Sidecars and bike insurance

Taking loved ones out on the open road, or adding some much-needed storage space to your bike? Do it with peace of mind by following our advice on adding a sidecar to your motorbike.

Taking loved ones out on the open road, or adding some much-needed storage space to your bike? Do it with peace of mind by following our advice on adding a sidecar to your motorbike.

Daniel Hutson
From the Motor team
4
minute read
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Posted 24 JUNE 2021

Motorcycle and sidecar law

Sidecars are considered motorbike accessories. Although they’re not a vehicle in their own right, you’ll have to follow some rules to ride with one. For example:

  • Sidecars must be fitted to the left of your bike unless your vehicle was registered before 1 September 1981, or outside of the UK.
  • After you’ve fitted your sidecar, you’ll need to give your motorbike an MOT – even if a recent MOT still covers the vehicle as a solo bike.
  • It’s advisable that your passengers wear a helmet, but it isn’t required by law.
  • You must pass Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) before riding with a sidecar.

As always, you’ll need the relevant motorbike licence to ride a bike with a sidecar. If you hold a restricted licence you’ll need to check power-to-weight ratios on the gov.uk website.

How can I use the sidecar?

Sidecars are more versatile than you might think. You can use them to:

  • Carry passengers – some models can seat two passengers at a time, but you’ll need to consider their comfort and protection from the elements.
  • Store luggage – cargo sidecars can add a considerable amount of storage space to your bike.

It’s also important to think about the type of journeys you’ll make. You can:

  • Travel off-road – if you take your motorcycle off the beaten track, you’ll need suitable suspension for the terrain.
  • Cover long distances – if you’re planning on touring with your sidecar, you’ll probably need to throw in some extras such as blankets or goggles to keep your passengers comfortable.

How to find the right sidecar for my motorbike?

Not every sidecar will suit your bike. You’ll need to consider:

  • Weight – a heavy sidecar on a light bike or vice versa could make riding difficult, or even dangerous.
  • Cost – if you’re new to riding with a sidecar, it might be worth buying a second-hand model before investing in a more expensive, new model.
  • Condition – look out for any wear and tear to the sidecar, especially at the attachment points.

The best approach is to get advice from a professional. Specialist sidecar dealers are particularly useful if you’re new to riding.

What type of insurance do I need?

There isn’t a specific type of insurance for sidecars as they’re usually covered by motorbike insurance providers. You’ll need to provide the make, model and value of the sidecar to make sure you’re covered if you need to make a claim.

Your insurance provider might insure your sidecar as an accessory, or as part of the total value of your bike.

Can you take lessons for riding with a sidecar?

Yes you can. Although it isn’t essential to take lessons, there are schools that teach you how to ride a motorbike with a sidecar.

Alternatively, you can ask a sidecar dealer or someone with experience of riding with a sidecar for their advice. A private seller should be more than happy to share their tips.

Frequently asked questions

Can I ride my bike with a self-built sidecar attached?

If you plan on building a sidecar from scratch or using a kit, it will need to pass the government’s Motorcycle Single Vehicle Approval (MSVA) scheme.

You might find these accessories harder to insure than a conventional sidecar, but if they’re road legal you should find a provider.

Do I need to declare modifications to my bike and sidecar?

It’s common for bike owners to adjust sidecar wheels or tweak their bike’s gears to generate extra towing power. All non-standard modifications should be declared to your insurance provider and the DVLA, or you risk invalidating your policy for any claims.

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