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Two’s Company


June 18, 2013 by Rider Newsletter Staff

A few thoughts about riding with a passenger


Riding together on a motorcycle is a wonderful experience to share with a friend or someone special. However, there are a few things to consider before you put another human behind you as you rocket down the highway or make your way around a curving mountain road.

First, be aware that when you invite someone to join you for a ride, you are literally taking their life into your hands. This is not something to be done lightly. If you’re not ready to take the necessary precautions, or if your riding skills are not up to the task, don’t do it. Assuming you are prepared, be sure your bike is designed to carry a passenger and is ready to do so.

Preparing the bike

We’re always harping about tires around here and this is no exception. Check your owner’s manual to see if you should adjust the tire pressure when carrying a passenger. Depending on the bike, it may also be wise to make adjustments to the suspension to compensate for the additional weight. Also, be sure your bike is in good repair. You don’t want to share a roadside breakdown with someone you care about.

Preparing your passenger

If your seatmate is doing this for the first time, it is extremely important to make their first experience fun and relaxing. If you blow it, your friend may never climb aboard a motorcycle again and certainly not with you. Safety is always the first concern, so be sure your riding partner is equipped with a helmet and decent riding gear. If they don’t have their own, you’ll need to provide it.

Also, give them some quick advice on how to be a good passenger. Basically, their job is to sit tight, hold on and enjoy the ride. Tell them you will do all the necessary leaning and you will keep the bike upright when stopping. Jeff Cobb, from describes the perfect passenger as, “a sack of potatoes glued to the seat.” You probably shouldn’t mention this to your next date, but you get the idea.

Next, show your passenger the parts of the bike that will get hot while riding. Also, you should establish a few signals ahead of time so, if you’re on the highway and talking is not an option, he or she can tell you if they need to stop, they want you to slow down or you should pull over immediately.



What not to do? 

 Riding with care

With a passenger onboard, you’ll need to make some adjustments to the way you ride. Everything will change, at least a little. For example, starting will require a different combination of throttle and clutch; turning will feel more sluggish; the extra weight may cause the rear brakes to grip better on a flat surface, but the downhill stopping distance will increase. Take it easy until you get the hang of it.

Riding is fun. And it’s always nice to share fun stuff with someone. Perhaps a very special someone. With a little bit of planning and some attention to detail, you can ensure the first ride – and every ride thereafter – is a positive and exciting experience.

Interesting (?) note: In many other parts of the world the place where a motorcycle passenger sits (and sometimes the passenger him or herself) is called a pillion. The term comes from the Gaelic word for “little rug.” Riding on the rear of a motorcycle is known as “riding pillion.” Who knew?


Here are some links where you can get more tips and suggestions: has some tips at this link.

You can download a pdf file with two pages of guidelines from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation here. (not associated with any department of motor vehicles) has a brief article with some good advice.

There is some good information on the subject at



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