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Which Bike To Start?


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Hi to all of you chair enthusiasts,

I'm after some advice to get us going.

I've ridden solo's to a reasonable level in the past but have been road racing for the last 20 years. For some reason my wife has desiceded that having a go a trials both solo and sidecar would be fun, (probably got something to do with me having two big crashes at the Manx Grand Prix in the last four years) we get a chair next week.

I still have my old Fantic 309, my original plan was to bolt the chair onto this just to start with. However having looked round this site for a bit I am starting to realise how old it is! Since it's registered as a solo I'm thinking that I will leave it as is and get a different bike to add the chair to. It also means we always have a solo to use if we want to.

My question is what bike would people recommend for this? The long term plan was to give the Manx two day a go if we got on well enough with it.

We are on a budget to start with and I have no problems with swapping the chair between bikes if we take to it. I was thinking of something like a Montesa 315 of Scorpa around year 2000. Would either of these be good to start with or should I be looking for something completely different?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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I would say hold fire till you get your chair, If you know what it was fitted to, maybe you could consider that?

Defo go for engine size, but it's the mounting that takes ages and a lot of fabrication.

A twin shock frame may be easier to fit to.

It took me a couple of months to make all the mounts and struts and widen the track, and nearly another month to take it from hard to handle to sweet.

Very important to make sure the mounting system allows you plenty of scope for adjustment, one little adjustment in one plane alters everything.

I started with three or four degrees of lean out and ended with about one degree of lean in, and went from 1-1/2" toe in, to 1/4", to 3/4" and was glad I'd built in just, and only just enough adjustment.

But it was worth it. :) :) :)

And it's only a 125!



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Good suggestion about the bike the chair was mounted on before. I will ask when I pick up.

I was wondering how people went about adjusting the mounting to get it to handle right! It's really hard to tell from pictures where the adjustment is! I can see you have adjustable rods at the rear unit and front engine mount. Guess I will have to get along to another event and have a close look at some of the other outfits!

By the way that is a nice looking little outfit.

Edited by smokey125
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I was wondering how people went about adjusting the mounting to get it to handle right! It's really hard to tell from pictures where the adjustment is! I can see you have adjustable rods at the rear unit and front engine mount.

By the way that is a nice looking little outfit.

Thanks :)

Setting up a chair seems to be a dark art and it took me literally days worth of trolling round the net to glean little snippets of info. The older generation of sidecar users seem to have taken the secrets to their graves. All the mounts are adjustable on my outfit, but the two main and most important ones - the front diagonal to the steering head, and the centre lower mount to the rear engine plate - are only adjustable in one plane which gives serious limitations before they move out of attachment range.

When I first rode (drove?) mine it was HORRIBLE. Now I can't stop grinning - so it's worth persevering.

BTW, mine is not a competition outfit ...... it's for use on lanes and tracks


Edited by Erskine
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I've got what I believe to be a Rushton chair bolted to an old Suzuki SP400, which I have used for green laning and one long distance classic trial. These chairs are built without any adjustment at the mountings and may be difficult to swap from one model of bike to another. On saying that mine was designed for a monoshock Fantic and it's now bolted on the side of the Suzuki.

I must admit that driving the thing came as a bit of a shock and I am still at the bottom of a steep learning curve, as is my passenger! If I'd tried one before I bought mine I may not have bothered, but they are great fun once you get the hang of things.


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  • 4 weeks later...

hi have a word with the allaways at jamsport i believe that they are in surrey , the whole family have been involved with sidecar trials for years i even sold them one of the ex works fantic outfits back in the early eighties, but why not build a pre 65 outfit and come out to play with the real **********s after a phone call from one of my old competitors from the early championship days , i am now on a diet and the rigid panther 650 outfit is nearing completion i think it must be the thirty third i have built over the years so a few easy trials this year , then a full sammy miller championship in 201 for, a final mad fling befor i get to old .good luck with your outfit will hawkes.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Your Definately on the rite track with a montesa. As others have said there's a lot of fabricating involved and the best way is to make a subframe at the front and try to use existing bolts (i.e. engine bolts) so it can easily be put back to a solo without ruining the frame. I personally think the newer the bike the easier you will find it. I started with an old 1996 gas gas jtx320 and found that brilliant as it had so much grunt . I am now on a 2010 beta 290 and when I got that I found it so much easier. An old gas gas or montesa would be a perfect starting point. Where abouts are you from? If you can get to a local trial with sidecars that would be good as you could talk to people about there recommendations. We will all be willing to help and give advice.

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  • 2 months later...

Hi thanks for the replies been a bit crazy at work so I've had to stop working on it for a while.

lakelanddrambler, I've seen pictures of your outfit whist I was looking around for info. Looks good, I believe that is how mine spent a lot of it's recent years attached to a trail bike and used on a farm.

Having dragged my old Fantic out the shed for a trial at the weekend and having to finish the trial on my brother JTR Gas Gas I've realised the newer I can get the better.

I will talk to the Allaways and try to get over to a few sidecar trials to have a look and a chat.

trialsdaryl1 I'm south of Dorking. Nowhere is that far to go once you get in and start driving! Where/what are the events you do? It does seem a little difficult to locate sidecar events as opposed to solo's!

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