Motorcycle sidecars have been around since the early 20th century, and have always enjoyed extensive use throughout Europe. In the United States they have never been fully adopted, though sidecars can still be found throughout the country. And lately, sidecars have made a comeback. In addition to extra storage for a passenger or your “stuff,” sidecars add extra stability to your bike. This alone is enough to convince some bikers to consider a sidecar.
Throughout the world, sidecars take on different purposes. In Asia, China, and India, bikes have small engines, and sidecars are meant to haul multiple people and often goods as well. Sidecars and motorcycles alike are piled high with passengers and an assortment of stuff, and engines work at their full capacity nearly all the time.
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In Europe, motorcycle and sidecars have been more widely adopted to carry an extra passenger, often a spouse. Some spouses prefer sidecars to riding on the rear pillion and it’s easy to see why. The sidecar allows the passenger to ride more securely, without the need to grip firmly onto the biker (of course, some see this as a benefit!).
No matter where you ride your sidecar, you will find other sidecar fanatics. There are a number of sidecar groups in the United States, and bikers with sidecars will find others who share their passion for these unique bikes. The United Sidecar Association, for example, is one such group of folks who shares their joy of these bikes.
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Sidecars, initially adopted prior to the Great Depression, were never fully embraced. Fortunately, they have experience a resurgence in popularity since the 80’s. Sidecars range from simple to highly complex, and some are downright bizarre. Although these bikes are meant to simply add an extra seat, they often bring much more to the bike. They can transform a generic looking bike into a work of art, and sidecar owners often embrace their rides.
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Despite their appeal, sidecars demand additional care. They must be services more frequently than other bikes as they carry heavy loads and are under additional strain. Fortunately, the sidecar itself does not require much in the way of regular maintenance. Sidecars can be difficult to ride, at least initially, as they handle the road differently than the typical motorcycle. Newbies should take it slow and consider receiving specialty instruction on riding a bike with a sidecar. There are numerous books on the subject that delve into the differences between motorcycles and bikes with sidecars.
When riding a motorcycle and sidecar, the biker will notice significantly more drag on the bike. This is from air resistance in addition to more tire friction from the sidecar. Additional horsepower is needed when compared with a traditional bike. Fuel economy, in turn, decreases. Often bikes with sidecars will experience a pull when on the road. This can place some stress on the biker, at least until you become familiar with the sensation. A properly aligned bike will feel very similar to a traditional bike, but these sensations still exist. A good biker will find that they make fine adjustments to their bike and sidecar periodically to account for these changes.
Many experienced sidecar operators will tell you that it’s not like driving a bike or a car – it’s a different feeling altogether. As you accelerate, the bike tends to go In the direction of the sidecar, so you must be prepared to steer left to counteract the pull. If you accelerate too quickly, especially on a turn, the sidecar wheel may lift. And yes, in extreme conditions the bike can even flip. Anything over 40 miles per hour can feel like a battle on wheels – you have to be fairly fit in order to handle a bike with a sidecar.
All that said, the experience can be incredibly exhilarating! Sidecar owners attract attention wherever they go, and the sidecar experience is meant to be shared. Sidecars allow owners to carry their friends, and extra stuff with them, when they ride. This means that weekend trips and getaways and bike camping are much more accessible.
Whatever your reason for consider a sidecar, you will likely find the experience enjoyable and thrilling, though a little foreign at times. It will require greater attention to the road and to the sensations you feel from your bike, but the ride truly can’t be beat!
Whether you ride a bike with a sidecar or a traditional motorcycle, the team at Kass & Moses urges you to use caution and ride with care. If you are involved in a crash due to the negligence of another, contact an experienced motorcycle crash lawyer at 1-800-MOTORCYCLE. We are bikers so we understand the desire to hit the open road. We will do everything we can to get you back on your bike and help you recover financially from your crash. Contact us today for a free consultation.