Most experiences in life are better when shared and motorcycling is no exception.
Sure, we’re all for the lone-wolf hitting the highway and riding off into the sunset image, but that’s better left to the end credits of 1980s rogue cop movies – in the real world, having a pillion on board can make the whole experience twice as good.
Stop thinking about the passenger as ballast and start thinking of them as another pair of eyes and ears, a minder for your bike at pee-stops, someone to sort out change for tolls, and a buddy for the hotel bar in the evenings, and the whole game changes.
Here’s how to be number one at riding two up:
There’s nothing worse than seeing a rider in full race kit, and his girlfriend perched on the back in plimsoles, skinny jeans and a 1980s Lazer lid pulled out from the back of the garage. So, first things first: stop being so tight, get some decent kit for your pillion.
Bikes might be your blood, but your passenger probably won’t have taken the time to read your owner’s manual before setting off. Show them round the bike: where footpegs and grab rails are and how they work; which bits are liable to burn you or take your fingers off etc.
On and off
While you’re on with that, give them a clear understanding of how to get on and off properly. There’s no wrong or right way really, it’s whatever works for you/them: either keep one foot on the ground and swing the other over, or step across the middle of the seat; or use the foot-peg like a riding stirrup to hoist yourself up. Whatever the method, set up signals so your pillion knows when you’re ready for them to get on/off.
Hang on a minute
The same goes for holding on once underway. Explain to your pillion what to hold onto and how – again there’s no hard and fast rules, whatever works for you both. It’s also a good idea for them to keep an eye on the road ahead, so they’re ready to lean into the corners and steady themselves for braking etc.
Work out some signs/signals to use to talk to ‘talk’ to each other on the move – hand gestures, arm squeezes etc. and tell your pillion when it;s a good time to talk – on long, straight stretches – and when it’s best not to distract you – in the middle of a roundabout etc. Do this even if you have a fancy intercom system, in case the battery goes flat.
Sharing is caring
This one’s for the pillions: once you’re comfy on the back, try to take on a few jobs like navigating, looking out for cafes, stop off’s and road signs, taking photos, paying for tolls and petrol etc. It all helps the rider and makes you part of the journey.
Speaking of which, before you set off agree on what the day’s ride is going to entail: how far you’re going, where coffee and lunch stops will be etc. so you both know what to expect and there are no arguments en-route.