Wheelchair sidecar build

Discussion in 'Some Assembly Required' started by downunder123, Apr 16, 2011.

  1. downunder123

    downunder123 Adventurer

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    In the neverending quest for more power….

    In reality this is the rebuild of a rebuild, the original idea was to take the lessons learnt from my 125cc sidecar and apply them to a sidecar based on the 500cc Yamaha TMAX. Other than more power I was looking for better ride comfort, a tighter ‘fit’ around my wheelchair and general improvement in the fit and finish. While the little Honda has served me well doing 1000km a month as daily hack its replacement had to be as good around town while giving me more scope to travel beyond the city lights.

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    This the starting point, my Honda @ sidecar, daily hack and sole means on transport, when this is off the road I’m stuck to the back of meatwagon taxi’s, sole destroying and expensive. Reliability and easy of use were the requirements for the new outfit.

    Unfortunately TMAX sidecar build no. 1 was a dud, built by a ‘mate’, after a year and X thousand dollars I had a sidecar where the relationship between my chair and handle bars was all screwed up, the frame holding the bars scraping the skin off my legs on the way in and out and a suspension that went metal on metal after 50mm of travel.

    Plus the steering was way to heavy for my limited arm strength.; although this was to be expected and leading links to be the solution I was so pissed off with the whole thing I decided on an alternative evil plan.

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    Since a feature of the TMAX is the flat layout of the motor with the suspension mounted horizontally underneath it occurred to me that an alternative to the sidecar was turning the bike into a ‘trike’ with two training wheels at the rear. Cut the rear subframe off, remove the seat and fuel tank and nothing is higher than 2/3 wheel height (other than the wheel itself) or wider than a narrow twin with cradle frame.

    If I modified my wheelchair I was pretty sure I could straddle the rear wheel and end up at the bars in there normal position, driveline unchanged, brakes unchanged and steering unchanged. And since these bolt on trike mods are type approved in my state I figured getting it approved by the transport dept would be straight forward.

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    But it didn’t work. …

    It could of, maybe, with more money and time but my builder had lost interest while waiting for me to get my chair modified and I underestimated the difficulties in doing this. The chair had to work for me both on the bike and for 90% of my time off the bike and that wasn’t easy to achieve. Plus priorities change, with a rapidly growing daughter my desire was that in a year or so I’d be wanting to take her on outings, and the trike route left my options for carrying a passenger limited by comparison with the sidecar.


    So another year and Y thousand dollars bought us back to sidecars and to the present project.
    Priorities this time were simple (1) it had to work & (2) after spending X+Y it had to be done as cheaply as possible.
    What had I learnt from sidecar no. 1 and the trike exercise was, (1) get professionals, (2) write down / draw specs & (3) keep a close eye on the build.

    With respect to (1), Dave Kellett the Brisbane (Australia) sidecar guru is charged with building the LL’s and attaching the sidecar to the bike and the guys in the workshop of my employer the CSIRO are to do the sidecar build. To keep the pressure on, Christmas provides a completion date that all agree can be met but I’ll be amazed and delighted if that happens. Being built at work means I can go down to the workshop at lunch and make a nuisance of myself and hopefully take a few pics for this report and it also means my current outfit will be available to reference off.

    Considering (2) I have spent abit of time with Google Sketchup to get my ideas on paper. Sketchup I think has been mentioned elsewhere on this site and is a very easy to use, useful and free tool.

    The design:

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    #1
  2. Ricardo Kuhn

    Ricardo Kuhn a.k.a. Mr Rico Suave

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    Mister DownUnder that is a very interesting project, thanks for sharing your journey Hopefully we can be of some help on your quest.:ricky
    #2
  3. Mr. Cob

    Mr. Cob Howling "Mad", Adventurer

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    Howdy downunder123,

    Do keep us informed of your build, its great to see folks in your situation still in the wind. :clap
    #3
  4. Sparrowhawkdesign

    Sparrowhawkdesign Been here awhile

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    Very interesting to see what you have done and tried before planning this build. That kind of experience really helps when planning the next project.

    Having built a few rigs along these lines I'd like to pass along something you might want to take into consideration. The rig you are now planning is obviously going to allow you to go farther and faster than your original. With this in mind you will now also have the power to pass other vehicles on occasion. Where you are, automobiles have the steering and controls on the right side as you are driving on the left side of the road. With your sidecar on the left of the bike and you driving from there it will be a bit of a hazard to peek out around that truck you may be following to see if the road is clear ahead. When you do this you will be putting the bike into oncoming traffic.

