There was a time when almost everyone knew how to ride a sidecar. Believe it or not, sidecars used to be the transportation mode of middle-class families who didn’t have the budget for a car. Its decline started in the fifties with the abundance of individual vehicles. Today, this relic is so retro that it’s no wonder it attracts vintage riders!
1- You can try it with your best bro…
You, your motorcycle, and a big open road. What better plan than this? Sure, but you might get a bit lonely. That’s when the sidecar comes into play. According to our favourite explorer Sylvain Tesson, this machine is an allegory for friendship. «Think about it! When we sit in a sidecar, we put our lives in the hands of the driver while at the same time providing the right balance for his machine and make it easier for him to steer through the curves. Is it not the perfect definition of the principle of friendly reciprocation?». So sure, it takes a bit of patience the first time you and your friend tries it, but it also takes a lot of teamwork and open communication to handle it together. Isn’t this exactly what friendship is about?
2- …Or with your wife!
A sidecar can bring new perspectives for your romantic holidays. With retirement on the horizon and a common desire for motorcycle trips, our riders Marc and Huguette Martigny embraced this new idea. «I was riding on a Triumph America and going out a little with some friends» Marc explains, «My wife wasn’t coming behind me because she didn’t like being a passenger, neither was she comfortable with the sensation of bending in curvy roads. This is how we bought our first sidecar. It was Royal Enfield attached to a Black Pearl panier.» But don’t expect it to be easy - after a couple of rides out Marc missed a turn and ended at the hospital with a broken clavicle. «We repaired the sidecar and went together for a two days initiation to sidecar driving. Today we are at the 39000 km mark and never had another accident.» Ride on!
Picture: Marc and Huguette on our East Side Story trip
3- You can try one with Vintage Rides
When speaking about his experience on our East Side Story trip, Marc is quite enthusiastic. «Our Vintage Rides motorcycle tour in Mongolia allowed us to learn new skills on how to drive sidecars. We were equipped with Royal Enfields harnessed to Yéti baskets. Many stages of the itinerary were very technical: ford crossings with engines in the water, fields of sharp stones, mud, roots, significant slopes, hilly terrain, holes and bumps. For the first time my wife had to help me to keep the sidecar on track. But the machines handled everything! It was a beautiful experience, for both pilots and passengers.» So what’s the difference between a regular motorcycle tour and a sidecar one? «A sidecar has a great capacity to carry luggage. You’re able to travel for several weeks in total autonomy. Another advantage, and not the least, is the natural sympathy inspired by this machine. People are attracted to the sidecar and come to talk to us easily. It’s not uncommon to have our picture taken during our visit in a village or to see people waving at us.»
4- They are crafted by passionate people
Here at Vintage Rides, our sidecar hero is Jean Burdet. This well-known fan of motorcycles works hard all year round from his studio nearby the French capital to assemble 20 sidecars a year. From the deepest sceneries of Europe to the edge of the Sahara desert, the highest motorable road in the world at 5602 meters high on the top of the Himalaya mountains, or even crossing the Mongolian lakes in deep winter at -30°C, Jean Burdet has been spending his entire life living, preparing and traveling with these charming machines. He’s the one who assembles the sidecars for our East Side Story tour in the summer. What’s better than knowing that the person in charge of your riding device has been practicing with three-wheeled machines for nearly four decades, spanning tens of thousands of miles, all over the world?
A sidecar is the best way to share the joys of touring and traveling, with friends, wife, kids, and nearly everyone. Whether you stop in the historical center of a millennial city or in the middle of a desert, absolutely everyone has sympathy for a sidecar.