Sidecars, like all forms of racing started with vehicles built for the street. Over the years the sidecars have evolved to increase speed and safety.
The early modifications were to lower the centre of gravity by laying the driver forward over the engine. The sidecar itself was also changed from a basket to a platform so the passenger, or monkey, could be mobile. Having a mobile passenger meant a moveable mass to help keep the tires on the ground at higher speeds. The basic motorcycle components were used, engine, steering, and larger diameter treaded tires. There was very little in the way of aerodynamics other than fenders and what ever the driver and passenger could provide. This type of sidecar is still raced today in vintage classes and most are home built.
Fast forward to today, after years of modifications and updates and you have the modern sidecar. Some of the modern sidecars are home built but there are companies dedicated to building sidecars. The home built sidecars tend to be made of steel tubing and are less refined, where as specialized companies use aluminum, carbon fibre or other types of stronger, lighter material. Specialized shops also offer better suspension and handling as well as single swing arms for ease of wheel change. All modern sidecars use slick tires like those found on race cars. They also have molded aerodynamic bodies.
There are two types of modern sidecars, formula 1 or F1 and formula 2 or F2. The F2 sidecars have the motors positioned under the drivers. The maximum engine displacement is 600cc 4 stroke or 500 cc 2 stroke. F2 sidecars have a shorter wheel base than their F1 sister, giving you better handling on short tracks.
For full out speed, F1 sidecars are the type to chose. Sometimes referred to as long bikes, the motor on these machines are behind the driver. The maximum displacement in this category is 1000cc 4 stroke.
Which ever class you chose the sidecar wheel will not have any suspension and the engines can be carbureted or fuel injected. They must also be chain or belt drive. No shaft drive engines are allowed
With all these changes the basic design remains the same. The drive wheel, engine and steering wheel must be inline and the sidecar is off to one side.
The prices for these racing machines vary from $6,000 to $20,000 and will last for several years. In the world of racing this is a bargain.
So, what are you waiting for?
| Formula One
The ultimate expression of engineering, the F1 class allows a longer wheelbase and rear engine mounting to make the machine more stable at speed. Multi-link suspension and monocoque construction are allowed, though tube frames with forks are still used and often preferred. With all this technology, the third wheel (often referred to as ‘chairwheel’) is fitted with a brake, but is not allowed to use steering or suspension. Typically a multi-cylinder superbike engine is used with a displacement up to 1000cc is used.
| Formula Two
Created decades ago for club racing as an affordable alternative to the spiraling cost of exotic rear engine F1s, the exquisite tube frames of these machines are now as expensive and exotic as F1. Steering must be done with more conventional forks, usually leading link type, and the frame must be constructed of steel tubing. The short wheelbase machines have a more conventional engine position under the driver. Like in F1, the chairwheel is braked but not steered or suspended. A top form F2 team with lightweight and spry handling can match an F1 on a tight track. Engine displacement up to 600cc is allowed.