Motorcycle Passengers: Tips for Riders & Passengers

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Riding with a passenger on your motorcycle can add a new level of complexity to the operation of your bike if you’ve never done it before.

Being a passenger on a motorcycle can be a fun experience too. However, passengers will have some responsibilities as well.

This page will cover tips for both riders and passengers when riding a motorcycle 2 up.

Riding Two Up

Riding two up means riding a motorcycle with a passenger.

Sharing the joy and freedom of riding with another person on your bike can be a great experience.

However, it’s important to do it safety.

Riding 2-up requires some preparation and practice. Check out tips for riders and passengers below.

Tips for Riding a Motorcycle with a Passenger

Before trying to ride with a passenger, you should be a fairly experienced rider and hold safety as a top priority.

Since adding another person is going to have a noticeable effect on how your bike handles, it’s a smart idea to practice in a safe area, like a parking lot, before riding with a passenger in traffic or on public roadways.

Remember, when carrying a passenger on a motorcycle, the driver typically requires more time to stop and accelerate.

Before the passenger even gets on the motorcycle, there are some things you may need to do to prepare.

First, you’ll want to refer to your motorcycle’s operator manual for any adjustments for extra weight. You may need to:

  • Adjust the suspension.
  • Check the tire pressure.

Riding with a Passenger Affects How Your Motorcycle Handles

Riding with another person on your bike will change how you’ll need to control it.

You should be aware that the extra weight will affect how the bike handles. This is why practicing in a safe area with a passenger is recommended.

Some things you may experience include:

  • The passenger sliding forward or their helmet bumping yours during quick stops.
  • More braking pressure and earlier braking may be necessary.
  • Braking distance will increase.
  • Using the rear brake may help with slow speed maneuvers.
  • Cornering and turning will feel much different.
  • Wind effects may be more noticeable.
  • Acceleration will be slower.
  • Throttle and clutch operation will need to be smoother.

In general, you’ll want to think about keeping your riding smooth. You can try to imagine that you’re riding in wet conditions.

How to Prepare Your Passenger for the Ride

Communication and clear instruction is key when it comes to preparing your passengers for the ride.

You can’t expect someone to hop on a motorcycle as a passenger for the first time with zero experience or instruction and have an easy time.

There are some important things you’ll want to go over before they even get on the bike.

First, you’ll want to make sure they have all the proper riding gear, including:

Some riding instructions you’ll want to cover with your passenger include:

  • Sit as close to you on their seat without overly crowding you.
  • Keep their feet on the footrests, even at a stop.
  • Hold onto you or the hand holds.
  • Instruct them to brace themselves during acceleration and stops so they don’t wobble and bump you.
  • Ask them to avoid any sudden movements.
  • When cornering, ask that they look over your shoulder in the direction of the turn. Ask them not to lean or move their body.
  • Use helmet coms or go over some signals you can use to communicate while riding.

When you’re ready for them to get on the bike ask that they wait until you have the bike upright and off the stand.

Advise them to mount and dismount on the left side to avoid the motorcycle’s hot exhaust.

With a little practice and communication, you’ll be able to ride with a passenger safely and have a great time.

Best 2 Person Motorcycles

If you’re going to be riding with a passenger often, you may want to consider a bike that’s better suited for 2 people.

While many motorcycles come with room on the seat and rear foot pegs to carry a passenger, some bikes are better for the task than others.

As stated above, riding with a passenger is going to affect how your bike handles and responds.

Even with a motorcycle better designed for two riders, you should be aware that the feel of your bike will change if you’re not used to it.

Types of motorcycles that can be a good choice for riding 2-up include:

  • Touring bikes.
  • Sport touring motorcycles.
  • Larger standard bikes.
  • Larger adventure bikes.

If you plan on taking long trips riding 2-up, look for a bike with good suspension, plenty of seat room for a passenger, and comfortable hand holds and foot rests.

How to Ride Passenger on a Motorcycle – Tips for a Safe Ride

If you’re going to be a passenger on a motorcycle, you can’t just sit back and enjoy the ride. You’ll have some responsibilities too in order to keep yourself and your rider safe.

