The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

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Wildhorse Cafe
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The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by Wildhorse Cafe » Mon Nov 09, 2015 1:12 pm

When I first got the Orange Pumpkin Coach on the 5 km service I noticed the sidecar (I my mind) was miss adjusted to the point that it would not engage under any circumstance. I immediately went to work tightening the brake on the sidecar and drive wheel. You know, like we were taught in High School Auto Shop, loosen the adjustment spin the wheel and slowly adjust until the wheel stops spinning and the back off just enough until the wheel spins freely again. Right! Wrong at least for a Ural! The Bike developed a wicked right hand yaw whenever I applied the rear brakes and on top of that after I had gone any distance on the bike both the brakes drive and sidecar but mostly the drive wheel started to drag. I backed off both brakes until the dragging issue was resolved but I still had the right hand yaw problem. The yaw was never a safety issue because it was correctable through steering but it was annoying to the point of distraction. I have been experimenting over the past few months searching for the optimum solution for the sidecar brake and this is my solution:

1. Back way off the brake adjustment for both wheels so they spin freely.
2. Tighten the drive wheel brake until it locks solid.
3. Back off the drive wheel brake until it spins freely but there is a firm feel to the rear brake pedal not too hard but not sloppy either.
4. Test drive the bike making sure the rear brake is solidly engaging but not dragging or over heating the drum and the pedal is not too soft or too hard.
5. Tighten the sidecar brake so it engages solidly at about 2/3 of the brake pedal travel.

The drive wheel should handle most of the stopping with the sidecar only adding 15-20 %-ish towards a full stop on tarmac. There is still some right hand yaw but it is very minor and easily dealt with. My favorite way of testing is taking the bike into the dirt going to about 30 mph and hitting the brakes firmly, the rear wheel will give solid braking force without locking and the sidecar will lock and drag in the dirt. Perfect.
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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by vetsurginc » Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:14 pm

Using Gobium's MePi stick to make sure brake shoes are symetrical, or leading shoe a little closer compared with trailing also helps with function.
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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by Wildhorse Cafe » Mon Nov 09, 2015 4:07 pm

vetsurginc wrote:Using Gobium's MePi stick to make sure brake shoes are symetrical, or leading shoe a little closer compared with trailing also helps with function.
I am assuming all the mechanical s are in working order.
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2013 Black Retro, my name is nobody.

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca
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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by tonered » Mon Nov 09, 2015 5:11 pm

Wildhorse Cafe wrote:
vetsurginc wrote:Using Gobium's MePi stick to make sure brake shoes are symetrical, or leading shoe a little closer compared with trailing also helps with function.
I am assuming all the mechanical s are in working order.
That sounds like a bad assumption at this point if you are having the stated issues.

The easy verification would be the chalk test: rub chalk over the surface of the shoes and verify that the entire surface is making contact with the hub. If not, adjust the top as appropriate if some contact is missing. Folks have used sticky backed sandpaper to completely match the shoe to hub and then the other way to resurface the hub.

I can adjust either brake to cancel out any yaw. A turn in or out on the motorcycle side is easiest and the neutral braking does not seem to change for as long as I don't swap in another wheel.

Just my opinion.

Have a good one.
tony b
Lynnwood, WA
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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by Wildhorse Cafe » Mon Nov 09, 2015 7:23 pm

tonered wrote:
Wildhorse Cafe wrote:
vetsurginc wrote:Using Gobium's MePi stick to make sure brake shoes are symetrical, or leading shoe a little closer compared with trailing also helps with function.
I am assuming all the mechanical s are in working order.
That sounds like a bad assumption at this point if you are having the stated issues.

The easy verification would be the chalk test: rub chalk over the surface of the shoes and verify that the entire surface is making contact with the hub. If not, adjust the top as appropriate if some contact is missing. Folks have used sticky backed sandpaper to completely match the shoe to hub and then the other way to resurface the hub.

I can adjust either brake to cancel out any yaw. A turn in or out on the motorcycle side is easiest and the neutral braking does not seem to change for as long as I don't swap in another wheel.

Just my opinion.

Have a good one.
I mean the adjustment should only be made if the mechanical's have been checked out and vetted which mine have, not that I assumed they were okay to begin with. Sorry, if I was unclear on this point but I stand by the rest.
2011 Patrol Higgs Bison Super Collider formally known as the Orange and Silver Pumpkin Coach.

2013 Black Retro, my name is nobody.

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca
pray the road is long , full of adventure, full of knowledge
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage

C.P. Cavafy

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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by tonered » Mon Nov 09, 2015 8:08 pm

Wildhorse Cafe wrote:
tonered wrote:
Wildhorse Cafe wrote:
vetsurginc wrote:Using Gobium's MePi stick to make sure brake shoes are symetrical, or leading shoe a little closer compared with trailing also helps with function.
I am assuming all the mechanical s are in working order.
That sounds like a bad assumption at this point if you are having the stated issues.

The easy verification would be the chalk test: rub chalk over the surface of the shoes and verify that the entire surface is making contact with the hub. If not, adjust the top as appropriate if some contact is missing. Folks have used sticky backed sandpaper to completely match the shoe to hub and then the other way to resurface the hub.

I can adjust either brake to cancel out any yaw. A turn in or out on the motorcycle side is easiest and the neutral braking does not seem to change for as long as I don't swap in another wheel.

Just my opinion.

Have a good one.
I mean the adjustment should only be made if the mechanical's have been checked out and vetted which mine have, not that I assumed they were okay to begin with. Sorry, if I was unclear on this point but I stand by the rest.
Ah. No worries. I just wanted to make sure that you have a good baseline.

I'm not sure what is causing your problem though.

Have a good one.
tony b
Lynnwood, WA
2013 GearUp (Taildragger)
2001 Duc ST4 (Thumper)

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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by Wildhorse Cafe » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:04 pm

tonered wrote:
Wildhorse Cafe wrote:
tonered wrote:
Wildhorse Cafe wrote:
vetsurginc wrote:Using Gobium's MePi stick to make sure brake shoes are symetrical, or leading shoe a little closer compared with trailing also helps with function.
I am assuming all the mechanical s are in working order.
That sounds like a bad assumption at this point if you are having the stated issues.

The easy verification would be the chalk test: rub chalk over the surface of the shoes and verify that the entire surface is making contact with the hub. If not, adjust the top as appropriate if some contact is missing. Folks have used sticky backed sandpaper to completely match the shoe to hub and then the other way to resurface the hub.

I can adjust either brake to cancel out any yaw. A turn in or out on the motorcycle side is easiest and the neutral braking does not seem to change for as long as I don't swap in another wheel.

Just my opinion.

Have a good one.
I mean the adjustment should only be made if the mechanical's have been checked out and vetted which mine have, not that I assumed they were okay to begin with. Sorry, if I was unclear on this point but I stand by the rest.
Ah. No worries. I just wanted to make sure that you have a good baseline.

I'm not sure what is causing your problem though.

Have a good one.
The only way I have found of completely eliminating yaw with rear braking is to completely adjust out the sidecar brake, like on my 2011 when I first got it. For me finding that sweet spot where both the rear and sidecar are in play without an excessive amount of yaw. And I think that is what I have accomplished. Cheers!
2011 Patrol Higgs Bison Super Collider formally known as the Orange and Silver Pumpkin Coach.

2013 Black Retro, my name is nobody.

When you set out on your journey to Ithaca
pray the road is long , full of adventure, full of knowledge
not expecting that Ithaca will offer you riches
Ithaca has given you the beautiful voyage

C.P. Cavafy

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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by tonered » Wed Nov 11, 2015 11:08 am

Exactly. Breaking with just the rears should be straight as an arrow. Coasting up to stoplights, I can take my hands off the bars and come to a perfect stop.

Have a good one.
tony b
Lynnwood, WA
2013 GearUp (Taildragger)
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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by Revtech100 » Wed Dec 30, 2015 9:10 pm

So when you say adjust out the sidecar brake, do you mean to the point it no longer has any affect on braking? As in it free wheels when you apply the brake? Not sure what you mean. I'm trying to adjust mine so they are somewhat in sync.
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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by harryball » Thu Dec 31, 2015 8:23 am

Here's what I did.
Adjusted pusher brake until it rubbed, backed off until it didn't rub.
Adjusted sidecar brake until it rubbed, backed off until it didn't rub, backed off another 1/8" of a turn of the nut.
Brakes fine, no pulling when braking while empty or carrying 80 lb monkey-dog
I try not to over think things, that seemed the simplest most logical approach and it seems to have worked fine for me.
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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by Revtech100 » Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:10 pm

harryball wrote:Here's what I did.
Adjusted pusher brake until it rubbed, backed off until it didn't rub.
Adjusted sidecar brake until it rubbed, backed off until it didn't rub, backed off another 1/8" of a turn of the nut.
Brakes fine, no pulling when braking while empty or carrying 80 lb monkey-dog
I try not to over think things, that seemed the simplest most logical approach and it seems to have worked fine for me.
That's what I did.mthen took it for a ride, about five miles. The pusher hub was very very slightly warm to the touch. The car hub was stone cold. just wondering how the hubs should feel.
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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by vetsurginc » Thu Dec 31, 2015 4:25 pm

Pusher hub will always be warm due to final drive gears working. Not a problem.
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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by INSUBORDINATOR » Fri Jan 01, 2016 2:12 pm

harryball wrote:Here's what I did.
Adjusted pusher brake until it rubbed, backed off until it didn't rub.
Adjusted sidecar brake until it rubbed, backed off until it didn't rub, backed off another 1/8" of a turn of the nut.
Brakes fine, no pulling when braking while empty or carrying 80 lb monkey-dog
I try not to over think things, that seemed the simplest most logical approach and it seems to have worked fine for me.
+1 for Harrys method, works for me. I might ad: My favorite rear/sidecar Drum Brake adjusting aid = WING NUT - Soooo Easy.

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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by StoneAgeMan » Sun Jan 03, 2016 4:04 pm

I prefer having the combined rear brakes pull me a bit to the right when used by themselves. This allows for very straight heavy braking with both front and rear brakes engaged. If the rear brakes by themselves brake in a straight line, the front brake can't be used with quite as much force without introducing more left-side braking than right-side braking.

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Re: The Art of Sidecar Brake Adjustment

Post by Skookum » Wed Jul 20, 2016 7:25 pm

I've have my rear brakes set with a little yaw also, and have found I brake straight when applying both front and rear. An added benefit is that I can use a little rear brake to assist with right hand turns and a little front to assist with left hand turns. This seems to settle the bike a bit in higher speed corners on fire roads etc. YMMV
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