Choosing a Sidecar

With the exception of the Ural, every sidecar on the road today is a custom or semi-custom rig. They do, however, share a common set of terms:

A sidecar rig or outfit consists of the bike (or tug) and its subframe, the sidecar (tub, chair, or hack) and its frame, plus struts and wiring to connect the two halves. Additionally, some rigs may have steering modifications and a means of controlling camber. or a brake on the sidecar wheel with hydraulics linking it to the bike’s rear brake.

When looking to purchase a sidecar rig consider the following:

Metal or fiberglass construction: In the hands of a skilled craftsperson a metal tub can be completely customized and while it can be dented, the rig generally remains functional. Because they require a mold, fiberglass tubs are What You See Is What You Get. Appearance can be modified with different fenders, spoilers, or air dams, but changes to the fundamental shape require skill in the art of fiberglass fabrication.

Street or dirt: Rigs designed for pavement tend to be wide and low for greater stability in mountain curves. Rigs used in the backcountry have greater ground clearance. Dual Purpose rigs are a compromise.

In short, define your intended use, find options that match, and select the rig that best meets your needs

A sidecar is not just an extra wheel! A rig does not lean, there is no countersteering, it requires much more steering effort, the effects of throttle control are enhanced, hard braking is an adventure, and the sidecar is prone to come off the ground in certain situations.

If you are not sure a sidecar is for you, I strongly suggest taking a Ural out for a test ride. It will be heavy, clunky and underpowered…but they are properly setup out of the box and will give you an idea of what a properly dialed-in rig feels like.

Dog-friendly modifications: Some sort of restraint system, at least during initial training, is useful. Replacing the seat with a dog bed enhances comfort, especially on long trips. Storage with ready access to dog stuff is essential, as is water (and ice) storage. Protection from the elements is absolutely essential. Lastly, consider ease of mounting and dismounting as your dog ages.