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Notes For People New To Sidecars

Posted on 06 February 2017

When it comes to riding with a sidecar, you'll realise it's nothing like riding a motorcycle. When you hook a sidecar to a bike (of course we're talking about traditional sidecar rigs!), the bike is transformed into a whole other animal.

Unless you're driving on the left side of the road, your sidecar will most likely be mounted on the right side of the bike. When you speed up, the combo will tend to turn in the direction of the sidecar; when slowing down, it will want to turn away.

But of course, learning to ride is part of the fun and something that all serious classic bikers will one day want to try. Here are some notes that may be helpful if you're planning to try a sidecar!

1. Size and Type of combos
Think of how many people you want to take regularly, and where. This will help you prevent buying mistakes such as an 1800cc goldwing double adult combination to explore rural lanes, or a lightweight 350cc single seater combi on that post-retirement epic journey with your wife and kids to the Alps.

2. Match the sidecar to the motorcycle
If you're inexperienced, just take the advice of your dealer or your Sidecar Club. The size and weight are the most important considerations here. Don't go bolting a 1960's coach built double adult sidecar to a 1990's 400cc sports bike, or a 70 kg single seater to a 2000cc Mega Tourer.

3. Leading Link Fork
It's the consensus from most experienced sidecar riders that steering is best achieved when you have a leading link front fork that is designed or adjusted specifically for your motorcycle. In general, the heavier the combination, the bigger the improvement.

However, lightweight economy combinations such as the MZ250, Jawa 350, or Royal Enfield Bullet probably would not yield enough improvements to justify fitting leading link forks. On the other hand, nearly every BMW or Guzzi between 750 and 1000cc will benefit from this conversion.

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