How To Ride a Sidecar

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Category: How To

6. Use the brakes

Like a motorcycle, the front brake is operated through the right hand lever and the rear brakes work via the right foot lever. Just in this case, there’s two rear brakes. You don’t need to over think this, just use the front and rear as you would on a regular motorcycle, it’s the front that provides most of the stopping power.

A notable exception is in snow or other low traction situations, in which the front will easily lock, but the rear may have some stopping power remaining thanks to the extra weight over those wheels. FYI - You do lose steering when you lock the front wheel, that’s something to keep in mind.

How To Ride A Sidecar

7. Reverse

To engage reverse on a Ural, the only manufacturer of sidecars, find neutral, then reach down to the lever immediately behind your right heel. With the clutch pulled in, push the lever backwards, then use the gas and clutch to pull away just as you would in 1st gear.

8. Two-wheel drive

You’re only going to need this to get you unstuck. Don’t leave 2WD engaged on pavement or other firm surfaces, the differential locks in 2WD, forcing the wheels to spin at the same speed. As on an ATV, this can lead to dangerous instability in high-traction situations.

With the bike at a complete stop, grasp the lever on top of the driveshaft and wiggle the handlebars to move the coupler as you move the lever rearwards. It’ll slide into a detent and, voila, nothing in the world will prevent you from moving forward. Deep snow, slick mud, a steep slope, no matter what, you’re driving.

To steer while in 2WD, you’ll need to initiate a slide, but this becomes very easy simply by rolling on the throttle or dropping a gear.

How To Ride A Sidecar

9. In deep snow

Riding in feet-deep snow? Use the front tire like a rudder. You’ll still turn left to go left, but instead of traditional steering, you’ll need to wait for snow to build up in front of the turned wheel, pushing it backwards and turning the bike with it. So throttle on to help that process along, no matter which direction you’re going.

How To Ride A Sidecar

10.  When it all goes wrong

About to flip? Steer left to open your turning radius and ride it out. You obviously don’t want to turn into a lane of oncoming traffic or into a moving obstacle, so you really need to plan your actions far ahead on a sidecar. The best defense is a good offense.

How To Ride A Sidecar

Sound complicated? It is, but with some practice you’ll be able to hustle a sidecar around just as well as your car or bike. How long did it take you to learn to ride? Budget that amount of time and effort into operating a sidecar. Why bother? Imagine a Willy’s Jeep with more off-road ability, much smaller dimensions and a tighter turning circle. If that sounds appealing, then it’s well worth the effort.

Have you ridden a sidecar? What did you think?

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