The Beastie Build

I have owned 2 bulletproof bikes over the years – both of which ended up as 3 wheelers (sidecar outfits). Over the years, it became necessary for me to ride 3 wheels so I could keep both my mad keen biker parents on the road. There was no way health issues were robbing them of their happiness – not in my world.

The VTX 1800 was a decision I agonised over for many months – let’s face it, there aren’t too many bikes these days which can pull a sidecar loaded with weight. The original plan was to build an adapted sidecar for wheelchair use/hydraulic lifts etc – but 4 days after I bought it, mum was diagnosed with stage IV breast cancer and the plans went out the door.

Mum and Dad have now both passed and my need for 3 wheels is purely love. I have 2 wheels in the corner, but I have a passion for 3.

So, the build began, over a year after the first idea. I rode the X around on 2 for a bit and it only made me more passionate about making it 3!

Step 1 – Where to start? Eeeeeeeeeeeeeek, my very first cruiser!!!


The X has a full frame – a bonus! But I hate attaching sidecar mounts directly to a frame, so, a new sub-frame was built with a 5 point mount. The 5th mount is to triangulate the bottom. I learnt from the BMW that given a bit of power, a little slide, a chair flying high and one could actually rotate the sidecar backwards on its mounts.

The framework is a mixture of 50x25x3.2 box, 8 and 10mm plate (back is 100mm wide across the frame – under the seat). The frame is cross-braced from side-to-side, even though the X has some wonderful bracing itself.

Once I had decided where to mount off the bike, it was time to build the sidecar frame. Just for something different (I like different!), I built a double frame on which to mount a single boat.

The sidecar axle is mounted through self-centring bearings and like all the rest of the chairs I’ve built, has a kick in at the top of the wheel (hammers around corners really well). It hasn’t got a sidecar brake, simply because one needs to have weight over the wheel (or at least have it on the ground!) to gain any braking force. I must learn to become the sedate little old lady I’m supposed to be!

Next was the sidecar boat – I’d picked one up as a dumpster – seen better days – no boot, no screen, fibreglass a little sad and sorry. Re-glass the needed bits – add large metal washes glassed into the areas where it was going to bolt to the chassis.

Build a seat (one should not let me near a sewing machieg – it’s NOT me!) – it got built in two parts – seat and backrest – it’s usable – what more can I say!

Scrounge around for a tinted screen – I knew I had something that kinda fitted with some ‘modifications’

All is good – that became the first 3 weeks of life for the new beast.

I’m not one for building beauties (sorry guys) – and I’m not one for the photo taking bit either. I actually got told off by a few mates who told me in no uncertain way – TAKE PHOTOS AND DO IT NOW!!!

So long after I had destroyed a perfectly good 2 wheeler – I started to take some ‘phone’ shots.




I have done and will continue to do a lot of miles on the road. Years ago, it was nothing for me to clock up 150 000km a year – ride 12-16 hours a day. I’ve had bikes with tiny little tanks, and it’s no fun being out the middle of nowhere with a 1/2 gallon of petrol in a small cell in your panniers!

The C doesn’t have the biggest tank and hauling around a sidecar was only ever going to use more petrol – give it a fist full and it’ll use some more!

So… the story goes, let’s tie in some extra fuel. Having more than 1 bike, I first opted for the tank on the back of the bike – that lasted all of 2 seconds – I took 2 panadol until the feeling wore off.

Let’s mount the tank in the boot of the sidecar – away from the view of Mr Plod who seemed to think it was a keg on the back of the bike!

No longer would gravity feed the tank – so it was a pump. A small, low pressure 12v pump to get fuel into the main tank.


So far, so good – the tank has given the X some distance. Outfits (going fast or hard) normally consume considerable petrol – luckily, the X is a tad more friendly – although I’ve riched up the fuel mix with the new mods.

It’s nice not to be frantically wondering where the next overhead re-fueller is!!!!

Next part – the battery and toolbox install.

  • Test 1 – rode like a dog (out of control and not very friendly – was setup using ‘average’ toe-in and lean-out and 6″ of sidecar wheel lead. Wasn’t going to happen in my lifetime – it was un-ridable!
  • Test 2 – more toe-in (it’s an extremely long beast) – better
  • Test 3 – jump on it and do 2000km trip – much better.
  • Ride it around – clock up 8000km in about 8 weeks – getting more user-friendly.



  • 1x Baron tach – I hate not knowing the revs on this bike. It’s my first cruiser in this life and I’m approaching the half-century very soon. *done
  • 1x air cleaner to give it some much needed AIR*done
  • 1x power commander so I can play with the power bands (where I need them)*done
  • 1x new shocks – 1″ longer and triple duty springs
  • 1x 6* rake triple trees, fork extensions and new risers
  • 1x 205-55-16 CT for the rear
  • 1x light truck tyre on the sidecar *done
  • 1x ‘rear tyre’ to be put on the front (reversed)
  • 1x stebel horn – just because I can!
  • Shorten the bars – less flex towards the ends.

Yesterday, I put on the tach, the new air cleaner and the power commander – well, I have to admit – that made the biggest difference so far!!! To say it roared into life is an understatement. Everything about the bike is now much happier.

Block off plates are done. Radcover on!


Then… you guessed it – it was time for a change!

So after looking like this…

VTX Getting_there

Black and White

It now looks more like this…


All mods done – screen cut on sidecar – Kermit happening for a ‘sea-change’

Sidecars are my passion – I just LOVE them.  The outfit will continue to grow and change – it’s the nature of the beast!

It’s not for everyone – BUT – it is for this lil’black duck! My next project is this…


The sidecar chassis is non-existant – the mounts are non-existant – the sidecar wheel is just leaning there! In fact – it’s sitting on 2x old tyres Christmas!

2 Responses

  1. Hi Michelle,

    Love the blog and the Beastie Build article Michelle. It encapsulates all that I believe in about outfits, particularly the bit about triangulation of the frame. I have done the same or similar with my trailer hitch and it works a treat. No cracked or broken frames for me (or you)!



    • Raymond,
      One learns over time. When I first started in outfits, someone else built it for me not realising what I was about to do to it. The result was not a mere crack but a completely broken frame. That took about 3 months!

      I have probably broken more things than most but I’ve also travelled over a million kms on an outfit (things happen when you ride hard and fast).

      As time has gone on I leave little to chance – I do all my own work. I have learned a considerable amount about what does and doesn’t work (for me), what I prefer and why. It doesn’t make sense to build to a set of rules and NOT enjoy the ride. Every outfit and pilot is different – we all like different feels. I happen to like twitchy! So, the idea is to build within specs then manipulate until it works the want we want.

      I doubt anything is Michelle-proof!


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