On the Back Baby

We teach a lot of women to ride motorbikes at Two Wheel Training Academy and quite often they have been on the back of bikes for ages and finally decide to find out what it is all about.  That is great news.  I wish more passengers understood motorbikes and just what went into riding – because they would be so much more hesitant to get on the back if they realised just how thrilling it was to ride your own bike and also, how dangerous it is for the passenger.

Here are some safety tips

Safety First

Make sure your passenger is wearing a helmet that fits and ties securely.  If your passenger is a regular, then buy them a proper helmet of their own and teach them how to care for it properly.

Make sure your passenger is wearing proper motorbike safety gear.  Remember the general rule of matching your safety gear to the risk you are exposing yourself to.  Now do that for your passenger too.  If you are on a racing bike and about to do 300 all the way to Mossel Bay, make sure your passenger is geared up appropriately.  A pair of jeans with a teeny Y showing is not going to protect her in the event of an accident.

Age Matters

A general rule on the age of your passenger is that they must be able to put their feet securely on the footpegs and hold on tightly enough for the entire duration of the trip.  The tank is not a seat for toddlers.  Did you realise that a helmet is too heavy for a toddler’s head.  The g-force of you pulling off and the weight on the little one’s head will cause neck strain and injury.

Children require parental concent to be on a motorbike.  And quite simply, should probably not be on the public road. 

Be Legal

Legally, you can’t ride with a passenger if you only hold a Learner’s License.  So get a Full License!

Your Bike for Two?

Size does matter.  When you have a passenger on a small bike, the extra weight significantly changes the handling of the bike.  Quite often the little bikes don’t have suspension that can be adjusted so you will have to bear this in mind.  Also check your Bike’s Manual for weight limitations because they do apply!

Check your bike for safety and increase your tyre pressure.  Your passenger’s safety is your concern so check your bike before heading off. 

The Low Down on Dos and Don’ts

Give your passenger a talk explaining how your bike will handle in various situations and what they need to do.  For example, lean with you into a corner and not swing the other way which will pull the bike up and change direction.  If your passenger is heavier than you, they need to know to brace themselves against the tank when braking to avoid sliding into you.

Ride smoothly because your passenger doesn’t know what you are about to do.  If your riding is jerky, then your passenger will be thrown back and forwards continually.  This becomes stressful and makes them fatigue.

Your passenger must have their feet on the footpegs for the whole trip.  Show them where the exhaust is and where they will burn their leg.

Your passenger must hold on to your waist or to the hand-holds at all times. This can be hard work if your passenger is not strong so provide opportunities to check if they are still ok and can rest.

How to ride

  • Brake sooner as it takes longer to stop and you don’t want to grab the brakes.
  • Avoid high speed.
  • Avoid bad weather and cross winds.
  • Be more cautious when overtaking.
  • Don’t take unnecessary chances.

Why you Should Really Think about Passengers

On a motorbike you are 35 times more likely to be seriously injured in an accident.  Unfortunately, your passenger is even more at risk. Why?  Because they don’t know what is happening and are not making any choices in the matter. Quite literally, their life is in your hands.  So before you take a passenger, make sure you are ready.