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Sidecar motorcycle – how does it work?

– So you take a sidecar … and hook it to the motorcycle! Everything! The bike is ready! From you 700 thousand, preferably in cash.

Sly, of course, but it works a little differently. Sidecar motorcycles have a number of features that allow them to serve faithfully, and even ride straight instead of diagonally. So what else sets a motorcycle with a trailer apart from the trailer itself?

  • Frame structure
  • Steering features
  • Motorcycle tires
  • Engine
  • Drive unit
  • Brake system
  • Side trailer, stroller attachment

Frame structure

Initially, the question is, is riding a motorcycle with both a sidecar and solo? The frame must have an attachment point and itself be more powerful, since it will take not only its own weight, but also the weight of the stroller with its contents. As you might guess, while in motion, the stroller from time to time tries to live its own life, which means that the frame attachment area and the attachment side will feel an additional load.

Therefore, when installing a stroller on a motorcycle on which this is not provided, it is often necessary to additionally install a stiffening frame for the frame with fasteners.

Steering features

The first thing that catches your eye is the presence of a damper. (“Damper steering column, what’s the point?”) Usually, this ends, but some go further. The essence of such innovations is that the steering wheel does not react to the behavior of the stroller and does not turn on its own, being more predictable.

The presence or absence of a damper can be combined with tightening the steering bearings and adjusting the crosshead. In other words, you tighten the steering. Yes, this will provide you with a powerful workout of the arms and possibly grooved biceps in the process, but either that, or you will have to catch the steering wheel more often.

Motorcycle tires

A tricky topic. We all know that the right tires and wheels in general, along with the rim, size, tread pattern, can significantly affect the behavior of a motorcycle. In the case of sidecars, the issue of a motorcycle tire concerns the rubber for the motorcycle itself and the wheel of the trailer. If you talk to the International Association of Sidecar Motorcyclists, you can learn such an interesting thing as the practice of installing a car wheel. Follow the logic: if a motorcycle has a rigid sidecar mount, then it cannot lay in the turn those corners that a solo motorcycle does, which means that it does not need round motor tires. In all seriousness, the association has motorcycles where car wheels are also put on because of the increased grip area. The car tire is wider and the contact patch is larger with a smooth tread pattern. The idea is curious, not for everyone it is relevant, but it has a place to be. Although it is still better to leave a round tire on the front wheel, it will make it easier for you to maneuver at least the steering wheel. (“Motorcycle tires – what’s the difference with a tire?”)

Another trick: installing a larger front wheel so that it dampens small vibrations from uneven road and, accordingly, does not transmit it to the steering wheel. Again – special cases.

And the last, much more common, rubber is wider on a motorcycle than on a sidecar wheel. The motorcycle must drive the trailer, which means that it must resist less. With wider tires, the bike has more options to calm the bassinet if it is on narrower tires. Her contact patch is reduced, she herself reacts more easily. This is not a law everywhere, but it is not an exception to the rule.


Everything is simple here. If you take a very angry sport bike and harness it to drag a couple of extra hundred pounds, or even more, he will be offended by you. The motocross bike will also be offended if you make it slowly crawl through the mud on an enduro track. The difference is that some bikes are designed for higher speeds, while others for higher loads at medium speeds, but with weights. In other words: a motorcycle will need more horsepower at the same speeds under the same conditions as a solo motorcycle. And all because the poor fellow to drag him quite an impressive weight.

Brake system

In the context of the braking system, it should be immediately noted that there is a very important nuance here – the braking of a motorcycle with a sidecar is uneven, but they have the same inertia, like a vehicle. And now on the shelves.

The front brake can be bumped up and look more powerful than the standard brakes, all again because of the mass. But when used abruptly, the motorcycle nods and can roll over, so the steep front brake can come out sideways. This is not a feature, but it makes sense to take a closer look.

The rear brake can be shared with the wheelchair brake. There are motorcycles without sidecar brakes. But this is not profitable, because at the moment of braking, your side trailer tries to go further and it is only held by the mount that connects the motorcycle to the sidecar. The motorcycle begins to unfold with all the ensuing consequences.

An interesting idea is to put one pedal for the rear brake of the motorcycle, and the other pedal for the sidecar brake. It comes in handy on narrow, winding roads, especially when you have mastered the skill of entering corners by braking so that the turn from a sidecar or motorcycle is controlled and helps you maneuver.

Drive unit

A common question for the owner of a motorcycle with a sidecar: is there an additional drive? The wheel drive of the sidecar gives an advantage in motorcycle behavior, because the cradle is no longer just a driven trailer, but becomes a full-fledged labor force. That’s where the hunt for powered motorcycles comes from. On a motorcycle with a chain drive or belt drive, such structures are complicated, but with a cardan shaft it is quite convenient.

If you expect to ride solo, and then return the stroller to its place, then the wheel drive of the stroller will be a problem when disassembling and disconnecting the trailer, installing it back.

Side trailer, stroller attachment

The stroller can be factory made by the manufacturer for a specific motorcycle, or it can be added later to a model that was not originally prepared for a side trailer.

Trailer weight and aerodynamics are essential for a motorcycle. Everyone is accustomed to “sidecar” with a rigid mount, but there are options where the motorcycle can go to the slope regardless of the sidecar or in parallel with it. Since the advent of sidecar motorcycles, engineers have tried all kinds of fastening and system design.

The hinge of the Flexit is ingenious and simple. The motorcycle tilts with the trailer. The system has proven itself for a long time. It looks curious. A rarity on Russian roads, but as an idea – why not?

The most important thing in attaching a side trailer is adjusting the position of the trailer and tilting the motorcycle relative to it. Yes, as the cars require “wheel alignment”. The adjustment will affect the motorcycle’s handling, tire wear rate and stability in different conditions.

Here is a quick overview of the essential elements of a successful side-trailer motorcycle. The presence of a sidecar becomes a test for a motorcycle that is not prepared for this, but the sidecar itself still continues to generate interest and an approving smile on public roads.

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