Here are some quick tips for motorcycle passengers:

  1. Passengers should always wear a proper helmet and all the necessary safety gear.
  2. Listen to the instructions of the driver.
  3. Avoid unnecessary movements and wiggling.
  4. Sit as close to the driver as possible without crowding them.
  5. Go over hand signals to communicate.
  6. Use the passenger foot pegs and handholds (or hold onto the driver).
  7. Stay alert.
  8. Let the driver know if you need a break.
  9. Wait until the driver has the bike upright and off the sides stand before you get on.
  10. Brace yourself for stops and accelerations.

Rule #1: Always Wear the Proper Safety Gear

Before you ride on a motorcycle as a passenger, you’ll need to make sure that you’re wearing all the proper safety gear that a single rider would.

This include a DOT-approved helmet and eye protection, protective jacket, long pants, sturdy boots, and protective gloves.

Never get on a motorcycle unless you are wearing the right gear.

Don’t ride passenger on a motorcycle that is not designed to carry 2 people.

Rule #2: Find the Correct Riding Position

Before you take off, your driver should provide you with instruction on how you’ll need to sit and move when you get going.

First, you’ll want to be seated as close as possible and safe to the drive without overly crowding them.

Sitting closely will allow your combined weight to be in the optimal location over the bike and will allow you to move with the driver as needed.

Keep a firm grip on the passenger handgrips or the driver, and keep your feet on the footrests.

As you ride, you’ll notice that your driver will be moving their body in order to complete different turns and maneuvers.

In general, you’ll want to mimic your driver’s movements, but try not to over exaggerate, over-lean, or counter-lean. Listen to your drivers instructions and follow what they ask you to do. This will help them better control the bike.

Rule #3: Stopping & Starting

When you ride as a passenger, it’s important not to obstruct your driver as you go and to be ready for changes in momentum.

One thing to watch out for it when you come to a stop.

If you’re not ready and not braced when you come to stop, you run the risk of sliding forward and bumping your driver.

Bracing yourself when you come to a stop can help avoid bumping helmets, which is bound to happen, but the impact can be reduced.

Rule #4: Mounting and Dismounting the Bike

When you get onto a motorcycle as a passenger, you’ll want to wait until the driver has instructed you to do so.

This will usually be after they have mounted the bike themselves and have it upright.

To get on, grab hold of your driver or a handgrip and swing your leg over the seat. Be sure to get yourself in a safe, comfortable position before you start going.

When you’re ready to get off, you’ll again need to wait for your driver’s instructions.

In this case, it will be in the reverse order as when you mounted the bike.

Wait until the driver tells you to get off, and then carefully dismount.

Motorcycle Passenger Laws: Can you even have a Passenger on your Motorcycle?

The first thing you’ll need to determine is if you can even safely (or legally) carry a passenger on your motorcycle.

If you hold a motorcycle permit, rather than a motorcycle license, you cannot carry a passenger in most states – nor should you.

Additionally, most states have certain equipment requirements for you to be able to ride with a passenger, these include:

  • Footrests for the passenger that the passenger can safely reach.
  • A proper seat for the passenger.
  • Adequate handholds for the passenger.
  • All the necessary safety gear.

Before your start riding with a passenger, make sure that your motorcycle is equipped for it and your endorsement allows for it.

Motorcycle Passenger Age Limits by State

The follow states have restrictions on the minimum age for motorcycle passengers:

  • Arkansas: 8 years old.
  • Hawaii: 7 years old.
  • Louisiana: 5 years old.
  • Texas: 5 years old.
  • Washington: 5 years old.

Riding with a motorcycle passenger that is too young or doesn’t follow the safety laws can result in tickets and fines, plus you’ll be putting yourself and your passenger at unnecessary risk.

How old does a kid have to be to ride on a motorcycle?

In states without motorcycle passenger restrictions, you’re going to need to use some common sense to determine if your child should ride on your motorcycle.

If you ride with a younger passenger, you should make sure that the child is:

  • Mature enough to understand their responsibilities as a passenger.
  • Going to follow your instructions.
  • Able to reach the footrests and handholds safely.
  • Wearing all the necessary protective equipment and that it fits properly.