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Your First Passenger
Neither your lady, nor your child!

By: James R. Davis

Though not all, and perhaps not most, motorcyclists carry a passenger from time to time, there are occasions when you might wish to do so.

Most often that happens when you wish to share the good feeling of being on two wheels with your lady or she has decided that she would like you to give her a ride on that motorcycle. The problem is that you have never done it before and wonder how to get experience before trying it the first time for real.

My advice is simple: Your lady is the wrong person to be your first passenger. (Your CHILD is an even worse choice!)

Your first passenger should only be an experienced motorcycle rider. Period.

That rider/passenger KNOWS what they are getting into and the risks involved and can be depended upon not to cause you problems while you are learning how to handle your bike with a passenger aboard.

[YOU have been a passenger before, right? If not, you need to experience the total lack of control and dependence a passenger has on the rider before even thinking about mounting a passenger on your bike!!!]

Your first passenger should meet you at and mount your bike on a practice range (typically, an abandoned open parking lot) - that is, you do NOT travel on city streets with your first passenger in order to get to a practice range - and with that passenger on your pillion you MUST practice mounting, dismounting, starting, stopping, backing up, and low speed turns. You must NOT leave that practice range with your passenger until your stops are ALWAYS smooth (and without foot 'hops') and you can make 90 degree slow speed turns without (ever) a need to slap the ground with your down leg to keep the bike upright.

Grin and bear it - you WILL be awkward and less than smooth the first time. An experienced rider will understand that.

Putting an inexperienced person on the pillion for your first passenger is the best way to damage the 'relationship' and most likely will cause that person to NEVER get on a motorcycle again. You can be sure that you will NOT impress your lady. Surely that's not your objective, right?

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(James R. Davis is a recognized expert witness in the fields of Motorcycle Safety/Dynamics.)

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