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Advanced Driving Skills

I want to thank everybody for helping to answer my question about what to do when you find yourself losing derectional control and going wide in a righthander. Over the past several weeks I have read Hal Kendall's "The Sidecar Manual" and "The Sidecar Operator Manual", the translated German manual "The Manual for Enthusiasts of Riding with a Sidecar", and the Ural "How to Ride" manual. I have spent considerable time riding right hand circles in an empty parking lot. Puting all this together I have come up with the following advice to my novice self (it applies only to me):

1. When the sidecar wheel lifts off the ground the outfit tilts to the left which makes it want to turn to the left just like a two wheel motorcycle would. So to keep the outfit going to the right you have to overcome the left tuning force caused by the left tilt. The greater the tilt greater the left turning force. At some point this force cannot be overcome by turning the handle bars to the right, and you run wide.

2. Forget reversion and countersteering for now. They do not apply to the running wide situation.

3. To regain control you have to reduce the left tilt. In this critical situation the only way to do this is by slowing down (assuming you have already shifted your weight to right). Reduce throttle and/or feather the front brake, then pray that you'll get back on your side of the road before you get "Peterbuilt" embossed on your forehead.

4. Keep in mind that the best place to have the sidecar wheel is on the ground. Any time it lifts off, the outfit will tilt left and try to turn left. If you making a right hand turn you don't need the added problem of overcoming the left turning forces.

5. If you go into a right hand turn a little hot pay close attention to the sidecar wheel. When it gets light slow down a bit. And always have your weight shifted to the right before entering the turn.

This is probably pretty simplistic for the experienced riders. I know there are a lot of advanced skills that can be brought to bare, but for now its my advice to novice me.

With due respect, I am afraid you have taken a topic that was somewhat obscure at best and elevated it to the murky depths of absurdity.

So, lets see if we can make some sense of it.

We start turning to the right. We generate centrifugal force which acts thru the CoM or CoG at a height h above the ground acting to the left. This is resisted by a weight force of the rig, driver, etc acting vertically at the CoM or CoG at distance y from the line between the front and rear wheels to the line vertically below the GoG.

You take moments. There is an overturning moment, and a restoring moment. As long as the restoring moment is greater than the overturning moment you are in good shape.

How do you get it higher?
Increase the sidecar wheel track - within reason, ok.
Increase sidecar weight - within reason.

Reduce turning speed - good - overturning moment increases as the square of the speed so just backing of a little on the speed in the turn reduced the overturning moment quite a bit.

Increase the turning radius - good - but there is just so much you can do to straighten out the road - take full advantage of this - but do not take any chances such as going into blind areas.

Keep your speed down going into the curve - you can accelerate as you come out of the curve.


Re balancing a rig on two wheels, this is much easier with just the frame. With a large heavy body it puts heavy stresses on the bike frame and the struts which may not be able to sustain them. So you go in a circle until the chair comes up and eventually you get to the point where it allows you to point the rig in a straight line. OK. Now you are in an unstable equilibrium condition. You can fall over in either side. Or go straight ahead. Your choice. Just like driving an auto on two wheels. I also saw this done with an 18-wheeler on a TV program. Yes, I have done it on my 1949 Triumph T6 with a Goulding chassis in 1953 in Melbourne Victoria for funzies.

I still do not see the point in empasizing this as a safety program in sidecaring when there are perhaps 199 other points of far more significance than this.

As far as aggressive righthanders are concerned, I would be more concerned with am I in the correct gear to power out of the situation than am I goint to be able to delicately balance my way out of this situation.

Let's get back to straight talking

Hal Kendall

I really enjoyed the interchange on this. If nothing else, it demonstrates how sidecarists are rugged individualists. Remember, the topic is "advanced skills", so I'm assuming we're not trying to educate novices here.

I would suggest to anyone who hasn't taken the S/TEP, to go take the course before offering any opinions on what it contains.

Let's allow Hal to simmer down, and wait for the next question. Meanwhile, I gotta take a breather and crank out some articles.


Taking a breather is not a bad idea Dave but I feel responsible to make a couple of comments first. The first post after the question was posed said a few things that need to be cleared up. These have nothing to do with 'advanced skills' as this thread carefully.
Dave wrote:
>>Excellent question. The main reason the sidecar flys is because the driver didn't hang his or her butt off toward the sidecar just prior to entering the curve.<> Unfortunately, lots of hackers (and some installers) believe that it's possible to set up a rig so that you don't have to crawl all over it while cornering.>>

This statement insinuated that a rig cannot be made to handle without 'crawling all over it in the corners'. Again simple not true!

