Sidecar Training Question

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by PhoenixGirl63, Jun 13, 2019.

  1. PhoenixGirl63

    PhoenixGirl63 Wayward Daughter Supporter

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    Hey, inmates. I'm pulling the trigger on a 2019 Ural this weekend. I've searched for training programs and have learned that the MSF S/TEP programs in my area only cover trikes and not sidecars. I asked if I could bring my sidecar to class and was told it's not allowed for liability reasons. The instructor told me that I could still enroll in the trike training program, but they won't be addressing sidecar handling.

    My question is two-fold:
    First, is it still worth it to take the trike training? I do have my motorcycle endorsement, so I don't need the class to legally ride a sidecar in my state. But, I do want to make sure I learn how to safely pilot the rig. Would I get enough out of the trike training or is it so completely different that I would get very little out of it?

    Second, are there any sidecar specific training programs in the Midwest--specifically Illinois or Wisconsin--OR are there any MSF rider coaches with sidecar experience who would be willing to work with me? All of my internet searches have come up empty so far.

    EDIT: I have been reading the yellow Driving A Sidecar Outfit book and watching videos on YouTube. But, it's not the same as hands-on.

    Thanks in advance!
    #1
  2. Flyin' Monkeys

    Flyin' Monkeys Wicked Witch Airlines Supporter

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    @PhoenixGirl63 , excellent post on this subject, and for making post # 100 for you. :thumb

    Apparently the area/state you live in is quite different than the state where the greatest Sidecar pilots live, in Washington State. :D
    In Washington, we are required to have a 3 wheeled endorsement on our drivers license, which means for sidecars or trikes, we must have this special endorsement.

    Frankly, given how much different a sidecar rig or a trike drives/rides compared to a two-wheeled motorcycle, I would think ALL states would be as smart as Washington, and require the operators to get the endorsement for 3 wheeled rigs, which would most likely necessitate taking the MSF-S/TEP class, which I have done.

    What a shame that the local MSF-S/TEP classes in your area only offer training in trikes, and not in sidecars. Shame on them :fpalm

    May I suggest that you find a rider/driver in your area, that already has a lot of experience in piloting a sidecar rig, and ask them for lessons.

    We have quite a few sidecar peeps in the Wisconsin area, but none that will admit to living in the northern section of Illinois :imaposer
    #2
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  3. Tarka

    Tarka Strangely strange. Oddly normal.

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    It's good that you're seeking training, but being taught how to ride a trike will be bugger all help with learning how to ride a sidecar outfit.
    #3
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  4. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    I agree with Tarka. Avoid the trike training.

    While I think formal sidecar training is great, let's face it one out of a hundred new sidecar pilots go through formal training. Everybody else learns by doing. Flyin' Monkeys idea of finding a mentor is a good one and perhaps your Ural dealer has some names they could float out there to you. Otherwise, put in a few hours in an empty parking lot, and don't just ride around in circles but instead actually practice the lessons described in The Yellow Book. You'll do great.
    #4
  5. usgser

    usgser Long timer

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    Good you realize that up front. The "yellow book" is an excellent training manual. BUT... you're not going to be a safe sidecar pilot from reading a book or watching youtube. Ya gotta get out there and actually "DO" the practice exercises. It takes time to learn piloting, unlearning your previous 2 wheeler skills/habits and develope new auto response/muscle memories. No getting around it.... takes practice, practice, practice. A "sidecar inclusive" S/TEP class is worth taking if available but the day you pass doesn't yet next day/week qualify you to haul loved ones x-country safely. I took the class AND used the yellow book before and afterwards at a local state park parking lot till my skills and confidence levels progressed. If you follow and actually do David Hough's yellow book practice drills you'll be fine w/o the class but the bottom line is: to learn it takes saddle time not couch/TV/internet time. You can do this just spend the required time learning. In the mean time avoid your crazy Chicago traffic and the freeways... welcome to the world of driving goofy triangles. Once you nail it, you'll love it!
    #5
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  6. JustKip

    JustKip Long timer

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    I agree with the others. Read the yellow Book, and practice, practice, practice
    The class can be helpful (OK, IS helpful for a total n00b) but in a 20 hour S/TEP class you will start with 4 hours of classroom instruction, then get about half the remaining 16 hours in actual seat time. 6-8 hours of serious practice can probably get you ahead of the curve.
    #6
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  7. Ridn3

    Ridn3 Lopsidd

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    Come to Virginia for the training. Danville Community College has a class 4 July weekend. What could be better then learning to ride on the holiday weekend.
    #7
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  8. PhoenixGirl63

    PhoenixGirl63 Wayward Daughter Supporter

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    Thanks, everyone! The feedback on the trike class is about what I expected it might be, so I'll avoid it. I'll get out in parking lots and side streets to practice. Finding a mentor through my local dealer is a great idea.

    @Flyin' Monkeys : *I* don't even want to admit to living in Northern Illinois most of the time. Our state has been a shambles for a while. But, people who are important to me are here, so... here I am. Would LOVE to ride in Washington and in BC. I have quite a few moto friends out that way. May need to plan a trip soon. :clap

    @Ridn3: Oooh... not a bad idea. I'll just have gotten back from DC from a graduation trip for my oldest granddaughter (just graduated 8th grade). I'll have to see if I can swing this.
    #8
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  9. Happytrails63

    Happytrails63 Adventurer

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    Virginia probably has some nice classes for learning a sidecar. PA offers (not requires) 3 wheel training but thats inclusive of trikes, can ams and sidecars. I was going to sign up out of curiosity but the darn classes sell out so fast at the locations near me. Its great your looking for training but if you can't make that happen you can at least parking lot practice and check sources online. And tossing a couple sand tubes into the tub wouldn't be a bad idea at first. Just until you get the hang of it. Good luck and have fun!
    #9
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  10. Bar None

