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Motorcycles on Three Wheels

The sidecar riding experience and how to do it

by Ujjwal Dey


Motorcycles are fun. And so is travelling long distances or touring on motorcycles. Many touring options are available for big bikes with big budgets. But suppose you are young and wild and free but on a limited budget, what do you do? Ask your friends and they will say a car trip ain’t as much fun as being one with the road on a motorcycle. The environment, the atmosphere, the surroundings, it all hugs you, body and soul, when you tour on a motorcycle. So, here is an option hippies globally celebrate--Sidecars. A third wheel for your motorcycle. No more slippery roads for your two-wheeler. More luggage space. Bring more friends to the road trip party. Bring your dog too.


We recently covered the Ural Motorcycles phenomenon on www.BikernetTrikes.com and if that has inspired you but you are not sure about buying a whole Ural, well just buy a sidecar then. There are many companies including Ural itself, which sells Sidecars as an accessory for your existing motorcycle. So no, you don’t have to switch loyalty or buy a new bike. Just buy the goodies to attach a sidecar to your Harley-Davidson or Triumph or Indian.


As a past Enfield owner, I am of course biased to say Enfield’s look awesome with some of the existing sidecars in the market. But this may be true because it is a small capacity bike. Whereas Harley-Davidson’s have 1200cc or 1600cc V-twin engines and Harley makes sidecars to fit. The budget tourist can simply attach an affordable, ready to use sidecar with their affordable 500cc Enfield motorcycle.



I am particularly impressed with the portfolio of Classic Motorworks Ltd USA. They are the exclusive distributor of Royal Enfield Motorcycles and Kozi motorcycle sidecars in the United States. A complete package from one company through its many dealers.

Classic Motorworks USA has been bringing Kozi Sidecars to American roads since 1998 and are active members of Sidecar Industry Council. They have worked extensively with Kozi/Cozy and Silverline marketing over the years to bring the Kozi/Cozy up to modern day standards and the results are stunning. These are beautiful, all steel (yet light) sidecars that sell for a very modest price. They are by far the best value in the sidecar market today.


A motorcycle sidecar is a comfortable, convenient recreation vehicle for your journey – whether that’s an extended vacation, leisurely afternoon drive or quick trip to the grocery store. You are sure to grab the attention of those you pass.

A Kozi sidecar gives you vintage motorcycle styling. Its classic good looks fit on a variety of motorcycles on the road today. And while style is important, know that when you’re transporting your friends and family, safety is the most critical consideration. Kozi's solid, all-steel construction is lightweight but stable for a smooth, comfortable ride. Kozi is perhaps the best value in the side car market today. Dollar for dollar, Kozi gives you more of the features you need to start riding together – right-away – right out of the box!


Popular product line of Classic Motorworks Kozi sidecars are:

1.     Cozy Rocket sidecar

2.     Cozy Euro sidecar


Plenty of accessories such as Cab Enclosure, Tonneau Cover, sidecar seat belts, sidecar bumper fender and sidecar luggage rack, etc are also offered by Classic Motorworks.



Motorcycle sidecars allow you to enjoy your motorcycle in a whole new way, but helpful information for getting started can be hard to find. For example, you need a bit of practice taking the right turn. You need to slow down in hard right turns otherwise the sidecar will rise with its wheel leaving the ground surface. Similarly hard left’s may cause your motorcycle rear wheel to rise bringing the load on front wheel and the sidecar wheel.

Understanding and visualizing the width of your sidecar motorcycle is also important. Now you have a wider vehicle and you need to be able to judge gaps when riding on busy roads or while overtaking other vehicles. Don’t panic if the sidecar wheel rises, you need to get used to that experience before taking on passengers on long rides. Your passenger too has a very good view of the road and this makes for some great travel photography on tour. And of course your right and left turns also depend on which side of the motorcycle you have attached your sidecar. Americans drive on the right hand side of the road so they seem to prefer a sidecar on the right hand side giving the motorcyclist the feeling of driving a left wheel drive vehicle.


The Universal Mounting Kit from Classic Motorworks makes it possible to attach the sidecar to virtually any current motorcycle with round tube frame, but the motorcycle should be powerful enough to accept the weight of the sidecar, passenger, and extra luggage.

Installation is a 4-5 hour process, involving these simple operations:

§ Attaching the frame of the sidecar to the frame of the motorcycle.

§ Adjusting toe-in and lean-out of the motorcycle in relation to the sidecar.

§ Connecting the electrical wires from the sidecar to the electrical circuits of the motorcycle.



These operations are given in easy-to-understand step-by-step procedures, which require no special tools other than regular shop wrenches, several wooden blocks or bricks for propping up the sidecar and the motorcycle, two straight strips of wood for toe-in measurements, and an angle bracket for measuring lean-out. For BMW models a special mounting bracket may be needed.


Fixing the sidecar correctly is very important for its reliability and safety. The goal is to make the sidecar track straight down the road and not pull in either direction when accelerating or braking. These sidecar advice applies whether your sidecar is attached to a Yamaha, Suzuki, Triumph, BSA, Norton, URAL, BMW, Honda, Kawasaki, Harley Davidson, Indian or even a Stella or Bajaj Scooters. The correct mounting and adjustment of your sidecar is very important.



Riding a Sidecar Motorcycle isn’t hard but it is different and that implies that you need to learn new skills. Here are some of the areas to be concerned about. Cornering will never be the same again. We have all seen movie images of people driving a hack with the chair up in the air, commonly known as “flying the chair."

In the US where sidecars are normally attached on the right hand side of the motorcycle, it would seem obvious that in order to fly the chair that you would turn left. WRONG. Sidecars tend to go in the air when you turn right due to centrifugal force among other things. Whereas turning left on the other hand tends to stick the sidecar to the pavement and may raise the rear-wheel. There are separate techniques for each type of turn. They are not difficult skills but they must be learned as they do not come naturally.