>> Yes, if you just toddle around at creepy speeds, you don't have to do anything special, except try to avoid getting run over from behind.<>.... But the key to your question is "aggressive" driving. If you want to enjoy zipping along smartly, it's very important to hang off, both in right handers, and in left handers.<>Curiously, some sidecar installers hide the "yellow book" from their customers, in fear that if the customers realized how much there is to know about sidecar handling, they might cancel their new hack. As you might suspect, some of these same customers have crashed their new rigs in right hand turns.<>The techniques for cornering are in the S/TEP course (800 521-0778) and also in the book Driving A Sidecar Outfit (800 736 1117) But there is no replacement for driving practice, hopefully on a wide open range where you can experiment away from traffic, curbs, potholes, wi

Thanks Hal
I have been following this running post and wondering if Dave really believed what he was saying, or was it a sales pitch to sell his classes.
I have come to the conclusion that what seperates the two differing opinions is that in Dave Windell's case, he has something to sell and while Hal's concern is for safty of others to the point of freely giving his knowledge away to any one who wishes to learn to be a better rider.
I am trying very hard to not make this a personal attack on the S/TEP program, but it is infact, or atleast intended to be, a money making program to benifit Dave Windell, and at this point in time he has no control about what and how his certified instructors teach in the field, by his own addmition. Any one with enough money can become an instructor, with or with out any practical experience on the subject they are teaching to unsuspecting people who have paid thier money to learn to be better riders.
Have I taken a S/TEP class? No. Could I learn something from one if I did? Maybe. If I were to take one I would like to know the instructors qualifications other than what he learned at the instructors corse. I have ridden with one such instructor and it was not a good experience, he put my friend and I in harms way trying to babyset him. In the end I feel that it was my fault for not knowing he was better qualified to go on such a ride with so little practical riding experience, but after all, he was a S/TEP instructor, shouldn't that make him a good rider? NO, it makes him an isstructor.
If Dave windell could regulate what is taught in all S/TEP classes it would help the program greatly, but untill he can, there will be people driven away from sidecaring by what is being taught. Most people get into sidecaring to make it easier to carry sonething or some one, and usually not at a young age that allows climbing all over a rig. I have talked to several people who after taking the S/TEP class decided to buy a trike instead of a sidecar because they did not have to hang off a trike. S/tep's answer to this is to have a class for trikes, not to adjust the classes that sent the student to a trike in the first place.
I will get off my soap box now, ride safe.

The instructor that Colby was talking about was me. When we set out on this trip, although I had a fair amount of experience on my sidecar, I had no experience, not even one mile, touring a speed on the highway or riding my new rig at highway speeds. At the same time, I had a severe handling problem with my rig that wasn't discovered until we were well on our way. Colby and John did baby-sit me through a lot of our ride and I appreciate what they did. By the end of the ride, I was able to keep up pretty well. Since then, I've spent a good deal of time riding both by myself and in groups and I've got the problem that was making me fight the rig fixed. I've put on about 14,000 miles this year and thanks to Colby, some others and the opportunity, I'm a better driver now. Like I told Colby in a separate e-mail, I think I could keep up now. ;^) -Colby brought up a good point, I didn't have the experience that he thought I would and being an instructor has very little to do with being good a something. The issue is, do the two things go hand in hand? I know that a lot of folks will disagree but the fact is almost any teacher will tell you that teaching is not directly connected with doing. My wife used to walk high wire, she was OK at it but not a star (except to me) but she can and has taught others to do it better than she ever could. The S/TEP course is all about making the student aware of a set of basic skills that he/she must then GO OUT AND PRACTICE. No one in their right mind would ever be so naive as to believe that the course, which takes two days, will make them an accomplished sidecar driver. It's a place to start. It introduces skills that will be important for a NEW sidecarist; that includes hanging off but too much is made of that particular skill. In my opinion, the reason is so big a part of the basic course is that it is easily demonstrated by the instructor and easily understood by the students; in addition, it gives the students a feeling of security early on in the course and makes other exercises easier for them. Please remember as well that many of these first time hack drivers are piloting student rigs that are VERY light and small, they lift easily and inadvertent chair flying happens a lot in the early exercises, even with ballast. There is another thing, folks who don't like or know much about S/TEP have seized on that one skill and also made too much of it. The new course curriculum, which is what I learned under, puts much less emphasis on hanging off. -Please note that I've agreed with folks up until now. There's one thing in Colby's post that is flat out wrong. The proceeds of the S/TEP courses don't go to Dave Wendell. In fact, Dave isn't even employed by S/TEP or Evergreen Safety at this time as far as I know, he was in the past but even then, he didn’t get the money from courses. Dave does put on S/TEP courses as an instructor and he does get a portion of the fee for those but if I put on a course or Tom Van Horn puts on a course, or Dave Sasenick or Vic Hari or any of the other certified instructors around the country do, the proceeds that filter up go to Evergreen Safety and not Dave Wendell. -The fee charged for a course is set by the entity that is putting it on. If I put on a course, I look at my costs, which include things like the range cost, completion cards, student handbooks and insurance, and then I set the fee. Some instructors do this for a living and they build the cost of their time and in some cases their equipment into the fee. For instance, it takes several hours just to set up a range for the first ti

