The history of sidecar motorcycles date back to the military.
Motorcycle sidecars are separate seating areas that allow riders to carry an extra passenger without having them ride behind them on the seat. These sidecars have third wheels and typically sit low to the ground alongside the rider. According to the Sidecar Industry Council, while a few manufacturers make motorcycles with built-in sidecars, the majority of sidecar options available in North America are separate units that are mounted onto the motorcycle with aftermarket parts.
Standalone Sidecar Motorcycles
Citing a declining interest from consumers, Harley-Davidson announced in July 2010 that it was ending production of its sidecar motorcycles, with 2011 models being the final year that sidecars will be offered as a factory option. Harley-Davidson’s exit from the market left Russian company Ural as the only major producer of standalone sidecar motorcycles in the American market as of November 2010.
Ural model lines available as of November 2010 include both one-wheel road and two-wheel dual sport models. All 2010 Ural models featured a 749 cc, OHV-cooled dual cylinder, four-stroke boxer engine with an electronic ignition and manual transmission. The Autoblog website praised the Patrol model for its ruggedness and durability, as it survived a heavy crash without any damages.
Boutique Sidecar Rigs
Companies such as Liberty Sidecars in Seattle, Washington created custom sidecars or sidecars in limited production runs. Liberty Sidecars are made in a small batch every month, with hand-welded features and fitted trim. Color matching is also available to ensure that the sidecar’s color is identical to the color of the motorcycle.
Liberty Sidecars are designed to fit on many popular Harley-Davidson models and are a reproduction of sidecars produced from 1937 to 1966. They feature a composite fiberglass body and fender, classic leaf springs and independent trailing arm suspension. They weigh 235 lbs. and are 78 inches long with 20 inches of seat width. As of November 2010, unpainted base sidecars from Liberty were available for $5,495.
Retro Sidecar Rigs
The Euro sidecar rig produced by Canadian company Cozy is modeled on the Steib LS200 introduced by German manufacturer Steib. The canoe-nosed sidecar is designed to have a retro look and feel. It has a rubber-mounted body and torsion bar axle chassis suspension, compared to the more modern shock absorber suspension found on the company’s Rocket Model. It is 75 inches long and 69 inches wide and offers passengers 16 inches of seat width and up to 46 inches of leg room. As of November 2010, it was available for a manufacturer’s suggestion retail price of $2,995.