Sidecar driving. The difference

sidecar driving

Auto Motor Klassiekreader, fellow villager and good friend Hans Beltman asked: “When are you going to write something about sidecar driving. How does that compare to normal motorcycling.” Hans has been dreaming about tricycles lately… So here it is: for Hans. But everyone can enjoy it!

Hans has an advantage

He is a classic driver with a broad view. Hans has a couple of heart-stopping 2CVs and a Sportster. And he quickly picks up the difference. It is a matter of level difference: you do motorcycling from the hips. You do sidecar riding from the shoulders. Motorists therefore often pick up sidecar driving more easily than seasoned 'regular' motorcyclists. On the other hand, they score more easily on the dance floor when it comes to the better hip work.

A tricycle keeps you young

Or you will die. At least: if you take too much for granted. Because a sidecar is a very strange monstrosity in terms of driving and driving technology. The uneven distribution of the whole on three wheels, standing in an irregular triangle, and an off-centre drive. Anyone with even a little technical insight will understand that this is not going to work well. A driving solo motorcycle only wants to go in one direction if there is no steering: forward. A classic sidecar combination wants to go left, straight or right under the same conditions. And then you can also be surprised when you brake.

Sidecar riding is a craft

And the skills of that trade work under a number of circumstances to become a very risky occupation for people M/F or whatever who are programmed for normal motorcycling. With a misplaced self-confidence, they usually dare a little more than someone with a car background. And that's fine as long as you stick to your lesson. Because in the border area that comes after 'new, fun and a little exciting', 'I've got things under control'. And then if something unexpected happens, you shoot back into your solo rider mode. And then things can go wrong. Then it can kill you. Because then such a tricycle will do things you never despised.

Taking lessons is not a shame

That is why it is useful to also take a few sidecar lessons as an experienced motorcyclist. To spend a day exploring the limits of the possibilities in a deserted parking lot. After that many easy kilometers to make. The first time I did that parking lot thing, I ended up in the bushes. After that it is a matter of making a lot of quiet kilometers and learning to play with the combination. When you have walked or driven that route, a whole new world opens up for you. Then sidecar riding stands for the most dynamic, uncomplicated fun.

How much does that cost?

When you think of affordable sidecar driving, you first come to Urals and Dneprs. Buy a good copy. Too much unexpected key work spoils the fun. Such a Russian is a great combination. So he learned for it. The lack of power and speed makes it an easy companion. The - inexplicable - lack of braking power at Urals gives the case just a little bit of tension. Other brands of sidecar combinations are of course also possible. There are many BMW's and Moto Guzzi's among them. Despite the 'more expensive' brands of tractors, this branch of sport does not have to cost a lot. And there are even BMW combinations that – like Urals and Dnerprs – have a reverse gear. Be careful with engines of 800+ cc where such a Velorex container is fitted. In terms of weight, they are actually too light for powers above 50 hp. This problem can be solved reasonably well by placing a bag of sand in it. But that comes at the expense of the interior space. A case of beer also weighs and looks cool. But keeping the temperature on a summer day is less. Driving on only two wheels is just a little trick that can be done according to wish and duration.

A good Russian 650 cc OHV combination costs between € 2.000+ to € 4.000. The Guzzi in the photo is from the former manager of Motorcamping Het Dijkje, technically in top condition, has 'sidecar wheels' and a swing arm front fork. It has an asking price of € 4.500 and the plus is that it is also highway resistant. Joop de Jonge can be found on party book. Ex-Eastern Blockers feel at ease on secondary roads. Jawa and MZ combinations are usually under three grand. All kinds of young classic Japanese stuff is in that corner too. But beware: Combinations are offered that are baked and screwed together dangerously and mindlessly.




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  1. My bike buddy once went on a ride with his Kawasaki twin 800 span. The ride was made around Ypres 14/18 with museums, trenches and cemeteries. The group leader said wow a sidecar is going to keep us up all day but he had to change his mind quickly as it was even faster than some of the riders on those narrow lanes. He has an electric Zero, a CZ and a Vespa old-timer converted electric scooters without a span of the normal motorcycles. He can drive all those engines very well because of his 45 years of experience. Greetings Lieven

  2. Many years of self-build harnesses driven on various engines, super fun really with the small children, but bought a K100 EML until the time came that the children started driving themselves. Should never have sold it. Sidecar riding is an extra dimension of motorcycling, really great.

  3. I once managed to get a Ural back for a friend to do what it was hired to do: drive.
    The poor braking performance also stood out. After a good look at the drum it was clear; Making a piece of steel plate pressed into a drum work as a brake drum is not possible.
    With those wheels, a Ural will never brake.

    • A Dnepr does not brake either. The full hub wheels are never really round, so neither is the drum. And if that drum is turned round in the lathe, it will pull oval again during re-spoking because the rims are never round either. Spoken turning is also possible, but often so much has to be removed that the hard layer is turned out.
      A tip: coating your old brake shoes with jurid111 significantly improves your braking performance compared to the original Reut.
      I know of someone who has unscrewed the old hubs and squeezed in (shrunk) drums from a VW Polo. Together with the jurid111 brake shoes, it brakes very well. So it is possible…

    • So I console myself with the German battle cry “Bremsen ist fuer Feiglinge!” If you throw the steering wheel crosswise, you brake with three crosswise tires. And do you have the bin as a crumple zone!

      • You can do that with your team. I have a K750 with powered sidecar wheel. Due to the nature of the construction, the sidecar wheel has almost no lead. If you then steer hard to the left, you flip your rear wheel up and the nose of the sidecar box dives towards the road surface, and then……… (you can fill in yourself)

  4. An MZ with a bucket is also beautiful.
    Zipping around on secondary and tertiary roads with 15hp at boosted moped speeds or riding through forest paths is fun for young and old.

  5. Driving a sidecar is simply wonderful. Until there's a traffic jam…but still, I've had four. And as soon as I have room, another one will come. . Only you will never get used to having to give it gas if you get into the stress when you don't get that crazy turner to the right. Because as soon as you brake, your oncoming vehicle can pick your remains off the front bumper if it really goes against you. So take it easy is my advice

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