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Tips for riding with a passenger

Added August 6, 2015
Riding with a passenger

Sharing a ride can be compared to dancing; 
it’s two people moving in unison, one leading and one following.’ 

Motorcycle riders experience one of the greatest joys there is: the freedom of the open road and being one with your bike and surroundings. It’s only natural to want to share this experience with friends and loved ones. To that end, let’s explore tips for riding with a passenger.

To begin, let’s cover some basics for you, the operator:

Before inviting someone to saddle up, wisdom dictates that you experience a good amount of solo riding and become intimately familiar with your bike. Prior to giving a passenger a ride, ask how much he or she weighs to evaluate whether collectively you will exceed your bike’s gross vehicle weight rating. Consult your bike’s manual to learn its limits and adjust your suspension and inflate your tires to support the increased weight. Remember, a passenger needs an ample seat and foot pegs, and a backrest and handholds increase his or her comfort.

Now, let’s examine some pre-ride tips to give your passenger:

Wear safety gear – You and your passenger should wear safety gear! This includes a helmet, jacket, gloves, long pants or jeans, and boots. Since the passenger’s feet are closer to the rear wheel and drive system, long or loose laces need to be secured to prevent entanglement.

Hands, feet, seat –
Demonstrate the proper way to mount a motorcycle, including how to use foot pegs, handholds and staying relatively centered on the seat. Discuss where the moving parts are and advise not to touch a hot exhaust. Instruct your passenger to keep his or her feet firmly on the footrests at all times, even when the motorcycle is stopped. Show your passenger how to reduce the impact of traversing obstacles (such as a rough patch in the road) by rising slightly off the saddle and keeping the knees bent.

Welcome to the dance – A passenger’s weight and movements affect the bike’s balance and steering. Sharing a ride can be compared to dancing; it’s two people moving in unison, one leading and one following. On the bike, the operator leads and the passenger needs to learn how to follow. Explain how the motorcycle steers by leaning into turns. Teach your passenger to look over your shoulder toward the inside of a curve so he or she is in unison with your lean. Instruct a passenger to avoid sudden movements, and to alert you when he or she needs to gently readjust on the saddle.

These are basic tips to consider when riding with a passenger. For an in-depth education, consider taking a motorcycle rider education course certified by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.


Till next time, ride safe!