How to Ride as a Passenger on a Motorcycle : Practical Tips!

How to Ride as a Passenger on a Motorcycle : Practical Tips!

Riding a motorcycle is tons of fun if you’re a skilled rider, but you can always be the passenger if you aren’t. All you need to do is hop in and enjoy the ride, right? Wrong!

Contrary to popular belief, riding as a motorcycle passenger requires some preparation; inexperienced passengers can cause many problems for themselves and the rider. This is why it’s important to arm yourself with the required skills and knowledge to be a good motorcycle passenger.

I’ve been both the rider and the passenger and picked up a few things from my experience.  In this post, I’ll provide useful tips on riding as a motorcycle passenger. 

How Do You Ride As a Passenger On a Motorcycle?

Before riding as a passenger on a motorcycle, wear a proper protective gear helmet and closed-toe shoes. Climb onto the bike, sit behind the driver and hold onto their waist for support. Keep your feet on the foot pegs or boards and trust the driver to drive safely. 

How Do You Ride As a Passenger On a Motorcycle

When riding as a passenger, safety has to be your top priority. There’s a proper way to sit, communicate, or get off when riding a bike.  Let’s find out what you must do to ensure you’re safe and enjoy the ride as a passenger. 

10 Tips on Riding as a Passenger on a Motorcycle 

Below are 10 useful tips on how to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle:

1. Wear a Helmet

Even though this tip might sound like it should be common sense, it’s still worth reminding you! You must always wear a helmet when riding as a passenger, especially if it’s your first time on a motorcycle. Ensure that your helmet fits you well and that it doesn’t impair your vision. If you plan to be a motorcycle passenger for a long period of time, it’s a good idea to invest in a high-quality helmet

2. Know Who You’re Riding With

Despite your best efforts when riding a motorcycle as a passenger, your safety heavily depends on the rider’s experience. Therefore, if the rider is inexperienced, it’s best to decline the chance to ride with them as a passenger.

It is also important to determine if the rider is sober or in the right frame of mind to ride a motorcycle. While you may come off as being annoying when questioning the rider’s ability to drive safely, your safety should be of the utmost importance. Since they’re responsible for your well-being during the trip, it makes sense to find out if they can handle that responsibility!

If you suspect the rider may be intoxicated, depressed, or angry, you should decline to ride with them as a passenger. 

3. Keep your Feet on the Footpegs

When riding a bike as a passenger, keeping your feet on the footpeg is important. The foot pegs give you a secure and stable place to rest your feet. They will also help you maintain balance when sitting on the motorcycle. 

While your feet are on the peg, do not drag or point them downwards. This may cause you to lose balance. Refraining from riding as a passenger on a bike with no footpegs is also a good idea. Aside from helping you maintain balance, the footpegs also prevent your feet and legs from injury. If they dangle toward the ground while riding, you could risk getting injured if the rider brakes abruptly or in an accident.

4. Hold onto the Rider

While you’re sitting on the motorcycle, be sure to hold onto the rider. You can hold the rider’s waist, hips, or even their belt loops to get a better grip. This will allow them to have full control of the motorcycle and prevent you from accidentally interfering with their control.

Holding onto the rider also helps ensure your safety if the rider brakes or accelerates suddenly. That said, you shouldn’t hold on too tightly. It can inhibit the rider’s ability to maneuver the motorcycle properly. 

Motorcycle riders must be able to move their body and shift their weight to balance the motorcycle and make turns. If the passenger holds on too tightly, it can restrict the rider’s movement and compromise their bike control.

5. Pay Attention to the Road

Always pay attention to your surroundings and stay alert for any potential hazards on the road. It could be speed bumps or potholes. Just because you’re not the rider doesn’t mean you should take your eyes off the road. Keeping your head and eyes up is also important to maintain balance. This helps you to prepare for impact in case there’s a bump ahead or the rider is about to crash.

6. Lean with the Rider When Making Turns

It’s important to move your body in the same direction as the rider when they make turns. Don’t move your body in the opposite direction because doing so could cause the rider to lose their balance and tip the bike over. Moving the opposite way will be counterproductive and could cause the driver to lose balance and tip over. It’s also important to remember that you mustn’t lean too much – doing so could upset the bike’s balance. 

