Sidecar Riding Instructions
Sidecars, a special attachment to the side of a motorcycle allowing additional passenger space, have been around nearly as long as there have been motorcycles. The addition of a sidecar changes the aerodynamics and weight distribution of the motorcycle, which can affect handling. The addition of a passenger to the sidecar adds more weight to the vehicle and further affects the handling. The actions of the rider of the sidecar can contribute to the safe handling of the motorcycle and sidecar.
Riding a Motorcycle Sidecar
While the “tip-over line” of a motorcycle runs from front wheel to back wheel and allows the cycle to tip to either side, a motorcycle with a sidecar is more stable. According to the instruction manual provided by the state of Washington for riders taking the motorcycle drivers’ license test, the tip-over of a motorcycle with a sidecar is a triangle. The weight of the rider of the sidecar should stay within the triangle formed if lines are drawn to connect the three wheels of the motorcycle and sidecar.
Other safety instructions for motorcycle sidecar riders are similar to any passenger on a motorcycle. The sidecar rider should lean in the same direction as the motorcycle driver. At any other time, the sidecar rider should refrain from any unnecessary motion that might adversely affect the stability of the vehicle.
Most motorcycles equipped with a sidecar still have space for a passenger behind the driver of the vehicle. According to the Washington manual, heavier passengers should ride in the sidecar. Passengers in the sidecar should wear a seat belt if it’s available.
All passengers on a motorcycle, including riders in a sidecar, should wear a helmet and all other protective gear recommended for a motorcycle rider. The driver and all passengers should refrain from the consumption of alcohol before operating a motorcycle.
The additional weight of the sidecar and passenger increases the stopping distance of the vehicle. A driver of a sidecar-equipped motorcycle needs to begin braking earlier than one with only a motorcycle.
The driver also needs to alert passengers, if possible, to any upcoming maneuvers. This includes having to avoid road surface problems such as potholes or pavement breaks, changing lanes or stops.
The Washington manual also suggests that riders of sidecar-equipped motorcycles, or other three-wheeled motorcycles, should take turns more slowly and adjust their speed when encountering obstacles.