From the gear you wear as a bike passenger to what you do during the ride, everything counts when it comes to your safety as well as the rider’s. To help you make the most out of your rides on the back of a motorcycle, or as a pillion passenger, as it is called, we have compiled a list of ten motorcycle passenger tips. Check it out to get ready for your next adventures on two wheels.
Wear the appropriate safety gear
Even though it may seem obvious, more often than not, bike passengers, especially those riding as a passenger on a motorcycle for the first time, think that they don’t need to wear the same gear as the driver.
One of the most important safety measures you need to take is wearing the right safety gear, including a helmet, long pants, gloves, sturdy ankle-covering boots, and an appropriate jacket.
Firstly, it’s a matter of safety, given that mishaps can occur, and nobody is in full control of the bike all the time. Secondly, it’s about your comfort. Whether you’re the passenger or the driver, you’ll soon learn that the wind, elements, and temperature may become an issue when you don’t wear the appropriate gear.
Make sure you choose a helmet that fits snug around your head. Full face helmets are considered the best when it comes to the protection delivered; therefore, it is best to go for such a model. Plus, if you plan on being a long-term passenger, it is a good idea to invest in a product that delivers superior protection and comfort.
Consider wearing a genuine leather jacket or, if you don’t have such an item, a thick denim jacket, something that can protect you in case of an accident. Complete your outfits with long pants and ankle-covering shoes as your legs and feet are close to hot pipes and spinning tires. You need the best protection possible in order to avoid getting seriously injured.
Leather pants are considered to deliver the best protection, but some riders and passengers might not find them too comfortable or might not have such items available. Try at least to wear very thick pants, such as denim jeans.
As for the shoes, a model covering your ankles is desirable, and the reason is the same as the one just mentioned. Your feet, and especially the ankle bones, are closer to the tires and exhaust pipes and are also more susceptible to touching things that could cause injuries. Heavy-duty riding boots that cover your ankles are recommended.
Don’t forget about gloves. Should an accident occur, the first thing you’ll most probably do is put your hands forward in order to minimize the impact. A pair of protective gloves will go a long way toward protecting your hands.
If you’re not a regular passenger or motorcyclist, but you intend to go for a ride on the back of a motorcycle, try to borrow such safety gear as dressing appropriately will minimize the risk of injuries.
Get on the bike correctly
Before talking about what to do and not to do during the ride, it is important to get on the bike the right way. Now, many first-timers tend to think that they should be the first ones to get on the bike, but that’s not how things work. The driver should be the one to get on the bike first in order to keep it steady for when the passenger gets on.
If you try to get on first, you may end up injuring yourself since it is difficult to steady the bike from the passenger’s seat, given that the handlebars are far from where you should sit. Plus, it is not recommended to balance the bike with your legs in such cases as it is dangerous; therefore, wait for the driver to get on the bike first and balance it.
You can then pop out the footrests and get on the bike. Just make sure that you step on the footrest that is closer first and then swing the other leg over onto the other footrest.
Sit close to the motorcycle driver
This is one of the most important rules to follow when it comes to riding as a passenger. That’s why, for the passenger’s comfort, it is also important to be familiar with the driver, if possible. Even if you don’t have to be completely attached to the driver, it is recommended to sit close enough to be able to feel the driver’s body language.
There will be moments when you two will have to move in sync, and being far from the driver might prevent you from following what they’re doing and reacting fast to their changes in position.
Some motorcycles feature handlebars specifically designed for the passenger. In case the motorcycle you’ll be riding lacks such items, wrap your arms around the motorcycle driver to remain secure on the bike, read the driver’s reactions, and react accordingly.
Learning how to ride on the back of a motorcycle may take a bit of time and a few tries since this type of riding does come with strict do’s and don’ts. A big ‘don’t’ when it comes to riding as a passenger regards wiggling. When riding as a car passenger, wiggling or shifting on the back seat or even the front seat does not affect the vehicle’s balance.
Things are quite different when a two-wheel vehicle like a motorcycle is involved, though. Every move you make matters and can affect the balance. Try not to move unexpectedly or wiggle. Such movements coming from the passenger can surprise the driver, which can affect the balance.
Losing control even just slightly or for a couple of seconds when riding a motorcycle can lead to unpleasant events and cause injuries. That’s why before riding, it is best to find a comfortable position that won’t require you to change or move too much once you begin your ride.
Follow the driver’s direction when moving
Some people need just a ride or two to learn how to be a passenger on a motorcycle, while others need quite a few tries to learn the do’s and don’ts. However, there are a few things to learn before actually getting on the motorcycle and riding. One of them is to get ready for turns and stops. These moments are some of the most challenging ones, especially when riding as a passenger for the first time.
The rule of thumb here is to go where the driver goes. If the driver leans during turns, make sure you do the same. Just follow the driver’s lead and move as much as they do. Don’t overdo it, though, as leaning too much can lead to a loss of balance.
Many first-timers will try to fight the lean and stay upright or move their body opposite to the lean required when making a turn. Being neutral and going where the driver goes and as much as they go will prevent you from affecting the bike’s balance and thus minimize the risk of accidents.
By doing so, you will help the driver maintain control over the bike. More often than not, this skill comes naturally, though.
