BestBear Soviet 2WD sidecars

On the road and off-road

We especially like our 2-wheel-drive Dneprs under off-road circumstances because then their features turn out best, but they function very well on the road as well. The driven sidecar even makes it an easier to handle combination than a normal not-driven sidecar, because the drive on the second wheel makes steering easier and its higher weight results in better stability.


Differential and its locking device

To ride on paved surface with a driven sidecar you need a differential, quite the same as with a car. The differential distributes the power over the two driven wheels so that the wheel following the outer circle of the bend gets more power and revolves faster. Without this it would be almost impossible to steer on a surfaced road.
When a differential is locked, i.e. both driven wheels receive the same amount of power, the wheel following the inner circle of the bend has to be able to slip, this is only possible on a loose or slippery (icey) surface. A locked differential acts as a rigid axle, and makes steering imprecise.


Some of our driven sidecar machines are equipped with a locking device on the differential; NEVER engage this on a surfaced road! On surfaced roads the vehicle can only ride in a straight line when the differential is locked, no matter what you (try to) do with the front wheel! Even in terrain the steering is imprecise. This locking device is only meant to be used when you are stuck in soft or icey terrain; one driven wheel is blocked while the other one slips and direction of move is less important than any movement at all.
Therefore you only lock a differential when riding off-road to overcome a particulair situation, just to get you on the move again. Be carefull, riding on the road with a locked differential is useless and DANGEROUS!



Specially for a sidecar combination a reverse is a welcome addition. Shifting to reverse is only possible when the gearbox is in it's neutral position. The video below explains the operation.


Be careful when riding the machine in reverse! If this is done too fast control over the steering is surprisingly easy lost and the forces provoked thus are immense. This is normal because the combination is designed for straight on stability in forward direction, not in reverse and you can’t have that both ways.


Climbing or descending

While riding off-road in sloping terrain for safety try to keep the sidecar at the lower end if possible, especially when it is empty.


Slooping terrain is never a save situation and needs constant concentration.



Another feature to be aware of when riding a driven sidecar combination is to keep the sidecar wheel in contact with the road surface, especially while taking corners to the right. Slow down before the bend sets in! If the sidecar lifts (which is not unusual with conventional lighter sidecars) its driven wheel will start to spin while traction on the bike’s rear wheel declines; this is the normal working of the differential. Beware that things can get out of hand when the spinning sidecar wheel touches the road surface again and tries to force the whole vehicle suddenly to the left. The best thing to do if the sidecar starts to lift in a right bend is to close the throttle and withdraw the clutch while moving your body-weight towards the sidecar. Only release the clutch while gently opening up the throttle when the sidecar wheel is in full contact with the road surface again.
In corners to the left the driven sidecar has the big advantage of a much better control over the vehicle in case it starts sliding, especially on wet or slippery roads.



If it occurs that the engine, especially a flathead type, seems to lack power progressively during a longer ride in extremely heavy terrain or prolonged steep climbes this is problaby due to overheating. Side valve engines easilly generate heat, sometimes causing the (modern) fuel in the float chambers to boil which leads to instable gas mixture, which in turn accelerates the overheating of the engine. Stop the engine and let it cool down for half an hour or so.

It is in their nature that side-valve engines tend to run quite a bit hotter, which makes maintaining tappet clarence all the more important.
Also keep in mind that these engines basically date from the 1930’s, an era in which prolonged high speed cruising wasn’t possible, due to the infrastructure of that time. Cruising speeds of about 50 mph were considered normal and most engines were developed for just that, and yes, this one was too. If you just take your time and vary the engine load sufficiently it will take you almost anywhere in the world, whether there is a road or not.


When off-road riding, be prepaired for the unexpected

One of the nicest things is looking for the limits of man and machine. But under those circumstances unexpected things will easily happen. So always think ahead: will it be safe, what cán you expect, what will you do, will you get out, etc. In fact: will you get home.
Always be prepaired, have shovel and rope on board, a helping hand is always welcome so take a passenger with you, or better, another 2WD sidecar to help you out when needed.

Have a look at the video below to see what happened to us in well known terrain, but in a newly dug pit with treacherous sand. Part of the off-road fun.



   10 do's    10 don'ts

1. Do give the engine enough time to warm up before exploiting its full potential.

2. Steering a sidecar rigg can be hard labour. Learn to use your entire body, not just your arms. You can do a lot with the muscles of your midriff and waist, using your arms and steering handle as a locked triangle.

3. Do approach bends, especially right hand ones, with care. Set in the bend at a calm pace, you can accellerate out but be careful if the bend ‘tights in’, causing your sidecar to lift. Use your body-weight.

4. With a driven sidecar on road it is important to keep the sidecar wheel in contact with the road surface. Lifting the sidecar wheel safely requires a lot of experience.

5. When a driven sidecar wheel gets lifted (f.i. in a right hand corner) the differential will stop driving the motorcycle wheel while the lifted wheel will still be driven. When this happens on a surfaced road do shut down the throttle to also stop the drive of the lifted wheel, preventing a swerve to the left when the freely spinning sidecar wheel hits the road.

6. Do be very careful when riding in reverse. Steering is very difficult and with a fraction too much speed things can get out of hand seriously.

7. When riding off-road it is best to have a companion in the sidecar or someone with a capable vehicle so that there is help nearby when needed.

8. Do change the engine oil every 7500 kms / 4500 miles (maximum) since there is no modern oilfiltration incorporated in the lubrication system. The dustier the trips the more important cleaning of the air filter will be.

9. Do renew worn or doubtful parts only by better ones and do so in time, preventing damage to other parts and making the misery and costs only bigger. Most breakdowns are due to sloppy maintenance. Check newly obtained parts before you fit them.

10. Do always keep safety in mind and give yourself sufficient time to learn the skills needed for sidecar riding, both on the road and off-road.

1. Do not forget to check your board equipement before setting of on a trip: some tools and spare parts like sparkplugs, cables, some extra bolts in different sizes. Also check your shovel and rope when going off-road.

2. Do not expect braking or accellerating capabilities like modern vehicles. Bear in mind that these sidecars were designed more than half a century ago.

3. Do not compare a sidecar rigg with a car, a quad or a solo motorcycle; it is a vehicle in its own kind and requires unique riding skills.

4. Do not hammer down highways at full throttle for prolonged time; these engines are not designed for that kind of use.

5. Do not climb or descend steep hills with an empty sidecar at the higher side; you seriously risk ending up under 400 kgs of Russian steel.

6. Do not use the differential lock on surfaced roads. This is useless, makes adequate steering impossible and it can be very dangerous.

7. Do not ride with loose or broken spokes or loose wheel bearings. Especially the sidecar wheel has a hard life, mainly due to fast left hand cornering. Spokes are quite easy to replace and wheel bearings are adjustable.

8. The engine is air cooled when riding. In slow speed traffic jams, climbing steep hills or 'ploughing' slowly through difficult terrain the temperature of the cylinders and pistons will rise. These are the conditions BestBear has anticipated, f.i. with the oversize oil pump and adjusted oil distribution, but do not expect the impossible from an air cooled engine and let it cool in time, take a break.

9. Do not tamper with our BestBear oil distribution set-up: ours is already the very best achievable. Other oil pumps will most probably not be able to produce the volume aquired for our set-up.

10. Do not over estimate yourself and get experienced with a 2WD sidecar step by step to enjoy its full scala of properties in a save way.