Taking a passenger on the back of your bike is a big deal. You are now completely responsible for that person’s well being. They have trusted you with their life so you better do everything in your power to take care of it.
1: Make sure that the suspension and tire pressure on your bike are set for the combined weight of rider and passenger and any luggage or gear that you might have. Always do a quick check of the bike to make certain everything is in good working order.
2: Ensure that your passenger is wearing proper riding gear even if you have to give her your own jacket or gloves. It infuriates me when I see a rider all decked out in leathers, boots and gloves while his passenger is on the back in shorts and a t-shirt.
Your passenger should wear quality gear; boots or sturdy shoes that cover the ankle, leather, reinforced jean, or cordura pants and jacket, leather gloves and a DOT approved helmet that fits properly. Buying a cheap helmet in a large size just so you have a “spare” lying around is going to do any good for a passenger that has a small head.
3: Before you take a passenger for the first time educate him or her about what is hot on the bike. (I’ve been burned before) Tell her where to put her feet, and instruct her that they should remain there until you say otherwise.
4: Show her how to safely and smoothly get on and off the bike and tell her to always make sure that you are ready for her before she climbs on.
5: Teach your passenger how to hold onto you when you are riding. I always suggest that the passenger start by putting both hands around the rider and placing them firmly on the tank. This gives them something solid to push against under braking when their body tends to slide forward, and it also ensures that they don’t jerk back under hard acceleration either.
When she gets more comfortable she can hold the side rails or the waist, but never the shoulders or arms.
6: Come up with some basic hand signals so you can communicate while riding and be sure to check in with your passenger often to see how she is doing.
7: Remember that when riding with a passenger the bike is heavier and it will steer and maneuver differently, so take time to learn the new characteristics.
You need to be even smoother with all the controls, rolling on and off the throttle, applying and releasing the brakes, shifting and steering when you have a passenger otherwise you will be bonking helmets the entire ride.
8: Explain to your passenger that the BEST thing she can do while on the bike is remain relaxed and neutral and to “go with the bike.” Doing so is going to make the bike handle and perform the best and it is important that your passenger know this.
Tell her to look over your inside shoulder and to not lean away from the bike or fight leaning and tell her not to make any sudden movements.
To help your passenger feel more comfortable and to prevent her from tensing up in situations that are “out of the ordinary” talk to her about how the motorcycle works. Show her how you steer the bike and how it leans in a turn, tell her what you are looking at when going through a corner, teach her how to look far ahead in a corner and not target fixate on things she is nervous about, show her how you roll on the gas in a corner and how you shift gears, and then talk about different situations that could come up that would require “out of the ordinary” actions.
9: Practice Emergency Maneuvers. An excellent way of helping your passenger stay relaxed on the bike in ALL situations is to practice making emergency stops and sudden avoidance maneuvers in a parking lot before heading out for a long ride. Do some quick s-turns and then some longer sweeping turns and have your passenger work on going “with the bike.”
Have her intentionally lean away from the bike and tense up so she can feel the difference between how the bike reacts, it will be smoother when she follows it than when she fights it.
The more you practice together the better you will be able to read each other and work together as a team. We always talk about educating the rider and how practice makes perfect. The same holds true for team riding. Educate your passenger and practice together so that sudden maneuvers aren’t so sudden and unexpected anymore and so that you know how to communicate effectively.
Two people on a motorcycle are able to metamorphosis from ‘rider’ and ‘passenger’ into a unified “team.”
Happy 2 Up Riding!