Women Riders

Riding with Passengers – Double the Pleasure, Double the Fun!

Written by  December 31, 2004

I have had several divas ask how to go about learning to ride with a passenger, so I would like to share some helpful tips. I highly recommend you have some riding experience under your belt before attempting to carry a passenger. It is a matter of education, practice and finding your comfort level.

From my own experience I started carrying a soft-sided cooler that weighed 25 pounds to get the feel of added weight. I then advanced to a packed T-bag, and that was great experience in learning to balance the bike and to feel the difference in steering and turning. I then had a teenager ride with me in the parking lot and was ready for the added weight. Here are some drivers tips to take into consideration before riding:

Go over the rules of riding with your passenger to establish a comfort level and to make sure the passenger is willing to comply.
Have them sit on the back of the bike with you and wiggle around so they can see how much the bike moves.
Show them where the hot parts of the bike are and how to place their feet on the pegs.
Make sure they have the proper riding gear and always offer your passenger a helmet regardless if you choose not to wear one.
Adjust your tire’s air pressure and shocks, and know the GVRW for your bike. The GVRW is the weight of the motorcycle, accessories and the maximum weight of the rider, passenger and cargo that can be safely carried. Do not exceed the allowable gross weight.
Make sure the passenger knows how to mount and dismount the bike.
Prepare yourself mentally. You are now responsible for another person. Be prepared and start out slowly. The most challenging part will be at slow speeds.
You mount first, put the gear in neutral and start the engine. Make sure both feet are firmly planted on the ground and the bike is steady. Hold the front brake with your right hand and have a firm hold on the left grip. Handlebars are straight, and keep your kickstand down until your passenger has mounted. This will prevent the bike from falling over if the passenger slips or falls while holding onto you.

Now that you are comfortable and anxiously awaiting the ride you might want to share the following passenger tips:

Mount the bike from the left side. Place your left hand on the drivers shoulder and swing your right leg over the bike, then slide up and on the seat. Find a comfortable spot with weight evenly distributed and move your hands to the driver's waist. Do not hold onto clothing or the strap across the seats because they are not strong enough to hold you.
Do not remove your feet from the foot pegs until you are dismounting the bike.
Look over the driver's shoulder in the direction the bike is turning. Keep your body in line with the driver. Lean when they lean and never lean in the opposite direction or lean on your own. Most important, do not fight the lean!
Do not wiggle around; if you need to shift positions give a signal to the driver.
Relax, enjoy the ride, wave at children, and take in the scenery.

Since it is difficult to talk on a bike with your helmet on and road noise, you might establish signals, such as:

“I need to stop” (tap shoulder several times)
“Slow down you are scaring me” (tap on right rib area)
“I need to shift positions” (grip the driver’s waist and squeeze lightly)

Be sure to stop often on your ride so you can communicate with your passenger. Listen to your passenger and adjust your riding if necessary. If they are uncomfortable and are not having fun, bring your ride to an end.

Hopefully these tips help when you are ready to start carrying a passenger. You never know when someone might have a mechanical problem or need a designated driver; at least you will be prepared to help them. If you have other suggestions to share, please e-mail me.

Goldie Arnold
“Never ride faster than you angel can fly”

Tip of the Month: Take an Experienced/Advanced Rider Course to sharpen your street-riding strategies and accident-avoidance skills.