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Newbie Pillion Rider

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  • Newbie Pillion Rider

    I have never had anyone on the bikes pillion seat before, but I am thinkign about trying it.

    1) What do I need to know?
    2) What do I need to make sure they know?
    3) Should I crank up the rear shock setting (currently at 4)? (I am 185 and she is 125)

    She is a non-motorcyclist.

  • #2
    I quote this from the best post on riding pillion that I've ever seen, written by AHF's wife Kim:

    If you don't have some type of communication system like a chatterbox, you definitely need to have some type of signals worked out. At the very least, you need an "Oh CHIT, pull the bike over NOW" signal.

    As for scaring're going to have to talk to her. That's the long and short of it. She may NEVER be ok with fast speed or railing.....she MAY grow to love it with time. Either way, you need to know exactly what her comfort level is before you ever take off on a ride. If she says no speed, listen to her....NO speed. It gives her some control back, instead of her feeling like she's helpless and at your mercy. Greg and I talk before EVERY ride....I will flat out tell him "NO highways today, I don't feel good", or "Hey, keep the speed down today, I'm tired and my nerves are shot". If he forgets, after we take off, he immediately gets reminded by a slow pinch in his side that grows HARDER gradually, until he finally remembers. It's very important that you talk before each ride and get her take on things. Then listen, and do as she has requested. If she says "no speed today", you either keep the speed down, or go out for a jaunt by yourself....don't get her on the bike, then do as you won't get her on the bike again.

    The key is to make her feel comfortable, and let her know that she does have some control also. Some little things that have made a difference to Greg and I....

    1. Talking before each ride about what the pace will be.

    2. Signals. Different taps when I climb on the back of the bike, Greg does NOT take off until I have gotten situated, feel comfortable, and signal him to do so! When I am set up, I simply slap him twice on the side, he then knows it is safe to take off. Things like this keep the suprises to a minimum for the passenger. If Greg is getting ready to hit the gas unexpectedly, he slaps me on the leg quickly, at which point I immediately tighten my grip on the bike, lean forward, and redistribute my weight to make sure I'm not going to come off the bike. The biggest key is NO SUPRISES! She can't see very well where she is have to make sure she doesn't get taken by suprise. The flipside being that she is also going to have to learn to watch and read the bike, because there are some things that you simply won't have time to warn her about....but those times should be the exception to the rule (like swerving to miss a car that has suddenly pulled out).

    3. A small thing that made a huge difference to Greg and I....a gel seat! Before Greg put the gel seat on the bike, I was forever sliding around! Not a good feeling to have almost no grip on the bike, when you can't see what is going on in the first place! It really did make a HUGE difference for me...I stick to the bike much better, which really increases my confidence, allowing me to enjoy the ride....instead of worrying about getting thrown off the bike.

    4. Make sure she feels safe and comfortable in her gear. While she needs to trust you, she also needs to know that if something goes wrong (that you can't control) she has the best gear on possible. Talk to her about her gear. Ask her if she feels safe with what she's wearing. If she doesn't feel safe, spend the money to get her the gear that will ease her mind. It's expensive, but it will make a difference in her confidence, and allows her to have some control when it comes to her safety. Greg did not pick out my gear....not ANY of it. I researched it all myself, and chose what would make me feel the safest. I have confidence that if we do go down, I have taken all the precaution I can. I choose which gear I will wear based on what type of ride we will be doing....which goes right back to talking to her before each ride.

    5. Let her be involved in "her" bike. Greg bought his bike before we were married. By all rights, it is "his" bike. Over the past couple of years it has become "our" bike. I have spent a ridiculous amount of time and money on that Katana. I have spent HOURS researching and buying parts for it myself. I have a ridiculous amount of time and money tied up in that bike. I have a vested interest in that bike, so to speak. If it's also "her" bike, it will make a big difference.

    6. She is going to have days that she feels "off", just like you do. It's always her choice whether or not she wants to get on the bike. Accept her decision without arguing. There are days that I do not ride with Greg for various reasons. I tell him to go out without me when I do not want to ride. I don't feel bad about it, he doesn't feel bad about it.

    I hope this helps you out a little. Just trying to share what Greg and I have experienced. I'm not "just the pillion".....I will not climb graciously onto the back, cross my fingers, pray to God, and kiss my a$$ goodbye. I have input on that bike, I KNOW it is safe....after all, I've been there through every part addition, oil change, and modification. I KNOW that I have good gear on. I have confidence in my husband's ability, and I have a voice. I'm a very active pillion....because it's my ride, my life, and my enjoyment.
    2nd post on subject:

    Something else I just thought of for your wife to try, that has helped me....

