Motorcycle Sidecar; The Different Categories And Their Uses


The motorcycle sidecar is an invention that has been in existence since 1893. American inventor Hugo Young, of Loudonville, Ohio In 1913 redesigned a sidecar with a flexible connection, unlike the 1893 era. His invention allowed the sidecar to turn, raise, and lower without affecting the balance of the motorcycle. This brought about a safer and more comfortable ride with the sidecar. This simple innovation gave rise to his company becoming the largest sidecar manufacturer in the world. As the saying goes, nothing lasts forever, the company closed in 1996. The motorcycle sidecar played a big role in sporting activities and due to its uniqueness, it was used by both civilians and the military to convey its personnel as well as other valuables. Amongst them were the armed forces, police, and the UK’s AA and RAC motoring organizations.
For this work, we will limit our searchlight to the four categories of Sidecars which are Saloon sidecars, sports sidecars, military, and custom build.

Saloon sidecar
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The Saloon sidecars evolved in the 1930s and 40s trying to balance the gab as car ownership was too expensive for many. These sidecars were Comfortable but large and old-fashioned designed to transport individuals or families interestingly at a very low cost.
This class of sidecars had an enclosed passenger area which was quite large, even a single seat version being significantly tall to provide enough headroom. Depending on the available resources, you can get a Saloon sidecar that comes with a radio and heater. Some large models can take a whole family on holiday with luggage besides.

The load from the sidecar directly affects the bike’s performance.
It will be very difficult to find a true saloon sidecar today as most of them available are secondhand. when talking about saloon sidecars, a few renowned names come to mind names like; the Busmar Astral Double Adult sidecar, the Canterbury Carmobile which can seat 3 adults, and the Briggs Dolphin. The single-seat saloon sidecars include the Watsonian Palma and the Velorex Tour. The Watsonian Oxford is another large saloon sidecar with the capacity to accommodate 4 or more occupants.

Sports Sidecar
The Sports sidecars make up the most common type of sidecar available today.
They are typically single-seat, open-top chairs and are therefore lightweight and affordable suitable for pulling by any medium-sized motorcycle. Most of them feature in sporting competitions while others help out in commuting. Some designs incorporate a boot or behind seat storage and others have screens and fabric roofs for all-weather motoring.
Examples include the iconic Steib S350 model, the eight-sided ‘Zeppelin shaped’ body that has very classic lines and it looks good attached to any motorcycle. The Velorex 562 is a fine-looking, good value sidecar and the Watsonian GP Manx has similar classic looks to the Steib.

Military sidecar
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The military really made use of the motorcycle sidecars as their jeep equivalent. They are designed to be tough, rugged, and built to withstand abuse. The definitive open military sidecar was developed by Zundapp and now modern copies are available from Ural and Chang-Jiang.

Construction is all steel and therefore these chairs are heavy. Passenger comfort is not a priority, it is more about being versatile and tough and accessories such as external fuel tanks, spare wheels, spotlights, ammo boxes, and machine-gun mountings make it useful for many purposes.

These sidecars are ideal sidecars for lugging cargo or adventure touring.
Ural’s also have the added benefit of leading link forks, reverse gear, square section tires, and in some cases 2WD. Fantastic machines especially if you like camo paint.

Custom builds
Many people build their motorcycle sidecar for a specific purpose, perhaps to carry two children, a disabled passenger, or for a dedicated cargo box. Others are made for extreme adventuring or to re-create a retro design. Some are designed to serve royalties in some parts of the world. no matter the category you fancy, the chassis is available to enable just the coachwork to be homemade.


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