A sidecar rig is heavier than a motorcycle alone and puts extra strain on the brakes. This is not the kind of thing you want to think about as your life is passing in front of your eyes while trying to stop a sidecar rig. You need to learn to think ahead and so more planning is required than with just a solo bike. In general terms a sidecar rig will not safely corner as fast as a solo motorcycle and this takes some advance thought and control. All skills which are taught in sidecar training classes which may be a good investment before you jump on to Highway for a cross-country trip.


It sounds simple, but it takes a while to get used to the idea that your motorcycle is quite a bit wider than it was before you attached the sidecar to it. You will start bumping into mailboxes and lampposts and then after you believe you can handle it on the road you will crash onto the side of a Custom Harley at Bikeweek.



Practice a lot in a safe parking lot before you venture into the world. One such training option is at http://www.esc.org/


Wiring up the electricals on your sidecar to connect with controls on your motorcycle also needs expert attention and maybe a professional assistance.


If you wish to lean on the prevention better than cure option then a safety belt for the sidecar passenger is a good idea. It is not a legal requirement. But if you feel safer with a helmet, you will do well to equip your passenger with a seatbelt. There is however no research or statistics on these seatbelts being very useful.

I believe in helmets, good lighting, high visibility clothing, etc, so my feeling is that in the case of a mishap, it’s better to stay with the unit than get catapulted to who knows where. Two of the most often quoted uses for having a sidecar are to give children rides and to carry a dog or other pet. So get a seatbelt to get your kid where they belong – tight on the seat. When you are driving the rig, you have no control over the movements of a dog or a child. A leash of the appropriate length is also important for pets.


Choice of sidecars is also important. Since you may want to buy a ready out of the box sidecar, pick a sidecar of appropriate dimensions for your motorcycle. For example, Classic Motorworks sidecar the Cozy would not be a good match with a Honda Goldwing as the Wing is too large and heavy for the Cozy. On the other hand, a large European type sidecar would be too large and heavy for a 750 Honda or a 500cc Royal Enfield.


One of the foremost sidecar authorities, Hal Kendall, has taken great steps in strengthening the sidecar community by helping to bring these important texts, authored by himself and others, into the public domain. Google for these PDF documents or visit Classic Motorworks website at http://www.cyclesidecar.com


1.     The Sidecar Manual by Hal Kendall

2.     Sidecar Operator's Manual by Hal Kendall

3.     The Manual for Enthusiasts of Riding with a Sidecar


One thing is for sure, a sidecar rig can bring traffic to a standstill. They attract attention like Hollywood attracts publicity. Everyone loves the look and novelty of a sidecar rig. Ordinary pedestrians wave, cars honk and sidecars just generally put a smile on people’s faces. Sidecar owners say that they want to take their kids, wives and dogs in them. Many passengers are more comfortable in a sidecar than on the back of a motorcycle. Some bikers like the extra stability of the third wheel. There many different reasons that people buy sidecars, but pure fun is the main attraction.


The Ural Experience is the same. A Sidecar Motorcycle can't go anywhere without getting some attention, whether it's from the motorhead in the parking lot, the woman who wants to sit in the sidecar, the nice older couple who offer you free coffee because they think you're driving around the world, or the toll-booth collector who won't let you ride on without answering a bunch of questions. Kids stare, men and women take photos with their phones, drivers accelerate to pass and give a hearty thumbs-up. People connect with the biker with a sidecar.


If you are in Texas, just mount a machine gun on and scare the cows into herding. Go South and tell Civil War enactors to do something with World War II instead.


The Classic Motorworks have been in a long and stable business building a good reputation for its Cozy sidecars. The Cozy sidecar has been fitted to many different types of motorcycles. Installations that they know of include:


ü Harley Davidson (Sportster).

ü Triumph - vintage Triumphs as well as modern day Triumphs.

ü Many classic and vintage motorcycles such as BSA, Ariel, Matchless, Velocette, Jawa, and Norton.

ü Royal Enfield – Both modern and vintage models.

ü Modern Japanese motorcycles like Honda, Kawasaki, Yamaha, and Suzuki.

ü BMW - classic and vintage BMWs.

ü Moto-Guzzi.


The limiting factors are the frame and size of the motorcycle. A very heavy bike like a full-sized Harley Davidson or a Honda Goldwing would be better served with a larger sidecar such as the Harley Davidson sidecar or another brand of larger ones such as those made by Champion, Armec, Motorvation, California Sidecars or Watsonian Squire.



The Cozy Manufacturers Suggested Retail Price (MSRP) is $3,495. This price includes: A windshield, Locking trunk, Free tonneau cover, Free chrome luggage rack, Free rubber floor mat, One set of attaching hardware. This hardware will bolt the sidecar right onto a Royal Enfield, it may also be adequate for your bike; otherwise order their universal mounting kit. Free accessories available as a special offer - order now before offer expires.


There are many forms of sidecar racing. Sidecar racing involves two people, a driver and someone in the sidecar commonly called the “monkey.” In the United States, Formula 1 and Formula 2 sidecar racing (including the Superside America Sidecar Championship) is quite popular, as well as Pocket Bike, Off-Road, Moto-Cross and Super Bike sidecar racing. Sidecar racing also enjoys broad popularity in Europe, including the Isle of Man TT series.


Classic Motorworks through it dealer network in USA is also offering Custom sidecar for those who want a unique sidecar experience. Visit http://www.cyclesidecar.com/ dealer list or call 507-333-0643 in USA.


Send www.BikernetTrikes.com your sidecar adventures and photos at wayfarer@bikernet.com and get free Bikernet goodies in the mail. Get on the road and RIDE ON !!!



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