Leaf on the road. The first night frost. Autumn. The peak season for sidecar drivers. And a sidecar? This is a unique instrument that combines the disadvantages of driving with the disadvantages of motorcycling.
You can ride a classic sidecar from € 2.000-3.000
And then we talk about MZs and the Russian Urals and Dneprs, the endearing free-range animals on secondary roads. And those are very funny machines for teaching tricycles. Because be aware: sidecar driving is a branch of sport in which the machine requires very different things from you than a solo bike does. Also classic, but actually too light in weight for machines above the 350-500 cc: the Velorex containers from the former Czechoslovakia. Modern with a mild neo-classical twist and once conceived for mounting on BMW valve boxers, but now widely applicable: The TripTeq sidecars from Goos Bos.
Easy is different
But the complications are already in the principle: an asymmetrical vehicle with asymmetrical drive. It's a miracle that such a thing can just drive straight ahead. Yet? When taking a left turn too quickly, the rear wheel can rise, which means that the combination can even 'over the nose'. With too fast turns to the right, the sidecar wheel rises and that can turn into a roll. Driving a sidecar is quite challenging!
Feels like ...
If you get on a sidecar as a 'normal' motorcyclist, the seating position and operation feel familiar. But the comparison also ends there. As soon as you start driving with the sidecar, you will notice the difference in handling. When accelerating, the box 'pulls' the combination to the right and when braking the box tends to maintain speed, so that it pushes the combination to the left.
And that does not stop the steering problems
Also taking turns is different: on the motorcycle you mainly use your body weight for this, but with a sidecar that is not possible and it comes down to steering from the shoulders and playing with the gas, because with that you get the bizarre asymmetry of such a awkward tricycle to your advantage.
A left turn is taken by holding a little longer than normal gas and then taking back gas. The mass of the bucket then pushes the combination to the left, through the bend.
At the right-hand bend you take the speed out of the bend, you calmly drive through the bend and you accelerate again when you leave the bend. In this curve you also have to take the centrifugal force into account. The bucket wants to rise in this bend and that happens too fast at too high a speed. For the connoisseurs, continuing on two wheels is just something that can even be practical. But if it happens unexpectedly to a novice, it can end badly.
Easier for motorists
Sidecar driving is usually easily picked up by motorists than by motorcyclists. And with those motorcyclists the danger is precisely in the time that they think they know the game. But as long as you, as a sidecar driver, shoot back in your solo bike mode in an emergency, you're in the danger zone.
Just take a trial lesson on a sidecar. Maybe then you fall for the dynamic pleasure that such a stupid tricycle can give you. Or you decide: "That was once, but never again!"