Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  

Aftermarket items, tweaks unique to sidecar rigs

2 posts in this topic Last Reply

Recommended Posts


In years of riding with the Third Wheel, one picks up LOT of good information; heeds it, if sidecar rig owner/ rider is interested in making things safer/ better for themself on the road.


1. LEADING LINK front forks

Having owned two 50's era BMWs with their factory-installed leading link front suspension, became very aware of the benefits of this front end, even when riding solo machine. Leading links are basically a rear swingarm/ shock unit, turned 180 degrees. This produces the unique action of front end RISING when hard braking is applied. Inertia tries to make cycle nosedive so the two opposing forces tend to cancel each other out, keeping vehicle level, in better control in many given situations. Granted, there are plenty of triple tree mods out there, as well as heavier front fork tube springs, etc.  Since The Good Lord gave man free will and the ability to make decisions on his own, yours truly opted to stick with leading link front suspension on my sidecar rig. Purchased a new Unit Forks LL front end from England, back in 2001, when I hung new sidecar on our 'new' 850 lb. GL1500; one of the BEST decisions I ever made!  

2. EBC Type HH brake pads

Had put new Honda OEM brake pads all-around on rig, when I put it on road in 2002. Two weeks later, with pads broken in, was approaching stop sign @ bottom of hill in northern NH at night. Road was dry. Even though I applied brakes very hard, OEM pads could NOT reduce my forward inertia; we ended up IN MIDDLE OF INTERSECTION, VERY SHAKEN UP!  WAS ONLY BY GOD'S GRACE, no-one was approaching intersection from the sides @ that time or ending would have been horrible! After checking with my local, then, best-trusted GL mechanic [ who sadly died suddenly in 2013 ] EBC Type HH pads were purchased, installed on all three calipers. After a short, gentle break-in period, WHAT A SUPER DIFFERENCE they made in stopping power! Was able to stop safely in MANY scary situations afterward! To-date, have over 56,000 miles on the same type pad sets and my rotors have held up very well, over 12+ years, dispelling the hype that these pads would destroy my OEM rotors in no time. At this point, only my right front rotor is close to replacement, while other two still OK [ check them regularly with micrometer ]. We ride in ALL kinds of weather, my pads/rotors are constantly exposed to water, dust, mud, grit, etc. This did not seem to lower rotor's life span either. Have NO intention of changing my brake pad choice...when something WORKS WELL, you stick with it!

3. CompuFire Alternator & 700 CCA pickup truck battery

When my OEM alternator died 2 years after our rig went on the road, checked again with Jim, my trusted mechanic. He immediately recommended CompuFire. Mine has been on the Wing since 2004; 10+ years w/o problems. Realizing some folks have had troubles with this product, can only say mine has been trouble-free for me. Since new sidecar gave me plenty of room to do so, opted to dump wimpy OEM battery. Picked up battery in paragraph title, mounted in black plastic box w/ cover, used on campers & located in s/c trunk. Used 4 1/2' black and red, 6 gauge copper electric cables from local hardware store, to run from side terminals on new battery to original terminals where OEM battery was located...has worked fine over 10 years. With added lighting load on battery with a s/c, it's nice to have peace-of-mind, knowing electrical system can handle the extra load.

Have started Wing in February with NO problem and one year, there was NO snow all winter, so we rode often, with snowmobile suits...many folks GAPED @ us, forgetting that snowmobilers go out in MUCH WORSE WEATHER on a regular basis!  We chuckled a lot while riding.

4. Progressive 412-4223C rear shocks

Had purchased the usual Progressive 416GLA rear shocks through Jim, as these were the shock of choice for SOLO GL1500 riders. The pounding they took w/300 lb. empty sidecar on Wing 24/7, loaded often w/ plenty of heavy stuff, PLUS our riding 2-up over rear wheel, was a recipe for disaster! Left rear shock battered rear brake caliper bracket, pushing it to right, destroying left brake pad & rear rotor! A good used rotor off E-Bay & good used bracket from Jim, along with new rear EBC pad set, fixed immediate problem but I needed BETTER SHOCKS!  Called Progressive directly in CA. Their Tech Rep immediately recommended 412-4223C rear shocks, designed for Honda GL1500 sidecar rigs. These are gas-filled, sealed units. They do NOT connect to the GL1500 onboard compressor system [ which, in my case, had stopped working anyway ]. Setting #4 was highest and the one recommended for sidecar work, so that's what they were set at. WHAT A NICE DIFFERENCE they made in ride/ handling on our outfit! Would NEVER wish to go back to the way things were before!

5. Darkside rear tire option

This did NOT work out well for yours truly! Opted to try Austone taxi tire on rear wheel. After it was mounted by Jim, ride & handling was SUPER, compared to any rear m/c tire I'd ever used! BUT larger diameter tire changed [ raised ] all my shift points on heavy sidecar rig...5th gear became almost useless! Was forced to down shift so much, kept rig in 4th gear most of the time so engine would not lug...could only go into 5th on super slab and then only when going @ least 65 mph!  This does NOT mean a Darkside rear tire on solo machines would not work OR that there may be a motorcycle/ sidecar combination lighter in overall weight, which could work fine with this type of rear tire but NOT mine!  Also, my gas mileage went down quite a bit, as was now driving slower @ higher engine rpms.

6: Extra weight in sidecar:

Beside heavy pickup truck battery, which was itself a Blessing, also opted to use whatever was available. In my case, we had several old brake rotors from our cars, my old pickup. They were cleaned up a bit and put to good use, holding our sidecar down on sharp and/or sudden right-hand turns. I've heard of folks using all sorts of stuff, from large water jugs to loads of fishing sinkers. One creative person melted all sorts of lead scrap and made a large weight, shaped to fit exactly in cavity under sidecar seat, so it didn't move around al all. Another used a few old, very large ship anchor chain links. When necessary, humans can become very creative to solve problems.  


All in all, trying new, different options on our Wing became a passion for me. Most worked like a champ but a few didn't. The ones that did work out OK, truly added more trouble-free enjoyment to our rides on the open road!   TTFN & MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL   .....papasmurf in New Hampshire



My Super GL mechanic-friend Jim, who was mentioned in above posts, had suddenly passed away of leukemia in Fall of 2013 @ left a BIG gap around here with Honda Goldwing folks. He was long-time local GWRRA Chapter member, a GREAT mechanic and helped many, many riders with their Wing problems, beside selling parts, accessories, tires, helmets, etc. @ reasonable prices. He ran area VENCO WINGS GL shop. It will be LONG time before anyone can fill his shoes! Like I was taught when a child: The Good Lord writes your name on His Blackboard. If he picks up His Eraser, wipes it off.....you're gone from us in an instant.





  • Like 1

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Tom your a mountain of great information on this topic.....


Glad your taking the lead here!  Your doing great.


I don't have a side car, would love to, but in the meantime, I like reading your stories and your post.

Share this post

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use,