USCA Sidecar Forum

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Sidecars 101

I read most of the posts here, never can get enough education on rigs.

It took me the better part of a year to decide to go the sidecar route for physical reasons. Hal Kendall's CD, Hough's book,and the friendly folk of the USA, have all contributed to my education.
However, it seems to me that there are a lot of potential sidecarists out there that have no idea of the limitations and capabilities of a rig. I know that the capabilities far outweigh the limitations but many don't.
I'm thinking of possibly trying to contact local chapters of various rider organizations to give a brief talk and overview of the sidecar world. I wonder how many would be sidecarists never try it because they know nothing about it. What's even worse is the ones that try it and give it up because of wrong expectations or just plain fear.
When my son and I first started installing the sidecar, I sent an email to Christa Neuhouser of ROAD RUNNER magazine, asking her about possibly publishing an article on sidecaring. I knew that her husband lost his life in 2005 driving a Ural rig. Her reply was that sidecaring is dangerous and she had no intention of publishing anything on sidecars. While I certainly saw her point, it also brings up the question "Does sidecaring have a bad rap?"
As we all know, the average age of motorcyclists is creeping up. Will riders simply quit riding because of age and physical problems or will they try an alternative like sidecars? It appears that the trend is trikes though. I beieve that trikes have definitely a better, safer, image, which I don't believe is truly warranted. Would exposure to the sidecar scene change that?

I have a history of voluntarily giving talks about things of interests. I think that if I showed up at chapter meetings with my rig and just talked about sidecars, including the warts, I might generate a change in attitude or am I just nuts!
My almost 60 years of riding (albeit only one on sidecars)my white hair, and my 79 years of implied (hah,hah) wisdom, might help educate.

What do you think?


I think the basic concept of the short sidecar seminar is OK.
However, speaking as a retired teacher, one must have a presentation prepared that is factual and interesting enough to grasp and keep the attention of your audience and be prepared to correctly answer their questions later.
Some or many of our intended "students" will already have different levels of experience and acquired lore regarding sidecars and no doubt will want to air this as it comes to mind. Therefore your presentation must be closely formed so you can deliver it in toto if interrupted and be equipped to handle a Q and A session when done.
I have done a few of these in years past at Abate and MMA meetings and found that in some venues of hard core riders it can become almost a yelling match so you must keep control of your group. Stay on track.
I've found that printed handouts containing magazine articles, pictorials or sidecar magazines are also handy to distribute to the crowd.
I've done this at Motorcycle events and left a "Take One" box on my rig full of handouts and brochures and outdated Hack'd or Sidecarist mags.
At the end of the day they are all or mostly all gone and I've not found them on the ground, so folks will take them to peruse later.

Northwest Sidecar

Same here. When I've given my spiel about the world of sidecars my magazines are gone and I never find them on the ground nor do I usually find my trifolds trashed either. Lonnie's right about some hardcores and 1%er wannabes thinking that a sidecar is a public admission of "lack of manliness" or inability to handle a "real" motorcycle. Others are convinced that a sidecar is just a deathtrap. All bullsquash, of course, but I persevere. I try to mix in enough humor to keep people interested and tell stories of my own learning experiences. usually seems to go over well and I almost always end up answering questions for hours afterwards followed by phone calls and emails.

Lonnie and Bob, you both have very valid points, especially about "manliness" My personal observation on that is the same ones that speak about manliness, trailer their bikes to within 10 miles of an event, then ride the rest of the way, LOL.
I'll give it some thought. I've taught enough home firearm safety, gun marksmanship and hunter ed classes to know that there is a variety of opinions out there, some good, some outrageous.
Two things that I've learned 1. Never consider yourself an unquestioned expert and 2. If you don't know the answer, simply say "I don't know, but Ill find out" That's where a layman teacher might have an advantage over a professional.

The "Manliness" thing usually ends when a skeptic tries "Steering" a sidecar rig the first time, after years of just a minor push on the bar to turn a solo rig.
Many don't realize that Sidecar piloting is actually a whole new riding discipline as opposed to a cop out.
I've watched many seasoned solo riders try to lean their way into a turn, end up going straight ahead, stop and say: "How in the hell can you control this thing, I thought it was real easy and just for old geezers who couldn't handle a real bike anymore".


