Sunday, May 21, 2017

Project SideCamper: Part Two

Claude finally made the call I had been waiting for...
Come and get it. Your rig is ready!!

Quickly I organize for a 3000 mile round trip to Pennsylvania to pick up Project SideCamper. 

Claude's crew is rightly proud of the rig they have created for me. 
  John, Bob, Claude, Angie and Ron with my "un-named"rig.  

Are they glad to get that monster out of their shop or.... what? 

Let me tell you about the SideCamper. It is wider than most sidecar rigs due to the width of the camper body. It has a heavy duty frame, 15" car tire, exposed shock and a swing out platform with an eight gallon fuel cell.  Am not sure what kind of mpg the rig will get but I need a riding range of at least 350 miles for where we are going. We added a custom made aluminum tool box up front to make it a more aerodynamic in deflecting wind. The tail lights are wired into the bike's lights. A sway bar was added to stabilize the rig on twisty curving roads.

The quality and durability of the work that Freedom Sidecar produces is impressive. 
Am very glad I selected them to build this rig.

Due to its position up front and outside the triangle of sidecar stability, the locking box is for lightweight rain gear, jacket, gloves and parts only.  Driving lights will be mounted on the box nose. 

The weight of the auxiliary fuel cell is mainly over the sidecar axle, within the triangle of stability. 
Am not sure yet about the eight gallon auxiliary tank, it might not be big enough.

The remote operated winch can be moved from the front to the back

To open the camper, the table with the fuel cell unlatches, then swings out with an adjustable leg that drops down to support the weight of a full tank of gas. With the top open, the rear camper door allow access inside. The door cannot be opened when the camper is closed.  A nice security feature when away from the rig.  It takes a little over two minutes to swing out the table and set up the camper. 

The aluminum box between the bike and the camper contains a car battery.  A battery that can be found at any Walmart world-wide, as can the auto tires.

For me the bed is short, but I can stretch out diagonally.  Good thing I travel solo.  The bed can also be set up as a bench with a back rest for those rainy days when you would rather stay in and read a good book.

The zip open windows on front and back have screens if you want a breeze coming thru. The dry space under the bed is for bedding, clothes, food, cooking gear, etc. 

Claude was told to not worry about the bike, its wiring and fuel plumbing hook ups. I plan to finish that part of the rig myself. That way I can familiarize myself with the Vstrom and the sidecar. This is my first Vstrom so this would be a learning experience.

By doing all my own wrenching and maintenance, if I have a problem on the road in the middle of nowhere, I will be better prepared if I am familiar with all the bikes systems and add-ons.  It also lets me discover which tools I must carry to tighten loose nuts or make repairs on the go.

The rig is 80% complete as you see it here. There is a long list of final adjustments, wiring, add-ons, upgrades needed before it is ready to go rogue.  

Claude and his crew finished their part of the build, now my work starts. 

Claude says the rig handles great. Eight miles into a forty mile test ride the bike loses the rear brakes.  Brake fluid was smoking on the exhaust. Seems the rubber hose was touching the hot exhaust.  Over time it burnt a hole in it.

Looks like I better plan on doing a complete service and inspection on the bike before taking any long trips.

We load the rig on my trailer to haul back to Texas. 

More to come in..... Part Three.



  1. Wow, now that's a big rig! Reminds me slightly of Yoshie, my Suzuki V-Strom DL1000 rig. Saw the dual exhausts so your's is one as well....what year model is the tug?

    So, the black box is the fuel cell? The sidecar framing looks quite robust! I'm sure you're not going to take it down some rocky goat trails of course.

    I had chain adjustment/durability issues with mine. Never could get the adjustment of chain tension to where I was comfortable after I experienced a catastrophic chain failure with first DL1000 tug. But you know chained drives so should be fine. What's your expected loaded weight?

    Of course, your rig will still leave any Ural in the dust in terms of durability/speed/reliability!

  2. That looks fantastic. I like the new front suspension. Is there anti-dive built into the geometry? Claude's group seems to make some incredible rigs.

    1. Thanks Richard, Claude builds rigs for RTW riding. As he stated, build it simple, strong and reliable. Avoid electronics and things that can go wron and be able to repair in Siberia, thus the gravity feed fuel transfer. No need transfer pump to go out.

      I had a transfer pump act up on my Goldwing, ended up carrying five gallons of gas I couldn't access or use.

      We designer this rig for reliability. Someone asked why I didn't mount it to a Harley or a BMW, my answer was "because I wanted to get home".

      Will post up a close up photo of Claude's build standard in Part Three.

  3. The year is 2007. If you think that fuel cell is big, wait until you see what I have in the works......

    The chain and sprockets have been upgraded to 530, same as the large UTV's use. Plus the gearing has a been reduced for more torque. I test rode a BMW R1200 rig that Claude built, this Vstrom puts it to shame in torque and low end power.

    Don't think the load will be as much of a problem as pushing the wind will be, thus the redesigned tool box nose.

  4. Now the part that makes everyone think, "for where we are going". NE Canada?

  5. Richard, have been formulating an interesting ride that includes tagging the four compass points for Canada: Eastern most, northern most, western most and southern most points reachable by road/land, while tagging all provinces and territories. Not sure I can complete that in one month though, is a lot of miles.

    My plan is to have the rig road ready for the USCA Rally in Corning, NY the last week end in July, then proceed from the rally site on to Canada around August 1. If I run out of time, will have to split the ride into two parts, this year and next year.

    Knowing the cost of motels the further north one goes, the SideCamper makes a lot of sense. The rig is more than capable for such an adventure. It is not a rig one uses to run to the grocery store for milk.

  6. That is a lot of miles. But will make a fantastic trip.


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