Sidecar dealer/installer in Quebec: a review

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by Pastaman, Oct 21, 2015.

  1. Pastaman

    Pastaman Been here awhile

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    Montreal (Canada)
    On request, to help the community and avoid (bad) surprises.

    There is only one sidecar dealer/installer in Quebec (with the exception of the Ural dealer): Transmoto (50 kms north of Montreal). They have been in the sidecar and trike mod business for several years. So if you live on the canadian east coast, it is the only option close by.

    I did several searches before dealing with them but could not find any reviews or feed back. I even considered importing the chair from DMC but it was over my budget. So here it is, not to bash Transmoto but to make readers aware. I'll give you the full story. It is my own newbie experience with sidecar instalation (I had a Ural for 3 years before that)

    They sell and export several models, from cheap (Bimmer models made in India) to more "high end" products. Some of them (from what I understood) are their own design/fabrication.

    I had a small budget (~5k$ total) and went for a Bimmer model (M102-S), not too heavy and the right size & style for the Scrambler. Overall quality is cheap, they added a plywood plank on top of the floor to reinforce it because it is so thin (first red flag)! In the process, you deal by phone or email with the boss because he is never at the shop (second red flag). No discussion on the different type of mounts etc because they use standard mounts and struts that they adapt to the bikes as well as no discussion on the set-up (toe-in etc) (third red flag). I trusted them without really inquiring and questionning (even after great advices from Jay), my fault.
    They have put together some sub-frames on request but not their "speciality".

    I showed up with the bike at the shop and followed the installation from A to Z. Asked questions and raised (nicely) several concerns during the process on the mounts, welding, the set-up etc. Answers: "it is fine!". I was excited and relied on their "expertise"... Too naive. Test drive, handled great, no pulling right or left, came back home happy and proud. Huge improvement compared to the Ural: HP, breaking etc. Posted pics on several forums and got contacted right away by some professionals pointing out issues including:

    -cheap overall quality of all the mounting parts (eyebolt, clevis) and paint
    -front low mount secured on the frame with U-clamps
    -rear low mount mounted upside down and right on top of a frame weld (as a result the mount was crooked)
    -no wheel lead
    -chair too far from the bike

    I followed up with Transmoto the following week to correct the issues (again by emails and phone). They did but first they asked me to sign a letter stating that they would not be responsible anymore for the riding safety of the rig if anything was happening. After a long discussion, I signed (pissed & frustrated) otherwise they wouldn't have done the mods.
    I followed the entire process again and it was as if I suddenly woke up and realized how sloppy their work was. On my request, the rear low mount was anchored to the center stand fixation. If you'd see the welding done just to modify the rear mount...I coud have done better, I know it will break. They attached the chair frame back to the bike, taking the set-up in a really sloopy & fast way (I was even not on the bike to set the lean out etc), the frame is even not level. At that point I gave up because they were not able to do better.
    Take home message, they are not experts at all in sidecar installation (note: the mechanic was a farm mechanic before, he's working too fast, not paying attention, measuring by eye).

    Exactly one year later and after ~5000 kms (no abuse at all, my 6 yo is my monkey), the floor of the chair cracked around the fixation on the frame. They fixed it for free by reinforcing the floor with aluminium plates but again sloopy work.

    In the end, I'm still super happy with my rig for what I do with it. Looks great. Just passed the 6000 kms mark this season (they are short in QC!). But I know that if I "stress" the rig too much off road for example, U-joints or their welding on mounts will fail. I might upgrade it myself with some help.

    I would never ask a company like that to hack an ADV bike for instance, I think it might turn out dangerous!

    Buy your sidecar there if you wish but don't get their mounts, find a real professional for the installation or do it yourself. That is the positive aspect of this experience, now I know what it takes, read a lot (afterwards) and I'd feel confortable installing a chair myself (simple set-up like mine). There is a lot of information out there, especially in this hack section!