WOW, now I am ROTFLMAO.. The manliness thing gave me a good giggle. I live in Manitoba Canada, hence the name Manitoba Manny.. Amazes me how the manliness thing comes into play. Ever try packing out a moose, or deer or bear oa solo bike. Hmmm, could mean a dozen trips on gravel roads. I doubt that happens very often.. I have had a sidecar since I was 17. Yup, a good old Watsonain Monaco and it could pack out a moose in one to two trips if you travelled real slow over the logging roads, or a deer or bear in one load. Let see the manly ones do that on a solo bike. I also travel logging roads back into real good fishing all over Manitoba and north western Ontario. Places the solo bikers wouldn't even think of going. I have 40 years riding and running a hack. Hey, if it goes on, it can always come off the bike and your back to solo again.. Can the RIDERS run a hack...Nope, not with out practice. Can a rig driver run a solo bike...YES.. It is only the perception it is for old timers until it is put to a specific use. Like making the beer run and carrying back a sidecar full of ice and beer. Hey, that's a lot of beer for the weekend.. Enough to make the manly ones think twice about a rig.. This summer I rode solo to Penns Creek Pennsylvania solo and back with an old Watsonian Palma. How many solo riders can do that.. Not many..Right Claude.. I was at a meeting of the minds here in Manitoba today. It was a bikers fund raiser for cancer. Amazing how many other people are considering rigs, and they are in their late 30's to early 40's. Hmmm, me thinks we need a dealer here in Manitoba.. There might be more hacks on the road.. As for someone losing their life in a sidecar accident. Well, there are more people, especially young people killed in solo accidents yearly, than on hacks in 10 years. So, which is safer.. Sidecarists are generally more seasoned solo riders.. Have a good week all.. Manitoba Manny

I just noticed your post Manny. You've most certainly a lot of experience in sidecars. It also looks like you've done a lot of hunting and fishing. Your sidecar was really put to use.
Your right on one thing. People tend to underrate sidecar drivers. In my group, the Valkyrie Riders Cruiser club, it is my perception that if you're a woman it's ok to ride a trike. It also is my perception that the members feel that if you have to go to another wheel a trike is acceptable if you're over 60 but a sidecar not so much. In fact, just about everyone in the VRCC told me to buy a trike.
As far as experience goes, I also agree. I've been ridng since 1947 and next year is my 80th birthday. I have nothing to prove any more except to myself and that's why I chose a rig. Many said that I'll kill myself before I learn how to drive a rig. They were wrong.
Thanks for your very interesting post especially the part about hunting. I bow hunted and pistol hunted white tail deer for many years and rifle hunted mule deer.


Wayne, anyone that say sidecars are for old men and women has never pushed a hack around a race course at 100 plus miles per hour. Tell them to watch some of the old Isle of Man TT's, Nurnbergring, or any of the hack races all over England and Europe, or going over the mountain at 100 plus at the Isle TT. See if the chicken hearts would even contemplate that.. I seriously doubt it.. Or watch some of the old BMW movies from the 60's where the BMW team was world champion for years.. Ever watch those guys in action? I did, at Mosport when I worked with the CRCA as a corner marshall at Moss Corner. To see those guys go through the corner at over 100 mph and sliding all the way around and smoke coming off the rear tire.
Years ago I had a Honda trail 90 and it was great for hauling deer or other game out, but it took many trips. So, at 17 I got my first Watsonain Monaco and it was all for a specific purpose, my enjoyment of life, hunting, fishing and general riding and I have never looked back. I can always take the chair off and ride solo. I rode solo all the way to Penn to get my new *old* chair from Claude..Can they put a chair on and ride it like it is supposed to be used.. Doubt it... I got a kick out of Claude one night on our way back to his home.. He lifted the chair off the road for over 100 yeards. Shortly after he lost his hat, that I stopped to pick up, then he ran out of gas as we turned onto his road off the main highway.. What a fun night, hahahahaha, gottcha Claude.. Claude is a very good rider, knows his sidecars, set ups, balance and just about anything else anyone needs to know about sidecars. Just needs a little grooming on keeping his hat on.. or a hat pin... Don't let anyone tell you sidecars are for old guys. They were built for a purpose. Family transport in England and Europe and north america.. Also great for hunting. It is also a great chick magnet..Ya, really, even though I am almost 60.. Enjoy your combination like I do.. Doug AKA Manitoba Manny

Hello, all. Thanks in advance for your time. I ride an HD Road King Custom, 2005 and am desperately trying to find the sidecar that I want. I like the Texas sidecar, simple and nostalgic. I am a little concerned of the cost, it is quite low. I understand it does not have a brake, but I have 2 front discs and I have heard both good and bad regarding having a brake on a sidecar.
This is for my 4 year-old daughter to ride with us, my wife and other daughter also ride at this time.
Can you give me some insight on this thing? What, in your opinion are the best for a Road King? Brakes or no brakes?
I realize that you have only an opinion, but one can ponder, since I have no history with sidecars.
Lastly, I do want one I can disconnect without too much troable and it looking too gaudy, for my bike is custome painted, etc...

thanks in advance!


Your RoadKing will need a sub-frame to mount a sidecar since frame access is limited.
Installing one will more or less negate the easy on and off part since the added hardware isn't condusive to leaned turns without dragging metal on the ground. The sidecar itself will be easy enough to dismount but it will be a chore to remove the car and the sub-frame for a brisk solo ride.
One might consider a second bike for use as a sidehack rig for taking the family about and leaving the RoadKing as a solo. The other option might be to make a dedicated sidecar outfit out of the RK, complete with raked triple trees to make it a tractable easy steering rig.
You have three disc brakes, enough to stop most sidecars efficiently.

Northwest Sidecars