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A motorcycle is an exhilarating way to explore the Bayou State, but it can be challenging to safely share your bike with a passenger. Sidecars offer a comfortable way to travel with a companion. However, motorcycles with sidecars have a unique set of challenges that require caution from riders.

While riding a motorcycle with a sidecar can be thrilling, it’s important to know the proper techniques and safety measures to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride. Whether you’re a seasoned rider or a beginner, use the following guidelines to operate a motorcycle with a sidecar in Louisiana safely.

What Are Sidecars, and Why Do Motorcyclists Use Them?

Sidecars are designed to attach to the side of the motorbike and feature a seat, a windshield, a seatbelt, and a single wheel.

In Louisiana, it’s illegal to take a passenger on a motorcycle that doesn’t have a designated seat for a second rider. Unfortunately, many motorbike models do not have a dual seat or sufficient space for a second person riding behind the motorcyclist. This makes a sidecar the only option to safely and legally transport passengers. However, sidecars may also be used on larger, dual-seated motorcycles because they allow for the safe transportation of up to two passengers.

Are There Special Requirements to Operate a Motorcycle with Sidecar in Louisiana?

Although some states require motorcycle riders to obtain a specific type of permit to ride a motorcycle with a sidecar, this is not the case in Louisiana. You can ride a motorcycle with a sidecar in the Bayou State with a standard Class M motorcycle endorsement.

If you want to carry a child in your sidecar as a passenger, you must comply with Louisiana’s minimum age law (RS 32.191). This means your child must be at least five years old and wear a safety helmet.

Local ordinances in cities such as New Orleans or Baton Rouge may impose additional regulations. For example, in New Orleans, a side car attachment must provide a separate seat space for each passenger. Ensure you check your local laws regarding sidecar regulations.

Facts Motorcyclists Need to Know About Sidecars

Installing a sidecar alters the motorcycle’s size and riding characteristics. If you are considering installing a sidecar on your motorcycle, there are several things you need to know.

Mounting Side

Sidecars are typically attached to the same side of the bike as driving direction. For instance, sidecars designed for bikes in the United States are usually mounted to the right of the motorcycle rider because U.S. traffic drives on the right side of the road.

While no laws in the U.S. prevent riders from riding a motorcycle with a sidecar on the left side, you must ensure your sidecar meets any specific requirements for your state or city. 


On a standard motorcycle, riders are encouraged to counter-steer and lean into the bike in the direction of the turn. However, leaning is significantly less effective with a sidecar.

Instead, use the handlebars and directly turn toward the desired direction, like a car, then slightly lean into the desired direction. This turning method results in wider turning angles, which riders must always keep in mind when negotiating turns and corners.

Weight Distribution

Motorcycles with sidecars have slightly uneven weight distribution, especially without a passenger in the sidecar. Turning left makes the bike behave noticeably differently than turning right.

  • When turning the bike in the sidecar’s direction (right with a right-mounted sidecar), the sidecar’s nose will tend to rise and may tip up, bringing its wheel off the road surface. Be mindful of your speed before taking turns to avoid a rollover accident.
  • When turning the bike away from the sidecar (to the left with a right-mounted sidecar), you may be able to negotiate a turn with more speed. However, avoid going too fast, as excessive speed can cause the sidecar to dive downwards, causing your bike’s rear wheel to lift off the road surface.

Best Practices to Learn When Riding a Motorcycle with a Sidecar

Riding your motorcycle with an attached sidecar is challenging and requires careful attention to how you handle your vehicle. Following these best practices is essential to ensure a safe and enjoyable ride.

  • Always be mindful of your speed if you are unfamiliar with sidecars, even if you have experience riding a standard motorcycle. Excessive speeds, even below the posted speed limit, can cause your motorcycle to tip or rollover.
  • If you are new to riding with a sidecar, practice on local, open, flat roads at low speeds before taking it on the highways.
  • Unlike with a standard motorcycle, avoid braking while turning, as it can make your bike harder to control. Always brake in straight lines instead.
  • Sidecars operate best with a passenger inside the compartment. The passenger’s weight helps balance the bike’s weight distribution, making it safer. If you intend to ride alone, install weights into the compartment to help balance the bike, such as a sandbag, large bags of dog food, or even personal luggage.
  • Consider practicing riding with and without a passenger to get a feel for the motorcycle’s behavior in both situations.

Injured in a Motorcycle Crash? Schedule a Free Consultation with Dudley DeBosier Injury Lawyers

If you or a passenger was injured in an accident while riding your bike with a sidecar in the Bayou State, you can count on the Louisiana motorcycle accident attorneys at Dudley DeBosier. We have years of experience representing motorcycle riders in Louisiana and understand the dangers and prejudice riders face on the road.

Contact our law firm to review your motorcycle accident case and help you receive a fair settlement for your injuries.

This content has been reviewed by Chad Lederman, Director of Legal Operations at our New Orleans office.

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