Communicate with the driver
Given that riding can get quite noisy, you won’t be able to hear what the driver is saying and vice versa unless you use a Bluetooth communication device. That’s why it is important to develop a communication system that you can both use while riding.
As we’ve just said, the market offers Bluetooth devices specifically designed for such needs. They feature a mic and earphones so that you can easily communicate and hear what the other one is saying.
If you can’t afford such a device or simply don’t think this type of system is a must, you can use your hands to communicate with each other. You can thus let the driver know whether you’re ok or you need them to stop so you can take a break, when they should go faster or slower, and so on.
Plus, the driver needs to pay attention to many things when riding, and an extra pair of eyes can come in handy. You can thus point out dangers and help make the ride safer.
However, it is best to discuss such things with the bike’s driver before riding to know what type of information is essential and what can be left unmentioned in order not to distract them.
Make use of the footrests
For a start, it is recommended not to ride as a passenger if the bike does not feature passenger footrests. Some bike models don’t feature such parts for the passengers or, in some cases, the footrests might have been removed by the driver or might have fallen as a result of an impact.
If that’s the case, it’s best not to go further with the ride since it is highly dangerous to ride without having a place where to rest your feet. Your feet will be close to the spinning tire and the exhaust pipes. Keeping your feet close to them increases the risk of injuries.
Sharing the footrests with the driver is not recommended either since the driver needs to be able to shift correctly, and having the passenger’s foot on the footrest might prevent them from doing that.
Now that you know this, ride only when the bike features footrests for the passenger and make use of them. Try to distribute your weight evenly between the seat and the footrests and avoid putting your weight only on the seat. Doing so will provide you with greater stability, especially when the road is bumpy or rough.
Plus, make sure to put your feet down only when the bike has stopped and you want to get off it completely. Never do that during a ride.
Let the bike driver know if you’re not comfortable
Riding a bike as a passenger can be a truly rewarding experience if you keep in mind a few safety rules and tips. However, things may get a bit uncomfortable, especially when you’re a first-time passenger, and you’re not used to the riding position.
Using the right gear and embracing the correct position should help you maximize your comfort, but even so, the unexpected can always occur. Whenever there’s something that makes you feel uncomfortable, whether it’s the driver’s way of driving or some other reason, let the driver know about it.
This holds great importance when it comes to riding on a bike because if your discomfort increases, your involuntary movements or behavior may put both you and the driver in jeopardy.
Watch out for the hot pipes and back motorcycle parts
Wearing long thick pants and ankle-covering shoes is compulsory if you want to minimize your risk of getting injured. Watch out for the motorcycle parts that could hurt you. The exhaust pipes are hot during the ride, and touching them can lead to serious burns. Thus, make sure you wear the right safety gear, and you don’t touch the pipes, tires, sprockets, or other parts that could lead to accidents or injuries.
Also, try to go for pants that are not too loose and check your shoelaces before you begin the ride. Any loose garment or shoelace could get caught in the back parts of the motorcycle, and you can only imagine the rest.
Take an active role
The driver is not the only one responsible for your safety and comfort. They are indeed in control of the bike, but there are things that are not dependent only on them. As a passenger, it is best to take an active role in making sure that your ride is safe. This means several things.
One of them is to keep an eye on dangers that the driver might not be able to spot, given the different types of information they have to process while riding. That’s why, as we’ve said above, an extra set of eyes can help minimize the risk of an accident. Riding is a lot of fun but letting yourself get carried away and not paying attention to what happens on the road can lead to all sorts of unwanted events.
Plus, make sure that you don’t do things that could affect the bike’s balance or interfere with the driver’s attention or ability to drive. Moving unexpectedly or sitting in a way that makes the driver uncomfortable should be avoided.
Things to consider before the ride
Whether you want to know how to ride on the back of a Harley or other motorcycle type, there are a few other things to consider before getting on the bike. Riding with a person you don’t know very well or too much about should always be avoided.
Make sure that the driver has experience in riding a motorcycle with a passenger and knows what sharing a bike this way involves and calls for. It’s one thing to ride the bike alone and a different thing to have a passenger on its back.
Riding a motorcycle with a passenger for the first time should only be done when both riders wear safety gear and over a short distance, preferably in a place where there are no other vehicles or people.
While riding a motorcycle with a passenger is not impossible to achieve, it does come with challenges, and only experienced riders should engage in such rides since a passenger will change the center of gravity and affect the motorcycle’s balance.
Learner riders should never ride with a passenger; therefore, both the rider and the passenger should think twice before engaging in an experience that comes with a risk of injury.
Moreover, if you’re a rider thinking of taking a child with you as a passenger on the bike, make sure that the law allows you to do so and that the child is old and tall enough to reach the footrests comfortably and follow the safety rules. All the above-mentioned safety tips apply. The child should wear protective gear, be properly seated, know how to act appropriately during the ride, and so on.
If you’re the passenger, try the bike’s seat to see if it’s comfortable and safe. Consider the place you want to explore on the bike and the weather. This way, you can dress appropriately. Being too cold or too hot while riding can only affect your comfort. Taking into account these tips for motorcycle passengers will help you boost your safety and reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.