Quick Advice on Leading Link

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by GuzziTriumphEnfield, Jun 12, 2008.

  1. GuzziTriumphEnfield

    GuzziTriumphEnfield Adventurer

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    Hi,

    I'm setting up a sidecar rig in the next 2 weeks (waiting on a paycheck to buy the sidecar) and then on July 5th I am lighting off for a 3000+ mile ride in 5 days. I will then live off said rig for the next 16+ months. I know I've stated this all before.

    The rig is a 1995 Kawasaki KZ1000P with a Velorex 563T sidecar. I have enough extra money to get a set of Leading Link Forks from SideStrider. The money would be better spent for the trip/living, but... but... I could spare it.

    How much of an improvement do they make? Does it at all help stop the chair from flying in right hand corners? Or is that totally Seperate? I have the Yellow Book and have been reading it.

    I'm not the strongest dude who ever lived, I'm tall and lean. Wirey build, so wrestling with the handlebars is not objectionable, but if the Leading Link makes THAT much of a difference.... I'll do it.

    Thoughts?
    Advice?
    Wisdom?

    Thanks.
    #1
  2. Pago Cruiser

    Pago Cruiser Been here awhile

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    Do it. I just purchased a Triumph Thunderbird with a Velorex hack (my 18th bike, but 1st hack), and delivered it 1000+ miles for my maiden trip. The bike has the standard forks. In a word, its DIFFERENT. And a lot of work. Sure, you will (kind of) eventually get used to applying turning forces, but even after 2 months, a moments inattentiveness in a corner can have serious consequences. To the point that I cannot subject my wife and dog to a 200 mile trip; my personal feeling is that it borders on being dangerous. Once I get the leading link, no problem.

    Somewhere in the last few days, I came across a guys blog. He has been riding sidecars for years (with a leading link), and due to a mechanical problem, re-fit his tube forks on a temporary basis. He was appalled at the lack of control, as compared the leading link. Sorry, I do not have the url handy. But do a google and drill down 4 or 5 pages or so - hopefully you'll find it.

    I'm still looking for a leading link myself. It seems as if Unit (in England) has the market. Have you found anyone else? The Triumph forks are 43mm, and Unit uses something smaller (they would not tell me what size), and provides bushings for the triple trees. I'm a bit uncomfortable with that design, so I'll keep looking.
    #2
  3. Uncle Ernie

    Uncle Ernie Long timer

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    What's the Yellow Book- you mean telephone directory?

    I don't think a leading link front end will prevent you from lifting the sidecar in a right-hander. That is dependant on set-up and weight. Actually, carrying ballast (passengers are ballast) makes the rig safer by adding weight. The height of the bike, extra strong shocks / springs, weight of the tub, and distance from the bike all influence the stability. The main thing is knowing your rig and your ability- knowing how much to SLOW DOWN before entering the turn. (I have a suspicion that left-handers are harder on the forks than right-handers)

    That said, forks undergo more twisting and lateral forces than a solo machine. Leading links are stronger and help keep the rig steady.
    HOWEVER- I would want to know how the tub is attached first. It may be better to invest in a subframe first.
    #3
  4. bk brkr baker

    bk brkr baker Long timer

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    I borrowed a friends 73 900 Kawaski with a Spirit attached one day and took a guy on a 90-100 mile ride.He weighed about 210 and with a little effort you could look down and see the front wheel twisting the forks,the tire skipping on the pavement and variatoins of both.At the end of the ride I felt like I had been working out pretty hard and was sore the next day.
    If you don't carry that much weight the reactions will be lessened.I don't know if the cop bike has bigger forks than an older Z-1, if it does that should help with the twisting.
    In 2004 I flew to San Jose,Ca, and rode a hack back to Ky. for a friend.Differant story this time. The unit was a FJ1100 Yamaha with a Sidebike Super Comet double sidecar. This featured 13" car tires on the front and sidecar wheels and a 14" on the rear.The front suspension pivots on the s-c frame and is a center hub design. The sidecar wheel steers by about half the amount as the front.This setup makes for a sort of three wheel sports car,very sweet.By the end of the 4600 mile trip I did a 700 mile day with no ill effects.
    #4
  5. The Ragman

    The Ragman Uralist & Bulleteer

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    Flying the chair is part of phyical dynamics not the type of fork - the leading link fork makes driving the rig easier, which is why the Ural comes with it, on most rigs. I have driven a hack rig without, and don't envisage myself doing it again any time soon - though there are people who would disagree and say that standard forks work fine.. My Ural is MUCH easier to control than a friends KLR650 rig - he has the Ural frame with a custom box on it, but it rides like a thing possessed - turning makes a praying person out of you. My friend rode my rig, when I rode his - he is saving for a leading link.
    #5
  6. tony the tiger

    tony the tiger Long timer

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    Leading Link front end is worthy.

    Don't matter a bit about flying the car (or plowing it into the ground either) - that'll all be determined by the lead you install the sidecar at and your skill at driving it through the corners. Pay attention to the reduced speed warning signs and use lots of ballast as you gradually build expertise. 3000 miles in six days? Kinda' pushin' it, dontcha' think? It is NOT the same as riding a bike.

    Too bad you haven't allowed yourself more time to experiment, you could aways go to a Ural dealership and see if they'll let you take a test ride - Bellingham, WA did for us (in their lot).

