Riding a motorcycle is not a casual commitment. Every time you saddle up, you mentally prepare yourself. You put yourself out into the elements with very minimal protection. Of course you have a helmet and protective clothing, but there really is nothing to break your fall, so to speak. So each time you start the engine, you have to realize that you are taking your life into your hands and every sense must be on high alert. It’s not something I take for granted and I maintain the same safety standards I did when I first started riding motorcycles as I do now, twenty years later.
It took a while for me to feel comfortable enough to ride with a passenger on the back of my motorcycle – riding two up, in biker lingo. This adds a whole new dynamic to the ride: Extra weight, additional movement and the added responsibility of someone else’s life in your hands. I’m not a joy rider, I don’t ride sports bikes, I don’t speed and I don’t pull stunts and tricks. I have always ridden big touring motorcycles that I have used for both my primary mode of transportation and for my travelling vacations. It was only a matter of time when the day would come that I would have a partner/passenger accompanying me on my many rides. The tips I’m about to share are of my experience riding two up to ensure a safe and comfortable ride for both parties.
To begin with, you have to ensure that your passenger is comfortable and willing to be on a motorcycle. Secondly, the motorcycle itself has to be equipped with the correct equipment to carry two people. The bike seat has to be large enough for two torsos and there has to be back foot clips for the passenger to be able to mount and dismount as well as rest their legs comfortably. You need to have a few practice runs on a stationary bike, so both the driver and the passenger can feel comfortable seated on the motorcycle together. It is essential for both parties to feel safe and secure while seated on the motorcycle. You also have to set up a communication method, preferably signals, so the two can understand what each other are doing or requesting. The driver is usually purely focused on the road and its conditions while the passenger is an observer and not always focusing on the direction of the road. If possible, the driver should indicate, via a tap on the leg or any other signal previously set up, when they will be leaning into a left or right turn. The passenger should be able to tap twice on the shoulder if they are feeling uncomfortable with the speed and would like the driver to slow down. When traveling at high speeds, the passenger should always hold to the driver around the torso. Not tight, just firm for balance. When turning, the passenger should always lean with the driver and in the same direction. Leaning in an opposite direction is extremely dangerous and can result in loss of control. The passenger should always be directly behind the driver and look into the bend as the driver would. Being a passenger also carries the responsibility of the safety of the two of riders. When slowing down, the passenger should lean forward and place their hands on the gas tank and not around the driver. This maintains a stable safe balance for the motorcycle. On long trips, always take breaks for refreshments, stretches and bathroom relief. Being comfortable on the road is key to a safe enjoyable journey.
These are the basics for riding two up. There are a lot of other things you can do to ensure a more comfortable and safe ride. You can buy seats with back rests, bigger foot rests, windshields, and communication devices. But to get started, it’s key to have those key points in place. Like everything else in life, the more you do it, the better you get at it and more you get out of it.