Flying the Chair

"Flying the chair" involves picking the sidecar wheel up off the ground while going down the street. You might ask "why would someone wand to do that". Well, we do it because:

Flying the chair is fun!

Flying the chair is impressive!

But, sometimes it can't be avoided and in those cases, flying the chair can be very dangerous.

With a right hand mounted rig like mine, right hand turns tend to lift the chair up in the air. Two wheel riders have a tough time understanding this and always believe that the opposite should be true because in their minds I still lean my way through a turn and wouldn't a left-turn lean lift the sidecar up into the air? But that's just not the way it works folks. Flying the chair can be a lot of fun in a controlled environment but it can be deadly if done at the wrong time. The problem is the minute you lift the third wheel up into the air, your three wheeled vehicle instantly turns into a horribly balanced two wheeled vehicle and it behaves just like a two wheeled motorcycle. You immediately counter steer just like any other two wheeled vehicle but at the same time your sidecar is waving in the air, making any small lean angle changes appear to be much greater than they really are. If you really think about it "flying the chair" can be real scary at the wrong time.

I believe that everyone who owns a sidecar will eventually unintentionally fly the chair. Normally you'll do it while taking a right turn in your neighborhood a little two fast, you'll think "I don't think I want to do that again!" and then you'll either slow down or steer the other way and put the wheel down. But then maybe you'll take a right turn a little two fast out on the open road? Or maybe while in a right turn a gust of wind pushes your chair up in the air? You won't have the space to steer to the left (and off the road or into oncoming traffic) and in some cases, slowing down will just make the problem worse. In this case, the only option will be to remember that you are now riding a two wheeled vehicle, ride it out and then put the chair down after exiting the turn.

Which brings me to my point. It may sound odd but the best defense against unintentionally flying the chair is to practice flying the chair. The only way to absolutely know how to handle your vehicle with the chair up is to practice with the chair up - in a controlled environment of course. Most people who practice do so by riding slow figure eight's until the chair comes up. Then they slowly increase the size of their figure eight's and speed. You should eventually be able to smoothly pick up your chair and set it down during normal right hand turns. By the way, figure eight practice works great until that scared Wall Mart employee chases you off the parking lot. As a side benefit, you will learn to feel when your wheel starts to lift and you will be in more control of your rig.

With all of this talk about flying the chair you would think that I'd prefer a trike. Personally, I think that trikes are much more dangerous than sidecar rigs. It's harder (some salesmen will tell you impossible) to put a trike on two wheels but a it's still a high profile vehicle and if you ever you do then you're really screwed!

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