motorcycles, motorcycling, Motoring News, road safety

Riding with a pillion: Safety tips from IAM RoadSmart

RIDING SAFE AT THE BACK: Image: Newspress
RIDING SAFE AT THE BACK: Image: IAM / Newspress

By RICHARD GLADMAN
IAM RoadSmart’s Head of Riding and Driving Standards.

LONDON, England – Once in a blue moon, or every day, the key principles of riding with a pillion are the same and there are at least eight ways to keep your pillion safe.

Gladman says: “When the weekend comes around we itch to get out on our bike and eventually your partner  will want to find out what all the fuss is about but a pleasant ride in the country can be spoiled if your passenger is terrified and inappropriately balanced.

”A pillion ride can be great fun after a  little briefing and proper preparation. It will also challenge your smooth-riding skill. If your passenger likes the ride then the realisation will come that a bike purchase can be important.”

So, here are Gladman’s tips. Even if you’ve been riding for years, it won’t do any harm to refresh your knowledge:

Is your passenger holding on tight? If they’re a newbie pillion or simply nervous passenger ask them to wrap their arms around your torso. As well as making them feel secure it gives you peace of mind that they are holding on correctly.

A new pillion rider will at first try to lean in the opposite direction to the driver. So, remind your pillion to be relaxed and not try to body-steer the motorcycle. Basically – to just remain still.

An obvious one, but easily done if you’re more of a solo rider: don’t forget that the pillion seat is full! And remember to ride smoothly to prevent any sudden movements from your passenger, especially when accelerating or braking.

Encourage your pillion to keep feet on the footpegs; warn them of the danger around them. Their legs and feet will be close to the chain drive and hot exhaust; at the very least it could damage their shoes, at worst their feet. It may even leave a mark on your exhaust which is a nightmare to clean off. If your passenger does not have any motorcycle footwear make sure they are at least wearing boots to protect their ankles.

It’s crucial for your pillion is to wear protective clothing: a protective jacket, trousers, and gloves. You wouldn’t get on your bike wearing just a shirt and shorts – why should they?

Your passenger’s crash-helmet should be as good as yours. Instead of passing on your old helmet, which probably doesn’t fit and could cause more damage than good, make sure your pillion has a helmet which fits correctly and is comfortable.

Have you thought about the impact a pillion has on your suspension? Most bikes have settings to enable you to change the stiffness of rear suspension for two riders. If your motorcycle does not have electronic suspension settings seek advice from an expert.

How confident is your potential passenger? A nervous pillion carrying a heavy backpack could cause issues when accelerating and braking as they may be wobbly. To make them feel more comfortable (which will result in an easier ride for you), secure luggage to your motorcycle. A correctly fitted top box will provide a back rest for the pillion and a comfort blanket for you.

  • Please share these tips with friends and family who might be unaware of advanced riding / driving techniques.

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