can see where someone may want to weld extra material to the frame for extra strength due to the additional stress of a sidecar.
    #27
  8. FR700

    FR700 Heckler ™©®

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  9. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad World's Foremost Authority

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    Modifying frames causing problems??? WTF?? Have you guys spent your entire lives hiding under a rock? People have been modifying frames and bikes since day one! Easy Rider.jpg
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  10. tallnbig68

    tallnbig68 Adventurer

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    This is all very interesting. Keith Wash of Unit Sidecars in the UK welded lugs to many motorcycle frames in order that the Unit sidecars he produced could be mounted on a motorcycle. The early Slash 2 BMW's and some early British motorcycles all had lugs mounted to the frame, from the factory. These days suspect the majority of motorcycles have to be modified in some way to hang a sidecar.

    As has been noted a sub-frame of some sort is the preferred method, to mounting a sidecar; the question is weld the mounting points to
    the existing motorcycle frame or install brackets to hold the chair?

    Both have their pros and cons. Welding of any sort can modify the rigidity of the frame; have you ever looked at a cross-section of tube from a motorcycle frame? Not very thick, the frame design is meant to work as a whole, all the parts of the frame function as one item.

    Say you weld something to the frame. Without proper care and cooling of the frame afterwards in the location of attachment, things could go wrong very easily. Said frame is often treated with heat before being used as a frame; in order to ensure all the bits and "new" pieces work as intended.

    The alternative is clamps, am going to use the clamp system utilized by Velorex for their sidecars as an example.
    Four clamps: one on the upper front as high up as possible on the frame, the second upper clamp down low more or less in vertical line with the upper clamp. The rear upper goes way up on to the frame member under the seat. The lower left clamp is best installed
    near the lower portion of the swing arm. All sidecar manufacturers differ. BTW both Harley Davidson and Vetter used a
    three point hitch for their sidecar. Have found adjusting those three point hitches can be fun, however as with all sidecar installations a bit of black magic and a knowledge of what works and what doesn't is helpful. Have adjust sidecars with three, four and yes five mounting points for people over the years. My current mobility issues no longer allow me to scramble around as I once did.

    The liability for modifying the frame by attaching something, may limit the insurance company's liability in
    terms of an accident or it may give them cause to not issue an insurance certificate.
    #30
  11. FLYING EYEBALL

    FLYING EYEBALL out of step

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    Stop looking for problems that aren't there.

    [​IMG]
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  12. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad World's Foremost Authority

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    I don't know of ANY motorcycle frame that has been heat treated in any way after welding by the manufacture. I've never heard of anyone doing a post weld heat treat to a frame after welding gussets, brackets, or bracing. The best way to eliminate stress created during the welding process is to do a post weld heat treat called "normalizing" where the entire frame is brought up to a very specific temperature in a large oven. How the frame is cooled after the heating depends upon how hard you want the frame material to be, air cooled is the softest, quenching in water is the most brittle. Heating and cooling the frame most likely has to be done in a jig to prevent warping as everything assumes it's "happy place".

    Sorry FlyingEyeball, I have this strong need to keep looking for problems in that pic and the only one I can find is that I'm not 30 years younger!
    #32
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  13. FLYING EYEBALL

    FLYING EYEBALL out of step

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    Her favorite food is probably Kale...yer welcome SB.
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  14. davebig

    davebig Another Angry Hun !

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    Thanks Strong Bad I can't see that image without hearing The Byrds
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  15. ErictheBiking

    ErictheBiking Been here awhile

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  16. Bobmws

    Bobmws Curmudgeon At Large

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    For an example of heat treating & normalizing watch a few episodes of "Forged in Fire".
    As for 30 years younger...........:dunno
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  17. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

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    When we do a subframe the intent is to provide a unit that allows the mounts for the sidecar to be placed for decent triagulation and ease of adjustment. It is also built with th eintent to add strength to the motorcycle frame rather than take it away. We rarely use one sided subframes , especially on adventure bikes. They go down both sides of the bike and have cross members as needed. They are also made in a way to provide mounting for a functional skid plate . Yes , we have repaired and replaced many subframes from other sources. Thankfully the maker of these has come a long way since a few years ago as far as subframe design goes. All of the above is much more critical with an outfit that is susposed to be compatible with running off the beaten path. We do not weld to the motorcycle frame and do not plan to go down that road. Keep in mind that even the best made assembly out there potentially can have issues. Face it, all the cars do not finish the indy 500 every year. Buid it stout with good bracing and do not be concerned about trying to save a few pounds and all should be well. The last picture is of the lower portion of a KLR subframe. there is much more to it than what is shown . subframe and sidecar chassis.jpg subframe v strom.jpg subframe mounted.jpg klr subframe.jpg
    #37
  18. claude

    claude Sidecar Jockey

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    We use .120 wall DOM tubing for most of the structure. Typically TIG welded. There is no need nor desire to go with moly. The only reason would be to save a few pounds which is of no concern here.
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  19. FR700

    FR700 Heckler ™©®

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    Art.


    .
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