Wanna go for a ride?
Taking someone for a ride is one of the neatest things you can do as a motorcyclist. But, some bikes are a lot better than others at carrying a backseat passenger. As selected by the RideApart staff, here’s 10 of the best.
First, think of yourself, the rider. With the additional weight of an extra human on board, you’re going to need a bike that gives you excellent control, confidence and which makes it easy for you to support a total weight that could now exceed 1,000lbs. Wide bars, a commanding riding position, comfortable ergonomics, a reasonable seat height, and smooth controls help with this.
For the passenger, you want a spacious seat which gives them room to find different riding positions, a humane distance between that seat and the passenger pegs and, ideally, more to hold onto than your love handles. A seat that’s much higher than the rider’s perches pillions perilously high. But, a seat that’s the same height or lower obscures their view. You’ll find a happy middle ground in rear seats that are just a few inches taller. Also, consider the shape of the seat. For styling purposes, many bikes now come with ridges or angles down the middle. For obvious reasons, these may be terribly uncomfortable for female passengers.
How You Can Make Passengers More Comfortable
The idea here is to make riding with you a fun, compelling thing for a passenger to do. Often, inexperienced passengers will literally be terrified by the mere idea of leaving behind the safety and stability of four wheels, so it’s your job to make them feel as comfortable, safe and confident as possible.
Start by having them wear appropriate clothing. Correctly fitted, good condition head-to-toe safety gear is best, but at a minimum consider things like jeans so they don’t burn their legs on the exhaust and boots so they don’t twist an ankle climbing on and off. A riding jacket will keep their clothes from blowing around and you absolutely want them in a good helmet which fits properly (for both comfort and safety) and a good pair of gloves.
Brief them on how to be a good passenger and what to expect while riding. Make sure they know to neither hop on or off the bike without first getting verbal confirmation from you that you’re ready. And always have them mount and dismount from and to the left side.
Ride smoothly while they’re on board, short shifting clutchlessly to make gear changes as smooth as possible. Dragging a little back brake at low speed can help with stability and smoothness too. Avoid big inputs to the throttle, brakes or steering and remember, if their helmet taps yours from behind, it’s because you’re not riding smooth enough.
With the extra weight over the rear, braking distances will increase and some weight will be transferred off the front wheel, impacting straight-line stability and steering. Basically, ride a little slower and more conservatively.
If your bike has the facility for doing so, adjust the suspension (front and rear) to handle the extra weight. At a minimum, crank up the preload.