Motorcycle Safety: How to Ride with a Passenger
As a motorcycle rider, you enjoy long rides by yourself to lose your stress in the strong winds and relax as you zoom by miles and miles of beautiful scenery. This “biker’s zen” is very appealing, but so is sharing that ride with someone you care about. Riding a motorcycle with a passenger can be a neat way to share the experience of biking with a friend, family member, or spouse, but careful safety considerations need to be made in order to avoid an accident.
Every state has slightly different laws and requirements regarding carrying a passenger on a motorcycle. You need to be sure you are familiar with those regulations and stick to them to avoid an unpleasant conversation with a police officer. Most states require motorcycle drivers to have a full motorcycle license, not just an instruction permit, in order to legally carry passengers, so check with your nearest DMV.
Your bike will not ride and respond the same with a passenger as it does when you’re cruising solo. The motorcycle will handle differently due to extra weight and your passenger’s independent motions, so remember that starting your bike may require a bit more throttle and clutch finesse. Braking should also be adjusted to allow for extra time to stop. Turning is also an important consideration, as the bike’s extra weight will change its balancing. Allow more time and space for passing, and remember that side wind may feel more pronounced with a passenger onboard.
Prepare Your Passenger
If your passenger is new to riding on a motorcycle, don’t just hop on and pull away. First, prepare him for what is coming. Remind him that he needs to keep his feet on the footrests at all times and prevent his legs from touching the hot mufflers. A helmet is always a wise idea, and your passenger should hold onto your waist or any available handholds throughout the ride. Remember, a passenger is really a second operator, so he must obey safety instructions to avoid causing a dangerous traffic situation.