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Attaching a Sidecar - Introduction
Definition of Terms:

Solo Rider:
Riding a motorcycle without a sidecar attached.


Counter Steering: The method of leaning the motorcycle that a solo rider uses to steer the motorcycle into corners and bends.
Solo Rider
Outfit: A sidecar.

Rig: A motorcycle.

Hack Combination: An outfit rigidly connected to a rig.

                    Sidecar  hack

Leaner Combination: An outfit connected to a rig that allows the rider to counter steer as the motorcycle leans while turning, meanwhile the sidecar occupant and boat remains upright.

                    Leaner Sidecar  Leaner

Flexible Combination: An outfit connected to a rig that allows the rider to counter steer as the motorcycle leans while turning, with the sidecar occupant and boat leaning in the same direction as the rider.

Flexible Sidecar 

Parallel Combination: An outfit connected to a rig that allows the rider to counter steer while turning, with the sidecar boat and occupant remaining upright, while the sidecar wheel will lean in the same direction as the rider.

Flexible Sidecar

Tow In Adjustment: Adjusting the outfit wheel to angle slightly toward the front of the rig. Necessary for all four combinations.

Lean Adjustment:  Adjusting the outfit to lean out vertically, slightly away from the rig, enabling it to straighten when the weight of a passenger is added. Necessary for a hack only.

Wheel Lead Adjustment: The centre hub of the outfit wheel is located forward of the central hub of the rig's rear wheel. Necessary for all four combinations.

Flying the Chair: Driving a hack with the outfit lifted off the ground. Hack Combination only.

Sidecar Flying the Chair Sidecar Racing

Leading Link:  A modification to the motorcycle's front forks.
Telescopic forks were designed by manufacturers to enable the solo rider to lean into and out of corners and for the motorcycle to self-centre. When a sidecar is fitted to the motorcycle, the rider can no longer counter steer and therefore is now required to drive, instead of ride the hack. This requires much more effort from the driver. When Leading Link is used to replace the telescopic forks, the trail is reduced, which reduces the effort required to steer the hack. This modification is necessary for a hack only.

Telescopic Forks
Leading Link
Telescopic Forks Leading Link

Steering Damper: A steering damper is connected to the front of the motorcycle to prevent steering wobble. Necessary for a hack only.

  Steering Damper  Steering Damper


  Four methods were shown above, in the Definition of Terms, attach a sidecar to a motorcycle as a Leaner, Flexible, Parallel or Hack.

As a motorcycle instructor, I taught the benefits of counter steering and safe cornering.
I have also driven two wheelchair accessible sidecars attached
as Rigid Hacks.
The Hack Combination handles well, however if a sidecar brake is not fitted, the combination will pull to the right while braking. *(Australian sidecar fitted to the left hand side of the motorcycle).

After researching all combinations, (in my opinion), the preferred method of attaching a sidecar to a motorcycle would be to create a Leaner or Parallel Combination.
(The boat on a Flexible combination is too high, so with the extra height of a wheelchair, the centre of gravity would also be too high).

Here are some of the advantages and disadvantages of a Leaner, Flexible or Parallel Combination compared to a Rigid Hack.

Advantage 1. Cannot "Fly the Chair"
Unlike a Hack, 
Leaner, Flexible or Parallel Combinations allow the rider of the motorcycle to counter steer, by leaning into the corners and bends. This provides safer handling and there is not the potential of Flying the Chair.

Don't get me wrong, flying the chair is not dangerous.
While the sidecar is lifted off the ground, it simply uses counter steering for control.
But unlike other sidecar combinations, we have the added weight of a wheelchair
(electric wheelchair can be 110 kilograms),
plus passenger (possibly 90 kg),
plus sidecar (perhaps 140kgs).

The potential of "Flying" 340kg.

Therefore with a
Leaner, Flexible or Parallel Combination, a sharp turn to the left will be safer as it cannot create this possibility.

Advantage 2. No Fork Modification
Another advantage of the
Leaner, Flexible or Parallel Combination, is that the motorcycle front forks would not need to be converted to Leading Link, and a Steering Damper may not be necessary. I feel the less modification to the motorcycle, from the manufacturer's design, the better.
It was designed to lean.

Disadvantage 1. Fewer Attachment Points
The first disadvantage is that with most leaners, there are usually only two attachment points.
With the extra weight of the wheelchair, this is worth considering.

A possible solution would be to strengthen the motorcycle frame and add shock absorbers (dampers), which would provide the added strength of three or four attachment points, while allowing the motorcycle to lean.
See examples below.

Leaner Sidecar
4 Attachment Points
Leaner Sidecar
                                  with Shockies
3 Attachment Points

Using Heavy Duty attachments and to manufacture a shadow frame to support/strengthen the existing motorcycle frame would also provide a sturdy foundation for attachment.

With the sidecar attached in this manner, I believe the combination could be as strong as a hack, and this disadvantage would become invalid.

Disadvantage 2. Overall Width

The second disadvantage when comparing a Leaner, Flexible or Parallel Combination with and Hack Combination, is the overall width.

Visit the Leaner Forum for a full discussion on a Wheelchair Accessible Leaner Sidecar Combination:
Leaner Forum

Attaching a Sidecar Instructions: Sidecar Combinations.

Leaner Sidecars
Flexible Sidecars
Parallel Sidecars
Hack Sidecars

links: Suppliers of Universal Mounting Kits, Steering Dampers, Wheelchair Tie Downs and other parts that may be useful in completing your project.

Sidecar Attachment Fittings and Manuals

Safe Operation of a Sidecar

Return to Workshop

Disclaimer:  Videos and Manuals on the Haul N Ride website are a guide only and we recommend seeking qualified instruction. Some videos were made in the USA, therefore the advice given is relevant in Australia, and can improve your riding skills, providing you remember that we ride on the Left Hand Side of the Road. Instructions given on this website are given as a guide only. Engineering, safety and legal advice should be sought before modification begins. Images displayed are public domain, royalty free to the best of our knowledge. Images are not used for profit or resale and are used for educational purposes only. If you believe an image belongs to you, please let us know and we will remove it immediately. Thankyou.

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