7. Don’t Move Too Much When the Motorcycle is  Moving

Maintaining balance is one of the most important things to remember when you climb onto a motorcycle as a passenger. Once you’re seated comfortably, you must not make any sudden movement.

Avoid reaching out or extending your arms or legs because it can cause you to lose your balance and fall off the motorcycle.

It would also be best if you did not stand or stretch. You’ve probably seen pictures of people standing on bikes or sitting in unconventional positions. It may look cool and earn you a few hundred likes on Instagram, but it won’t score you any safety points. 

If, for whatever reason, you need to stand to take a picture on a motorcycle, it’s best to do so when the bike is stationary. Otherwise, sit still and try not to move your body too much. 

8. Don’t Panic if the Motorcycle Starts to Wobble

Sometimes, the motorcycle may lose balance and start to wobble or fishtail. If this happens while riding as a passenger, try to relax and let the rider handle it. As I mentioned, it’s best to be a bike passenger only when riding with an experienced rider. If the motorcycle starts wobbling, an experienced rider knows how to handle the situation and maintain control.

Don't Panic if the Motorcycle Starts to Wobble

If you’re on a bike with a novice rider, just make sure you stay as calm as possible. Panicking could cause them to lose concentration or become even more anxious and could result in a bike crash. 

9. Let the Rider Know if They Should Stop

If you need to stop or get off the motorcycle, let the rider know in advance. They will stop the motorcycle and let you get down safely. Jumping off the bike could cause you to land awkwardly and get injured or even cause the driver to lose their balance. 

10. Avoid Wearing Loose Clothing or Accessories

If you’re going to ride as a passenger on a motorcycle, it’s best not to wear loose clothing or accessories.  Don’t wear any clothing that could get caught up in the motorcycle’s moving parts. This can cause safety problems and may potentially damage the motorcycle.

Instead, wearing protective clothing, like leather or heavy denim jackets, gloves, and boots, is best. This will help to protect your skin from abrasions and injuries in the event of a crash.

Important Safety Precautions for First-time Motorcycle Passengers

If you’re a first-time passenger on a motorcycle, follow these safety precautions to keep you safe when riding: 

1. Wear the Proper Gear

Like riders, motorcycle passengers are expected to wear the correct gear when riding, including a helmet, eye protection, sturdy shoes, and protective clothing. 

Using Helmet while riding bike

Wear a helmet that meets the Department of Transportation (DOT) safety standards. A DOT-approved helmet will protect your head and reduce the risk of serious injury during a crash. The same goes for other types of protective gear. It is important to stress that buying motorcycle gear for passengers isn’t enough. You need to get the right gear with standard quality. 

2. Don’t Behave Recklessly on the Bike

Riding on a motorcycle with your partner or friend can be a thrilling experience, but just because you’re riding with your partner or best friend doesn’t mean you should be reckless. Don’t cover their eyes, tickle them, or do anything that will jeopardize their vision and balance. Keep the joking around for when you’ve safely arrived at your destination. 

3. Don’t Take Selfies While the Bike is Moving

While it may be too tempting to resist, taking a selfie on a motorcycle is a bad idea. It can disturb your balance and prove too distracting for the rider.

If you must, take your selfies before you’re on a moving bike. Additionally, if you wish to document your riding experience on video, you can mount a camera on the motorcycle. This allows you to take videos safely. Holding your phone in your hand to take selfies or videos while you’re moving at high speed can end in a bad accident.  

4. Sit Properly

Keep your weight evenly distributed on the motorcycle. Avoid shifting your weight to one side or suddenly moving. It’s also important not to lean too far forward or backward. Moving your body in multiple directions can affect the motorcycle’s balance, which is why your body must be centered and upright constantly. 

5. Tie up your Hair

If you have hair that’s long enough to tie, it is important to ensure your hair is secured. If your hair is loose and blowing in the wind, it could blow into the rider’s face and cause them to lose focus and control over the motorcycle. It would be best to braid your hair or wear it in a hairstyle that keeps it out of your face. It’s safe and more comfortable in the long run.

