Sidecars have a number of advantages, but the most important one is weight. The Raja Royal was a trike so heavy I didn't even want to know how much it weighed. The latest sidecar is light enough that I can pick it up easily. The advantage is most notable when climbing hills, but also in negotiating curbs, or when making emergency stops. The slight disadvantage to less weight is that the wheels may lift off the ground when cornering sharply. To counteract this, the driver must lean heavily into corners, which makes things interesting. Properly conducted, however, a sidecar has a level of agility much closer to that of a bicycle than that of a rickshaw.
Another distinct benefit of the sidecar is having your passenger in a more conversational arrangement by your side. It is nice to be able to see who I am driving and how much fun they are certainly having while on board. Since my passengers seem to almost always want to ask me questions, this is a great way to have it.
On my latest version, the car itself is detachable from the bicycle. This makes owning and building pedicabs far more convenient, because I don't have to sacrifice a bike by permanently welding an addition onto it, nor do I have to build completely from scratch. Also, once it has been built it can transform from pedicab back to a bicycle for seasonal storage.
Another thing about the sidecar is that, for a pedicab, it is very compact. sidecars are usually both narrower and shorter than traditional rickshaws. This makes it far easier to bring it onto sidewalks, where it can more easily entice customers.
One thing I heard yelled from the sidewalks when I drove the Raja Royal were comments like, "This isn't China!" "We're not in China here!" People had some pretty strong cultural prejudices regarding that type of vehicle, it seemed. In contrast, when people see a sidecar, they usually respond positively. Perhaps it is because our culture is at least familiar enough with sidecars, usually in the context of motorcycles, to be able to assimilate the idea of a bicycle sidecar.
The first build I call the Skruvskar, because its seat is made from a recycled Ikea office chair.
The next sidecar I built is called the Widecar. Simply because its...wide.
The idea was to build a 4 passenger sidecar, if possible. The base was made from recycled bed frame angle iron, and the rest 1/2" conduit. It became a tandem when I added a recumbent seating position with a crankset linked to the sidecar wheel. With a stoker on board, it was able to reach a good cruising speed. Unfortunately, the driver pictured wrecked into a curb because his passenger, already on the far right side, was leaning even more to the right when a left turn needed to be made. They both recovered, and so did the Widecar too, for the most part. It was also brought to the PawPaw fest last year, where the kids got to have fun on it until the wheels were shot to hell. I still haven't had it working since it went out on Halloween.
And so, here comes the newest iteration:
The Decidecar - because you can decide whether or not it stays attached. It was made almost entirely of recycled bike frames, with conduit used only on the armrests. The thing I like about this design is that it can be adjusted for camber and toe-in. A sidecar works best when the wheels are not quite vertical but very slightly angled in at the top. Also, the sidecar wheel should track not straight ahead, but very slightly towards the bike. Being able to tune these adjustments, I ended up with a sidecar bike that can be ridden no hands, which is always a good sign for a customized bike.
This car has a 24" wheel instead of 26", so that the seat can be over the wheel and the track width be fairly narrow. What I failed to do is place the wheel in the proper fore/aft position. It is a few inches behind the bike's rear wheel, when it should be either in line with or ahead of. This makes it such that coming off a sharp dip while loaded may cause a tipover, so I may need to add a safety wheel to catch the bike should that happen. This version also has a third brake, again operated by foot pedal. Braking the sidecar wheel is tricky, however, because sharp braking will certainly pull the vehicle to the right unless both rear brakes are applied together. When all three are put to use, though, this thing sure stops quickly.