    Have fun - be careful. Watch out for changes in road condition like off-camber corners, 18-wheeler ruts and decreasing radius righty's...
    #6
  7. RedMenace

    RedMenace Adventure Sidecar

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    if all you know about driving a sidecar is what you have read, and you are driving a home built rig your miles per day estimate is a bit optimistic. Links will reduce steering effort and fatigue but will require more attention to what you are doing, not less, because the steering will not only be easier but quicker as well. Stock forks will work fine, a fork brace and/or wider front tire will help control flex, but you may find they are quite fatiguing, particularly if you insist on high mileage days.
    #7
  8. Ural Australia

    Ural Australia Banned

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    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but leading link forks do not necessarily make an outfit easier to drive. It all depends on the geometry. And Urals do not have leading links because they are better. They have leading links because the original U.S. importer wanted to emulate BMW's Earles Forks, and they're cheaper than the telescopic forks to manufacture/buy in. The Ural's leading links and Russian telescopic forks have exactly the same rake and trail and in most situations handle exactly the same. Due to the wheels travel being slightly different between the two set-ups, some people prefer the leading link off-road, but in most situations the "obvious" differences between the two set-ups are merely psychological.

    The Ural steering stem is a forerunner of the "Steerite" system in that it has a 5 degree rake to the stem. It also has very solid steels castings for the upper and lower clamps and the fork tops are tapered and screwed into the upper casting. All those features, together with a reasonable diameter axle ensure light and responsive steering.

    Telescopic forks got a bad reputation due to Japanese bikes of the '70s that had forks that weren't even up to the job on a solo bike let alone an outfit. A good fork brace is a good start. Maybe heavier fork springs or preload, heavier oil, lots of options without taking out a second mortgage.

    Final point, Vernon's right. 600 miles a day is a lot for a sidecar novice. Hell, 3,000 miles in 5 days is a lot for an experienced sidecarist. Have a good rethink on those plans.
    #8
  9. RedMenace

    RedMenace Adventure Sidecar

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    Quite so. I assumed, since the original poster had mentioned buying links through SideStrider that they would be designed to reduce the trail, and thus the steering effort, of his bike. There are many other ways to go about this, but links are the most familiar.

    the same is true for fork flex and stiction issues. Properly designed links can be made to deal with those problems, but it is a design and construction issue and not necessarily an inherent trait of links. And telo forks can be modified to reduce flex and stiction, and often this can be done with less weight than links.
    #9
  10. GuzziTriumphEnfield

    GuzziTriumphEnfield Adventurer

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    I appreciate all the imput you guys have given me..

    The whole thing got away from me tho. My uncle said he had a Velorex I could have, but then changed his mind. Then I was waiting on paychecks to buy the other I had my eye on.. but the checks still havent cleared, and I leave in 19 days!

    Soooo I figured it would come down to 7 days to setup and learn to drive the rig.. which seems like a bad idea.

    So for the third time in one year I have come as close to hacking it as you actually can, without actually having it pan out..

    When I hit Phoenix I might consider a used Ural at some point.. But the Kawi will at that point have brought me 3000+ miles, and will be magical in that special way that only can happen after you ride/drive something a distance that the average soul would never attempt.
    #10
  11. Ural Australia

    Ural Australia Banned

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    Hi Vernon,

    My post was directed at Ragman and not Doug Bingham/SideStrider. If anyone misconstrues my post I'm sorry. Doug, I hold in the highest regard for his free giving of advice. When I needed information about DA sidecars both Doug and Hal Kendall freely gave the advice that I needed. I am constructing a sidecar based on their offerings. Once it is completed, the plans will be available to all in the same spirit as it was designed. I will sell a sidecar based on that design, but I doubt few Americans will buy it - I'm an ocean away and postage costs are high!

    As to leading links, there have been several leading links offered by Chinese companies that I consider a fatal accident awaiting an event. You may not have yet had them in America, but we have here in Australia. A bad front end is NOT good!

    Stephen Wiggins.
    #11
  12. RedMenace

    RedMenace Adventure Sidecar

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    no problem, I didn't take it that way. Thanks for the heads up about the Chinese links=I haven't seen them yet. What did you find defective?

    #12
  13. Ural Australia

    Ural Australia Banned

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    Spindly construction, small diameter pivots, waaayyy too much lead, shocks probably off a 125 with no damping. Built by someone who's seen a set of L/Ls once but has know idea of how or why they work. Attached to a $2,000 "genuine" 1960 CJ. Rest of the bike wasn't any better, which is a shame as I've seen a few very nice ones imported recently, though they cost a little bit more than $2,000.
    #13
  14. MUTZfern

    MUTZfern Adventurer

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    i sent my triple trees to side effects to have them modified for my /5,sidecar setup.cost;$675.00.they work!the before and after was apparant and the power steering effect was true.the new steering feel requires more pilot concentration and steering damper.for me the cost factor was important but after trying out another /5 with leading links against a /6 with side effects tripletrees,i was convinced there was no difference except price.:1drink
    #14
  15. Phineas Dorchester

    Phineas Dorchester Adventurer

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    somebody on here above mentioned Unit sidecars here in the UK as suppliers of leading links. They do indeed make forks and the finish quality is good. They aren't as massively constructed as some and as they mount the caliper under the fork the front tends to rise when you brake. ]

    There's another firm in the UK making leading links. Wasp sidecars who also make sidecars for off-road competition make road leading links. They are thicker and stronger. Wasp still don't have a website. My links are Wasps. They work well but need to be looked after as the finish is OK but not special.
    #15
  16. 3legs

    3legs Real men ride sidecars

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    Forget about the science behind leading links.

    There is a very simple answer to your question. Ride 1000 km without a link. Then ride another 1000 km with a link. In fact you dont even have to go that far. 100 km will still give you the same answer.

    You will never ride a sidecar without a link again.

    Trust me I know. That is exactly how I found out (as did probably most sidecar riders).

    3legs
    #16