Following is a description and photos of my recent DR-Z400E sidecar build for my boys.
I owe thanks to a few people. Special thanks to Claude, Vernon, Lonnie, and Jay. I am grateful to you for your willingness to help with a suspect idea and an unproven builder. Claude, I promise I will try my best to stop by for a visit in September.
Others such as Scott, Shawn, and Kliff gave some really good input as well. And if you helped and I didn't mention you, please accept my apologies.
It would be improper to move on without a big ADV solute to inmate Stephen for all his help. He lives 1700 miles away and doesn’t know squat about sidecars. But, he’s crazy, knows an awful lot about a lot of other stuff, and really knows his way around a motorcycle. And no matter what people may say, he’s actually a really decent guy if you can get past his lazy eye and the extra finger on his throttle hand. I wish I had a dollar for every time he has fixed my motos over the phone in the last 15 years.
And last but certainly not least, a BIG thanks to Thingsmama, aka Boxertwinwife for doing more than her share of the work around here so I could get this project finished in time for spring.
Now for the introductions.
This is Thing One complete with candy cane, 1 oz. hammer, and OSHA approved footwear.
This is Thing Two sporting proper safety atire.
This is Thing One and Thing Two with ThingOneandThingTwoDad and Miss Tuesday.
Thing One and Thing Two are Three. Last summer they spent a lot of time taking turns riding in the yard and neighborhood with me on the Honda Trail 70. They were getting tired of sitting on the step awaiting their turn. They wanted to go faster and farther. I began to realize that they would be hard to hold in my lap this year. I wanted to go places with them. I wanted to see the mountains, the desert, and the rivers. I wanted to go get ice cream. I wanted to give Thing’s Mama some alone time to go do those things that mama’s do when they have free time.
I got to thinking about the 2001 DRZ400+ that’s been sitting in the shop unridden since the boys were born. I refer to it as a DRZ400+ because it’s not quite bike you get off the showroom floor. It’s got a little something extra and I thought it might make a good tug.
I decided a dual sport hack was the thing to do. I surfed Google. I surfed Yootoob. I perused our hack forum and looked at hack porn for countless hours. I decided early on that it might be fun to attach the rear end of a dual sport bike as the hack wheel. After consulting the hack elders; Claude and Vernon, it was determined that this stupid idea just might work. Vernon sent me a photo and I found another of an Aussie rig that confirmed that my scheme might could work.
I had a few minor wants: I wanted to build it myself. I wanted it to fit on my 5’ x 10’ utility trailer for easy transport up to the cabin and other destinations. I wanted the boys to sit in bucket seats with proper harnesses. I wanted this build to be an experience that the boys could help with. I wanted this hack to be theirs. I wanted it to be a team-building experience for the three of us. I wanted this to be an opportunity for the twins to work together, to learn about shop safety and tools, to have fun, to be proud of something, and to teach them patience, goal setting, and achievement.
I spent several nights in early November sitting on the shop floor with a glass of single malt just staring at the DRZ pondering how this thing might come together.
I bought a mig welder, cut-off saw, and some steel.
I found this blown up and abused KLX300 on CG for a song.
And carefully disassembled it with a Sawz-all and big hammer.
The 'finished' KLX300
In November and early December I spent a couple of hours working on it here and there on week nights after Thing One, Thing Two, and Boxer Wife went to bed.
Subframe subframe. But then I repeat myself.
The rod ends attached to the sliders allowed me some fore-aft adjustment until I dialed in the proper wheel lead. More thank you's to Mr. Claude Stanley for this suggestion. Of course the rod ends can be threaded in or out to increase or decrease the track slightly or to adjust the toe in/out. When the sliders were finished I remember looking over at the work bench to discover them sitting there...AFTER I had welded the main frame!!! It reminded me of the Trojan Rabbit in the Holy Grail when the boys forgot to hide inside of it. Oh, well. That's what cutting equipment is for.
Designing the bell crank to adjust the ride height. Thanks Claude. I never pondered such a system until I spoke with you. You were expecting me to build it out of 1 x 2's and electrical tape, right?
Thing Two drilling holes
The work stopped in December when we packed up our crap and put the house on the market. This is when the hack factory shut down.
The house sold in 9 days but it was early March by the time we moved into the new house. I had originally promised the boys the hack would be finished by the time the weather turned nice in the spring, so about three weeks ago I figured I’d better get cracking and had to start by rummaging through all the boxes to find parts, materials, and tools. ARRGH! . The new garage is nice and big but it is not set up for any real work. There’s no 220 in the shop so the buzz box would have to sit in the corner for the rest of the build. The 110 outlets (not nearly enough of them) are 15a GFI. WTF. But, the hack must get finished because these Things are two tough customers. So, the shop power upgrades will have to wait until the build is complete.
Struts, bell crank, subframe, etc.
The roll cage is mounted with bungs and bolts. I can remove it and the ‘oh-shit’ grab bar and cage front stays put. This will provide a flat cargo area for solo camping or carrying dead animal parts during hunting season. I could also mount a seat for an adult passenger if desired.
The seats are Cosco child seats from our Subaru. I got really lucky last weekend and found one that is identical for $10 at a garage sale on my street. If I can find one more just like it, I won't have to borrow the seats from the car anymore.
Fitting windshield and body plastic. Thanks to Scott Whitney for the plastic suggestion, cutting directions, and links to suppliers. Now, if only me and the boys can ride 1/100th as well as Scott.
The DRZ saddle was rebuilt in Boise by Dave and Kris Fisher at Fisher Upholstery. They do tremendous work and are nice people.
As it sits today.
There are a few items yet to complete:
Install turn signals and front/side marker lights or reflectors.
Relocate tail/brake light to a permanent position.
Replace all hardware with stuff of proper length.
Add a right side rear view mirror.
The Things are tasked with naming the rig and are yet to do it. Thing One suggested we call it, “ABC”. I suggested "Safety Third" but Thing Mom/Boxertwinwife didn't think that would set a proper example (suddenly I'm a role model). Thing Two likes, "Chicken Head with Snake Feet." He may be onto something.
Build an anti-sway system: The rear tube is 1.5” square to accommodate a through spring bar to connect to the sway bar linkage. This thing has a lot of left and right roll. Again, thanks to Mr. Stanley.
Complete the hack brake system. I'll build a mount to the right of the DRZ rear brake pedal that will utilize the KLX brake pedal.
Install yellow front bike fender over hack wheel. Replace front fender with super moto fender.
Change the hack tire. I've ordered the cheapest 18" dual sport tire I could find. Thanks for the tip, Jay.
Replace the windshield that i broke on day 1. I think I'll go to a thinner acrylic sheet. The first attempt is .220 thick. Home Depot has a .95 thickness as well. It may be more durable as it will flex...or I'll stick with the .220 and replace the two hinges with one piano hinge to spread the stress along the entire vertical edge.
When the boys sit in the back seat they were complaining of too much wind. Yesterday I took them to the ski shop and we bought goggles to replace their sun glasses. Thing Two says the problem is solved for him but Thing One says the wind is still bothering him. There is still some work to do to make the back seat less windy.