Triumph Sidecar: What bike would you pick and why?

Discussion in 'Hacks' started by TripleDaddy, Sep 25, 2019.

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Which Triumph would you use for a budget Sidecar rig build?

  1. A 2015 or newer 1200 ccExplorer. Has cruise, and DMC hardware is cheaper than the 800 cc Tiger.

    11 vote(s)
    17.7%
  2. A 2015 or newer Tiger 800. Has cruise and can easily swap sprockets for gearing.

    4 vote(s)
    6.5%
  3. A fuel injected 800 cc Bonneville or Scrambler. Still has more HP than a Ural and is cheap.

    22 vote(s)
    35.5%
  4. A newer T120, fuel injected with more HP

    10 vote(s)
    16.1%
  5. Something else

    10 vote(s)
    16.1%
  6. Stick with the trusty, but slow, Ural

    3 vote(s)
    4.8%
  7. Make a Beemer rig instead

    2 vote(s)
    3.2%
  1. TripleDaddy

    TripleDaddy Hoping my skills exceed my horsepower

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    Hi Inmates,
    Do you ever think about "the one that got away"? That's how I feel about this sidecar rig that was for sale on AdvRider:

    dsc01507.jpg

    DMC Sidecar with lots of farkles listed:
    • Side Door $95.00
    • Interior Carpeting $155.00
    • Trunk Carpeting $95.00
    • Sidecar Brake, Brembo Hydraulic $650.00
    • Electric (Hydraulic) Trim, Adjusts sidecar suspension with the touch of a button while riding $825.00 It has electric-hydraulic trim on the wheel as well as the sidecar angle. Very convenient for on the fly adjustments.
    • Front Kodiak Rack $250.00
    • Rear Rack, Heavy Duty, Hinged on the Sidecar Body $395.00
    • Passenger Grab Bar $150.00
    • Front Bumper with Halogen Driving Lights $300.00
    • Electric Winch $500.00 (never used) with red canvas protection cover
    • Tow Hook $45.00
    • Seat Belt $75.00
    • Rotopax LoX Pack mount $60.00
    • 2 x 1 Gallon Gasoline Rotopax cans (never used) $120.00
    • Sidecar Extras per DMC website: $4,115.00

    I've always loved Triumphs, and have owned 3 of them. It made me wonder if I could sell my existing 2012 Ural, and buy or build a slightly more highway capable Triumph rig (read: can go 75 mph up hill, not a world traveller).

    So, I'm reaching out to more experienced sidecar aficionados than myself for some advice... If you were building a budget friendly (<$12k???) Triumph sidecar rig, what bike would you pick and why? I not able to take on a weeks / months long project; I've got 3 young sons and not enough time to wrench. I could handle a few weekends adding prefabricated mounting brackets, adjusting a sidecar setup, or doing some wiring, but don't have time for a bunch of grinding, welding, or lathe work. I need to be real about my current limitations, or it will be a non-starter.

    So... thoughts?
    #1
  2. Alaskahack

    Alaskahack Adventurer

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    Talk to Jay at DMC
    #2
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  3. TripleDaddy

    TripleDaddy Hoping my skills exceed my horsepower

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    A DMC would certainly be my preference, but I'm not sure I have DMC kind of money :hmmmmm. I saw a Bonneville / DMC rig for sale recently in Virginia, but couldn't get enough detail from the seller to really get comfortable with travelling the distance for a somewhat unknown rig.

    I also like the Hannigan rigs (but think they typically look too sporty for a Triumph) and think that Claude makes gorgeous stuff too. My problem is I'm not in the "near retirement and have fun money" part of my life; I've got 25 more years to work and 3 boys to put through college, so I can't just buy a new bike and ask one of the experts to do it up right...

    I also hate to bother such skilled craftsmen like Jay and Claude; I know they get paid to build rigs (and not just to answer questions on the internet), so their time is extremely valuable.

    Trying to find a thrifty but fun rig for this part of my life, and to save up for some hub center steering / high performance...?... build for when I'm older and can pay for it with cash.
    #3
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  4. DRONE

    DRONE Dog Chauffeur

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    When choosing a bike to hack I've always felt that ergonomics is the #1 priority. If the bike doesn't "fit" then it won't get rode and will never make you happy. So that's the first step -- to find out which bike has the right ergo's for you.

