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How Can I Ride Safely With a Passenger?

Posted on October 27, 2021 in

There are plenty of motorcyclists in Denver and throughout Colorado, and most of these individuals operate their vehicles completely safely. However, riding a motorcycle with a passenger can create an entirely new dynamic on the bike. Here, we want to discuss how you can ride safely with a passenger on your motorcycle. Not only do we want to talk about steps that the motorcycle driver can take to remain safe, but also steps passengers can take to increase the overall safety of the ride.

How Passengers Affect Motorcycle Handling

Riding a motorcycle with a passenger will affect every aspect of the bike’s handling. This includes, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Braking. Motorcycles will need longer distances to slow down when they have passengers on board. If a motorcyclist with a passenger has to stop abruptly, they will have to apply more brake force in order to stop the bike. Motorcyclists will have to apply their brakes earlier and smoother when they have a passenger, meaning they need to plan well in advance of any stops. Motorcyclists should trail their back brakes when performing slow-speed maneuvers to help smooth things out.
  • Acceleration. Motorcycles will not accelerate as quickly when there is a passenger on board. It is crucial to be careful when accelerating because the front end of the bike will be more likely to jerk upward when applying too much acceleration too quickly. The key to accelerating with the passenger is to do so smoothly and slowly.
  • Turning. Turning the motorcycle and going around corners is trickier when there is a passenger on the motorcycle. Passengers completely change the weight distribution of the bike. The main piece of advice here is to have your passenger look over your shoulder on the side that you are turning. This helps keep the bike steady by keeping both the motorcyclist and the passenger’s movements consistent.

As the motorcycle operator, you have a responsibility to keep a clear head at all times. Even though the legal blood alcohol limit for operating a motorcycle is the same as it is for a regular vehicle (.08%), please understand how dangerous any type of impaired driving can be for a motorcyclist. This is particularly true when there is a passenger on the motorcycle. All motorcyclists should avoid operating these vehicles when they have had any alcohol or consumed any drugs.

Give the Passenger Instructions

Passengers need some instructions, ground rules if you will, before they get on the back of a motorcycle. This includes:

  • No sudden movements. This includes letting the passenger know that they should not reach out and stretch or move in any direction rapidly.
  • Hand signals. It is a good idea to make sure passengers know basic hand signals (that you work out between yourself and the passenger) to indicate certain things. For example, a tap on the shoulder could mean slow down. Two taps could mean pull over.
  • Keep feet on footrests. Tell your motorcycle passenger to keep their feet on the footrests, even when the bike comes to a stop. If the passenger puts their feet down, this could cause an imbalance.
  • Hold on. A motorcycle passenger should hold onto the motorcycle operator or the handholds if the motorcycle has them. Passengers need to brace themselves for acceleration and braking by keeping their bodies tight to the motorcycle operators. This will keep the passenger from moving significantly in any direction when accelerating or braking.