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Roamer
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Discussion Starter #1
I've been riding for 3 years, but I will be carrying a passenger for the first time this weekend.

For reference, I'm 5'7 and my passenger is 5'11. Combined, we'll be just a touch over the maximum load rating on my bike with all our gear on. Prior to heading out, I'll get a feel for acceleration, braking, and turning in a parking lot. Assuming all goes well there, we'll just be doing a short ride, 15-30 minutes, in a low traffic area with good pavement and a few stoplights/signs and turns. The speed limit is between 30 and 45 mph in that area, so won't be going faster than that. I ride an FZ-07, and passenger accommodations are spartan to say the least, so I know it isn't going to be a super comfortable ride for her (which is why I will keep it short).

I've read through past threads about carrying passengers, but I still have some questions.

1. What is the most secure "attachment" position for her? Arms around me and hands on tank? Arms just around me? Holding onto my sides? Holding the frame of the the bike? Some combination?

2. I know when I was first learning to ride, leaning the bike made my stomach drop until I got used to it. How do you explain to a passenger that leaning is normal and is not a sign of an impending tip over? :biggrin:

3. Is it best for her to keep her body straight when I turn from a stop? What about when I'm going around a curve at speed?

4. What about bumps? I stand up on the pegs a bit when I go over big bumps. Since the passenger pegs are so much higher, what can she do to make bumps less painful?

I did get a pair of intercoms, so I can talk to her during the ride. I will let her know when I'm going to be braking, accelerating, turning, etc. I will try to be as smooth as possible, of course, but I think she may feel better about the ride if she knows what is happening or about to happen.

I am making her wear a helmet, jacket, boots, and gloves. I haven't been able to find pants for her yet, so I will have her wear my knee guards with regular jeans. She doesn't think the gear is necessary, but I know better. :biggrin:

I'm looking for any additional advice or tips or cautions, as well! Hit me with everything you've got. I want to be as prepared as possible to make this a positive experience for her (and me!).
 

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Gone.
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17,857 Posts
Before riding I always tell inexperienced passengers to expect that weird feeling when leaning into turns, and tell them it's okay and not to get squirrely about it.

I tell them to keep their body in line with mine at all times, but especially in the turns, and don't make any sudden twists or turns of the body.

Also, keep their feet up and on the pegs at a stop until I tell them it's okay to put 'em down.

I can't tell you about position on your type of bike as I've never ridden a passenger on that type. On a cruiser I usually told them to just hold me around the waist, or put their hands in my jacket pockets, whichever felt good.

Since you're at the maximum weight, try to be a little careful when braking and allow yourselves plenty of time to stop.

Have fun!:71baldboy:
 

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Driftless Rider
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1,540 Posts
I think you are on the right path for a first ride with a passenger. Keep it slow, and short; and stay well within your comfort zone.

If your passenger has never ridden before, tell her to just lean with you, and as Eye said, not make any sudden movements. It's kind of like learning to dance with a partner, you take the lead and she follows your cues.
Cruisers are generally much easier for new passengers because of the more upright seating position, but you FZ shouldn't be too bad, except for the poptart sized pillion.
I would have her hold onto you to start out, then she can better get a feel of your movements and key off you.

Keep the speed under 100 and be a gentleman, you should be fine;)
 

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Shaper Of All Things Metal
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Above advice is all good and sounds like you've thought it out well. Only thing I'll add is be prepared for things to feel less stable than you're used to. The additional load you're not accustomed to is going to be aft and high. It will help if your passenger will be comfortable 'hugging' you somewhat, rather than leaning back or upright. That can make things a bit unwieldy.

Mainly... be confident and have fun! It's a whole new dimension to share your ride!
 

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Premium Member
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Passenger

What Eye said.
Arms around you until she gets comfortable.
Lean with you at all times.
She hits you if you hit a bump at speed.

I advise that you get on first. Experiment with the passenger getting on with the side stand down with a bit of lean on it. And with the bike vertical, no side stand. You tell her when you are ready to load, she tells you when she is ready to go. When you stop at a light, her feet stay on the pegs.
When you do a full stop, engine off, you tell her when you are ready to unload. Same as getting on, with or without the side stand.

