Motorbikes with sidecars are somewhat safer than a normal motorbike, according to Susan Haag's article "Pull Up a Chair" in American Motorcyclist. However, they do drive very differently from a solo motorbike so it is essential to learn how to drive one correctly for the safety of yourself and other road users.
- Skill level:
- Moderately Easy
Things you need
- Protective clothing
- Motorcycle helmet
Dress appropriately in protective gear such as a leather jacket and trousers as well as sturdy boots and thick gloves. Select clothing that is snug but does not hamper your movement.
Wear a good quality helmet. Wear goggles also if the helmet has no visor. A sidecar rider is very exposed to weather, highway debris, insects and dirt, according to Hal Kendal, president of the United Sidecar Association.
Think ahead at all times. A sidecar rig turns slower than a solo bike, according to Cyclesidecar.com.
Position your body to comfortably reach both handlebars and so that you can turn them comfortably. Turn them more than you would on a solo motorbike to achieve the same turn.
Lean into corners to achieve good control of the motorbike sidecar. It is not necessary for the passenger to shift his weight.
Reduce speed before entering a turn away from the sidecar, or left on a right-hand mounted sidecar. Apply the rear brake, not the sidecar brake, both before and during the turn. Accelerate again when almost through the curve.
Reduce speed before entering a turn into the sidecar, or right on a right-hand mounted side car. Apply the front or sidecar brake slightly through the turn and accelerate again upon exiting the turn.
Use both front and back motorbike brakes to rapidly stop. The back brake of your motorbike is far more effective that it would be on a solo machine.
Tips and warnings
- Resist the urge to counter-steer, that is, turn away from a curve briefly before entering it, as is normal on a bicycle or solo motorbike.
- Lock both front and back brakes as well as the sidecar brake for the quickest possible stop. Your motorbike sidecar will continue in a straight line but may swing around.
- Maintain a safe distance between yourself and other road users. Between three and five seconds between other road users gives you time to react to any potentially dangerous situations.
- Position your motorbike sidecar, when driving, to be as conspicuous as possible to other drivers and visible in all rear view mirrors. Avoid blind spots as much as possible.
- A second passenger may go on the motorbike saddle.
- Do no place your feet on the ground even when stationary. Doing so risks injury.
- Do not brake sharply using only the front brake, as this may cause you motorbike and sidecar to slew.
- Do not share road lanes when driving. Motorbikes with sidecars require a complete lane to themselves to operate safely.
- If you have only one passenger, they should ride in the sidecar. They should not ride on the motorbike itself.
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