6. Don’t Ride as a Passenger if you’re Pregnant

It can be dangerous to ride on a motorcycle while pregnant. Riding a motorcycle presents more risks than when driving a car, and the risks of injury to both the rider and passenger are higher in the event of an accident. 

Additionally, the vibrations and jolts common when riding a motorcycle can harm a pregnant person and their developing baby. If you are pregnant and must travel by motorcycle, you should discuss the risks with your healthcare provider and take precautions to ensure your safety.  

7. Don’t Ride as a Passenger if you have a Medical Condition

Certain medical conditions could be made worse by the physical demands of riding a motorcycle as a passenger. While on a bike, you’ll need to deal with long periods seated in a stationary position with no back support. There’s also exposure to vibration, changes in temperature, and other environmental factors.

Depending on the nature of your medical condition, these factors could worsen your symptoms or cause other problems. Hence, it is important to consider your health before riding as a passenger on a motorcycle. It is best to seek alternative transportation if you have a medical condition that riding a motorcycle could affect you.

8. Don’t Ride on a Motorcycle When Drunk

Riders shouldn’t drive when drunk, nor should passengers. Alcohol impairs your judgment, coordination, and balance, all important skills for riding a motorcycle safely. As an inebriated passenger, you could lose your balance, fall off the motorcycle, and get badly injured.  Therefore, if you have been drinking and must travel, arranging a taxi to take you home is important. Do not get on a motorcycle, either as a passenger, while you’re drunk. 

9. Follow the Rider’s Instructions and Signals

Another useful tip to remember when riding as a passenger is to follow the rider’s instructions at all times. The rider controls the motorcycle, so following their instructions and paying attention to their cues is important. 

Bike riding as a passenger

They’ll be the first to notice if something goes wrong while the motorcycle is moving. So If they indicate that you should get off the bike, do so immediately. 

10. Don’t Distract the Rider

If you have anything important to discuss, save it when you get to your destination. When riding a motorcycle as a passenger, try to keep the conversation as short as possible. This will help the rider to keep their focus on getting you both to your destination safely.

Even if you have to talk, you shouldn’t mention anything that could get the driver agitated.  You can get a motorcycle helmet headset if you want a safe means to communicate with the rider while you’re moving. 

FAQ

Is it hard to ride a motorcycle with someone on the back?

While it’s not impossible, riding a motorcycle with a passenger is more challenging than riding solo. The additional weight of the passenger can affect the handling and stability of the motorcycle, especially at slower speeds or when making turns. The rider must be aware of this and adjust their riding style accordingly. 

Should a passenger on a motorcycle lean with the driver?

Yes, it’s recommended for a passenger on a motorcycle to lean with the rider to help balance the motorcycle and make it easier for the rider to control the bike. When the passenger and rider lean together, the motorcycle’s weight is distributed more evenly, making the bike stable and easier to handle. 

Why do you lean into a curve on a motorcycle?

Leaning into a curve on a motorcycle is important because it helps the motorcycle to turn more smoothly and maintain traction with the road. By leaning into a curve, the rider can shift their weight in turn’s direction, helping keep the motorcycle stable and reducing the risk of it tipping over.

Final Thoughts

Riding on a motorcycle as a passenger can be enjoyable and allow you to experience the freedom of the open road. However, it also presents certain risks. This is why following the tips and safety precautions above is important to minimize the risks involved.

No matter how many precautions you take, riding with an experienced driver is completely unsafe. It’s fairly common for riders to crash when riding solo during their first year of riding. It’s all part of the learning curve. 

With the added weight of a passenger, it’s more difficult for riders to maintain their balance on the road. Hence, it’s important to only ride on a motorcycle with riders with years of experience behind them.

Jude Odumamwen

Jude became obsessed with motorcycles after his dad got him a 2007 Suzuki SV650 for his 16th birthday. He's since ridden a few more bikes and made a career out of writing about them. Jude also writes about cars, but his first love runs on two wheels. When he's not writing, he likes to watch movies or read mystery novels.

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