    Because of this and the fact that we drive on the right side of the road here, I always put the chair on the left if the rig is going to be operated from there. Of course the other option is to put (I'm not going to say wife!:rofl) another person on the bike. Then when you poke the bike out to see what is coming you can tell by the pitch of the scream how close they are.:D

    It is going to be interesting to see what you do with this one. Barry
    #4
  5. downunder123

    downunder123 Adventurer

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    Hi Sparrowhawkdesign, that's a good point, the approval for my first sidecar included an left hand drive vehicle certificate(?) although when the first attempt at the 500 was approved they seem to not have worried about that. Due to my disability I find it easier to lock-in my left arm against the slight pull to the left under power when my right wrist is operating the throttle (my hand controls are abit complicated to explain, as I have no hand grip, throttle and brake are working on levers under my wrist). I’ve never actually tried the sidecar on the other side but think it would work better as is.

    I’ve had this outfit on the road now for about a month and while it has heaps of power, it’s only doing 4750rpm at 90km/r and is redlined at 8500, I find the windblast above 95km/hr to much to lean against. (a screen in currently being planned). But if I can find a truck or caravan or someone sitting on 80-90 I’m very happy to sit at that and enjoy the view.
    #5
  6. downunder123

    downunder123 Adventurer

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    While I was having the cage built, Dave was building the LL’s, the following pics show the cage back at Dave’s workshop for first fitting to the bike. A subframe grabs the bikes frame in three places and the cage bolts direct to this.

    LL’s are Dave’s “light” version, downtubes are double walled (although I’m not 100% on this I understand that for the section of tube thru the triple clamps he has welded another smaller diameter tube up the inside). Lower sections are box with three positions for the pivot. Trail is reduced by approximately 50% from original.

    Later photos will show the final result when powder coated. They are a work of art and the integration of the original mudguard is amazing.

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    #6
  7. AceRph

    AceRph Affluenza Free! Administrator

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    Very cool project. :thumb
    #7
  8. downunder123

    downunder123 Adventurer

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    In the following shots the bracing for the sidecar suspension is finished and the nose started. The nose will house the fuel tank with bracing back for the steering bearing.

    Sidecar wheel lead is positioned at 20% of the bikes wheelbase and again the swingarm and pivot are all fabricated by Dave. Suspension is a coil over dampener from “something that was lying around the shop”.

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    As the rear sub frame and tank had been removed during the bikes brief trike incarnation I decided to reposition the tank into the nose. This makes filling easier, gives potential for more volume from a custom tank down the track and allowed us to lower the bikes seat to potentially make it more friendly for my little girl. Protection of the tank by framework and the front of the bike is pretty good, I’ve had a few people express concern about the location but I am happy with it myself.

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    The winch was built for me by a retired gentleman who volunteers for an organisation that makes technical aids to help the disabled. It runs a 12volt drill motor thru a worm gearbox off a commercial bread dough mixing machine. As the worm gearbox wont move unless it’s being driven, the winch, by a belt to a seat buckle permanently fixed to my chair, pulls me into the bike and effectively locks me in.

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    The steering is straight forward, simplified from previous bikes. A tiller of approximately 250mm assists with the steering weight.

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    #8
  9. Sparrowhawkdesign

    Sparrowhawkdesign Been here awhile

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    Wow! That is coming along great. I love the winch. I suspect that the leading link will reduce the steering effort a lot. I haven't seen one made that way for quite a while but it is strong and always worked very well. I'd say you've chosen your assistant builders very well. Awesome pictures.
    Barry
    #9
  10. downunder123

    downunder123 Adventurer

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    After not making the christmas deadline the project was put out with the garbage..

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    Wheel is a Superlight from Performance Wheels here in Australia, a 12inch by 5.5inch with 60 series tyre. Although not large the scooters wheels are only 14inch so it is reasonably in proportion. Stub axle was from a trailer shop and the hub didn’t have a disc mount. Hopefully I’ll have some photo’s later on of the rotor carrier, rotor and calliper that was squeezed into the rim.

    I subsequently acquired a pair of Can-am spyder rims, these are 14inch with a 165 section tyre. As bearings and brake components can all be bought off the shelf from Can Am I think that will be the go for the next outfit (if or when).

    Nose bars will be modified later when we seriously considered how to fit some body work.

