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8 Tips for Riding with a Passenger

(We're talking about riding on the back of the bike, and don't worry, you won't get muddy)

Are you thinking about inviting a friend to ride along with you, or are you the passenger about to take your first ride on the back of a bike? Either way, there are a few important things to know before getting onto that bike.

Riding with a passenger is very different than riding alone. The extra weight could throw your balance off a bit and make control harder. And you can never be sure how your passenger will perform (though hopefully, they'll listen to you). So for one, you should be an experienced rider and be completely comfortable riding on the street with other vehicles to even consider inviting someone along. Remember: you're responsible for their life.

We don't mean to sound like a hardass, but when it comes to carrying a passenger, that's twice the amount of risk. On the other hand, it could be an incredibly fun experience and a great way to share your passion. 

So, from riding techniques to passenger safety, here are 8 tips to ensure a fun and safe ride for both you and your passenger.

1. Wear protective gear - always

You know we stress on safety, so this is first on our list - your passenger never gets on without the appropriate protective gear of their own. Period. At the very least, your passenger needs to have:

- a DOT or SNELL certified helmet
- a leather jacket (if they don't have leather, then a thicker textile jacket would do)
- riding gloves
- long pants (if they're going to be a regular passenger, then we'd really recommend proper riding pants. There are pants that look like normal jeans, so don't worry about looking un-stylish)
- sturdy shoes that cover the ankles (exhaust fumes get hot!)

2. Make sure your bike can handle a passenger

Some bikes aren't even fit for carrying a passenger. For a bike to be able to legally carry a passenger, you would need a separate seating area (or a long seat), and footpegs for the passenger. Make sure you satisfy your State's DMV requirements.

You also may need to adjust tire pressures and suspension to make sure your bike is safe to carry the extra weight, which will affect the bike's performance. It's a good idea to check your manual to see whether your bike has any weight limitations or operational recommendations.

3. Establish hand signals

You should at least have a few basic hand signals. For example:

- One tap on the should could mean "I need to readjust my seating position." 
- Two taps could be "slow down you maniac!" 
- Three frantic taps could be "please stop; I really need to get off!" 

Just make sure you have at least a few basic safe hand signals prepared, and make sure at least one of them is a clear message to stop ASAP. Always give your passenger an out if they just don't feel comfortable. 

4. Mounting the bike

We find that it's easiest for you to get on first. Only after you have both feet planted firmly on the ground and the bike upright, should you tell the passenger to mount. In general, the footpegs shouldn't be used to mount the bike, but we understand that some passengers need it. Just don't place too much weight on it for too long. 

It's always extremely important that the passenger stay away from the muffler. It gets very hot and could cause a severe burn. 

5. Tell your passenger to stay very close to you

A passenger sitting too far back will affect your bike's agility in the corners. A passenger that leans right when you're turning left is going to affect the steering of the bike.

The best thing to do is for the passenger to place their hands on your hip or wrapped around your waist (if they're more scared!) or holding onto the bike's rails behind the seat. Basically, their front is glued to your back: if you lean left, they lean left. 

This leads us to:

6. Proper riding position for the passenger

Make sure your passenger knows the proper riding position they should take before you ride. The passenger should:

- Put their arms your waist or hold onto the rails (never hold onto your shoulders or around your chest from the top of shoulders)
- Lean into corners the same as you. Look over the shoulder in the same direction of the turn.
- During braking, the passenger should either brace their hands against the tank or squeeze their thighs to keep from sliding forward. This is so they don't push you forward, which reduces you control. 
 Keep their feet glued to those footpegs at all times. Keep away from the back wheel, chain, and the mufflers - they get very hot and dangerous.
- And don't make any unnecessary movements, like adjusting the seating position, leaning when the bike is going straight, etc. This throws the balance off and could be very dangerous.

7. Be careful of necessary riding adjustments you'll have to make

The extra weight will change how your bike performs. If there's clonking of helmets, it's most likely the rider's fault because you're not changing gears smoothly enough, and causing your passenger to jerk their head forward. With the added weight, you'll also need a longer distance to brake, so keep that in mind or you'll be in trouble if you're still braking at your usual distance.

For your own safety, you probably shouldn't be too close to the vehicle ahead, but sudden hard braking is going to be especially uncomfortable when it results in your passenger unwittingly mounting you. Wait until a vehicle passes something like a tree or a lamppost and ensure it takes 3 seconds before you reach the same point. If and when you need to overtake, choose your moment wisely.

8. Ensure your passenger is insured 

And lastly, you need to check that your insurance covers you to carry a passenger. And if it doesn?t make the necessary amendments. Actually, you need to do this first before giving a ride! The passenger should have proper medical insurance at least. Otherwise, don't take that chance, no matter how good of a rider you think you are. Just don't. 


Riding with a passenger could be a great way to share your love for riding with another person. But just remember that it's a lot different than riding alone and you need to take into account that someone else's life is in your hands. Be thoughtful and listen to them if they feel uncomfortable in any way. Gear them up, be insured, be safe, prepare your passenger, and happy riding!

By Daniel Relich

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