Today I want to share my recent research journey. I’ve been searching for a sidecar to mount onto my ebike, and I knew right away that I would be barking up an expensive tree to get the features that I wanted.
Like other expensive choices I make, I research for weeks to be certain that I am investing in the right product at the right time. This specific line of research even prompted me to search “how to make expensive decisions” because I was stuck between hold out for another option and there is no other option. I actually felt better about my research findings after reading about how others prioritize decisions. So this post is all about my journey to pick the perfect sidecar to mount onto my ebike. Later (after it arrives and we use it a few times), I’ll update you all again with a shiny fresh post about the sidecar in action.
Disclosure: This site contains affiliate links; I may earn a tiny commission from purchases.
I don’t remember what sparked the original query, but I started searching for bicycle sidecars hoping to find one that was compatible with my ebike (and my husband’s ebike too). Majority of the bike attachments that I could find were for cargo, not toddlers, so that was an immediate no-go because my kid is my favorite cargo and I wanted him to be in a human-grade add on.
Seeking sidecar that is
- Compatible with Rad Runner Plus
- Compatible with Rad Mini ST2
- Intended for children, not just cargo
Right now Kid Jupiter already rides behind me in a regular child trailer (upgraded from the frame-mounted Thule child seat we started with) – all the details are here in So I Bought…an Electric Bike [RadCity ST3 ebike with axle-mounted Schwinn trailer]. Also at the time of writing the Kid is a tall two-year old and I know he’s going to outgrow that trailer before he’s finished using it; he’ll still want to go on rides but will be too big for the Schwinn, and too small for a trail-a-bike or simply riding on the passenger deck of Mister Jupiter’s Rad Runner Plus. I hoped that a sidecar would have higher weight capacity, and I was right.
Kid Jupiter and I typically ride when Mister Jupiter is busy working, so I needed a sidecar and bike that I can load and unload without help. So I started by buying another ebike; a RadMini ST2 for $1,500. It has the two features I most wanted with a bonus third feature; it folds, it’s 750 watts, and it’s another Rad Power Bike (so we’re staying loyal to the brand who provides what I want each time!). Honestly I tried to buy a different brand because I hoped it would ship sooner, but my TWO orders were never even confirmed (much less charged and shipped), so I cancelled those attempts and bought a third Rad with an eight week lead time.
My solo-parenting ebike needs include
- foldability to fit in my Prius
- 750w bike because we live in a hilly neighborhood
- a company who actually fills orders
- Thank you RadPowerBikes.com!
- I do NOT recommend E****a bikes on Amazon.
So with a powerful folding bike on order, I doubled down on sidecar research.
The ideal sidecar needs meet my solo-parenting life so I have to be able to move it without help, it needs to be made for human children, and easy on the eyes – I promise that I don’t ask for too much, but my specific requests are non-negotiable.
- Needs to fit in a Prius (not unseemly bulky)
- Needs to be relatively lightweight (for rides without Mister Jupiter)
- Needs to be made for children (seat & seatbelt)
- Needs to look good (subjective of course)
Almost immediately I found Scandinavian Side Bike, and their USA dealer Mad Dogs & Englishmen (who operate four bike shops in California). The sidecars were just what I had in mind – simple, stylish, and they had a lot of photos of kids and dogs enjoying the sidecars (thanks to the bike shops also providing rentals). But when I checked the site for prices, I was prompted to email them for a quote. That was a quick flag for “OMG I can’t afford anything whose price isn’t listed plainly” but I clicked more and found that the base price was $1,950 USD for the sidecar and frame assembly, or $599 USD for the steel frame (sans fiberglass sidecar) if you want to build your own sidecar. Two thousand dollar bucks is a lot of money, but it’s not unreasonable for a unique child carrier that only weighs 30lbs and can fit in a Prius [so their sidecar immediately met my specific needs as of July 2021].
I emailed for a quote, and continued shopping around.
I quickly found…a bunch of nothing; virtually zero competition – wow!
