Tips for Carrying Passengers

At some point you will either want to or be pressured into carrying a passenger on your motorcycle. Here are some tips for making your experience a good one.

According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, carrying a passenger can affect the way a motorcycle handles. The weight makes starting out more difficult, and reduces acceleration capability. More time and space will be required for passing. It may also increase total stopping distance. Stability may be affected in turns and curves.

Here are some additional tips.

·         Adjust the suspension and tire pressure as per operator's manual recommendations.

·         Be sure a passenger is properly attired.

·         Avoid abrupt acceleration and deceleration, and go easy on lean angles when cornering.

Have the passenger follow these rules:

1.       Hold the operator's waist or hips, or passenger hand-holds.

2.       Keep feet on passenger foot rests at all times, including stop points.

3.       Keep hands and feet away from hot or moving parts.

4.       Look over the rider's shoulder in the direction of turns and curves.

5.       Avoid leaning our turning around; make no sudden moves that might affect stability.

6.       When crossing an obstacle, rise slightly off the seat.



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  • Good tips!

    Norman Gregory Fernandez, Esq.

  • This is a good start. But it is not an all inclusive list. There is so much to consider on the topic that the comment list should grow long with stuff that has been overlooked. Therefore:
    -check your insurance policy so that you and your passenger know where you stand.
    -Check you bike and be sure that its passenger contact points are sturdy and sound.

    For yourself:
    -if you are new to carrying a passenger, you might get an old, experienced biker in full gear (ATGATT) to be your first passenger.
    -practice in a safe area first and do not venture into traffic without some established comfort with a passenger. All those little riding sdchool drills can be done with a passenger. Your passenger should know what leaning the bike and what a quick stop feels like before venturing into traffic.
    -Never, ever be pressured into taking a passenger.
    -Never take a drunk or impaired passenger.
    -decide how your passenger will hold on and do not deviate from that method.
    -never, ever terrify, scare, or upset a passenger

    The passenger needs to feel safe and comfortable to have the ride go well. Therefore:
    -Always start slowly if it is safe to do so.
    -The passenger has an absolute right to be safely let off the bike as soon as possible upon the command.

    For myself, I like the passenger to wrap his/her arms around me and clasp his hands. I want to absolutely know that my passenger is hanging on at all times. Sometimes I will wear an extra belt that the passenger can wrap their hands around. And I will cinch up that belt tight enough that I can feel the passengers hands hanging onto it. i like to have a stout backrest for my passengers as often as possible.

    As an experienced old biker, I like to have a minimum of 20 minutes scheduled to orient a passenger to how we are going to do things before we get on the bike to ride in a parking lot. No matter how experienced a passenger might be, the passenger is oriented as 'new to me' if I have never taken that passenger before. Even passengers who have not ridden with me for a long time will have to go thru a warm-up session before I take them into traffic.

    All of the above reads like too much safety. I will tell that I have dropped passengers and been dropped as a passenger more than enough times to take it all very seriously.

    Some day, you might take a passenger who is so good, so smooth, so perfect that he/she seems to melt away and you fine yourself riding as if you are solo. That person is no longer considered a passenger. You are now blessed with a "co-rider". And it just doesn't get any better than that. When you ride with your co-rider, you are 2-up or 2up. Motorcycle bliss like nothing else that I have ever come to know. Thank you, co-rider, wherever you are! (Good night, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are.)

  • Just a bit more stuff on topic.

    Bikers should have 2 or 3 prepared statements for politely declining to take a passenge. Being polite about it lets the other person down easy and leaves open the possibility to do the ride some other time.

    The passenger should have a few signals to communicte certain things to the pilot. Screeming through a helmet, through whatever windblast is present, and through the pilot's helmet just does not work nearly as well as a few pre-set signals.

    Because my passengers have their arms around me, a couple of sharp hugs signals that there is a problem requiring an immediate and safe stop.
    -A long hug means "I am comfortable and we can go faster."
    -A squeeze with their legs means that "I am not comfortable with the speed and would like to go slower."

    Six or eight signals will cover 90% of needed communication on the bike. Because I have had so much practice with this over the years, i can get all my 'ground school for passengers' done in about 20 minutes. EVERY passenger gets signals and some ground school stuff on every ride including my regular experienced passengers. Only my co-riders are so good that I feel comfortable with never bothering to remind them of stuff. Heck, my co-riders are so good that they usually have to remind me of stuff.

  • Prepare your own 'ground school' checklist and keep it on the bike so that you have it when you need it. Right at the top of the checklist should be your polite phrases for declining to take a passenger. After a bunch of rides, you will have much of your routine memorized and your checklist will have been ammended to reflect your experience that which works the best and which works the worst. And you will know how long it takes to do the passenger thing right and,so, be able to schedule your efforts properly.

    If this stuff helps anyone, post up your stories.

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