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Leaner Sidecars

Here will be discussed attaching the sidecar to the motorcycle as a Leaner Sidecar.

Armec Sidewinder Sidecar
Flexible, Parallel and Leaning sidecars have been around since 1903.
In the hands of a professional, they outperformed a conventional ridgid hack.


No need for Leading Link modifications or Steering Damper.
Safer cornering with counter steering.
Cannot accidentally "Fly the Chair".
Experienced solo riders can easily ride a flexible or leaner sidecar.
In many designs, easy removal of sidecar to allow solo riding.


Width: In the case of a Leaner Sidecar, the sidecar must be mounted further away from motorcycle to allow for lean.
This is not a disadvantage for the Flexible Sidecar.
Drivers of "Hacks" will need to re-learn to ride a leaner sidecar (counter steering).

Following is presented an explanation of leaner sidecars, manuals explaining the construction/attachment and links to past and present leaner sidecar manufacturers.

What makes leaner sidecars unique is that the sidecar remains straight while the motorcycle leans.
As pointed out above, this is the preferred method of attaching a wheelchair accessible sidecar to a motorcycle.
With this design, (unlike a Flexible Sidecar) we are able to keep the occupant close to the ground.

Leaner Sidecar Leaner Sidecar
Leaner Sidecar

Leaner Sidecar Videos

Proof you can't "Fly the Chair"
Click Here to Watch Video

Kalich Leaner Example Click Here

Watch a Leaner in Operation.
Click Here

Another Leaner in Action
Click Here

A Clear Video of the Pivots
Click Here

1. Armec Sidewinder Leaner Sidecars
Armec Sidewinder Sidecar  Armec Sidewinder Sidecar

Below is a video of an Armec Sidewinder Leaner Sidecar.


Sidewinder Sidecars are located in Switzerland. The website is not in English, but it contains good examples.

2. Kalich Leaner Sidecars
Leaner Sidecar  Leaner
                      Sidecar Dog
Kalich is a manufacturer of Swing -  a Leaner Sidecar in Germany.
The website is not in English, but it contains some good photos: http://kalich.de/html/schwenker.html

Visit the Forum for a discussion on manufacture of a Wheelchair Accessible Leaner Sidecar:
Leaner Forum

3. Trans Moto Sidecars
                      Moto Flexible Sidecar  Trans
                      Moto Flexible Sidecar
Trans Moto Sidecars are located in Canada.

4. Saur Sidecars
Saur Sidecar  Saur Sidecar
Sauer Sidecars are located in Germany.


5. Homemade Leaner Sidecars

Off Road Leaner Sidecar Combination

                      Road Leaner  Off
                      Road Leaner Sidecar

Off Road Leaner Sidecar to carry extra fuel
Off Road Leaner sidecar

Terry is currently undertaking a Leaner Sidecar project:
Click Here

Leaner Sidecar Forum - Discussion on Leaner Wheelchair Accessible Sidecar: Click Here

Leaner Sidecar Attachment

The fore and aft Pivit Mounts on the motorcycle are to be placed on its centreline.
The front Pivit Mount is simply placed slightly higher than is that of the rear.
This then "steers" the sidecar wheel slightly as the motorcycle is steered to the left & right.
The front Horizontal Mounting Bar has a slight upward bend near the Pivit Mounting Point, while the rear one is straight.
Compare the slight difference in the height above the road between the front and rear Pivit Mounting Points on this BMW:

Leaner Sidecar Attachment

As the motorcycle leans the front Pivit Mount moves further outboard than does the rear Pivit Mount.
This will steer the sidecar wheel as the motorcycle is leaned over.
The higher front Pivit Mount steers it in the direction of travel.
Think of the arc the pivot points are traveling on as the bike is leaned in and out. The center of this arc is the ground. Claude
Source: http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=481456

Please watch the following video for further understanding:

Photographic Examples of Sidecar Chassis, Horizontal Mounting Bars, Pivit Brackets and Pivits

Example 1 Sidecar Chassis, Pivit Bracket and Pivits
Leaner Sidecar Diagram

Example 2 Pivit Bracket and Pivits

The pivits need to be inline with the centre line of the bike so the load is directly down.