    Also, most guys know about this site but it bears reposting ---->

    #4
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  5. FLYING EYEBALL

    FLYING EYEBALL out of step

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    those $6K dmc setups quickly turn to 10K plus with options.

    figure out a budget and have $$ ready (and be ready to travel or pony up for shipping)
    #5
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  6. brstar

    brstar Long timer

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    Sounds like you need a larger second hand outfit.
    2 boys in the chair and 1 behind.
    At least when they are big enough till the time they are too big. (For their boots).
    It's not that long a season.
    Of course that requires money on hand when the bargain turns up.
    Maybe that same one or one like it will be back on the market again down track.
    Good luck with the hunt.
    #6
  7. ErictheBiking

    ErictheBiking Been here awhile

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    If you were building a budget friendly (<$12k???) Triumph

    Building is usually not budget friendly.
    Buying established can be if you are prepared to wait and/or travel.
    #7
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  8. TripleDaddy

    TripleDaddy Hoping my skills exceed my horsepower

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    Good point. I'm 6'2" and have found that a Tiger 800, 1200 Explorer, F800GS and even my Ural fit me pretty well without modification. I have a buddy with a Bonneville and need to take a test ride to see what I think. I love the classic looks, but I recall it feeling a little cramped. Good idea to get this figured out first to ensure i don't do a bunch of work, only to regret it later.
    #8
    brstar likes this.
  9. TripleDaddy

    TripleDaddy Hoping my skills exceed my horsepower

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    Sound advice, thank you. I've purchased bikes from a distance in the past, so this is a good reminder. I did a fly and ride from California, a bike swap in Pittsburg, bought from a forum / shipped from Albuquerque, bought off a forum / picked up with a truck and trailer from North Carolina, bought off AdvRider / drive and ride from Des Moines, and bought from eBay / drive and ride from Chicago. I'm not afraid of buying a 2 wheeler from a distance, but would pause more about a 3 wheeler if I had to ride it home (but shipping would be no biggie).

    I'd like to stick with a roomy 1 person sidecar, but don't have the space for a 2 seater or a trailer. The Ural metal sidecar is about right, an inch or two wider would be even better
    #9
  10. Wolfgang55

    Wolfgang55 Long timer

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    Children in time usually change in size.....later you may want something more for you & the mom......

    Might go bigger now w/ the children in mind & still have a strong bike to work w/ later.
    #10
  11. brstar

    brstar Long timer

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    Did a fly ride from here to Santa Cruz once.
    With a Ural type body you can modify it so as to have one seat behind the other one. Viola a 4 seater.
    #11
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  12. jaydmc

    jaydmc Long timer

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    1,798
    First and foremost, which Triumph "speaks" to you? While the 800 and 1200 tigers are similar, the Bonneville's are totally different bikes. We have mounts for all of the bikes you list as well as the rocket 3. For the Tigers, we do not have any lower priced ways to lower the steering effort, lately we have been building leading link front ends for these bikes. On the 1200 we do have an automotive rear wheel conversion. It turns out that the 1200 has the same bolt pattern as the BMW GS bikes as such all we had to do was make a slight change in the adapter we already make. On the Bonneville we do not have steering modifications for the water cooled bikes. For the air cooled Bonneville's we do make triple tree's. They do not sell fast enough or in large enough quantity for us to develop tree's for the water cooled bikes.
    Again. Bottom line buy the bike that speaks to you. None of this makes any economic sense, you are buying a toy, a toy that you may have for many years. In the case of the sidecar its self, you may have the sidecar many more years then the bike. Often a sidecar is a once in a life time investment. Bikes may come and go, the sidecar often not. So buy the most sidecar you can afford.
    Or as your last option, buy a BMW instead. We build far more BMW's then any other adventure type bike, we have more options for these and in my case, I can own and ride any bike I want. My current bike is an R1250GSA, I also have an R1150GSA for more aggressive off pavement riding as the bike had been in an accident as such I do not care if I bang it up. The BMW can be less money to make into a great sidecar bike and they tend to hold their value better, they also MIGHT in the long run be easier to get parts for once the bike is a bit older.
    Jay G
    DMC sidecars
    866-638-1793
    www.dmcsidecars.com
    #12
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  13. 4PawsHacienda

    4PawsHacienda Long timer

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    I’m 5’10” with a T100 Watsonian Monza rig, after 5-6 hours it’s a bit cramped for me. It replaced my trusty Ural, I have found it somewhat similar but much much better all around.
    I’d seriously look at used larger rigs if you honestly (and that is the key word) plan on traveling much. Being retired, and coming from a Ural, I never hurry.
    I see many older low mileage BMWs advertised locally and agree with Jay on parts availability as well as sidecar choice, I do miss the metal body of the Ural.
    #13
  14. TripleDaddy

