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5 safety tips for riding with a passenger

Riding out with a passenger behind? Here are a few important safety tips to remember.

Kawasaki H2 SX Pillion Rider

Going on a ride out with a passenger is not always the easiest thing to do, especially for riders who have close to zero experience riding two-up. While riding with a passenger can seem a bit intimidating at the start, knowing exactly how you can prepare yourself can most definitely ease the anxiety and help make your next ride out a much safer event for the two of you. If you’re thinking of riding out with a passenger behind you, you may want to check out just exactly how you can prepare yourself, your passenger, and your motorcycle for your next trip out riding two-up. Here are 5 important safety tips for riding with a passenger.

Prepare the motorcycle

Motorcycle Adventure Pillion

Starting with adjustments for your motorcycle is perhaps the easiest thing to start with. Because of the additional weight from a pillion rider, making the necessary adjustments to your motorcycle is a must for making sure that your bike can handle your ride with ease. First, inflate your rear tire by around 2-3 psi, or as recommended by your service manual, in order to make sure that your tire will not deform under the weight of an additional rider.

The next and last thing to check would be an adjustment to your rear suspension preload if adjustable in order to ensure that your rear does not sag excessively with a pillion. This would ensure that your ideal suspension geometry is maintained despite the additional weight. The exact adjustment would depend on the specific additional weight from the pillion rider, so it would be best to consult your service manual or your dealership and make the necessary adjustments afterwards.

Brief the passenger

Vintage Cafe Motorcycle Passenger Pillion

When going on a ride with a passenger, communication is one of the most important aspects of the ride. As such, it’s important to brief the pillion beforehand on all the important information about the ride. Let your pillion know about your exact route and your expected pace or speed. Inform your pillion about the stops and destinations along the way and when the ideal time would be for a water or toilet break. It may be good to even go so far as to discuss weather conditions, recommended gear, and other pertinent details in order to keep your trip smooth and avoid any confusion or misunderstandings along the way.

Agree on an emergency sign

Motorcycle Adventure With Passenger Pillion

Unless you have a helmet communication system between passenger and rider, getting a verbal message across at over 60 km/hcan be a bit challenging with wind and environmental noise. If one cannot properly communicate a message through voice, it may be best to agree on an emergency sign from passenger to driver and vice versa.  The emergency sign is basically a request to pull over as soon as possible in order to discuss an urgent matter, which could be anything from a need to use the toilet to an immediate medical concern.

Stay relaxed and flexible

Honda CB400 Super Four with Pillion Passenger

Having a pillion rider behind you can sometimes feel a bit stressful given the number of things to think of: "How much do I have to lean into this corner?" "How slow do I need to go over speed bumps?" "Is my passenger okay with my riding style?" "Am I going too fast on these sections?"—and more. However, being stressed and anxious can do a lot more harm than good. It takes away your focus from the road ahead and it can make you more stiff and rigid instead of being more relaxed. As such, it’s important to simply take your time and enjoy the ride. Stay relaxed, flexible, and well within a desirable comfort zone in order to keep your mind and body healthy for your ride. Trust that your pillion will communicate with you as necessary if in case the ride is a bit too much to handle. Until then, play it cool and ride your own ride.


Kawasaki H2 SX Pillion Riding

The last and possibly most surefire way to get used to having a specific passenger behind you would be to simply practice if you have the time and space to spare. Find an hour or two and a safe road to practice riding two-up. Remember to revisit all of the 4 tips above for your practice sessions as the same would apply. When your comfort slowly builds for slow-speed scenarios, you can increase speed on more open and free-flowing roads in order to build technique. After you and your pillion rider are comfortable with your practice sessions, it may already be a good time to go out on your maiden voyage with your pillion rider comfortably behind. Just remember that different passengers will behave and react differently when riding behind and having a different pillion the next time around may require another practice session in order to build comfort and familiarity person-to-person.

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