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Motorcycle Riding Tips for Carrying a Passenger

Don't fixate on the on-coming traffic. Scan the road for possible hazards such as potholes, manhole covers, pedestrians, etc.


Starting Out
Think like a rider.
Choose a motorcycle.
Learn basics of Clutch, Throttle and Brakes.

Practice riding
Throttle & Clutch
Parking Lot practice
Sample motorcycle exercises

Low Traffic riding
Shifting gears
Riding conditions
Traffic situations

Progressive riding
Highway riding
Wind Turbulence

>Carry a Passenger

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It's advisable to have solo motorcycle riding experience before carrying a passenger. Some suggest riding at least one full season before even considering having a passenger.

When you're ready, try practicing in a parking lot with an experienced passenger to get a feel for how a motorcycle handles two-up.

A rider's control is affected when carrying a second person. Extra weight changes a bike's center of gravity. As a passenger shifts around the motorcycle's handling will be unpredictable.

The emphasis is on being smooth during acceleration, shifting and braking.

Allow the passenger time to get accustomed to the curves. Gradually introduce quicker, tighter turns. Once a passenger gains confidence the rider will notice less effort in handling the motorcycle.

[scroll down for tips on motorcycle riding with a passenger]


How can you tell a passenger is comfortable riding pillion?

You won't even know they are on the bike.

Click here to get into the Ride Mind! motorcycling online

Familiarize passenger with motorcycle

A new passenger should be informed of safety, wearing riding gear and the dynamics of motorcycling.

Demonstrate to the passenger how to get on and dismount from the motorcycle.

Motorcycle Dynamics

Instruct your passenger that a bike leans into a turn. They should lean with you in order to keep the motorcycle properly balanced.

Show a passenger how to keep their head level with the horizon while leaning into a corner to help maintain equilibrium.

Riding gear should be worn by passenger as well as rider. A well fitting Helmet, boots, gloves, suitable jacket and pants will help toward a safe, comfortable ride.

Have a quick tip? Got a question?
Comments & Questions


Loaded down with passenger and saddle bags, should bump up the preload.

Motorcycling with a Passenger

Communication is Key

To help communicate between rider and passenger, devise some signals before heading out.

For example to warn the passenger "Hang on tighter" signal them with a tap on the leg.

If a passenger needs to slow down, a gentle but firm squeeze around the rider's middle can signal that.

It's up to you to determine which signals work best. Before a ride begins take a few minutes to prepare a passenger. This will ensure a safe and fun motorcycling experience for everyone.

Taking It Further

small pylonQuick Stops
More weight give you better traction. However a sudden stop with a passenger slamming into you limits your braking efforts as you deal with the weight adjustment.

The best way to avoid quick stops is to allow extra stopping distance, especially when you ride two up on a motorcycle. Learn what to expect by practicing quick stops with a passenger.

The rider sees a lot more than a passenger. For a passenger to be prepared for anything they should hold on firmly to ensure a quick reaction. Depending on the motorcycle, passengers may be able to squeeze the rider with their knees to help stay in-sync with them.

small pylonAcceleration
Some motorcycles have comfortable back rests and grasp handles but many do not. Depending on the motorcycle you may want the passenger to hold on around your waist.

Emphasize smooth throttle and clutch control to help keep the passenger stable.

small pylonCornering
A passenger's weight will compress the rear suspension, therefore reducing the bike's cornering clearance. Follow a larger cornering radius to compensate. If your motorcycle has adjustable suspension, increase your spring preload when carrying a passenger. (Refer to your owner's manual)

Practice in a parking lot by starting with wide sweeping turns then gradually tightening up the corners. This gives you time to adapt to cornering with the added weight of a passenger.

Remember the further you lean the sharper the motorcycle will turn.

small pylonHills
A passenger's weight normally sits over the rear wheel. When braking on a downward hill the weight transfers to the front wheel. Although there is better traction, both rider and passenger's weight creates inertia, therefore more rear brake should be applied to compensate.

The opposite happens when starting on a hill with a passenger. If not careful the front end could lift, resulting in a wheelie. Lean forward to transfer the weight to the front wheel.

Good Luck and enjoy motorcycling!

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