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    #10
  11. crotchrocket3000

    crotchrocket3000 b00b

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    Great rig your building there, although im confused as there is a finished shot of this outfit in another thread??
    #11
  12. downunder123

    downunder123 Adventurer

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    your quite right, i had this built from October last year and got it on the road a month ago, in March 2011. Rather than spreading the story over 6 month i'm writing it up now while the trials and tribulations are still fresh in my mind.
    #12
  13. crotchrocket3000

    crotchrocket3000 b00b

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    Ah ha!! Makes good reading :deal i'll continue to keep an eye on it!!!
    #13
  14. downunder123

    downunder123 Adventurer

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    Back from the painters and we are getting close now. It’s like waiting for Christmas when you’re a kid, I’m sure all the “clients” on the site waiting for the pros to deliver know the feeling, you want it done right but at the same time you want it. NOW!

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    Time killer for us was the brakes as they turned into more of a drama than they should have. I have the sidecar disc on the same hydraulic circuit as the bikes front brakes and I don’t touch the bikes rear as my left wrist doesn’t work. The block we had purchased to join two hydraulic lines into one had the internal hole drilled off centre. This wasn’t obvious until Dave noticed a persistent leak when pressurising the brakes. After stuffing around for several days and chasseing the guy who sold us the block, Dave discovered the off-centre hole and was able to correct it.

    Brake issue number two was bleeding the quite convoluted line and getting a good feel at the leaver. This took days with the callipers up, down and sideways, tapping the length of the line to get every microscopic bubble out, then doing it all again tomorrow. And the next day. And the day after… We persisted with the original master cylinder before giving up and going from a 14mm bore to 16mm. Problem two solved.

    Issue number three was a warp in the sidecars new disc. Either from a bad batch or from getting inadvertently touched by some thing hot. I rode it with this for a month with a shocking judder until the disc was machined and brake problem 3 resolved.

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    The photo’s show the paint job colour matched to my wheelchair. Had to gulp when I saw it the first time and put the sun glasses on, it has grown on me now. I guess it’s a matter of taste.

    The nose has been modified to allow easier fitment of some bodywork which will be pretty minimal. I’m so in love with the tube work and welding quality that the bodywork we fit to keep the windblast out from the pants leg will sit behind the framework.

    It’s may not be obvious, but in fitting the bikes subframe we have reduced the seat height by 50mm and moved it forward by the same amount. As well as hopefully giving a more compact look the purpose was to make it more friendly for my daughter when she is old enough to ride with me.

    Lowering the subframe and seat meant a hole cut out of the underseat storage. I have found this tub extremely useful on my past bike so will need to replace the tub with some sort of storage. At this stage I’m leaning towards a topbox mounted on the pillion seat forming a back rest for the solo passenger. Underseat will be a home for reverse gear as we have direct access to the rear wheel. Some sort of small motor with wheel that is push onto the bikes wheel is the plan. Anyone have any other ideas for a sidecar reverse?

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    #14
  15. Medic

    Medic Window licker

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    Is this the same machine I saw last week at Haighslea?

    I feel like I've already read the last page of a good book.

    Keep it up mate!

    Christo.
    #15
  16. IsAnOzzie

    IsAnOzzie Been here awhile

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    So the frame is orange. :D
    I think I just passed my eye test.
    #16
  17. downunder123

    downunder123 Adventurer

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    G'day mate, yes, Haighslea was the outfits first trip up the motorway at speed. Power was no longer a problem (compared to the 125) but the windblast was. I'm trying to get back to Dave's soon to fit a screen of some sort.

    Great museum isn't it. I'd heard about it but was my first visit. Frustrating not being able to get around all sides of the bikes from the sheer number but was great to see in the flesh many i had only seen in books. The new / old Vincents blew me away amongst many many others.
    #17
  18. bk brkr baker

    bk brkr baker Long timer

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    Fantastic design and execution !
    Enjoy your new rig !
    #18
  19. downunder123

    downunder123 Adventurer

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    Skip forward a couple of weeks from these last shots taken in febuary to mid March. I took delivery the day of the 1st test ride, a trip around the block, adjust the steering weight to position 1 from 3. Another spin around the block and pull in to adjust the relative position of the throttle / brake adaption I use. Final spin and all is good, I’m off home, 16km in a Brisbane summer downpour.

    A couple of fine tuning sessions over the following two weeks to adjust the toe-in. We ended up with 13mm over the bikes wheelbase. With this there is the very slightest run to the right hands off but no major movement under power or off power at any speed. No headshake and tracks straight over all pot holes that I have hit so far (no steering dampener is fitted). I really can’t say enough about the handling.

    Four weeks from delivery and I have a mudguard fitted, about 1200km on the clock and the brake problem sorted. The following is a series of photos taken last weekend, late April 2011.


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    I love this outfit! Cheers!
    #19
  20. Medic

    Medic Window licker

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    Very nicely turned out mate! Very smart looking unit.
    #20