How to Ride a Motorbike Sidecar

Written by joel barnard
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How to Ride a Motorbike Sidecar
Motorbikes with sidecars handle differently than normal motorbikes. (motorcycle image by Goran Bogicevic from

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
  • Goggles

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  1. 1

    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.

  2. 2

    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.

  3. 3

    Think ahead at all times. A sidecar rig turns slower than a solo bike, according to

  4. 4

    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.

  5. 5

    Lean into corners to achieve good control of the motorbike sidecar. It is not necessary for the passenger to shift his weight.

  6. 6

    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.

  7. 7

    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.

  8. 8

    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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