    Greg always wanted me to hang onto his waist. It made me feel very uncomfortable holding onto him instead of the bike. On stops I always slid forward hard, on turns I didn't feel stable. I also couldn't feel the bike very well, and my weight felt like it was up too high. I now brace my ankles against/under the fairing for stability, and I put my arms around Greg....but I put both hands on the tank right in front of Greg and use the tank to brace myself and hold on. I can feel what the bike is doing better, my weight is lower, I stick to the bike better, and I don't slam into Greg on the stops. It is hard on my wrists for long periods, as my wrists are supporting most of my weight.....but it also braces me better and I feel so much more stable. Then when we slow down to a reasonable speed, I will hold onto the grab bar on the back and sit up for a bit, giving my wrists a break. If Greg decides he needs to speed up for whatever reason, and I'm leaned back holding onto the grab bar, he taps me quickly a couple of times on my leg, and I immediately fall forward and brace against the tank, in anticipation of him hitting the gas. I've really found that hanging onto the bike like this keeps me firmly sliding around at all.

    Also when you're riding and there are lots of bumps (bumps throw the passenger around like a rag doll) if she can learn to anticipate the bumps, it'll make life alot better. If you're riding in a group, she can watch the person ahead. For bumps, she needs to brace with her ankles, and bring her butt up off the seat a little, holding on to the tank. It keeps her from getting dislodged.

    With more time, your wife will get her own method down to a science! She will know what to expect from the bike, what to expect from you, and what she needs to do in each situation. Give her time to learn how to ride her own ride in the back, give her time to learn the bike.....what to listen for, and how it moves. Keep the speed down until she has learned what makes her comfortable, what makes her feel safe. Once she has confidence in the bike's movements, and confidence in how to react, then maybe you can pick up the speed. Until then, nice easy enjoyable jaunts. The best way I can put it, is just like you had to learn how to ride the bike, and had to learn how the bike would's the same for her. Can't just throw her on the back and it be all good. For me it was definitely time, and learning what I needed to do back there to make myself feel safe.

    ***I wrote the above based on my experiences, being on the back of a Katana750 w/a gel seat. It took a couple of years for Greg and I to get to the point we are at riding together. Hopefully what I learned will help out somebody new.

    If we ever reach the point where we can't openly discuss riding bikes on acid without even a modicum of civility, then the terrorists have won.

    HORSE BANG!!! ........props to *GP*

    Official coefficient of friction test dummy


    • #3
      Very well said once again !!!

      Just remember, communication between you and ur passenger is important. Make sure they understand what they shouldnt do as far as leaning hard into the turns when you do it, and basically everything bisq has mentioned.

      Make sure they are comfortable and trust you, and make sure you trust urself and ur skills to take a passenger. As much as u may have the urge to get your need for speed groove on, resist it when your passenger isnt comfortable with it.

      It just takes practice and time to get comfortable riding 2 up.. for you and your passenger.


      • #4
        that is definitely the best quote I have read for sometime.
        TDA Racing/Motorsports
        1982 Honda CB750 Nighthawk, 1978 Suzuki GS750 1986 Honda CBR600 Hurricane; 1978 Suzuki GS1100E; 1982 Honda CB750F supersport, 1993 Suzuki Katana GSX750FP. 1981 Suzuki GS1100E (heavily Modified)
        Who knows what is next?
        Builder of the KOTM Mreedohio september winning chrome project. I consider this one to be one of my bikes also!
        Please look at this build!


        • #5
          +1 to Kim

          I had BlackFalcon read that before I started taking him out. The signals are very important. He also likes to place his hands on the tank and squeeze. The grab bar in the back is ok but I have never been comfortable with anyone using it.

          Before I take off from a stop, one tap to the leg. If we're moving and I need to accelerate or want to know if everything's ok, one tap to the leg and a return tap from him. Taps to the helmet or multiple taps to the thigh means, "Stop this freakin' bike, NOW!" :P


          • #6
            +1 to Kim

            I had BlackFalcon read that before I started taking him out. The signals are very important. He also likes to place his hands on the tank and squeeze. The grab bar in the back is ok but I have never been comfortable with anyone using it.

            Before I take off from a stop, one tap to the leg. If we're moving and I need to accelerate or want to know if everything's ok, one tap to the leg and a return tap from him. Taps to the helmet or multiple taps to the thigh means, "Stop this freakin' bike, NOW!" :P


            • #7
              R.I.P. Marc (CyberPoet)