ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

The Side Car for the Motorcycle: A Contraption From a Bygone Age

Updated on December 31, 2017

Side cars are one wheeled contraptions, with a seat which is attached to a motor cycle by a rigid steel rod. Generally side cars attached to motorbikes are a rare sight in modern times. In fact on the roads in Europe, USA and India the number of motorbikes with side cars are rare, but all the same many people used them in a bygone era. A further innovation is that side cars were also available for scooters

Side cars can seat a single rider and increases the utility of the motorbike as an additional passenger can travel.

Aerodynamics

Once a side car is attached to a bike it will no longer function as a two wheel vehicle. In fact its aerodynamics change and the forces that manage the running of a normal bike like the Centripetal and Centrifugal force are no longer valid.

The Motorbike now behaves more like a car. Its maneuverability is severely curtailed as instead of two wheels a third wheel is added and correspondingly the drag coefficient is higher. Motorbikes with side cars are however more stable, though their speed is severely curtailed. Riding a bike with a side car needs different handling as the rider has to make an allowance for the increase in wheel base and turning corners and traffic requires a bit of expertise.

Origin of the Side car

A look at the pages of history is revealing. The first man to patent a side car was an English man WJ Graham in 1903. At that time cars were not common and thus the side car grew in popularity. Old pictures show that almost every second bike had a side car at that time. The period till the end of the Second World War can be considered the heyday of the side car.

The Side car in the War Years

The Second World War saw the flowering of the side car for the bike. The German army made great use of this contraption and increased its utility as a weapon of war by mounting a machine gun on it.

A soldier sat in the side car with the mounted machine gun which could rotate on a swivel. He thus could spray the countryside with bullets and the rider concentrated on driving the bike. On the flat plains of Europe and good roads the Germans made excellent use of these machines and used them with telling effect against the occupied people of Europe. The BMW, Uncap were the most used for this purpose. At a conservative estimate the Germans used close to 50,000 such machine gun bikes.

Side car use by Allies

The Americans and British also used the side car with the bikes. But their numbers were fewer and were mostly used by Military police for patrol duty. In the eastern theater there was not much use of the bike itself and thus side cars were also not much used.

Technical Improvement

The Germans felt that a motorbike with an attached side car and machine gun had some difficulty in negotiating steep curves and climbs. It also got bogged down in the countryside, where there were no roads. German engineers then perfected a differential gear for the side car.

A Differential gear permitted power from the engine to be transmitted to the wheel of the attached side car. This made climbing easier for the bike as well running on the countryside.

Side cars after the War

After the war, motorbikes came into fashion for fun driving as with greater production of cars the need for an extra passenger to travel on the bike decreased. Slowly the side car began to go out of fashion. Its military role also diminished with the advent of the APC and lighter tanks. More and more enthusiast began to drive bigger machines and racing. The side car became an anachronism and was soon discarded.

But the late fifties of the last century, the side car was totally discarded and now buying one is a difficult proposition. Just after the war Vespa the Italian scooter manufacturer had started producing side cars for scooters but these were soon discarded as hardly any buyers were available.

Last Word

Modern motorbikes and scooters no longer have attached side cars. These now belong to a different age. One of the reasons for discarding the side car is the loss of maneuverability and speed for the bike. It also required greater space and with cars available the side cars utility was zero. But we can look back and savor the age of the side car. It reigned for close to 5 decades and like all inventions after that period it became obsolete.

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • MG Singh profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      Thank you Celebrate USA for a nice comment

    • CelebrateUSA profile image

      Ken Kline 

      4 years ago from Chicago, Illinois

      I would really like to see a comeback of this. It is economical and fun but yet the market place here in the United States sadly is not raving about them - they are supporting them and I see them from time to time and think they are very cool! I hope they return to reign again. Leave it to the Germans for the engineering. Wonder if VW could conceive of offering the motorcycle with the side car - their VW bug was so popular.

    • MG Singh profile imageAUTHOR

      MG Singh 

      4 years ago from Singapore

      I am glad you added to the information. My hub is referring only to the world at large, but there are exceptions.

    • profile image

      conradofontanilla 

      4 years ago

      You should see the sidecars in the Philippines. It is not obsolete, it adds to public transport that can negotiate small and big roads.

    • profile image

      conradofontanilla 

      4 years ago

      You should see the sidecars in the Philippines. It is not obsolete, it adds to public transport that can negotiate small and big roads.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)