Otherwise, just like standing on one foot peg, a motorcycle is going to fall over. So to mount on one side of the motorcycle frame, you would be fighting that effect all the time while riding.

Having the front Pivit Mount higher than the rear Pivit Mount makes the sidecar turn/steer in the direction of the corner when you lean. As the front Pivit Mount being higher it has a longer arc radius than the rear Pivit Mount which pushes or pulls the front of the sidecar across more than the rear Pivit Mount does. Pete-NZ

Source: http://advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=779066

Leaner Bracket and Pivits  Leaner
                      Bracket and Pivits

Example 3 Pivit Bracket and Pivits

                      Bracket and Pivits  Pivit
                      Bracket and Pivits

Sidecar Wheel Lead

Sidecar wheel lead is less critical than other alignment adjustments. Once chosen, the sidecar wheel lead determines where the sidecar and frame will be, relative to the motorcycle. Other alignment adjustments are fairly easy. The lead, or distance rearward from the sidecar wheel to the motorcycle rear wheel, varies from zero to 15 inches.

Early H-D's with a rigid frame used no lead. Racing hacks used for one way oval tracks have very large leads. Most modern setups use between 8 to 12 inches (200-300mm) of lead. Consider a setup with Zero lead, with the sidecar on the left as in Australia. This is equivalent to a four wheel car with the left front wheel missing, and only the right rear wheel providing traction. Few scrubbing forces arise when turning left or right. However, weight distribution is extremely poor, the added weight on the front wheel makes steering heavy while the rear wheel can leave the ground on a hard turn.

The setup can roll over along a pivot line between the sidecar wheel and the front wheel in extreme circumstances. The sidecar wheel takes more load as lead increases while weight on the front wheel reduces.

The sidecar wheel positioned midway between the front and rear wheel gives ideal weight distribution. This is ideal for straight ahead driving. The more the sidecar wheel moves forward, the more it creates scrubbing on turns. The sidecar wheel can pivot, or even rotate rear-ward if located too far forward, or if the front steering lock stops allow very sharp turns. It is best to locate the sidecar wheel towards the rear for normal driving conditions.

Another concern is the type of rear wheel suspension. When only rigid frame machines existed, the lead was small, normally from zero to 3 inches (0-75mm). With the advent of sprung hubs and rear plungers, the lead advanced to 4 to 6 inches (100-150mm). The development of modern swinging arm suspension resulted in larger leads of 8 to 12 inches (200-300mm). The farther forward, the better weight distribution. The farther rearward, the easier the turn and less scrubbing of tires on turns.

Some early experimenters pivoted or castored the sidecar wheel to reduce turning scrubbing forces. It did not work very well. With the exception of the 3-wheel drive, 2-wheel steering system of Corda, most modern inventors have not found a good solution either. The Corda claims to drive as fast to the right as to the left, and at speeds to rival a modern sports car.

Extracted from the Sidecar Manual 2003: http://www.cyclesidecar.com/pdfs/Sidecar Manual.pdf

Tow In Adjustment Guide

Tow-In Adjustment

Image Source: http://www.sidecar.com/mbbs22/forums/thread-view.asp?tid=9436&posts=20&highlight=wheel%20bearing%20&highlightmode=1

The sidecar wheel should be angled slightly toward the front of the motorcycle.
An incorrectly aligned sidecar will drag the motorcycle to either side, which will not only make the combination difficult to handle, but also cause excessive tyre wear. Alignment is best accomplished on a smooth level floor.

Toe-in is checked by placing a straightedge along the motorcycle wheels and a straight edge along the sidecar wheel. This creates two parallel lines. The solid straight edges form a measurement line parallel to the centerline of the motorcycle and a measurement line parallel to the sidecar wheel.

The spacing between the straight edges at front and rear determine the toe-in. Measurement points are below the front and rear axles of the motorcycle. Take care to measure along a line perpendicular to the straight edge, and to keep both straight edges in contact with the tyres.

Recommended toe-in is 3/8 inch (9.5 mm). That is, toe-in is correct when spacing between the two straight edges at the front axle is 3/8 inch (9.5 mm) less than that at the rear axle.

