Five Top Tips For Riding With A Passenger
Once you've got the hang of riding your motorcycle on your own, one of the more fun advanced techniques you can brush up on is riding with a passenger. It's a challenging feat, and safety will be a key factor to observe (crash data doesn't differentiate for riding with passengers, though certainly highlights the risks of riding in general). With some dedication, however, you'll be able to adapt to riding two-up fairly quickly. Here are five top tips to keep in mind before you ride.
Observe These 5 Strategies
1) Ensure your passenger boards correctly – Make sure you are ready before your passenger attempts to hop on your bike. Once you have taken it off the stand, have the passenger pegs down, and are in a stable position, use your front brake lever to prevent your bike from rolling forward. Have your passenger board from the non-muffler side of the bike, behind you.
While on the bike they should hold onto your waist/hips, and keep their feet on the pegs at all times (even while stopped). To reduce the likelihood of burns, instruct your passenger to keep their feet away from the hot parts of your bike (shouldn't be hard if they keep those feet on the pegs)!
2) Your passenger will affect how you ride – The extra weight of your passenger is going to have a significant impact on the way your bike handles. Turning, accelerating, and stopping are going to take more effort than on a solo ride. You will also feel a greater effect from the wind.
Make sure your bike is designed to handle an extra body and don't take on an extra rider if your bike doesn't have a passenger seat. While riding, you and your passenger should work in unison to facilitate your actions.
When turning, they should remain as straight as possible, and not lean to the opposite side of your turn. When stopping, they should retain a tight grip on your body (if they don't they could potentially slam into you, disrupting balance and running the risk of sending you both off the bike).
If they can, have your rider brace themselves on the tank whenever you are slowing or stopping. When dismounting the bike, the same procedures should be followed as when boarding. Have your passenger wait until you have the bike secured, then give them the go ahead to hop off.
3) No sudden moves – This applies for both of you. Your passenger should refrain from turning around, unexpectedly grabbing your shoulders, flailing, or in general losing their cool. You, in turn, should take it easy to keep your passenger calm and keep yourself from getting surprised while you're getting the hang of riding two-up. You'll need more finesse with the clutch, and more throttle when accelerating from a complete stop, but overall you should avoid excessive speed and dramatic angles while operating your bike with a passenger.
4) Communication is key –You have to be able to communicate your intentions to your passenger while in motion. They, in turn, should be able to let you know if you're going too fast, if they need a break, etc. Not knowing what's going on could make for an uneasy ride, so agree on hand signals beforehand that correlate to specific meanings.
Alternatively, you could employ one of the many sophisticated Bluetooth headsets designed specifically for helmet-to-helmet communication, significantly improving your ability to converse during a ride. The Sena 20S-01 is an excellent option, as is the NCOM system by Nolan. Some other manufacturer's also make some great communicators, so do your research and find out which one would work best for you.
5) Wear the right gear – Safety first! Both you and your passenger should be wearing appropriate safety gear when you hit the road. This includes a solid, well-fitted helmet, riding gloves, a motorcycle jacket, motorcycle pants, and proper over-the-ankle motorcycle footwear. There's plenty of variety to choose from to fit your personal stylistic preferences, and no excuse for riding without the right attire, so suit up!
There are also a few things you can do to your bike to provide a more comfortable passenger experience. Consider passenger hand holds, which you can wear on your person to give your passenger some extra grip while you're on a ride.
You might also think about upgrading your motorcycle seats to be more comfortable. Depending on your bike you might be able to get some extra cushioning, or (a passenger favorite) a sturdy backrest.
Riding with a passenger might be exciting new territory for you. Bear in mind that your bike will feel different when riding for two. You have another life in your hands, so trust, communication, and keeping a level head are all paramount. As long as you keep your wits about you, though, and properly instruct your passenger on how to behave to make the ride go as smoothly as possible, you should have no issues gaining the tandem riding skills you need and steadily mastering this essential cycling talent.