How To: Be a Good Passenger on a Motorcycle

Nobody likes a backseat driver in a car. It's even worse when there's a passenger on the back of a motorcycle dictating how the rider should be riding.

Yes, it's fun to be on two wheels, but if you're making it difficult for the person in front of you, chances are you won't be invited back in the future.

To ensure maximum safety and, of course, maximum fun, here are a few tips for those not familiar with being a passenger on a motorcycle:

  1. If it's your first time, let the rider know. There's nothing to be ashamed of! In that case, a good rider will have a passenger briefing with you, outlining the dos and don'ts of being aboard a motorcycle.
  2. Before even getting on a bike, a passenger should be wearing the proper riding gear including a helmet, jacket, gloves, boots, and pants. Flip flops, shorts, tank tops and the like are not smart choices for attire.
  3. Always wait for the rider to settle in and give you a signal to hop on. As a passenger, you want to make sure that the rider is stable and ready for you.
  4. Climb from the left side (otherwise known as the side with the kickstand) when possible. Attempting to throw a leg over the exhaust side of the bike is a stretch even for those who are vertically inclined.
  5. When you are good to go, tell the rider. The moment you feel uncomfortable, keep the rider informed, as well, so adjustments can be made.
  6. Depending on the bike, you can stabilize yourself in a few ways. Hold on to the "grab handles," the backrest (if there is one) or, better yet, the rider's waist.
  7. Leaning in corners can be terrifying for newbies. Whatever you do, don't fight against the lean; otherwise, you'll upset the balance of the bike. Instead, lean with the rider. How do you do that? Simply align your spines. Also, look over the shoulder of the rider (if you are turning right, look over the right shoulder). It's not supposed to be a drastic move but one that allows you to see the road ahead and the rider to know you are prepared.
  8. When it comes to braking, hold on to rider and squeeze your knees together to stabilize yourself. On a sport bike, don't be afraid to push yourself up by leaning on the tank.
  9. If you're tired at some point, let the rider know.
  10. As a passenger, you should be somewhat familiar with the rider. Know who you're getting on the bike with. If you're not sure how they ride, don't take chances. An experienced rider should be smoother with a passenger than when riding alone.

And riders, don't feel the need to impress your passenger. Since you can operate a motorcycle on your own, that's cool enough! If you really want to impress your passenger, do it by being witty, kind and safety-conscious... and offering to pay for dinner.

Enjoy the ride!

How To: Be a Good Passenger on a Motorcycle

Photo: Philippe Champoux