Use of the motorcycle sidecar has dwindled since the 1950s, but they were an important part of military history.
Sidecars were first used, either by the British or the Soviet Union, in the late 1920s and early ’30s. When World War II came along, the Germans used sidecars for their military motorcycles for passenger transportation. These sidecars were produced by Zundapp and BMW. Other companies known to have made motorcycles with sidecars include Harley-Davidson from the US and Ural Motorcycles from Russia. Ural is the most well-known company who still makes sidecars. Interestingly enough, Jaguar (the automobile manufacturer) was founded as a sidecar company.
Sidecars usually have a wheel on one side and are attached to the motorcycle on the other. The nice thing about sidecars is that they can be detached from the motorcycle in case they are not needed. The benefit of using a sidecar is the versatility you get with a motorcycle, but the ability to add an additional passenger or luggage. A sidecar does not work well with some models, especially those that are made for speed. But don’t tell that to sidecar racing drivers
The reason the motorcycle sidecar is now no longer used as much is the role of motorcycles is now clearly defined. When room is required for passengers, cars are used. Motorcycles are also built to be steered by leaning, which does not work properly with a sidecar.
As you may know, we at Best Military Surplus love to reference movies and TV when writing about military surplus. Our favorite appearance of the motorcycle sidecar is in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Indy (Harrison Ford) and his father (Sean Connery) traverse the roads of Germany in a Dnepr motorcycle and sidecar. And let’s not forget Hagrid’s (Robbie Coltrane) Enfield Bullet Classic, transporting Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) to safety in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.