Friday, February 22, 2008

Concerning Passengers

The other night, Lady Luck and I took our guests out for a quick ride. Riding with a passenger is always stressful for me. I'm concerned about making sure my passenger has a good time as well as being extra cautious and trying to contend with the new and interesting way my bike handles with an extra person on it.

In addition to all that, inexperienced passengers sometimes don't understand they have almost as much to do with where the bike goes as I do. Peeking out around my side leans the bike enough to start pulling to one side. A non-leaning passenger, on the other hand, makes right turns extra interesting.

All of these challenges are why motorcycle safety manuals say inexperienced riders shouldn't have passengers.

So, here are a few tips on how to ride with a passenger:

Explain what they have to do before they get on the back of your back. For example, you might tell them to hang on and shut the hell up. Or, if you're not a jerk, you could explain that they need to lean into the turns with you, and keep their feet on the pegs at all times.

Go slow until you're comfortable with the new way your bike will handle. Also, keep going slow until you're sure the passenger wants to go fast. Resist the urge to show off. It's not fun learning at the end of the ride that your passenger was scared out of their wits.

Give them opportunities to rest. The back of a motorcycle, particularily the back of a sportbike, can be uncomfortable for long periods. Furthermore, most passengers have not developed the iron butt that comes from a lot of miles in the saddle. Stop frequently and find out how they're doing.

Stay loose. If you're like me at all, you probably tense up when you've got a passenger. Loosen up! Not only is it difficult to control the bike when you've got every muscle tensed, but you'll be really sore afterwards too.

Please feel free to add your own advice for riding with passengers in the comments.

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