While speaking of 'organized training ' I see David Hough refer to the SSP ever so often. I know years back there was the SSP which was called the USCA-SSP. 'SSP' stood for Sidecar Saftey Program and USCA stood for the United Sidecar Association right? Today I see only SSP. Many have inquired about what all of this means. So...I would like to ask Mr. Hough what the history of the USCA-SSP is/was and what it actually is today. With all of this talk about the S/TEP where does the SSP fit in and what exactly is it? Who governs it? Also is there a reason it is no longer called the USCA-SSP? As I said many have asked.

I want to thanks everyone for their thoughts on this subject.
Iam relatively new to sidecar driving and feel that getting on the road and developnig your skills is the best way to improve. After I had read the yellow book (twice) and H Kendalls books I first practiced in large parking lots and then hit the roads. I found it to be beneficial to Plan a route and drive it in a car so you would be familiar with turns etc.
I chose routes that had less traffic so I go at a slower pace and did the same route over and over again. I could see my confidence building and my ability to know how my rig would react.
Keeping within the speed limit, following the basic rules in the books noted above, and learning how your rigs reacts is paramount in becoming a better sidecar driver.
Time practice and repetition !!!!!!!!!
Once you feel you have developed your skills at a certain level repeat all the above at a more challenging sill level.
Sidecar driving have been such a woderful new experience for me that I hope to become good enough to never have to ride a two wheeler again and I have been riding for 35 years!!!!

The USCA is the "United Side Car Association" (note 4 words). This is the national enthusiast organization for sidecarists, and administrator of this web site. The "USCA Sidecar Safety Program, Inc." is a separate non-profit corporation devoted to skills issues, including publication of the book Driving A Sidecar Outfit and development of training curricula. The SSP is staffed by volunteers.

"ESC" is the Evergreen Safety Council, the current national administrator of sidecar/trike training in the USA. The SSP created the curriculum, which was called "Driving A Sidecar", and the SSP initially trained and certified sidecar instructors, and offered training courses. But with the demand expanding nationwide, the SSP transferred rights to it's training program to ESC several years ago. ESC added trike driving information, and calls it's three-wheeler training group the "Sidecar/Trike Education Program" (S/TEP) ESC does training other than motorcycle, so they have a "motorcycle training manager". Until about mid-2003, the ESC motorcycle training manager responsible for Seattle area motorcycle rider training and S/TEP national administration was Dave Wendell. Dave is an S/TEP Chief Instructor, authorized to train S/TEP instructors.

OK, let's ramble through these acronyms to see if you've got it. As part of the contract between the SSP and ESC, the SSP President is on the board of directors of ESC's S/TEP. The USCA doesn't manage either the SSP or S/TEP, but sometimes the SSP President and S/TEP Manager contribute information to the USCA. And of course, soem sidecarists may also be SSP officers, USCA members and S/TEP instructors. Get it?

Your confusion is understandable, since the acronym "USCA" implies that the Sidecar Safety Program is a subgroup of the USCA, while it actually is a separate entity, with it's own officers, treasury, etc. To help sidecarists understand this, I've taken to dropping the "USCA" part of the name, unless it's necessary for legal purposes.

Now, if you want to go back through this and change all those "SSP"s to "USCA SSP" that would be technically more correct, but I'm content to just say "SSP" when referring to the ("USCA Sidecar Safety Program, Inc.")

I know lots of folks are confused over all these acronyms, so I just contributed an article on the subject to The Sidecarist. You are a USCA member, aren't you?


I just got back from a 10 day tour around WA, OR, then CA, NV, AZ, Death Valley to get warm, and a 3 hour wait in the first winter storm at Truckee Pass in 8" of snow to cool off. Looks like ADS got pretty well autopsied (in the forensic sense) while I was gone. Hope we didn't lose too many potential S/C newbies while I was gone.
Only one thing to add here for the new hackers: Use moderation, and lots of it. You just can't have too much moderation. Add a dash of common sense and you're gonna have a lot of enjoyment with your sidecar outfit.