Hand signals between you, and placement, depend on familiarity. I have never used one of those walkie talkie things.

Unkle Crusty*
 

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I rode for almost 20 years before ever having anyone on the back as a passenger and boy O boy its very different. The good thing is my current wife has ridden as a passenger with her Ex so she is a good passenger.

Everyone above has given you excellent advice...
 

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My advice to first-time passengers ...

1. Relax and enjoy!

2. When the bike is leaning ... stay with the bike. Keep the same angle as the bike.

3. Be careful about motorcycle PIPES - they are super-hot. It is very easy to burn the side of your leg against a pipe. Keep your feet up on the pegs when riding. Stay away from the pipes when you step off.

4. When I am braking, there is tendency for the passenger to lean forwards, causing their helmet to go THUNK against the back of my helmet. Try to avoid that if possible ... pay attention to the accelerations and braking.

5. Don't make any hand signals to other riders, until I teach you how to do it right. I don't need any WARS. Hahahahahahaha!

6. Kick-*ss and have a good time. This is what it's about.

dT
 

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Gone
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1. What is the most secure "attachment" position for her? Arms around me and hands on tank? Arms just around me? Holding onto my sides? Holding the frame of the the bike? Some combination?

Arms around rider is usually best. Placing the hands on the tank when braking can help take the pressure off your back.

2. I know when I was first learning to ride, leaning the bike made my stomach drop until I got used to it. How do you explain to a passenger that leaning is normal and is not a sign of an impending tip over?

Explain before riding that you will be leaning to turn.

3. Is it best for her to keep her body straight when I turn from a stop? What about when I'm going around a curve at speed?

The passenger should always stay in line with the rider. It's helpful to have them look over your shoulder in the direction of the turn. This will keep them leaning the right way and in line with you. Left turns look over your left shoulder, right turns over the right shoulder. The same technique is used for all turns regardless of speed.

4. What about bumps? I stand up on the pegs a bit when I go over big bumps. Since the passenger pegs are so much higher, what can she do to make bumps less painful?

That's really going to depend on the motorcycle. It's best to go slowly over bumps if possible and traffic allows it. If the passenger can rise up and use their legs as shock absorbers without upsetting the rider, they should do so. Practice in a parking lot to find out.
 

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American Legion Rider
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If this is the first time you've ever ridden with a passenger, you might consider what I di to get used to extra weight. Might sound dumb but I lashed a 50 pound sack of onions to the back seat. I was surprised at what that did let me tell ya. It's a lot better dropping the bike and some onions as to drop someone you need to trust you. But then my first passenger was my daughter so that weight was just a little lighter than what she would be.

Now your passenger needs to listen to what you tell them. And one key thing they need to do is not move around until you tell them it's okay. So some kind of signal needs to be developed. For me and my wife it was just a tap on her knee. My daughter it didn't make too much difference because that sack of onions and her weight was close. So she could wiggle and it didn't affect things much.

You are kind of pushing it to just now consider a passenger without first at least doing some around the block type rides. But good luck.
 

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Roamer
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Discussion Starter #11
Before riding I always tell inexperienced passengers to expect that weird feeling when leaning into turns, and tell them it's okay and not to get squirrely about it.

I tell them to keep their body in line with mine at all times, but especially in the turns, and don't make any sudden twists or turns of the body.

I can't tell you about position on your type of bike as I've never ridden a passenger on that type. On a cruiser I usually told them to just hold me around the waist, or put their hands in my jacket pockets, whichever felt good.
Hands in pockets is a nice idea! I think I would feel best about that, so she doesn't end up squeezing me in half. Haha.


It's kind of like learning to dance with a partner, you take the lead and she follows your cues.

Cruisers are generally much easier for new passengers because of the more upright seating position, but you FZ shouldn't be too bad, except for the poptart sized pillion.
Dancing -- that's a good way to think about it!

