Showing posts with label Vikki - Sidecar. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Vikki - Sidecar. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Vikki the V-Strom gets a Dauntless Sidecar

Last Thursday, I took receipt of a M72D Model Sidecar from Dauntless Sidecars.  Past issues regarding mechanical reliability of my other sidecar rig, a '96 Ural Sportsman had led me to pursue a more reliable tug for a sidecar and things just kind of fell in line after my failed attempt to come home with a R90 Sidecar Rig in Texas.


After work, I started working on sorting things out, taking the plastic off Vikki, my 2004 Suzuki V-Strom DL1000 motorcycle, unpacking the sidecar from the shipping crate and just trying to figure out how things would be mounted.  You see, while Dauntless does send some pictures with the sidecar, there's a lot left to figure out on your own.  All the pictures related to the subframe mounting to the motorcycle, nothing on how to attach the sidecar itself per se.

Sure, during work hours, Jay the owner is readily available to answer questions but some more detailed instructions and photos would have been better.  Jay did end up sending more photos when I asked him about certain things and while some of the pictures didn't quite apply (wrong sidecar), they also helped somewhat.

Here's all the pieces involved with creating a subframe mount for the 
Suzuki and attachment hardware for the sidecar.  The workmanship is very good, very solid feel to it all.  Still, there was tweaking required at points.

Vikki, sans all the plastic and pieces required to provide mounting points for the sidecar mounts and subframe.    
Notice that the engine guards are gone, they can't be on due to the subframe mount.  
Not needed with a sidecar of course.

First thing to be mounted, a cross brace reinforcing the upper frame of the motorcycle and providing the rear upper mounting point for the sidecar, and the cause of the 
first WWID (What Would Ivan Do) moment.

You see, the charcoal canister is in the way of the right side rear upper mount above, 
I had to move the canister out of the way!  The canister is that object just hanging in the above picture.

Luckily, was able to free up the hosing enough to reroute it and the charcoal canister
and ended up securing it with zip ties to the right side of the rear swing arm.  
Can you spot it behind the hardware in the foreground?

Next, an unexpected but not totally surprising removal, the motorcycle's center  
stand had to go
since the subframe required one of its mounting points.

My good friend Oscar came by at this point with his lovely wife Janet and their son Stevie
who was quite fascinated with the sidecar still sitting in the crate.  Here are Stevie and my oldest son Patrick
goofing around inside the sidecar.

Next up in tasks was the mounting of the right side subframe mount.  
It would be one of the more difficult tasks as you will see.  

Here's where I relearned a bitter lesson, fitting metal parts to other metal parts requires a bit of "tweaking", "cajoling" and judicious leverage.  If you're forcing something, you're doing it wrong usually.  You have to keep things "loose" in all mounting points so mounting screws go in easy.  Otherwise, you're making the job much harder.

Note the rear mount point for the right side subframe above, it attaches to the mounting holes for the right side rider's foot peg.  Not much flexibility as to how it mounts huh?

Well, the trouble is, with the subframe mounted in the previous picture, it left the inner mounting point about one inch short of where its supposed to mate to the damn center stand mount point!  Oscar and I puzzled over this quite a bit and finally we got a solution.  

So, the second WWID moment.  

After much trial and cursing, finally ended up using one of the metal bushings that was part of the center stand I removed, to "bridge" the gap between the edge of the subframe mount and the center stand mount point. 

 Not bad eh?  I checked with Dauntless and while they couldn't figure out why I had to do it, they saw no issue with my solution.  I really hope they take a second look at the Suzuki V-Strom subframe mount for future customers' benefit.

So, hours later, the right side subframe mount is in place.  Quite the travail.

I now moved the sidecar alongside the V-Strom and after much guesswork, some emails and calls later, figured out the correct placement of the "A Arms, which form the mounting arms attaching the sidecar to the subframe mount anchor points.  Again, pictures would have been nice as the guesswork on my end resulted in wasted time and energies on my part!  

Here's what I learned only by calling and fortunately managing to catch the designer on the phone on a Friday evening.  You have to mount the rear A arm first, making sure the clamps straddle the rearmost eye bolt mounting hold in the sidecar frame.  Once that's lined up, you move the forward A arm around till it lines up with the forward lower mounting point on the motorcycle's subframe.  I had unfortunately copied the arrangement on my Ural, clamped down the forward A arm first and lined up the rear A arm second, that was not right.  Again, I blame the lack of pictures/instructions bundled with the sidecar.


As you can see in the picture above, there's two WWID issues.  The electrical plug sticking out of the sidecar body, where one connects the wiring harness for the lights on the sidecar,  is right above and near the mounting hole for the rear eyelet bolt for the upper rear support arm!  

I told Dauntless and apparently mine was the first sidecar where they'd done this, and they would ensure it wouldn't happen again.  Nothing like being a guinea pig.

The second issue is the damn inner portion of the clamping mechanism does NOT fit on the sidecar frame because of the square metal portion pictured above.  Just no room!  Dauntless told me it was supposed to be a tight fit but seriously?  I sent them email with pictures, and they would later confirm that cutting was involved.


So, cutting was done, using a Dremel cutting disk, a hacksaw and files.  Lots of work, a sawsall would have been better and has been added to the list of tools one should have.  Note the gap created above.  Once I cleared it up and painted it black, it looked pretty good.  Using my methods though, it took most of a morning.


The picture above shows how much of the inner clamp fit into the gap created, no way in hell it would have fit and clamped tightly without the cut above.