Again, this is only a starting point but will get you close. After this, it is trial and error to try and get the rig (motorcycle) so that it does not pull left or right when braking or accelerating. The process can be a little frustrating the first time, but some patience will go a long way. After the first time it will be much easier. Time spent aligning the sidecar is time well spent.

NOTE: When making toe-in adjustments, make corrections in small increments, then recheck. Very small adjustments in position of the Rear Pivit will have large results in toe-in.

CAUTION: Tighten all bolts securely.

Road Testing
Unlike a Hack (Rigid Sidecar), a Leaner Sidecar does not need Lean Out adjustment prior to road testing.

The true test of toe-in adjustment is the road test, preferably on a smooth, straight, level, paved road with typical camber slanting off towards the left (in Australia). At a steady speed of 40 mph (65,km/h), the motorcycle should not pull to either side while running at normal road speed.

Extracted from the Year 2000 Ural Repair Manual:


Replacement Stand

These pictures are an example of a replacement motorcycle stand on a Leaner Rig and Outfit.

Replacement Stand  Replacement Stand

Proposed Leaner Sidecar Project Steps

1. Inspect Sidecar Welds

If necessary, re-weld any messy welds on the sidecar chassis.

2 Locate the Lead and Clearance

To locate the Lead, place the sidecar wheel hub 8-12 inches (200-300mm) forward of the motorcycle rear wheel hub.

To locate mirror and handlebar clearance, place the motorcycle beside the sidecar. Using chain blocks, lower the bike towards the sidecar between 45 to 50 degree lean.

Rotate the handlebars to ensure there will be enough clearance.

3. Make Pivot Bracket (Shadow Frame) and Pivits

Use some tie downs to hold the motorcycle straight upright and use other tie downs to compress the motorcycle shockies to simulate a rider sitting on the motorcycle. This will give the correct distance between the road and the motorcycle lower frame.

Manufacture a Pivit Bracket to connect to the motorcycle frame.

Do not drill or weld the motorcycle frame if it is oil filled.

Attach Pivits to this Pivit Bracket. These Pivits will be located in the centreline of the bike, one to the rear, underneath the frame and the other slightly higher in front of engine as per the above examples.

The Pivits are to have a rotating bush or ball joint at one end to allow free rotation and a threaded rod on the other end to connect to the sidecar chassis allowing Tow In adjustment.

4. Inflation

Place the rear and front of the motorcycle side of the sidecar on stands to ensure the sidecar is sitting level.

Pump the sidecar tyre to manufacturers recommended pressure.

Place 150kgs (to represent an electric wheelchair and occupant) into the sidecar to confirm correct shocky compression.

If after pumping up the shocky, it is not suitable to support this weight, replace the shocky.

5. Manufacture Leaner Horizontal Mounting Bars

Extend the sidecar chassis to create Leaner Horizontal Mounting Bars which will be used to attach to the Motorcycle Pivits. (Ensure the motorcycle stand will still operate and also check that you are still able to put your left foot down at stop signs without the Leaner Horizontal Mounting Bars getting in the way). Relocate the motorcycle stand if necessary. Refer example mentioned above.

The front Leaner Horizontal Mounting Bar will bend upward to reach the higher front Motorcycle Pivit.

The Leaner Horizontal Mounting Bars will have a nut welded on the motorcycle end. This will allow the Motorcycle Pivit's threaded rod to adjust Tow In.

6. Install Brakes

Install the disc brake and assembly to sidecar.

Connect motorcycle rear brake to sidecar brake via a proportional valve.

Test brake operation.

7. Test Ride and Adjust Tow In

Test ride the Rig (motorcycle) and Outfit (sidecar) by counter steering the motorcycle.

Adjust Tow In as required.

Return to Sidecars

Disclaimer:  Videos and Manuals on the Haul N Ride website are a guide only and we recommend seeking qualified instruction. Some videos were made in the USA, therefore the advice given is relevant in Australia, and can improve your riding skills, providing you remember that we ride on the Left Hand Side of the Road. Instructions given on this website are given as a guide only. Engineering, safety and legal advice should be sought before modification begins. Images displayed are public domain, royalty free to the best of our knowledge. Images are not used for profit or resale and are used for educational purposes only. If you believe an image belongs to you, please let us know and we will remove it immediately. Thankyou.

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