Pictures that recall the golden age of the motorcycle sidecar

They are seldom seen on the roads nowadays, but as today’s selection from the archive reminds us, sidecars were a familiar and affordable appendage to motor bikes for the first three-quarters of the last century.

H C Mills of Blackburn entering Salisbury on his Premier motorcycle with sidecar on the Motor Car Club London to Exeter run.   (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)
H C Mills of Blackburn entering Salisbury on his Premier motorcycle with sidecar on the Motor Car Club London to Exeter run. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

The first were little more than wicker chairs mounted to a chassis – sometimes by lone mechanics in their garages – but at the height of their popularity, sidecars were turned out by small, independent manufacturers up and down the country. Even today, federations of enthusiasts survive.

Their decline was precipitated by the closure of a loophole in the law which until the 1960s allowed a bike with any size of engine to be ridden on a provisional license, so long as it had a sidecar attached. Nevertheless, custom models are still available.

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A Premier motorcycle powerful enough to carry six people in its sidecar is driven up the steep gradient of River Hill, Sevenoaks. (Photo by Topical Press Agency/Getty Images)

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A line-up of Automobile Association Riders with their motorcycle sidecars. Copyright Automobile Association (Photo by Fox Photos/Getty Images)

Sincerely. Thank you.

James Mitchinson, Editor

circa 1926: A young woman alights from an enclosed motorcycle sidecar. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)
circa 1930: A couple take a ride in the countryside with their motorcycle and sidecar. (Photo by General Photographic Agency/Getty Images)