    TripleDaddy Hoping my skills exceed my horsepower

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    Jay,
    Thanks for taking the time out of your schedule to offer advice. The short answer to your questions:
    • Speaks to me: Triumph Explorer. I've never ridden anything but a Ural with leading link; how much harder would it be to steer the Explorer / DMC shown in the original post? I'm 40 years old and fairly strong, so I was hoping it would be do-able without leading links, but I don't want to be delusional. My riding trends towards commuting to work and taking the occasional 1000-2000 mile trip. It will likely be many more years of child rearing before I can take off for longer trips.
    • Beemer or Bonneville: Per Drone's advice I'll get more seat time to see if a Bonneville will be big enough for me. I like the looks and build quality, but need to use my head more and heart less in bike purchasing decisions. I'll do a longer test ride on a Bonneville to see if it would really work for me. If no, a Beemer would be a good backup plan, but I'd prefer something else.
    #14
  15. TripleDaddy

    TripleDaddy Hoping my skills exceed my horsepower

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    What is a comfortable highway cruising speed for your rig? I'm thinking since you have 10+ horsepower more than the Ural, that gained you a cruising speed of ~75 mph? It's not a race to me, but I live in a state where interstates take you everywhere, so it's hard to be limited by the Ural's top speed.
    #15
  16. 4PawsHacienda

    4PawsHacienda Long timer

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    I avoid interstates since I have time on my side. Running 70-75 for extended periods is no problem at all but my brain works better at 60-65. Not knocking my beloved Ural in any way but I now wonder why I kept it so long.
    I did change the suspension on the Triumph, a necessity. Steering is ok but would like to add Jays triple tree modifications, I hear they make a big difference. West Virginia prior to suspension change was exciting.
    #16
  17. Prmurat

    Prmurat Long timer

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    I am riding a Thunderbird Sport with a Watsonian, installed by DMC.... over 80mph ion the freeway all day long. Terrific sound (3cyl), I installed 3 pistons calipers off a VFR. A little heavy (stock trail) but straight as an arrow band no pulling.
    T150 paint all around, Monza completely redone fiberglass, wood, powder coated frame.

    IMG_8143.JPG
    #17
  18. TripleDaddy

    TripleDaddy Hoping my skills exceed my horsepower

    Joined:
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    I've seen photos of your rig before somewhere; it looks really nice. My questions are:
    • Do you like or dislike the smaller wheel diameter on the Monza? I think the small wheel looks a little odd (in a charming English way) but was curious if there were any performance advantages / disadvantages for a small sidecar wheel. I could see it being swallowed up by a pothole easier, but an experienced rider could likely just fly the chair and negate the issue (if you saw it coming).
    • Do you wish the sidecar was lighter or heavier? I would think that it would feel much lighter than my steel Ural sidecar. While I get the physics behind what that means, I wonder if that means I would carry more ballast on a daily basis (assuming no passenger) or if I would run the same about the same amount (40lbs).
    • Do you worry about the 20 year old bike? I'd like to find something newer and fuel injected, but I realize that beggars can't be choosers... The nightmare scenario for me would be buying a new-to-me rig, having the bike engine fail, and then have a custom painted rig that doesn't match what I would buy to replace it (i.e. a newer Bonneville). I'm sure your Thunderbird is perfectly reliable, I'd just prefer to find something a little newer, or with a more plain sidecar that would be an easier swap (and wouldn't require a repaint to not clash) if connected to newer bike.
    #18
  19. bk brkr baker

    bk brkr baker Long timer Supporter

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    I just did a scan of 1200 Tigers on Cycle Trader and found a few under 10 K that would fit your budget. Years back I bought a Dnepr chair on e-bay for $675 and have a deposit with Freedom to build a sub-frame and sway bar to mount it on my '14 V-Strom 1000.
    The Strom lacks the shaft drive and some cubic inches compared to the Tiger , but , means easier final drive changes , so I think it will be O.K. Suzuki dealers are far more plentiful than Triumph dealers and aftermarket backup also , I think.
    If I don't add a lot of extras to my build I believe I'll have my outfit on the road for a little under your budget , but , of course , different bike {cheaper} and I'll eventually want to modify the trail ,the suspension will want some changing and who knows what else ?
    If you play your cards right you may be able to get the 1200 Tiger , a Ural or Dnepr chair and mounting done in your budget , then let it evolve as your needs change. But it won't be overly easy.
    #19
  20. jaydmc

    jaydmc Long timer

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    At 40yrs old you may find that the stock front end is fine however the older I get the more I find that off pavement my wrists hurt at the end of the day if I have not modified the front end. I have no real experience with the Explorer. Just test rides for customers. I did own a BMW F800GS for a while which has similar suspension. I found that it worked well on pavement but sucked off road. The leading link totally transformed the steering effort but at least as important, the leading link simply worked significantly better off pavement.
    Buy the best sidecar you can afford, you are raising kids now, BUT your grand kids more then likely will some day ride in the sidecar. For now, you are looking for a bike that will work for you for a few years, The sidecar for a life time which is why I always say buy the best you can.
    Jay G
    DMC sidecars
    866-638-1793
    www.dmcsidecars.com
    #20
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