So you're about to take someone on their first ride on the back of a motorcycle. It's probably as scary for you as it is for them. Out there at the very end of the subframe, the passenger actually has more influence on a bike's dynamics than you, the rider. No need to worry though, follow these easy steps on how to prepare a passenger for their first motorcycle ride and you'll both be good to go.
The biggest sticking point. Motorcycle gear is expensive and your passenger needs to be as protected, if not more protected than you are. There's no easy solution here. Helmet fit remains individual to each person's head; everyone needs a different size jacket; gloves need to fit the hands they're on. Use the same rules you apply to your own gear: full-face helmet all the time. Body armor on all the major joints; CE-rated back protector; abrasion protection; over-the-ankle boots. If you can't meet those criteria, with comfort, with appropriate safety, take the other person's car instead.
2. The Preparatory Speech
"Just sit still. If you have to move around, do so while we're cruising at a steady speed; moving our body weight is what steers the motorcycle. Especially when we're going between cars, just sit still.
"Hold on tight. Whether it's the grab rails or my waist, all that matters is that you feel secure. Support your weight under braking with a hand on the tank. Use your feet to push forward under acceleration.
"In corners, just pretend you're a sack of potatoes. Don't jump around, just try and stay in-line with the bike's lean angle.
"If you're scared, punch me. If you want to pull over, punch me." Then, really do pull over if they punch you. It's up to you to make them feel safe.
3. The Mount
Sit on the bike, turn it on and put in in neutral. Stand up, with your legs spread wide and the seat pinched between your thighs. Hold the front brake. A passenger should always mount from the left, without using the passenger peg as step stool. But, they're going to use the passenger peg as a step stool, so be ready for that. Ask them to always, always, always wait for verbal confirmation that you're ready before climbing on or off.
4. The Hold
The most secure hold is one arm around your waist, one arm on the tank. Under acceleration, the arm around your waist holds them on the bike. Under braking, the hand on the tank holds their weight, preventing it from crushing your balls. This varies by bike types and hand holds, but there's no bike it won't work on.
5. The Dismount
Again, this should always be to the left. Make sure the passenger knows they must get verbal confirmation that you're ready before dismounting and ask them to do so without using the left peg as a step stool. Pull up to a firm, level surface, brace the bike between your legs while standing up over the seat and balance it while the passenger steps off.
If you've done it right, you've created a motorcycle enthusiast for life. Make that your goal. What are your tips for carrying a passenger?
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