Sidecars have been used with motorcycles for many years. As a matter of fact, the sidecar came before the motorcycle. The first sidecar was produced in 1893 by French Army officer Jean Bertoux for a bicycle. The Graham Brothers first began making sidecars for motorcycles in 1903.
It wasn’t long before the practicality of a sidecar was realized and their popularity grew. Hugo Young, an American inventor, came out with an improved model with a smoother ride in 1913. Even with the rise in popularity of automobiles, motorcycles and sidecars remained somewhat popular, due to the fact that they were more economical. It was at this time that police departments began using sidecars regularly. Two officers could be transported as easily and as cheaply as one. Many police departments fitted machine guns onto the sidecars, making a formidable mobile weapon. Further, sidecars were experimented with for many different uses, as armored assault vehicles, prisoner transport vehicles, and for parades (see the photos).
After WWII, police cars became more popular, and motorcycles were beginning to be used in much the fashion that they are used today. Of course, with a sidecar, a motorcycle is not as maneuverable as it is without. So, the popularity of the sidecar waned.
Today, police sidecars are used more as a showpiece than anything else. But they are still a sight to behold!