Bikes are a great mode of transport. They keep you fit, are low cost, and are fun to ride.
However, for some people, regular bikes are not very practical without serious modifications.
But what if you could add an extra seat for a passenger, in the form of a bicycle sidecar?
In this article, we will look at:
- Bicycle sidecars for dogs.
- Bicycle sidecars for adults.
- How to build a bicycle sidecar.
Are you ready to learn about this quirky bike modification?
Bicycle Sidecars For Dogs
Dog owners like to take their four-legged friends with them everywhere.
However, it’s not always convenient or safe to take your dog on a bike ride with you. Busy roads, hot tarmac, long distances and distractions make riding with a dog difficult.
4 Advantages Of A Bicycle Sidecar For Dogs
#1: Take Your Dog Anywhere
The first advantage of a bicycle sidecar for dogs is that you can take your dog anywhere without worrying about them.
For example, small dogs and puppies don’t have the stamina larger dogs have. They often struggle to keep up.
This is the same for old dogs or ones with health problems. They can just sit in the bike with sidecar and enjoy the ride, rather than getting tired and being at risk.
#2: Ride Uninterrupted
The next advantage of bicycle sidecars for dogs is that your ride won’t be interrupted by your dog getting distracted.
Even the most well-behaved dogs with excellent recall get distracted from time to time. So having a dog sidecar for bike keeps them safe while not slowing you down.
#3: Take your dog out in the heat
As any well informed dog owner knows, you shouldn’t walk a dog on hot tarmac.
The heat from the road or pavement can badly burn their paws. Therefore, if you need to go anywhere, you will need to leave your dog at home.
However, putting your dog in a bike sidecar means you can take them with you. You can even ride to a nice grassy area so your dog can run around in comfort.
#4: Protect your dog
As a dog owner, you need to be vigilant about other dogs on the loose when out and about. But, bicycle sidecars offer protection.
So, if you have a nervous dog, they will be safe and feel safe right next to you.
Where Can You Buy A Bicycle Sidecar For Dogs?
There are several companies that manufacture and sell sidecars for dogs.
Here is a rundown of our 2 favourites.
Mad Dogs And Englishmen is a Californian based company with four bike shops. They specialise in stocking high-quality bikes and accessories.
Along with recognised brands, such as Specialized, they also stock more niche bikes.
These include Butchers & Bicycles and TrioBike three-wheel cargo bikes. They also hand build bicycle sidecars suitable for dogs and kids up to 100lbs / 45 kg.
Their high-end sidecars are built in Europe, with a build quality that will last for many years.
You can buy these bicycle sidecars separately to hook onto your bike. Alternatively, you can buy a custom-built bike to match.
An alternative company that builds and sells bicycle sidecars for dogs is Scandinavian Sidebike.
This company from Denmark produces a sidecar that connects to your bike with a pivot bearing.
The advantage of this is that the sidecar can move with the road’s surface, independent of the bike. This makes riding and taking corners much more manageable.
The sidecar isn’t just for dogs though, in fact, you can fit two children in it and keep them safe with the built-in seatbelts.
The seat pad is removable, so it can be used as a makeshift bed or even a changing mat.
As this sidecar is designed and built in Denmark, the manufacturers have made it so that parents can use it all year round in the Scandinavian climate. It doubles up a sledge that can be pulled along in the snow.
Bicycle Sidecar For Adults
What if you don’t have a dog, but you have friends and family instead? Can you buy a bicycle for adults?
The problem with adult humans is that they tend to be a lot heavier than dogs. This creates a couple of issues when it comes to bicycle sidecars.
The first issue is that the person pedalling only has so much strength in their legs. Therefore, they will struggle to maintain any speed for a reasonable amount of time.
The extra weight of a person would also make climbing steep hills nearly impossible. To counter this extra weight, you would need a powerful electric bike that could haul two people up steep hills.
The next problem with fitting a sidecar for adults to your bike is attaching it.
To ensure that the interface between your bike and the sidecar is strong enough to cope with the weight of an adult, it would need to be incredibly strong. This would add even more weight to the setup.
A bicycle sidecar for dogs is more realistic, as dogs don’t weigh that much. This is the same for kids, as you can easily fit a child into a small sidecar.
Another way to transport dogs and kids by bike is by towing a trailer made for the job.
The best way to transport an extra adult by bike is with an electric cargo bike. There are many different types, and some can be configured in multiple ways to carry various things and people.
Electric cargo bikes are very versatile, but you will need to do your homework if you want to carry an extra adult before you buy one.
We have already mentioned that you will need a powerful motor to cope with the extra weight. But, having lots of power is irrelevant if the battery doesn’t last long enough to get to your destination.
More weight on your bike requires the motor to call more power from its battery. Therefore, the range could be severely compromised.
How To Build A Bike Sidecar In 4 Steps
Now you know about the advantages of bicycle sidecars, you may have discovered that you would benefit from one. However, you may decide that you want to build one yourself rather than buy one.
By building your own bike sidecar, you can have it to the exact specification you want.
There is a niche hobby for building DIY bike sidecars. The people who make their own bike sidecars love that they can be as simple or as extravagant as they like.
No matter how far people take their bike sidecars in terms of specification, they all follow a similar process. Here is how it goes:
1. Build The Frame
The frame is usually made from steel. The benefit of steel is that it is strong, but it also means you can bolt or weld the sections together.
You need to carefully think out your frame design, as it makes a difference to how your sidecar fits onto your bike. For example, this BMX sidecar uses steel tubing and a plate welded to the bike frame.
An alternative way to attach the sidecar to your bike is via clamps or hooks. But how you do it will largely depend on the type of bike you have.
2. Attach The Wheel
How you attach the wheel will also be determined by your bike sidecar’s frame design. For example, you may want to fit suspension, use a through axle, or keep it simple, like on this DIY bike sidecar.
Your choice of wheel size will make a difference to how the sidecar handles and its comfort. Larger wheels will roll over bumps easier, but smaller wheels will make the setup easier to handle.
3. Build The Bodywork
As long as you have enough space for your dog or child, you can do whatever you want with your bike sidecar’s body.
Many DIY bike sidecar hobbyists use plywood for the bodywork and deck. This is all held together with wooden cross members and beams.
A sleek aerodynamic shape will have reduced wind resistance but may compromise on space.
To enhance the bodywork style and comfort, you can fit it with a windscreen, wheel arch, lights and reflectors. There is no limit to what you can do, but making your bike sidecar safe is the main priority.
4. Attach It To Your Bike
As we mentioned before, you need to decide how your sidecar fits to your bike during the design phase. You will need to take into account the type of bike you have and what would work with its components.
For example, does the shape of your bike frame allow you to just hook the sidecar onto it? Would it be best to clamp it to the rear triangle or to the top tube?
You need to ensure that you have enough clearance for your pedals and handlebars, or you will be going nowhere!
For more ideas on DIY bike sidecars, check out guidepatterns.com.
Final Thoughts On Bicycle Sidecars
Bicycle sidecars are great for transporting dogs and kids around. Although, they are not the best choice for carrying adults. You would need to be supremely fit or have a very powerful electric bike.
As we have discovered, there are some excellent bike sidecars on the market. But if you have the time and inclination, you could build something spectacular yourself.
Planning to take your sidecar to the office?
Check out this article on How To Start Commuting To Work