What to Know Before Taking a Passenger on Your Motorcycle
Riding your motorcycle with a loved one or friend allows you to share the exhilarating experience with another person. However, passengers alter how your motorcycle handles, and if you or your passenger are unprepared for the ride, it could lead to a devastating crash.
If you’re considering bringing a passenger with you on your next motorcycle excursion, it’s vital to examine the skills and adjustments you need to maneuver safely with an added person onboard. It’s also essential for your passenger to understand how to be a safe rider to prevent accidents from occurring.
Necessary Skills for Riding with a Passenger
You must have several basic skills to operate a motorcycle safely with a passenger on board. Mastering these skills will ensure your passenger doesn’t impede your ability to steer or cause the bike to fall during your ride together.
Smooth gear shifting
Before accepting a passenger, make sure you can shift gears smoothly. Bumpy gear shifts can cause you to bump heads with a passenger, resulting in loss of balance or orientation. Practice this skill by letting off the clutch and increasing the throttle until you can perform the maneuver smoothly.
Smooth starting and stopping
Jerky motions when starting or stopping can cause your passenger to fall off your bike and possibly get injured. They can also cause your passenger to bump into you. Work on making your start-and-stop transitions as smooth as possible before letting a passenger get on your motorcycle.
Slow speed turns
Slow speeds on two wheels make staying upright more difficult due to the decreased stability caused by the extra weight of a second rider. Practice slow turns in a deserted parking lot with a willing, knowledgeable passenger.
Passengers should always mount and dismount from the left to avoid muffler burns. Remain seated with both feet on the ground to support the weight of your bike as your passenger mounts or dismounts the vehicle, and make sure they know not to mount or dismount before you give them the go-ahead to do so.
Ways that Passengers Affect Motorcycle Handling
The added weight of a passenger affects how your motorcycle stops, steers, and accelerates. Anticipating these changes helps you ride more safely.
Increase stopping distance
Vehicles with more weight take more time and distance to stop. You should account for this change by giving yourself more room between yourself and the car in front of you, and begin decelerating sooner than you usually would to slow or stop.
For example, you may need about six car lengths to stop traveling at 30 mph without a passenger. You may want to start breaking within eight-car lengths with an extra rider onboard.
Slow steering response
The greater weight of you and your passenger can cause your steering wheel to respond more slowly. It takes additional time for it to overcome the inertia of forward motion. You should anticipate this when scanning the road ahead and start your turn sooner. Ride slower on curves, corners, and bumps.
Added weight slows acceleration. Remembering this may be necessary when passing, in heavy traffic, and crossing streets. Ensure you have adequate room before attempting to pass another vehicle and keep extra space between yourself and other cars on the road. When crossing a busy street, wait for a more sizable gap than you usually do to give yourself adequate time.
Motorcycle Adjustments to Make When Riding with a Passenger
While many people don’t adjust their motorcycles for short rides, you’ll have improved comfort and safety if you change your shocks and suspension, especially for longer trips.
Seat and pegs
Wisconsin law requires motorcycles have an appropriate seat and footrests or foot pegs mounted according to manufacturer specifications to carry a passenger. Proper equipment ensures your passenger’s safety and comfort by keeping their legs and feet away from the exhaust and wheels.
Read your owner’s manual to see how much you need to adjust your tires when carrying a passenger. Your tires might need extra air to handle the added weight. Check the air pressure when the tires are cold. Although your bike may have specific manufacturer recommendations, try to keep your tires between 28 and 40 PSI.
Shocks and suspension
Adjusting the shocks and suspension allows the bike to travel without too much sag and improves handling with the added weight. Refer to your owner’s manual to determine how to make the adjustments and how much tension to add.
Brief Your Passenger Before They Ride
Discuss safe riding behavior with your passengers before they get on your motorcycle. This helps them understand their responsibility as a rider and keeps you both safe.
Decide on signals they can use to get you to stop quickly or slow down. Explain that sudden movements or yelling might distract you or disrupt the bike’s balance, causing an accident.
Tell your passenger to lean with you into the turns to maintain balance. They should always keep their feet on the pegs of floorboards until it’s time to dismount to prevent serious burns from the exhaust or getting tangled in the chain.
Tell your passenger to sit as close to you as possible to improve balance and handling and avoid making unexpected movements. Explain that too much weight at the bike’s rear reduces the weight on the front wheel, decreasing steering effectiveness.
Passenger Safety Gear
Wisconsin requires any passenger under the age of 18 to wear a motorcycle helmet at all times. The Wisconsin Motorcyclists’ Handbook recommends the same safety gear for your passengers as for yourself, including:
- An approved helmet with the chin strap fastened
- Eye protection
- Long, sturdy pants
- A long-sleeved shirt or leather jacket
- Boots that cover the ankle
Our Motorcycle Attorneys Can Help After a Crash
If you or a loved one is injured in a motorcycle crash, reach out to a Fox Cities motorcycle injury lawyer after the accident. If another driver’s negligent actions caused your accident, we can help you recover compensation to get your life back on track.
The attorneys at Brian Hodgkiss Injury Lawyers are well-versed in handling motorcycle accident cases and understand the unique challenges motorcycle accident victims face when seeking a settlement. We won’t stop fighting on your behalf until you receive fair compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Contact us today to schedule your free consultation. We’ll review the circumstances of your case and help you stand up for your rights.