USCA Sidecar Forum

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Newbie Needs Advice Please 🙂 Greatly appreciated:-)

I have a really nice retro Electra Glide. I am 70 and thought that a sidecar might be a good idea. I have Landing Gear on my bike and I ride just fine with it. My thought was that with a sidecar I would ride a lot more because they are much more stable, less dangerous and much less demanding on my knees.

I bought a 1982 Watsonian Monaco "barn find." In great shape but needs paint and mounting.

Seems like every guy I talk to that has tried a sidecar did not like it. All kinds of reasons and warnings. Seems they have nothing good to say about their experience.

Now I am discouraged. Sidecar not mounted or painted. Had my landing gear on ebay and cancelled the sale. Thinkng of selling the Watsonian and staying with what I have.

I would appreciate advice from some experienced sidecarists.

Thanks. Mike 989-893-8777 Bay City, Michigan

Attached files

Hi Mike
I don't think your going to find much negative talk here about sidecars, except about the cheap crud that gets peddled to unsuspecting people

I will say sidecars aren't for everyone, only you can decide if it works for you. I for one totally enjoy my rig. I bought it because my wife was having trouble on long trips with her back and knees
we decided before we started trailering the bike everywhere we would try a sidecar, best move we could have made, she loves it and driving it is a blast

97 1500 SE Motorvation II sidecar USCA # 8913 Double Dark Side # 1522 Goodyear Fuel max 175/60 R16 PILOT ACTIV 130/70 18

Welcome Mike!

I agree with Ace, it's not for everyone. It's not a difficult skill to learn, it's just different, like no other form of ground transportation out there!

I think the reason a lot of long-time motorcycle riders have issues with sidecars is that all those years of "butt knowledge" you've built up are no longer relevant on a 3-wheeled ridged rig. It's mainly the fact that you can't lean into curves anymore. Counter-steering is replaced with direct steering. You will "feel" the irregularities of the road more, confusing your "butt knowledge".

Another big issue that catches the uninitiated by surprise is the a-symmetric nature of the beast. When tooling down the road, your rig will now have a "yaw" component with the car pushing and pulling the bike. It's not hard to manage, just different. Right turns are a challenge and practice is needed to do them safely and effectively. You will now feel the "camber" of the road and any dips or crests near the curb will cause the car to rise and fall, causing the bike to "waggle" in a way that "butt knowledge" interprets as scary.

The over-simplified way I like to put it is that, on two wheels, it's you and your bike against the road. With a sidecar rig, your bike has changed sides. But with the right practice and the right attitude, you can tame the beast and learn to enjoy it's slightly off-centered nature.

Best of luck to you!

Thanks for the information. I really appreciate hearing back from you guys.

I was planning to attend a school that specializes in police motor certification. Its in Troy, Michigan. They produce high quality motorcyclists who can handle big bikes in close quarters. Cops come from all over the country to learn expert skills. The website for civilians is

I mentin this because I realized that learning to safely handle a sidecar rig also means learning and parcticing a skill set. Have ever seen the police competitions? Those skills are mch more complicated and demanding.

I am a creative guy who has always loved the unique. I think I will enjoy the uniqueness of being a sidecarist. I also like talking with people.

Would you guys paint the chair to match my tug?

Thanks again for your replies

Would you guys paint the chair to match my tug?

the answer to that lies in your own taste, I for one say yes however I would suggest waiting until you have ridden and decided if your going to join the world of offset enthusiast, this way you don't have that expense up front
I rode mine around in a 2 tone brown for almost a year before painting it
I wanted to be sure it was for us first

97 1500 SE Motorvation II sidecar USCA # 8913 Double Dark Side # 1522 Goodyear Fuel max 175/60 R16 PILOT ACTIV 130/70 18

That's a darn good looking barn find. I believe it's probable many if not most of the folks that were negative about sidecars to you were because they "tried" but made little of the required effort to adapt. And it does take some commitment. Much more than a "try". It is a totally different than solo riding. I'm new to sidecars and it took a real effort in time and miles to become comfortable. Like many comments I had read beforehand I at first thought I might have messed up a perfectly good motorcycle. After a few hours of saddle time it got better and after a few weeks or increasingly longer trips it got comfortable. I love the stability it gives my big Valkyrie and my wife loves riding in it. Passenger comfort was my reason for getting a SC and we are both now glad I did. You don't come across as someone unwilling to give it the required effort. Painting the sidecar to match the bike? Their both beautiful machines. If it weren't for bad taste I'd have no taste at all ( apologies to Hee Haw) but those colors kinda clash to me. So yeah, paint it but no hurry. If after making the required effort you really prefer solo it might make it a bit harder to resell with the custom paint. Best of luck, Mike.

Attached files are the only one that will tell if a sidecar is right for you. one thing I found is that you have to WANT to drive a sidecar. they are different, for sure. I would suggest you get the car set up to your bike and try it out before going to the expense of paint, etc. that's the only way you are going to know unless you have a friend that will let you drive their rig.

I have two years, but not many miles experience. You have a big advantage over my experience because you are starting with a bike that you know and trust. I, on the other hand, rolled the dice and bought a complete rig. and old one. My penchant for having the mechanicals in order has cost me a lot of mechanical down time to "get it right".
As said above "you need to want a rig" to put the small, but not unpleasant effort into acclimating to the off center world of sidecars. You have come to the right place to find a great deal of good information. This forum proved invaluable in my journey.

The bottom line is that I am firmly in the sidecar camp. I also have retained my sport touring bike, vintage cruiser, and vintage endure. It's the best of both worlds. Besides, when one owns mostly 30 and 40 year old machines, it is good to have more than one. That way I always have at least one running.

2014 CB1100 Std, 2000 ST1100 with DMC Classic, 1981 CB650C

Thanks to all .. I am not going to paint the car to match until I give it a few thousand miles .. i will use the directory to see if I can find a member willing to meet up and show me the ropes a little


I think you have it figured out.

I resisted getting back into motorcycles for years because of family situations. When I did, I opted for a sidecar so I could carry the wife and daughter. My only regret is that I waited so long. However, I think it is wise to go slow as you are doing. When complete you will have an awesome rig. Only thing I would do different if I was so lucky as to find something like that in a barn is, I'd paint the bike to match the sidecar. 😉

Mike in MS