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.
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.
Here are some quick tips for motorcycle passengers:
- Passengers should wear a proper helmet and all the necessary safety gear.
- Listen to the instructions of the drive.
- Avoid unnecessary movements and wiggling.
- Sit as close to the driver as possible without crowding them.
- Go over hand signals to communicate.
- Use the passenger foot pegs and handholds (or hold onto the driver).
- Stay alert.
- Let the driver know if you need a break.
- Wait until the driver has the bike upright and off the sides stand before you get on.
- Brace yourself for stops and accelerations.
Can you 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.
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.
If you ride with a younger passenger, you should make sure that the child is mature enough to understand their responsibility, is able to reach the footrests and handholds safely, and is wearing all the necessary protective equipment.
How to Ride with a Passenger
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.
You should also 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
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:
- A properly fitting motorcycle helmet.
- Sturdy, close-toe shoes.
- Sturdy jacket and pants.
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.