C50 and sidecar – A very good match
Since I installed a sidecar on my 2006 C50c, I have received a number of questions about sidecars. The most common questions are about the cost, whether or not the C50 is a good bike to install a sidecar on and how it compares to a Ural.
The bottom line – The C50 is a great bike for a sidecar. A C50 with a sidecar is much better than a Ural and costs less.
Bikers either love or hate sidecars. There is no in between.
With that in mind, I apologize for this long post. If you are thinking about installing a sidecar on a C50, hopefully, my experience will help you.
Several years ago, I drove a friend’s bike with a sidecar. I immediately knew I wanted one but I didn’t know where to start. After lots of research, I think I came up with the right combination.
Like everyone else thinking about a sidecar, I started by looking at Urals. Urals are specifically designed for sidecars. However a basic Ural costs over $13,500.
Ural have recently improved the quality of their bikes, but it is still old technology requiring frequent repairs and maintenance.
After looking at the Ural, my 2006 C50c started to look like a good choice. Unlike the Ural, the C50 is very reliable. Based on the manufacturer’s specification, the C50 has the Ural beat. The Ural has 40 hp, 38 ft lbs of torque, likes to cruise at 45 mph and doesn’t like hot weather. The C50 has 53 hp, 50 ft lbs of torque, likes to cruise (with a sidecar) at 55 to 65 mph, and can live with hot weather. (I suspect that the marketing departments at both Ural and Suzuki have inflated their respective horsepower and torque numbers.)
How much does it cost to put a sidecar onto a C50? Putting a sidecar on a bike is not cheap. But installing a sidecar on a C50 is still a lot less expensive than buying a Ural. Properly installing a sidecar on a C50 costs between $5,000 and $6,000. You might be able to do it for a little less, and you can certainly do it for more. The money breakout is as follows – you can buy a new 2008 C50 for about $6,200. If you pay $6,000 for the sidecar and installation, the total cost is $12,200 - $1,300 less than a Ural. (All of these numbers exclude tax and other state fees). If you start with a two-year-old bike as I did, the cost is by definition less.
There are a number of sidecar manufacturers and installers. Ultimately I chose Claude Stanley at C Stanley Motorsports in Pennsylvania. I chose Claude for a number of reasons. He is very well known and respected in the sidecar world. In addition, he seems to make a good product. I found him to be very knowledgeable and honest.
There are three basic components to a sidecar - the body of the sidecar, the chassis on which the sidecar rests and the system for mounting the sidecar to the bike.
BODY - Claude offers both fiberglass and metal sidecar bodies There a number of very nice fiberglass sidecar bodies on the market. However, fiberglass sidecar manufacturers can only offer a handful of models and the rigid molding process does not allow them to modify a sidecar body. Metal sidecar fabricators can offer a number of different models and can easily modify each sidecar.
In my opinion, a metal sidecar is stronger than a fiberglass sidecar, more easily adapted to accessories, more easily repaired and lasts longer. I chose an extra wide Ural style sidecar. The Ural style sidecar is copy of a 1930’s Steib sidecar commonly attached to BMWs. Passengers find this sidecar very comfortable and easy to get in and out of.
CHASSIS - A number of people have told me that Claude makes the best sidecar chassis in the industry. It appears that he can install any number of different sidecar bodies on to the same chassis. Unlike the Urals, Claude’s chassis is a modern chassis with modern suspension.
MOUNTING FRAME - Claude offers heavy duty mounts and sub-frame for the C50. It attaches the sidecar to the frame in four places. This reduces the stress on the frame and improves handling. A number of companies offer “universal” sub-frames or generic sub-frames and mounting struts adopted to a C-50. You want to stay away from generic mounts and purchase a mounting system particular to the C-50 and the sidecar you plan to mount.
INSTALLATION -- If you have experience with sidecars, you could probably install the sidecar to your bike by yourself (with the help of a friend). I asked Claude to install the sidecar for me. When it comes to installing sidecars, some members of the U.S. sidecar forum (www.Sidecar.com
) call Claude an artist. I would agree with that assessment.
So how does it ride? The C50 with a sidecar handles very well. Like most sidecars, there is some front end/low speed wobble but I can easily drive through it. I may install a VW steering damper ($35) to reduce the front end wobble, but I think I will wait another 500 miles or so before making that decision.
Does putting a sidecar on your bike void the warranty? The short and long answer is yes. If you are thinking about putting a sidecar on your bike, you may want to wait until you have at least 1,000 miles or so on your bike or it’s near the end of the warranty period.
Driving a motorcycle with a sidecar is not like riding a bike. The most important difference is that you drive it – not ride it.
Personally I think a sidecar makes a bike more fun, but it is not for everyone.