On Three Wheels: Learning to Ride a Sidecar Rig

| 11/29/2016 1:42:00 PM

Participants in a sidecar course

Participants practice their sidecar skills at an S/TEP (Sidecar/Trike Education Program) sidecar course. Photos by Margie Siegal.

“It was easier than I expected. It was harder than I expected” — students at Evergreen S/TEP training, Seattle, Washington.

A sidecar rig can be a fun addition to a classic bike collection. You can take friends, relatives, or your dog along for a ride. You can pack your camping gear and go offroad to your favorite fishing hole.

Thing is, riding a sidecar rig is different from riding a solo motorcycle. If you want to learn how to pilot a sidecar but you don’t have a friend who knows how to drive a sidecar (or if you think the friendship might not survive the learning experience), what do you do? You take a sidecar course, of course.

While not as common as two-wheel courses, they do exist. The state of Washington mandates three-wheeler training before licensing a rider to operate vehicles such as a Can-Am Spyder, a sidecar outfit, or a trike, and Washington residents generally take the S/TEP (Sidecar/Trike Education Program) courses offered by the Evergreen Safety Council. Out of staters can sign up too — but since the course is subsidized by the state of Washington for residents, non-Washingtonians pay more, currently $350 versus $125 for residents. But given that trashing your new ride will be a whole lot more expensive than even the out of state price — not to mention embarrassing and painful — it’s definitely worth it.