Learning to ride with a passenger on a motorcycle is vital to making your motorcycle a regular part of your life. It can be a little scary at first but, using these tips, can be as comfortable as riding solo.
Make sure your bike can handle the extra weight.
Trying to carry a 350 pound man on the back of your Honda Cub is a bad idea, but so is carrying any full-size adult on a motorcycle without making sure it’s prepared for the job. The added weight will impact acceleration, braking, and suspension. While you can’t do much about the acceleration, you should make sure your brakes are in good shape to help stop a heavier load, and that your suspension is set up for additional weight. Passenger foot pegs are also a must.
Getting on the motorcycle.
Ask your passenger to wait until you tell them you are ready before they try to mount. Make sure the passenger pegs are down and then instruct them to mount from the left, non-muffler side. Make sure the motorcycle is completely upright and that your legs are braced to keep it that way before your passenger gets on the bike. While it may seem more stable when on it’s kickstand, the bike will be harder to straighten once the extra weight comes aboard.
Tighter is better.
Instruct your passenger to hold on to you tightly. If they have a loose grip, they will be more likely slam into you when stopping and also feel like they’re going to fall off when you accelerate. Regardless of how you feel about this technique, be it an added bonus or it makes you slightly uncomfortable, it’s better than feeling like your passenger could slip off at any moment.
Even slight movements from your passenger will impact how your bike feels when turning. Inexperienced passengers have the tendency to lean the opposite direction you’re turning, for fear of falling off. Before departing, instruct them to stay as straight as possible while simply looking over your shoulder to the side you are turning toward. That tiny amount of extra weight to the inside, plus the consistency in their movements, will give you all you need to adjust your steering inputs accordingly.
Instruct your passenger to keep their feet on the foot pegs when you come to a stop. Your motorcycle is at it’s most vulnerable when stopped, as gravity tugs it downwards without any gyroscopic forces pulling it forward and helping to keep you upright. Their putting a foot down can unsettle the balance you have and tip you over. Also, at the end of your ride, ask them to wait to move until you let them know you are ready. Then have them dismount the same way they got on toward the left, non-muffler side.
- If you ride with passengers often, you may want to purchase passenger hand holds, either to wear or to attach to your motorcycle.
- Ask your passenger not to turn around or make any sudden movements.
- Avoid high speeds or dramatic lean angles, unless you’re Randy Mamola.
- If your passenger is able to reach the tank, they should use it to brace themselves when stopping or slowing.
- Keep in mind your stopping distances greatly increases with additional weight, and stopping will require extra effort on the controls.
- Agree on hand signals before you depart. One for, “Pull over.” Another for, “You’re going too fast, slow down.” As well as one for, “I’m good, keep it up.”
- Drag your back brake to smooth out the ride at low speeds.
- As always, make sure anyone riding on a motorcycle is wearing safety gear that fits appropriately.
What are your go-to tips when carrying a new passenger? Tell us in the comments below.