A sidecar is an optional accessory for your motorbike that will allow you to get more out of your machine. By giving you increased passenger and luggage space, the right sidecar can help you fulfil dreams of taking your closest friends and family on great motorcycle getaways.
The trick is to get a sidecar that’s suitable for your vehicle and riding needs. So, how do you go about doing that? Here is a quick guide.
How will you use your side car?
A fundamental first step you need to take when considering a purchase is what you will use it for. Some things to think about include:
- Passengers – how many will travel with you on a regular basis? Will they require full weather protection and easy access?
- Luggage space – how much space do you anticipate you will need for luggage? If you are mainly going on short trips, then you can potentially get away with minimal storage. However, this can become a real issue for longer journeys.
- Where you plan to go – will you mainly use the sidecar on well-maintained motorways, or do you expect to ride on rural uneven tracks?
- How long your journeys will be – is the sidecar for regular use to get to local destinations, or is it more of an investment to enable touring long distances?
Having a clear idea of what you will use the sidecar for will enable you to gauge the right sort of specifications and models. If you skip this important step, you could end up with a very costly mistake.
Which sidecar will best fit your motorbike?
Just like motorbikes, the technology, design and functionality of sidecars evolve over time, so you need to take this into account when choosing one to fit your machine.
If your vehicle is lightweight but you are choosing a heavy sidecar, then you will have problems on the road. The reverse is true as well. It is therefore important to get advice from a professional regarding the size and weight of sidecars that will be suitable for your specific motorbike. If you are completely new to this, then contacting specialist sidecar dealers is definitely a good idea.
Should you get a used sidecar or a brand new one?
Since a new sidecar can set you back a small fortune, it is worth having a look at used models. If you are a relatively new rider, you may find that your riding requirements and preferences change as you become more experienced. For example, you may want to invest in a more powerful machine or decide on going longer distances rather than sticking to local destinations. Given these potential changes, a big investment early in your riding career could prove to be a waste of money.
When assessing a used sidecar, you need to have the same critical eye as you would if you are buying a motorbike. Take note of any damage, especially on the attachment points, since these are vital in providing safe rides for all the passengers you plan to take. Don’t be afraid to have a little play around and pull or push attachment points to detect any weaknesses.
Generally, as with buying a used motorcycle, you are likely going to be better off buying from a reputable second hand dealer than if you buy privately from classified advertisements or places like eBay. Of course, you can find some fantastic deals online, just make sure you exercise caution and diligence when inspecting your potential purchase.
Having appropriate insurance
Whether you plan to invest in a brand new side car or a pre-loved model, you must ensure it is included in your motorcycle insurance policy. Just like your bike, your sidecar is at risk of unexpected damage, theft and accidents.
For an insurer that will provide you with the best deals, contact Devitt. Specialising in motorcycle covers for riders since 1936, Devitt has a wealth of experience in identifying insurance needs for each individual rider. They have a range of covers and optional extras to ensure you only pay for features that you actually need.
Do you know how to ride with a sidecar?
It may seem an obvious point, but riding solo isn’t the same as riding a sidecar combination. Although it might not be as difficult as rocket science to get right, you will need some advice and practise hours in order to feel comfortable.
You have a few options in terms of where you can learn more about riding with sidecars. The Len Tempest Sidecar School is a great choice for anyone who wants to learn from professionals. A sidecar dealer is another place to get proper advice, especially if you are buying from them. If you are purchasing from a private dealer, many will also be happy to spend time with you to help you get started.
You can get riding tips online too and don’t forget, other riders are another invaluable resource so have a chat to anyone you know who has a sidecar.
Are you aware of the UK sidecar laws?
There are rules that govern the use of sidecars on UK public roads. Some important laws to bear in mind include:
- You must fit your sidecar to the left of your vehicle, unless your machine was first registered prior to 1st September 1981.
- Having a sidecar does not affect your obligation as a rider to wear a helmet. However, your passengers in the sidecar are not legally obliged to wear them.
- You can’t take your CBT and practical motorcycle test with a sidecar outfit, unless you are registered disabled.
- Even if your machine has already been MOT tested, you should get it done again as soon as the sidecar has been fitted.
For a longer list of sidecar laws, check out online resources such as Simply Sidecars.
A sidecar is a wonderful investment and gives you a fantastic opportunity to ride with those you love. Take your time to find the right model, and you will be rewarded with a safe addition to your machine as well as years of happy riding.