Riding with a Passenger: Safety Tips

Once you have mastered motorcycle riding safety, you may get the desire to have close-up company on your bike.  A motorcycle ride up the mountains in the autumn can be a romantic date.  Or perhaps you and a friend are sharing a commute.  Everything is better with a friend, however, you want to make absolutely sure that you have the experience to ride safely with the additional weight of a passenger, along with proper safety gear in order to keep the experience a positive one.

Obviously, the way in which you ride and turn will be affected when the weight distribution is changed.  One available resource to consider when learning about passenger safety is the bike’s owner manual, which will have information regarding weight limits, equipment and recommendations related to operation.  Before you take a friend on the bike up the highway for a day trip, it would be a good idea to get use to the feel of riding with a passenger in low-traffic, flat areas.  In general, be aware of the following considerations when carrying a passenger:

  • Allow for more time to get to your destination.
  • Allow for more passing space.
  • Consider clearance and use extra caution on turns.
  • The weight of the passenger will make the rear brakes more effective so get the feel for that change.
  • Brake sooner and more cautiously than you would without a passenger.
  • Be aware that starting from a stop will be affected by the extra weight, as will slowing and speeding up.

Make sure your motorcycle has the proper equipment to support a passenger, including a large enough seat and footrests – depending on the state in which you are traveling, this equipment may be required by law in order to carry a passenger.  You will also want to ensure that your friend has sufficient riding gear – including, of course, a lawful helmet.

You will also want to ensure that your passenger understands how to act on the bike.  Make sure that he or she can reach the foot pads, and instruct the passenger to keep his or her feet on the footrests at all times.  An important reminder is that the muffler gets hot!  Passengers often suffer leg burns due to lack of muffler respect.  Perhaps the most crucial thing you want your passenger to understand is that he or she cannot make any sudden movements which may affect your ability to control the motorcycle.  If you passenger is not confident in their ability to calmly enjoy the ride, perhaps it is better to ride solo.  Use special consideration when determining whether a child is old enough, strong enough, tall enough and mature enough to safely ride on the back of your bike.

Some bikes are equipped with passenger handholds, but if yours is not, instruct your passenger to hold you around the waist.  If the passenger is heavy, extra caution should be used during stops to ensure that he or she does not push you over the handlebars.

By taking extra care and caution, and taking practice runs, a ride with a friend can be an enjoyable experience.

If you or someone you know has had an accident while riding a motorcycle, please contact experienced Sacramento motorcycle lawyer, Edward A. Smith, at

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