USCA Sidecar Forum

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Anti lock brakes

How much would anti-lock brakes help with a sidecar? I am looking at several bikes and wonder if I should spend more for anti-lock brakes. One of the bikes in the running is a goldwing and I don't know if the abs is worth it.

I'm not qualified to give an opinion about what you should do but here are a few thoughts on ABS systems and sidecars.

1. In many cases, IF there is a sidecar brake, it may not be plumbed into the brake system so there are two brake systems that know about each other and don't work together. In that case the bike still has ABS and enjoys all the benefits AND if the sidecar causes a skid under braking [highly unlikely] the bike will try to compensate.

2. If your sidecar brake is plumbed into the bike's ABS system, it will enjoy the same pulsing that is applied to whatever wheel with which it shares brake pressure. That sounds better but there is a huge caveat. No sidecar [that I know of] has an ABS sensor on the sidecar wheel. That's probably a good thing. If the sidecar wheel sensed a skid under braking, it would signal the ABS system to be applied. Since the sidecar wheel's braking is hugely influenced by the load that it is carrying, the ABS would be triggered erratically based on how the sidecar was loaded.

Now a little bit of personal experience...I've had three rigs with ABS and on each of them the sidecar wheel was plumbed into the rear brake. Although I did feel the ABS come on a few times, I was NEVER aware the having ABS on the sidecar brake making any difference. So, I like ABS on the bike and it has never made a difference TO ME on how the sidecar behaved.

Of course that's just my opinion, you'll hear others.

My last rig had ABS as does my current rig. The K1100/Motorvation rig I sold last year after 20+ years had ABS on the tug but not plumbed into the sidecar brake. The sidecar brake lever is mounted next to the rear brake lever. The sidecar brake is actuated at the same time as the rear brake on bike. I disabled the ABS because it created some uncomfortable scenarios. My current rig (which I bought from Al) has ABS but the sidecar brake isn't hooked up to the sidecar brake. That put me in the same catagory as Al - unqualified to give advice - just issue reports on experience.

hello thanks for the posts 🙂

I am also not qualified to give you any advice, all I can add is my experience. I had a 91 Goldwing with a California sidecar hack. The Wing did not have ABS. the sidecar had a brake but it was not hooked up. I had a accident when in my panic I locked up the front brake, and the sidecar pushed the rig to the left. I don't know if ABS would have prevented it, but I do know that while skidding the front wheel there was no way to steer to avoid the accident. It resulted in the bike and sidecar being totaled, and now neither of my thumbs are attached to my wrists. Good luck with your decision.

I have a 2009 K1200LT with a Hannigan SP2 - sidecar brake (Brembo) tapped into rear brake (on intermediate Banjo connector). Picked up at the factory in Murray, KY and was told by the factory rep that the ABS should still function and most likely the sidecar brake will skid - depends upon weight, speeds and road condition (dry / wet / sand / etc). Only thing to be prepared for in a hard stop, of which I have had a few, is the pull of the tug and what its brake is doing!

the last few years of HD bikes had antilock - with no sensor on the sidecar wheel.. so if the bike rear brake started to slide the sidecar wheel would be pulsed with it.

so few were made that I've never seen one in person

but folks and hd claimed they were fine


And then there are us old guys who remember the days with no ABS. Some research shows that good riders (and auto drivers) can actually stop faster w/o ABS. I had one incident with my BMW K1200 (year 2000) when I had to make a "panic" stop. To me, it felt like it was never going to stop (it just barely did in time). Granted I was 17 years younger, but I'm still convinced that I could have stopped faster by pushing the brakes to right at the skid condition, doing it by ear and feel, as we all used. My 09 Triumph T100 w/Velorex car has no ABS and it stops just as fast as my '99 BMW R1100 w/EZS Summit car WITH ABS. I still prefer no ABS.