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Bicycle sidecar

  • Ian D Midgley
  • Shelved

(posted by Susan Iwanek)
Bruce Lee, of the Bath/Bristol panel, is currently working on a project to make a sidecar for use on a bicycle. His client is a 9-year old with deGeorge Syndrome, who is on constant oxygen, has a ventilator for emergencies and has a feeding system plus all the other paraphernalia required by a young disabled lad. His mother is a non-motorist who, till now, has transported him on a child seat. He is getting too big and his kit too cumbersome to continue.

Bruce and his colleagues have already produced a prototype sidecar for trials. However, handling is a problem.

He asks whether any Remap member has any experience with such a project.

If you have any suggestions, please submit them below or email Bruce direct on

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16 responses to “Bicycle sidecar”

  1. lionel shapiro says:

    I am part of Remap London West. I am sending you this text which I initially sent to our Chairman, Mike Sheldon. He says that he can’t pass on, so here I go, just copying from the original email. You can find all and more if you go to the webpage below here:

    (Sorry, I have v floppy wording, with brain issue, so you need to try to think what i really mean! OR call me at 020 7722 8864 and it might help more. or not!)
    Have a look on the the Carry Freedom website:

    The bike on the left of the four sets on the front page is mine. It is superb in many ways and should be a great start to do all the rest of the business problems of the child.

    Of the many virtues, here are some particular ones
    a. The front handle of the ‘trailer’ folds down for shortening space.
    b. With very little effort, the wheels can fold horizontally, AND the one wheels slides forward so the whole thing can get down to around 6 inches. In fact, the trailer comes in that position when delivered, and it gets sorted in a few minutes.
    c. the bag has tough straps, so before getting rid of it for the special purpose, see how it might help, even if just to hold the bottles etc

    AND a bit more: another thing: the bike-trailer is very easy to get on and off, and there is only a tiny little bit of metal on the bike, left side of bike-axle.

  2. Pippa Cousins (Cambridge Panel) says:

    I have lived in the most cycled city in the UK for 10 years, and have never seen a sidecar on a bicycle. A few people use the front bin option (mentioned above by Peter Parry, and used in the Netherlands), but the overwhelming majority use a rear trailer, (as highlighted above by Jenny). I assume the reason for this is both safety and comfort for the child. They come in varying sizes and designs, so I’m sure with a bit of internet research you will find something suitable for an older child with Oxygen cylinders etc. Good luck with your search.

  3. Robert Monk says:

    These poeple specialise in bikes for the disabled and have one that accepts a wheelchair, which may be useful as the child grows

  4. Ian Midgley says:

    Quadricycle was the word I was trying to remember!

  5. Ian Midgley says:

    Firstly, I agree with the comments about stability and safety.

    A couple of completely off-the-wall ideas:

    1. Search on “cycle rickshaw”

    2. A variation of the four wheel bike contraptions of the type you might see for hire around holiday resorts

  6. Terry Tomlin says:

    Hi Bruce.

    Firstly, I agree with the many comments regarding the safety concerns arround using a sidecar to transport this lad.
    As a young teenager, I used a cycle sidecar frame to transport a motorbike ( so that it didn`t touch the ground; I was too young to use one on the road and it wasn`t taxed ) ! On one occasion I “parked” it at speed under the back of a stationary car, having forgotten it was alongside. This is a possibility with this client on board.
    On a more serious note, if you do decide to procede with the sidecar – I recall that I made a friction steering damper to reduce steering wobble.
    On motorcycle combinations, it was sometimes neccessary to change the “trail” of the forks to alter the castor effect to improve handling. Not sure how you would achieve this on a bicycle, though BMX / stunt bike forks may have different geometry to standard.


    Terry Tomlin ( Heref and Glos Panels member )

  7. Jenny (OT) says:

    My thoughts were similar to those above- safer options might be:

    1) trailer such as these

    2) a bike with a child seat area at the front

  8. John Mack says:

    Two or three years ago I used to see a single-wheel trailer, once attached to a tandem, with a child of about the age of “yours” contributing to the drive. It looked a bit like this one:

    Four hundred years ago I had a two-wheel box trailer for model aircraft. One wheelers look safer, to me, in a high side wind, because the cyclist is providing the balance and can steady the combo.

  9. David Bird says:

    Bruce, I haven’t seen a sidecar attached to a bicycle since travelling in one around sixty years ago!! The safest and most up to date method of transporting a child is by using a properly designed child trailer which attaches securely to bicycle frame/rear hub. If not too advanced in your project it may be worth looking on the following sites: A variety of trailers shown together with attachments and spares.
    There is obviously a cost implication when purchasing a child trailer but safety and comparative ease of towing one is very important.
    Good luck,
    David. East Sussex Panel

  10. Peter Ashlee says:


    Sidecars were popular in the 50’s on bikes and some of my old CTC mates had them. Watsonian, who made sidecars for motorbikes also made them for bicycles. As far as I am aware the Watsonian company still exists and they may have drawings / advice.
    If not you could contact the CTC and ask if they can help.
    I pulled my two young children round in a “Burleigh de Lite” trailer. These are light, attach to the rear seat stay and you barely know they are there. However carrying a 9 year old in one would be cramped and I am not awareof equivalents for older children.
    Good luck, Peter

  11. PeterP says:

    I’ve spoken to a Dutch friend who used to be a Remap member when he was in the UK. He said bicycle sidecars were now uncommon because their riding method differed from solo riding to such an extent that few people liked switching between solo and sidecar bicycles. The trailer or Bakfiets ( solution (with children in a bin in the front of the bike was more popular. (Also

    My experience has been on motorbikes, where making the transition from solo to chair was terrifying each time I had to do it as the steering was so completely different and the “instinctive” riding of a solo simply put the chair into the nearest ditch.. Sidecar geometry normally requires that the sidecar should toe-in a little at the front to ensure straight line travel is ok amnd that the motorcycle should have slight lean-out for best handling. Unfortunately neither are particularly practical for lightweight pushbikes with light sidecars

    My Dutch friend has gone off to ambush any passing sidecar bikes to ask opinions.

    I assume you have already come across the design notes at ?

    Pashley in Stratford Upon Avon still produce cargo bikes such as the Classic No. 33, perhaps they can help?

    Watsonian ( used to make many bicycle sidecars, ( perhaps they have something in their archives?

  12. JACK RAE says:

    Not exactly a constructive comment but a sidecar on a bicycle seems to be a bit risky. Cyclists can be their own worst enemy in traffic without the added hazard of a width extension. Have you considered a trailer system whereby the young lad and his kit are towed by the bicycle. Such systems are readily available in the marketplace – mainly for small children but they would give you a basis for a working design.

    Kind regards

    jack (Carlisle Panel)

  13. steve says:

    check out they have all sort of amazing bikes inculding ones for special needs and upto adult passengers and electric bikes.

  14. David Tappin says:

    I would have thought that a sidecar would be a bit dangerous, very wide and unstable under asymmetric braking, specially with the weight of a 9 year old and oxygen cylinders etc. Would something from these people be a better bet? Very popular in the New Forest where I live.


    David Tappin (Southampton Panel)

  15. Mike Nevett (Leicester panel) says:

    I googled “pedal bicycle sidecar” and found some websites which could be useful, Mike

  16. Michael Escreet says:

    It’s well known among cyclists that tricycles are difficult to ride; perhaps if you consult a trike blog you may find some hints?

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