The rear A arm in place, clamped down, with rear upper support arm in place.
Note how the mounting eye bolt is in the way of the electrical plug as I mentioned before.  You'd think they would have noticed it when doing the work?  My guess, whoever installed the plug, did it on the sidecar, which was at the time, not mounted to the frame.

Ken, who was visiting, helped me do the final mounting work, doing most of the measuring and most of the tightening of the mounting bolts while I saw on the V-Strom to keep the suspension compressed as he ensure the sidecar remained level and I kept the motorcycle level.  We would end up coming pretty close to the right specs!

We took Vikki out for a short test ride, with Ken as the monkey, and she ran pretty good but I felt a steady pull to the right past the point when the rig should have been tracking straight.  Still, pretty good first run.

Over the next day or so, I would hook up the electrical harness with help from my loving wife.  A few blown fuses later, I had it all working.  Bolted on the last pieces of the left side subframe and rode the V-Strom sidecar rig to work today.

One final WWID moment, the way I'd mounted the left hand subframe had resulted in the gear shift lever being interfered with by the gear shift pedal!  I couldn't shift up past second gear!  Dammit.  I saw that the rubber boot covering the ball joint was catching on the pedal so I worked it loose enough to be able to shift.

After work, I swung by my friend Oscar's place to discuss perhaps bending the gear shift lever.  He analyzed the situation with that talent of his and came up with a better solution.  He added three washers to the forward mounting screw and two washers to the rear mounting screw and things bolted on not only fine but there was now clearance!  Damn he is good.

He also helped me unmount the rear upper support arm, which allowed me to extend it out by four turns, thereby increasing the "toe-in" of the sidecar.  I rode the sidecar home and she handled much much much better in terms of pulling to the right.  Oscar is the man!  

Sorry for this long posting, but it was quite the effort to assemble the sidecar onto the motorcycle.  Definitely not a simple bolt-on solution, some tweaking is quite involved!  Still, she's now assembled and riding well, I am for now a happy camper.

Some cosmetic work remains, you have to cut a hole in one of the plastic pieces to allow the rear upper support eye bolt to poke through; Oscar is doing that for me.  I have to tweak the sidecar windshield's apron mount so it angles a bit more to the rear; get used to not having a driven sidecar wheel (this is a glorious thing on the Ural I now realize); and of course, begin the farklization of the rig!

One final remark re Dauntless' product, very good overall, just be prepared for some small gotchas and some modifications.  I hope they will work on improving the instructions and pictures for future buyers.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Busy last couple of days here in Colorado

Lots of things going on  to do and blog about, here's but a short summary of forthcoming articles.

First, on Thursday, my new Dauntless sidecar arrived at Noon and I got my first look at what I would be mating onto Vikki, the DL1000 V-Strom.  The assembly process, it's particular travails and triumphs will be detailed in a latter post, but here's a peek at the sidecar when it arrived:


She arrived on Thursday and tonight, she was assembled enough for a test ride....wow, what a difference from Natasha, my Ural sidecar rig!  More to follow, but here's the first picture of her out on the driveway, courtesy of Ken, my house guest and candidate Iron Butt rider.


Ken, from Beaumont, TX, arrived early this morning, after achieving the 1000 mile in 24 hours Iron Butt challenge.  He did it in 18 hours or so, and rode through high winds, fire detours, freezing cold and arrived safely at my house shortly after 7AM, tired but safe:

Sun blasted shot I know, but both of us were pretty loopy at this point in the morning.  
Ken from having been up almost 22hours and ridden over 1000 miles; me from cat napping on the couch all night, awaiting his arrival.

Ken's "Katana Bandit" motorcycle joined my stable of three motorcycles, and there was room for everyone in this particular stable:


Today, I rode with Ken over to a local motorcycle accessories shop to get a new tire mounted for Ken's Bandit as the thread on the rear was wearing thing with all the miles he'd been racking up.  Ken showed me how easy it is to remove/install the rear wheel:


That's it for now, more as I've time to write it all up.  Riding on two wheels for Gary France's ABCD shot tomorrow along with introducing the Cache La Poudre Canyon road to Ken.


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Vikki's sidecar ships soon....

I got a call from the folks at Dauntless Motors in Enumclaw, WA from which I'd ordered an M72D sidecar and mounting hardware for Vikki, my '04 Suzuki DL1000 V-Strom.

The sidecar is all ready and being crated today for shipment possibly tomorrow, definitely by Monday!  Figure four business days shipping, and it should be on my driveway by Friday of next week at the latest!

I asked the lady who gave me the news for pictures of the sidecar before it got crated up, and while the quality is a bit lacking, you get the idea.



Here's better pictures of Robert K's rig which he bought from dauntless and attached to his V-Strom.  Note, he's added lights to the front which mine won't have and the sidecar is not sporting the windshield pictured above.

 I don't think I'll be mounting side cases onto Vikki like Robert K. did with his V-Strom but you never know!



Robert K had posted these pics on advrider.com and in email exchanges with him, helped lead me to the purchasing decision to go with Dauntless and their sidecar rig option.  His rig will hold 70+ mph all day long with no issues though apparently sixth gear or overdrive is too tall, though he said he doesn't miss it.

I think his rig is very smart looking and look forward to doing the same for Vikki.  Suzuki dependability, able to hold my own at highway speeds, this rig will really expand my ability to take a passenger along or lots of cargo in comfort.

I can't wait!