Sidecar Update

If you’ve been following this site over the last few years, I’ve mentioned sidecars more than a few times. You see, I grew up in the Philippines and for the most part, families that didn’t have a car usually would have a sidecar. It basically acted as a form of transportation. In addition, you can hire a sidecar for a few pesos to get you from point A to point B.

Now that I’ve been in America for a few decades, I’ve been daydreaming about a sidecar to add to my collection of bicycles. So, when my mom decided to visit the Philippines over the summer, I asked her if she could see about bringing back or at least shipping a sidecar back to the U.S. During her trip I received messages from my uncle who was overseeing the project. He sent a message with just a photo:
The next message I received was from my aunt who stated that when my mom arrived back in the U.S., someone will need a van or a truck to pick her up because of the sidecar. At first I thought they were just pulling my leg, but sure enough my mom had come through!

So when I received the sidecar (thanks mom!), it looked liked this:
I then mated it with my daughter’s old Manhattan Hotrod:
There’s one problem with the sidecar setup; if you’re the driver, it’s wicked tough to pedal. It’s doable, but it’s hard. The small cranks on the hotrod didn’t help either. In fact, when Jack was in town for Interbike, we rode it around the neighborhood and he too felt the weight of the beast. So then I thought, “wouldn’t it be great if this was electrified?!?” So I contacted Bike Mike at Leed Bicycle Solutions. He provided the project with a custom made 8Fun electric motor mounted a 20″ wheel combined with a 10.4 Ah Li-Ion Battery powered by Samsung.
samsung electric bike
Then I equipped the sidecar with a set of matching LED spoke lights by PBLights
The modifications didn’t stop there. In fact, I was far from over. One thing I wanted to do was make sure that the sidecar/bike had matching colors. Since the Hotrod had a great orange color to it already, I decided to go with that same scheme. So I took it to Specialized Powder Coating in Huntington Beach. I chose “Safety Orange.” About 10 days later, this is what I got back. Not bad eh? The color came out so nice, I couldn’t believe my eyes!
When I got home that morning, I started reassembling the machine. Pressing cups, tightening bolts, etc. In about 2 hours, the bike was complete! Oh but before I show you the final product, I have to mention that our very own Jack Sweeney sent me a large roll of vinyl as my Christmas present. So I went ahead and redid the upholstery on the the bike seat, seat pad and back rest on the sidecar.
Ok so here’s the fully assembled sidecar/bike, sans the battery pack:
We’ve done a number of projects on BikeCommuters and over the years, but I have to say that this has to be one of my favorites that we’ve done. Anyone who rides the sidecar immediately falls in love with it. Not only was it fun to work on it, but my own daughter and I have had countless hours riding this thing around. In fact, she loves taking her friends on it and cruising the neighborhood. Heck, just this afternoon, we rode up to the local school and I asked the kids who were there if they’d like to have a drag race.
These kids didn’t have a chance! Ya I know that I’m a grown man and I was riding a sidecar with an electric motor, but still, I won!
For now the sidecar project is done…well not really. Now I’m focusing more on accessories. I want to get cup holders and possibly building some sort of canopy for it or even a wood floor.


  1. Raiyn

    Very cool project. One thing really piqued my interest though, would you be willing to do a saddle recovering tutorial? I’m sure there are plenty of folks with serviceable saddles who would love to learn how to refurbish them, myself included.

  2. Ghost Rider

    I’m with Raiyn — we’d love to see some tutorials, seein’ as how RL is the upholstery MASTER these days. The saddle came out great, and of course the bench seat and backrest on the sidecar looks totally badass, thanks to that cool cat Jack and his sparkly vinyl gift!!!

  3. RL Policar (Post author)

    Gee I don’t know guys…all I did was pull and tucked. Not much to it. But I’ll see what I can muster up.

  4. Raiyn

    Don’t be so modest RL. That’s one of the skills I’d love to have.

  5. joseph

    Love this project. retro and functional !

  6. listenermark

    Safety orange is the new black. Nerdlove!

  7. Raiyn

    @ listenermark
    Wait ’till you see what I’ve got coming.

  8. Andrew

    Really want to see this in person!

  9. PBLights

    So happy to see the project done, looks super awesome! Think I’m gonna have to get me some parts to start one myself!

  10. Mike

    Hey brother,

    Awesome work with the sidecar. I’ll be going back to the Phil this month and I was wondering how much did you pay on everything (side car, shipping and handling) please contact me thanks.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *