How to Ride With a Passenger
May 7, 2013 - San Diego, CA
Sometimes, you just want to hop on your motorcycle and ride in solitude. It can be nice to just get away on your own to enjoy nothing but the wind on your face and the open road. But, other times, having your companion ride with you can be just as enjoyable. And that doesn't mean you need to get your significant other their own bike to take them out on the road with you. You just need to know how to ride with a passenger.
The biggest thing to consider before deciding if you are ready to ride with a passenger is your own skill and comfort level. If you've just started riding, give yourself some time to get experience under your belt. In the first year, you may get more and more comfortable but you'll still come across riding situations that you haven't handled before. Riding with a passenger changes how your motorcycle handles and will affect how you deal with riding scenarios so make sure you're comfortable and skilled just riding by yourself before adding that second person.
When knowing how to ride with a passenger, you'll have to make some adjustments to how you ride. For instance, make sure that you leave extra space for passing and be a lot more cautious when taking on corners and turning. You'll also have to take the extra weight into account so leave more space when stopping and remember that it will affect how your rear motorcycle brake operates. You'll also need a little more throttle when starting from a stop and be prepared to adjust for the extra wind resistance. Before you take on any higher speeds or freeway riding, practice with your passenger on less crowded side roads. This will also help your passenger to feel out your riding style as well.
If you feel like you're ready to take on how to ride with a passenger, be sure that you're doing it legally. For instance, having a motorcycle permit doesn't allow you to ride with a passenger, and for good reason. If you only have your motorcycle riding permit, you probably aren't skilled enough yet to ride two-up. But even with your motorcycle license and tons of experience under your belt, each state has different laws for transporting another person. Before your first time taking on riding with a passenger, check your local DMV or motorcycle handbook to make sure you know all of the rules and regulations in your area.
So now you're ready and you know how to ride with a passenger, which means you also need to make sure that your motorcycle is also ready. The first main thing is to know that not all motorcycles are able to carry passengers. Many café racers or cruisers only provide one seat. In no circumstances should you ever try to carry a passenger on a motorcycle such as these. One way to tell if your motorcycle can carry a passenger is if it has foot pegs for a second rider. If you're still not sure, check your motorcycle manual. Your manual will also tell you how to ride with a passenger if your bike requires your suspension to be adjusted as well as if your motorcycle has a weight limit. With that also in mind, take into account the weight of the passenger as well as any luggage you may be carrying on your motorcycle and never go over the weight limit of your motorcycle or its tires.
If you and your motorcycle are now ready, make sure your passenger is too. Take a moment to sit down and talk with your passenger about their knowledge and comfort level with motorcycle riding. Always assume that your passenger has never been on a motorcycle before and give them a quick rundown of how to lean for turns and what to do at stops. For instance, your passenger should always keep their feet on the footrests at all times and should be mindful of keeping their legs away from things such as the muffler. Also remind them not to turn or to make any sudden movements that could throw you off. Your passenger should also be completely geared up. Make sure that your passenger has a DOT approved motorcycle helmet, a jacket and the right kind of footwear. If you're in an accident, your passenger is also at risk and should be as covered as you are.
Riding with a passenger is some serious business but it is also a lot of fun. Whether it's a friend or your significant other, sharing what you love to do can be very rewarding. And you never know, showing them how fun riding a motorcycle is may even spark a passion in them to learn to ride and maybe even get their own motorcycle.