Thursday, April 16, 2015

The KLR gets married

The time has come for the KLR and the sidecar chassis to be joined for evermore. The last few items needed have arrived, so a quick call to my friend/neighbor Gary was in order.  Since this was the first time for either of us to install a sidecar, we read the instructions,  reread them then watched a youtube video on how to do it.

Of course it helps to have a big hammer on hand. 
If that doesn't work, the Russians say you need a bigger hammer.

It is critical that the sidecar be level, so we did out best to accomplish that. Two other critical factors are the Lean-out and Toe-in.  Those terms only mean something to fellow sidecarists and they know to what I refer.

Every step of the way was measured and leveled.

Three hours later, we finally had it attached and level. Bolts are tight, but not wrenched!!! for now.

Of course what do you do with a new toy???? Well.................. ride it.

  Any experienced sidecarist will cringe at this photo. That empty, light frame will "FLY' with the slightest input..... and it did. This was a quick ride down the street and back to see if the settings were close or needed more adjustment.  Everything was GOOD! No further adjustments for now. Wow, first timers, first time and we are very close to a final set-up. The temporary blue tape is holding wires, etc out of the way while we were assembling the parts.

Now to add some weight to the sidecar. The used truck tool box I picked up is a double lid, aluminum  box that we then modified by adding rubber latches to make sure the wind did not catch a lid and flip it up. Second we added hasps for locking and securing the lids after we removed the factory latches.  This will keep my camping and personal gear safe and dry.

Because the bottom of the aluminum box is not very rigid and not wide enough to cover all of the sidecar frame, decided to cut out a 3/4" plywood base for the sidecar then mount the box and auxiliary gas cans on top of that.

With the plywood down, we then positioned the box and base fore and aft. Did not want to box to be further back than our rear taillight. The front edge of the box is in line with the front axle.


Lined up the rear fender with the tool box...

The front edge of the box lines up with the front axle on the KLR.

Next was to cut the plywood, trim it, stain it and attach everything. Added metal edging to the front and rear edges of the plywood for weather protection. The box and base were then bolted to the chassis. 

Between the bottom of the plywood and the ground is 12 inches. That is the ground clearance I was looking for and could not find on any already set-up adventure sidecar rig.  The ground clearance under the KLR is 7 1/2 inches.
Am pleased with the high ground clearance and a low profile front of the sidecar. Will offer less wind resistance. It rolls very easy. Much easier than Da'mit the Ural did.

Made a frame to hold in the two NATO gas cans, 2.5 gallons each. That will give me a total of 11-12+ gallons of gas.  Will add a bicycle cable lock besides the bungee cord to keep the two gas cans. safely on board. There are several nooks and crannies where more things can be mounted to the sidecar floor. Any suggestions? 

Like most complicated projects, some unforeseen developments arise.  For us, the used Pelican panniers that I bought from another KLR rider, fit on perfectly. The right pannier can be mounted and removed easily. However, with the sidecar cargo box in place, the right pannier cannot open. If it was a top opening box, would be okay, but a side opening box is not going to work. The tool box opens fine, just the pannier cannot fully open. 

Now the decision is, do I ride with just the left pannier, use the right pannier knowing I can only access the contents if I remove it from the bike everytime or sell this set up and find a complete pannier set up of top load boxes? Do I even need panniers with the big tool box?

Of course there are more, MANY more things yet to be done before this rig is ready for long distance travel. Today was a major step in moving this project forward. 

Thanks for following along with this build.



  1. Really nice looking setup. I've thought of doing something similar with the BMW/Cozy setup as everyone who's ridden in the sidecar says it's really cramped. Though I was thinking of one of the front of the bed boxes with one lid.

    I'd remove the right pelican/caribou case and simply mount it to the top of one of the lids near the center. Then you could easily open it while still seated on the rig to grab camera, paperwork or whatever.

    1. You and I are thinking along the same lines.... am thinking to mount a spare rear wheel/tire combo, ala URAL, on the rear hatch to counter the forward weight of the gas cans. Not sure if anything will be mounted on the front lid.

      Also will install a baffle inside the box to keep heavy items in the back from sliding to the front. The front will be for lightweight items, sleeping bag, foam mattress, tent , rain gear, etc. Rear section for tools, parts, oil, water, boots, etc.
      The one lid design are easier to find, but the two lids attracted me as far as separating items plus not opening to the rain everything.

      Keeps those ideas and thought coming. Thank you.

    2. I would definitely put in a low baffle to contain heavy stuff in the back. In an emergency stop situation, you definitely don't want heavy stuff moving around. If you remove the right side pannier, you could move one of the gas cans back there. Better weight distribution or do you need the outboard weight as "functional ballast"?

  2. WOW! You did all of that????!!!! Amazing!!!

    1. Thank you. Sometimes I even surprise myself.....

  3. Thinking outside the box here, if I could configure a flat section to put between the two lids, would make a nice bed off the ground in nice weather....

    1. I was wondering if that was part of the plan. Soon, a roof, then a fridge, then a TV, then ....

    2. of course, a 48" flat screen to edit the daily GoPro videos........ lol

    3. Then in cold weather, inside the box!

  4. Looking good CCJon! Did you consider steel plate instead of the plywood for a "base" would have the dual function of ballast when not carrying cargo?

    First thing that came to mind when I saw the toolbox mounted? Perfect platform for a tent-cot unit! I envy you the ground clearance on the tug.

    I couldn't tell from the pics, got enough room for the right foot between the tug and the cargo box? Then again, I supposed you could just rest the foot on the top of the cargo box itself!

    1. Dom, never occurred to me to use a steel plate. Wasn't sure exactly where the cut out for the tire would be as was adjusting the tool box forward and backward seeking a good balance. The plywood worked out nicely. It is sealed against water now.

      A tent/cot unit would fit, I think. Need to look into that possibility. Better than sleeping on the ground. Good thing I don't smoke in bed with those two gas cans nearby.

      There is plenty of room for the right foot because I also selected to use only one brake pedal for both the rear and the sidecar. The lforward ower link is a perfect spot to rest the right foot too. Now to make a foot rest for the left side.

      If the gas cans were placed near the bike side and the tool box slid outward, it would have cut into the space for the right boot. Haven't tried to rest the foot on the box yet.

      Was pleasantly surprised how easy it is to roll this rig around. Very light.


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