    Bar None Long timer Supporter

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    PhoenixGirl63, Take it nice and slow at the beginning of your sidecar training. Your dealer should be able to help you some and the exercises in the Yellow Book are great.
    How about a photo of your new 2019 Ural?
    #10
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  11. RetiredandRiding

    RetiredandRiding Retired to Ride Supporter

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    And, apparently, apostrophes... :jack
    #11
  12. Ridn3

    Ridn3 Lopsidd

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    @Ridn3: Oooh... not a bad idea. I'll just have gotten back from DC from a graduation trip for my oldest granddaughter (just graduated 8th grade). I'll have to see if I can swing this.[/QUOTE]

    Believe it or dont, after 40k miles on side cars, I am taking that July 4th class.
    #12
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  13. 3legs

    3legs Real men ride sidecars Supporter

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    Just remember "STEER" not lean. If you can get your head around that before you even get on an outfit you will find the rest will come easy.................................sort of:lol3:lol3:lol3

    Forget everything you already know about riding solo. Apart from the controls outfits are a different animal.

    Don't be scared to "fly" the chair. Good fun once you have mastered it.

    You will make mistakes but don't worry. Hell I've been riding outfits for nearly 40 years and I still makes mistakes although to be fair it's usually when i'm doing stupid things (which most outfit riders do from time to time. It's just too much fun not to:D)

    As they say "once you go hack you never go back".

    I've had a saying for years that is very true "any sidecar rider can ride solo but not every solo rider can ride a sidecar"
    #13
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  14. brstar

    brstar Long timer

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    Hands on is the clue.
    We live in an age were it is not enough to have the relevant license, you have to constantly prove your competency.
    Well you do if you live in a mining state like Western Australia.
    But Like 3legs I grew up in an era where having a go at handling any machine that came my way was the norm.
    Guess what?
    It ain't that hard.
    Attitude is more important than aptitude in any sphere of life.
    Yes you do have to push your boundaries a bit and yes it pays to learn as much as you can.
    But even with lessons it is all up to you afterwards.
    There are no sidecar schools on this side of our continent and I'm not sure there are on the other side either.
    There will be times when piloting an outfit where you will need to do what you know to do and not what you feel like doing.
    Like when going through a turn towards the chair and it feels like you are going to fast for comfort.
    If you back off or brake the rig will want to go straight, not good.
    But take the lessons if it works for you.
    #14
  15. norton(kel)

    norton(kel) He’s my President! Supporter

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    As brstar says, Hands on is what will teach you. And FLYING EYEBALL also says, Empty parking lot. These comments are both good advice. The Ural is a good learner, if set up right they handle fine, just remember to take the learning slow and easy. ALWAYS try and remember it is NOT a motorcycle!!
    I have been driving sidecars now for 38 yrs and I got into a right hand curve two lane blacktop too hot up in Canada a few years back, crossed over the centerline and bent my left hand mirror back by rubbing it against the oncoming semis trailer. :p3rryClose to being removed from the gene pool that day.
    Practice, practice, practice!

    Good luck with the new adventure :clap
    #15
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  16. PhoenixGirl63

    PhoenixGirl63 Wayward Daughter Supporter

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    Thanks so much for all of the replies, everyone. I picked up the rig yesterday and it's taking quite a bit of effort to keep the rig from pulling right all the time, no matter what speed. Anyway, here is a picture of my dog, Indy, sitting in his new ride. Sitting is all he gets to do for a while. I have to get way more comfortable on the bike before he gets to go anywhere other than our driveway.
    IndyRide.jpeg
    #16
  17. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    Shouldn't pull at all. The setup is not right. I believe The Yellow Book has a section on setup. One of the Ural guys on here could maybe suggest the fastest easiest way to adjust the toe in and lean out.

    And you definitely don't have the 2-wheel drive engaged right?
    #17
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  18. norton(kel)

    norton(kel) He’s my President! Supporter

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    As said above, setup is wrong. Hopefully someone in your area will come forward and help with the setup, if you want. It is a shame that URAL doesn't seem to care if their dealers have any idea what a sidecar rig is! Seems the dealers are either wonderful or crap. Now is the time that you will either become intimate with your hack by learning how to set it up for you, or you will become disgusted and send it down the road! I think this happens to quite a few new hack owners. Sidecar rigs are wonderful when right and can be a great experience, Good Luck!
    #18
  19. AtomicRoadDog

    AtomicRoadDog n00b

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    Heyo,
    I'm a n00b on the site, but I've been riding a Ural since 2016. Sidecars shouldn't pull much, but because of physics, the yaw of the bike will occur primarily with acceleration and deceleration. This will be magnified when the sidecar is loaded because of inertia. Ural's brakes on the sidecar will mitigate that a good bit, but not entirely. It's just physics.

    I wish I could recommend a sidecar training group. I've been trying to find one in Portland, but they stopped doing it a few years back for some reason. Most of my skill (what little there is) was reading and then trying it out.

    And just like 3leg said, once you start riding a hack, you never go back. I love the feel of a solo bike, but having the ability to drive like a bike but still take a second (or even third) person and some luggage (or beverages) is just amazing.
    #19
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  20. Strong Bad

    Strong Bad Former World's Foremost Authority Supporter

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    "Yaw" seen while accelerating will be towards the sidecar and away from the sidecar when decelerating. PhoenixGirl63 said "pulling right all the time" so that isn't a yaw issue, it would be a set up issue.

    If it was bought from a Ural dealer, take it back and make them set it up correctly.
    #20