I found at least one site “selling sidecars” for $70 (total scam site, I won’t bother sharing the link because I don’t want anyone to give them credit card information). Thanks to some forum responses on EBR I found links to legitimate sellers. I need to join that forum so I can thank those members – without them I would have only known about two of the four sidecars available in the world (not including Alibaba because I want one sidecar, I’m not seeking bulk pricing on multiple items).
– “Sidecar” search results on electricbikereview.com
So all of the sidecar makers I could find were (as of July 2021)
- Mod Bikes in Austin, Texas ($3,370 including bike; sidecar only is not an option)
- Bad Bikes in Italy (€3.960 including bike; sidecar only is not an option)
- Mad Dogs & Englishmen ($1,950 starting price on standalone sidecar)
- SideBuddy in Sweden (€875 starting price on standalone sidecar)
Mod Bikes and Bad Bikes were easy to eliminate because I only need the sidecar, besides neither bikes fold so neither suit my needs. Of the two remaining I eliminated SideBuddy because I didn’t like the style. And as a rule, I don’t even think about buying something that I don’t love. So the only actual option for me was to buy a Scandinavian Side Bike sidecar from Mad Dogs & Englishmen – luckily I was already waiting on a quote.
So this is when I started searching for help making expensive decisions – because the custom fiberglass Scandinavian sidecar was just what I wanted, but I wasn’t sure if I was willing to pay a few thousand dollars for one. Especially since the lead time could be as long as ten weeks. Lead time for custom items isn’t a problem, it’s my patience that needs improving. Remember that I bought a RadMini ST2 that I am still waiting on.
I did something that I often do, I guessed how often I would use it in one year and divide the cost by anticipated uses. It was still really high for one year then I remembered that this sidecar carries 100lbs of anything; kids or dogs. So then I hatched a multi-year plan that goes like this:
- Current – Kid Jupiter rides in Schwinn trailer behind me, Mister uses sidecar with Atlas (our elderly man-bear-dog).
- Later – Kid Jupiter outgrows Schwinn (50lbs max), Kid upgrades to the sidecar until he outgrows it (100lbs max) or thinks it’s lame.
- Later Later – Kid Jupiter rides on Mister’s bike on the passenger deck because it’s cool, and I use the sidecar with Mike Dog (who will one day be elderly too).
So my multi-year plan makes the sidecar a legitimate family investment, not just a stylish toy. I made sure that my quote included the seat, one seatbelt, but also eyebolts for dog leashes, a matching rain cover, AND a second mounting bracket so that both Rad bikes (a Rad Runner Plus, and a Mini StepThru 2) can lead the sidecar.
Final cost? Let’s just say that adding pizza and beer rounded the total to $3,000.
I said it was pricey. I also said it was an investment.
But I am fond of unique items – especially when there is no competition. And just like my preference to only buy organic produce, I have a track record of paying for higher quality when I am able. Besides, Scandinavian Side Bike is owning their niche and standing behind their high quality hand-made fiberglass sidecars. I absolutely respect that, and I turned that appreciation into a sale.
So I did it. I confirmed the purchase via phone on a sunny afternoon with a sales associate from Mad Dogs & Englishmen in Monterey, California. I asked if she could send me some business cards too because I have a creeping feeling that I’m going to be the only person in Central Arkansas with one of their beautiful sidecars. Since the lead time is two to three months I have time to get any custom vinyl decals made, and we’ll be ready to ride in the fall assuming that everything (bike and sidecar) arrives safely.
Now we wait!
I bought a custom sidecar from Mad Dogs & Englishmen (the USA dealer for Scandinavian Side Bike). It’s just under $3,000 USD, and should be perfect for me (to lift and move without help), perfect for my child (until he exceeds 100lbs), and perfect for my dogs (as they age). It’s fiberglass and will be used with our ebikes because riding as a family is fun. I looked for alternatives, but there weren’t any others that met all of my requirements!