Advice from a pro for a safe enjoyable motorcycle ride for two

Two-Up Motorcycling Tips

Like many bikers, I first became interested in motorcycles after riding other people’s bikes. Riding in the second seat is a great way to share your bike experience with a friend or partner. If you choose to take an active role, riding a motorcycle with a passenger can be as exciting as being behind the wheel.

For over a year I rode as a passenger with her husband Andy. He told me everything he did on the bike that year and why he did it. I learned a lot as a co-rider and then stepped onto my bike with a huge amount of knowledge and confidence.

Breaking Records Two-Up

In 2011, Andy and I combined our passion for land speed racing and our love of riding together to become the fastest couple in the Guinness Book of World Records on motorcycles. On the Bonneville Salt Flats, I recorded a two-mile average speed of 181.426 mph. An important part of the two-seater record is that it wasn’t necessarily just the woman in the back seat. On the first required pass, I switched so that Andy was the rider and I was the pillion, and on the second pass, I was the rider and he was the pillion.

When I was on his back he was a little faster than when Andy was on his back. Andy joked that it was because I “looked like a ballerina in pants and a big hunk on the back of a motorcycle.” That means the aerodynamics were much better when I was riding in the back.

Here are some tips for passengers and passengers.

The Bike—Is It Ready For A Passenger?

Motorcycles vary greatly in shape and design. Some vehicles are designed for long-distance travel and feature comfortable armrests, cupholders and a comfortable passenger seat. Others are racetrack oriented and offer no more consideration for passengers than sparse seating and minimal footpegs.

Before you ride as a passenger, consider how you can better set up your bike. Many modern bikes have options that make two-seaters more comfortable. Suspensions, for example, may be adjusted for the extra weight or luggage of the passenger, making the ride more comfortable for both parties. Does the bike come with a backrest or can a top case be added to provide support?

This Harley-Davidson Road Glide Limited features extremely comfortable 2-seater features, including armrests and backrests, a large running board, and an upright position for enhanced visibility.

One of the things I love about the Suzuki GSX-GT is the idea that it’s a sporty touring bike that offers the rider a comfortable seating position and good visibility.

Mount up

Passengers should know how to get on and off the bike properly. The bike is basically a big gyroscopic, very stable when you’re riding it, but not so stable when you’re standing still. Preferences vary by bike and passenger. So talk to your pilot before approaching the bikes and plan your rides on and off each other.

As long as the bike is on a sturdy Jiffy stand, the passenger pegs can be used to secure the bike, allowing the rider to easily pick it up once on the bike. If not, don’t use the passenger pegs as steps as they carry a lot of weight on one side of the bike and can easily tip over. It may be easier for the pilot to maintain balance on the bike if the passenger swings their leg over the passenger seat first. Similarly, you should not disembark until the driver says he is ready, and you must agree on what action to take.

Another possibility is that the rider can mount the bike on the side stand in the same way that the rider sits in the front seat. Then slide back into the passenger seat and let the driver get in.

Talk it up

Effective communication is more than just fun. It also makes it very safe for both parties. Four eyes are better than two eyes. You, like the driver, must be alert and spot the hazards ahead. Decide how you will communicate before you ride your bike.

Does a helmet communication system make sense to you? Keep in mind that without a communication system, you may not hear each other very well while wearing a helmet. So don’t just rely on your voice. Some couples use “hand signs” to communicate. For example, a passenger acting as a navigator can tap on the right shoulder to indicate a right turn. Tap your left shoulder to turn left.

Riding in pairs (and later each on their own bike) is safer and more fun with a communication system like the Sena S20 used by editor Tricia and founder Genevieve Schmidt on the WRN Tour of Italy.

You’re NOT The Rider (driver)

Even if I communicate with the rider who is steering the bike, I don’t really know what to do. Do not assume that she or he will turn in one direction, accelerate, brake, etc. You have to be prepared for whatever happens. You may have unseen obstacles, or she may be making a different decision than expected. When you’re a passenger, you’re relinquishing control and literally surrendering your life to the rider, so be prepared for anything.

The passenger needs to accept that the rider is in control and has to be prepared for any sudden moves.

Know How They Go

Working as a travel photographer is a great way to share your journey. Here, WRN’s Kirsten Midura encourages her photographer friend to ride Triumph’s Tiger demo bike at her event.

Understanding the basic mechanics of a motorcycle will make the whole experience more enjoyable and feel safer for you and your rider. Take the time to learn what the hand and foot controls do and how your bike reacts in different situations such as: B. In rainy weather, driving at low speed, etc.

There are many different types of motorcycles and different riding styles. Once you understand these things, you can enjoy going to stores, participating in tours, and participating in events together.

Driving in pairs can take on a new dimension as you move from pavement to off-road driving. It’s even more important to stay centered on the bike without trying to anticipate the rider’s movements in the dirt.

Stay smooth

Whether you’re enjoying the scenery or doing a lap for two, your movements affect the bike and, in turn, how the rider responds. It keeps the weight centered on the bike and allows the rider to control the lean in turns. Never make sudden movements that can affect the balance of your bike. As you gain experience, it can be fun to have the driver lean forward a bit in the corners.

If you slow down, be prepared to not move forward. Be careful not to crash backwards when accelerating. It is important to find a comfortable and effective place to hold the bike and rider so that you can control your body movements during rapid speed changes.

It can be frustrating for a driver if a passenger breaks his helmet because he didn’t properly prepare to slow down or stop. To help with acceleration and deceleration, it is recommended to have one arm in front of the rider and the other hand on the grab bar.

Editor Tricia was enjoying the kind of exuberant ride she got from pro racer Steve Rupp in Femme Moto in 2007, but with one arm wrapped around her hips for super-fast acceleration and the other arm in the tank. Along with that, I was told to brake suddenly before cornering.

Passengers are also participants

I prefer to call my passenger “pilion” or “second-seat rider”. Because nothing is passive if done right. Whether you take the open road to admire the scenery, act as a travel photographer and navigator, or drive more actively, you need to enjoy it, not just switch it off. Discuss with your riding partner what to expect from riding, what will be most fulfilling for you and how you can achieve it.

ATGATT applies to everyone (All The Gear, All The Time)

Wearing the right gear is as important for passengers as it is for riders. It may seem obvious, but how often do you see passengers wearing only helmets and no other protective equipment? I’ll tell you how she learned this the hard way so she wouldn’t have to. Never ride a bicycle without wearing full protective equipment. If the driver does not comply with this request, please find another driver.

Don’t worry, we didn’t really drive like that. But how often do you see a rider in full gear and a passenger in less gear? Claim ATGATT.

Here’s a word to the rider (driver)

It is different when you ride with a passenger, so you need to be careful about that. You drive in pairs, with both lives in your hands. Now is not the time to show off. When introducing someone to a bike for the first time, take it slow and take it easy. Keep in mind that your passenger will take time to get used to the feeling of leaning back with nothing between you and the ground, and it may even be frightening.

It is most important to respect that weight, balance, movement and communication change between two people riding a bicycle and one riding alone. If you have a passenger with you, you need to plan more in advance to minimize the frequency of sudden movements that can destabilize your bike.

You are responsible for the lives of others. So think about what makes you comfortable and what makes you uncomfortable. Sharing information about what you do and why makes the whole experience more enjoyable for both of you.