Honestly, I think a poptart might actually be bigger than my pillion pad. lol :coffeescreen:


Only thing I'll add is be prepared for things to feel less stable than you're used to. The additional load you're not accustomed to is going to be aft and high. It will help if your passenger will be comfortable 'hugging' you somewhat, rather than leaning back or upright. That can make things a bit unwieldy.
Handling is definitely what I'm most concerned about. I can see how hugging me might put the center of gravity closer to what I'm used to. I'll start with that!


Experiment with the passenger getting on with the side stand down with a bit of lean on it. And with the bike vertical, no side stand.

Hand signals between you, and placement, depend on familiarity. I have never used one of those walkie talkie things.
I hadn't thought of sitting on the bike with the stand down. That would be a good sample of what a lean might feel like. I will do that!

And technology is leaving you in the dirt, Crusty! :biggrin:


3. Be careful about motorcycle PIPES - they are super-hot. It is very easy to burn the side of your leg against a pipe.

5. Don't make any hand signals to other riders, until I teach you how to do it right. I don't need any WARS. Hahahahahahaha!
3. Stay away from hotspots, yes, indeed. She would be very upset if I melted her jeans. :p

I'll make sure to tell her to wave with 2 fingers, and not just the one. :p

Side note: I always think it's cute when I pass a rider with a kid on the back, and the kid gives me the wave. I never rode on a bike as a kid, but I can imagine I would have felt super important if I was the designated waver.

Arms around rider is usually best. Placing the hands on the tank when braking can help take the pressure off your back.

The passenger should always stay in line with the rider. It's helpful to have them look over your shoulder in the direction of the turn. This will keep them leaning the right way and in line with you. Left turns look over your left shoulder, right turns over the right shoulder. The same technique is used for all turns regardless of speed.

Besides taking more distance to brake, it may require a bit more throttle/friction zone to get moving.
Good advice about looking over my shoulder. I'll try to remember to tell her look left/right as we're approaching a turn.

I expect I will stall it a few times while we're out. Just hoping I don't wheelie... I think that might put a halt to things right quick. :biggrin:


Thanks for all the tips and advice, so far! I will re-read all of these posts a few times before we go out.

I was reading in this RideApart article that clutchless upshifts are supposed to provide the smoothest ride.

Ride smoothly while they’re on board, short shifting clutchlessly to make gear changes as smooth as possible. Dragging a little back brake at low speed can help with stability and smoothness too.
Whenever I shift without the clutch, it's a bit jerky, so I don't know if I'm doing it wrong, need more practice, or if this is just bad advice. So far, I've really only done clutchless shifts for the novelty factor. Is that a skill I really need to work on for riding with a passenger?
 

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Gone
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Just use the clutch smoothly during shifts. You have more control of power to the rear wheel that way and it won't damage your transmission.
 

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American Legion Rider
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Riding with a passenger is NOT the time to learn shifting clutchless. That's a drag strip or race track trick. Just ride your best ride. They put clutches there to be used. Use it.:thumbsup:
 

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Gone
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Another important tip to tell your passenger:

The passenger shouldn't attempt to help you lean, just relax and go with the flow. The lean is actually initiated with the handlebars, and they should keep their hands off of those.
 

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Have someone on standby to pick her up just incase. If you start to get scared or nervous, stop and get her a ride home. I would suggest, anytime you need to make slow maneuvers like parking and uturns, ask her to dismount. We all think its a given, but make sure she knows what side to get on and off and to not rub up against a hot muffler, most of us knows muffler burns hurt just as much as road rash. Tell her, she really don't even have to lean, just go with the bike. And she also needs to pay attention to the road conditions, because if you need to make a sudden stop, she's gonna have to hold on tight and dig into those foot pegs.
 

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In addition to what others have already said, I would add a couple things that you should be prepared for.

1) As you change gears or hit the brakes, passengers tend to peck you in the back of the head.

2) If you do have to hit the brakes hard or unexpectedly, just know she's most likely coming forward and you're going to have a little more weight on you than you're used to.
 
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