    My 2 cents
    #1
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  2. 9Realms

    9Realms Drawn in by the complex plot

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    Pics would help portray the story, just sayin.
    It would all be enjoyable to see.
    #2
  3. 5x4

    5x4 Been here awhile

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    thanks for the great report,bad dealers and manufactures need to be discussed openly so the consumer can make a informed opinion as to their honesty and particually their workmanship, your life may depend on it, and one opinion is not necessarily accurate, get many opinions and talk to people that are actually customers of said business, not second hand info, we all know how that works, good luck and happy motoring.:clap
    #3
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  4. novaboy

    novaboy Been here awhile

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    Rothesay, New Brunswick, Canada, eh
    Thank you again
    #4
  5. Qwik

    Qwik Adrenaline Addict

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    I know he's a ways out from you but I would speak with Brock at Side Effects. The guy is an absolute pro.
    #5
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  6. Pastaman

    Pastaman Been here awhile

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    I'll put 2 pics:

    Rear low mount that is upside down and sitting on the frame weld

    [​IMG]

    Front low mount with the U-clamps

    [​IMG]

    And that is the low rear mount after anchoring both sides on the center stand fixations. Note the welding, too much stress and it might break. I would have cut the corner to be able to weld around the mount and make it stronger (and I'm a total newbie!).

    [​IMG]
    #6
  7. Qwik

    Qwik Adrenaline Addict

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    Wow, that's a " Hack" job. No pun intended.
    #7
  8. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

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    5x4 has a very good point.
    But we in ADV have a ''sacred cow'' or perhaps more

    There should be an open discussion about builders who have not just turned out incomplete projects but actually down right dangerous set ups.

    We can do all the research & read all the reviews but what then when a builder has sudden personal & health problems that stress him out to the point he forgets his promises & he cannot hire skilled metal workers.
    #8
  9. davebig

    davebig Another Angry Hun !

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    Come on Wolfie we have a number of cow's hell we have a whole herd !
    But go ahead start a complaint thread I'll contribute , we'll see what Ralph will tolerate !

    Of course the real issues are is it a real complaint ? Legitimate disappointment ? Bad engineering ? Or I'm just getting even with this SOB !

    Sidecars in the US are an unregulated extremely small business (shop keepers) ! In Europe they get regulated and have a better product but that's probably not that simple,even Australia has some states needing inspections.

    Our only real option is too sue the hell out of them ! I don't think any of them have much in the way of engineering consulting being done seems like a great area, hire an attorney and a consulting Engineer or two and shape the US sidecar market up !

    As for ADV style sidecars we are not a huge percentage of the sidecar market and probably the builders see us as a pain in the ass (a bunch of Walter Mitty's )

    Then there's the issues cosmetic or down right dangerous ? WTF Your disappointed, so am I ! But it would seem we have only a couple US adv builders ones stuff isn't pretty enough but without allot of failures the others may come apart. Go ahead start a thread !


    We live in a laissez-faire http://www.thefreedictionary.com/Lasse+faire
    Society we don't trust regulation and we only do bizz with corporations we get what we deserve !


    #9
  10. Pastaman

    Pastaman Been here awhile

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    I don't know what you guys are refering to (I guess a bad experince) but I agree that the lack of regulation and inspection open the door to misconduct and sloopy work that might have desastrous consequences on safety. I know in France (where I come from), it is highly regulated and as such I'm not even sure I would have been able to hack my bike. Really long process to get approvals and much expensive because of the regulations (lights, breaking system etc...).
    I have to say that despite my bad experience I was happy not to have to go through all that in Canada. Maybe there is an in between system with some regulations (at least safety related including mandatory riding training) but not a carzy one that would kill this small business. The installation is only one aspect, you may have the best set-up but with a non trained driver, it will turn into the most dangerous hack on the road!
    #10
  11. kshansen

    kshansen kshansen

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    Have to wonder why they did not use the other hole on the left side, not that much more work. And not too sure about the way the eye bolt in attached to the end of the square stock, nut just welded on? No adjustment available. If they didn't want to have any adjustment why not just cross drill the square stock and eliminate the nut and eye bolt? Also I may be a bit picky but would also like to see the corners of the tabs rounded off, looks nicer and easier on hands when working around them.
    #11
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  12. Pastaman

    Pastaman Been here awhile

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    I know, this is what I want to change, use the hole on the other side. at least both low mounts are anchored on both side of the bike frame. The nut is welded on the square stock, same on the low front mount and upper mounts (see pics). Adjustement is available on the mount on the sidecar as shown on the pic below. You can see also the U-clamps on the sidecar mount. They love U-clamps!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #12
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  13. Prosmart

    Prosmart IPA Fancier Supporter

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    That sub-frame does appear, even to my untrained eye, somewhat agricultural.

    and then I read "(note: the mechanic was a farm mechanic before, he's working too fast, not paying attention, measuring by eye)."

    I'm guessing the welder trained at the same establishment.
    #13
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