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Many times I hear of people say that will never ride pillion on a motorcycle because of a single bad experience and it was not until I’d done the bad deed and scared someone special (very sorry Lloyd) that I understood the gravity. In about 2007 I had done monster miles with my wife as pillion and a visiting friend had a go on the back so without thinking I rode my normal pace yet when he climbed off he was shaking.
I learned from that single 5 minute trip and I have never scared a new pillion on the bike since.
Here is my method of taking a new pillion for a ride.
First off I talk to them away from the bike and tell them my intentions are never to scare them but to make it a really fun experience (if I do scare them it will last a lifetime) although something as loose on the road as an open motorcycle will create it’s own fears we can reduce those fears by telling them how they are going to feel before the ride.
I explain that it will be a short 15 -20 minute journey and go through the route with them in their mind, My journey is down the road to the roundabout ¼ of a mile all in a 30mph zone and there will be no overtakes other than parked cars and then I won’t squeeze through but I’ll wait, Just before the roundabout I will stop in a bus stop and ask how they are feeling and hear any concerns. I always explain that the next stretch is about a mile, the first bit is 40mph followed by a 50mph section and then I remind them of how to sit “like a sack of potatoes plonked on the back seat” and when the bike leans, which it will in the roundabouts for them to keep their body in line with the back wheel and not to over lean into the corner or counter lean against the corner but simply keep line with the bike. I then ride that section without overtakes if possible keeping distance from everything.
I stop before the next section which is a 70mph dual carriageway and therefore motorway speeds so I ask their concerns about the ride so far (I have never had a bad comment) I say the next section will feel fast as we are not inside a car and the wind at 70mph hits hard and we will be in Lane 2 whenever Lane 1 has traffic and we will be accelerating up to speed a lot harder than before but nothing like the bike is capable of. My bike of choice for pillions is a Suzuki Bandit 1200S the book gives a top speed of 154mph and a 0 -60mph of 3.3 seconds that may mean something to a car driver and show them that 70mph is not stretching the bikes limits at all. Then I ride seven sections of dual carriageway with eight roundabouts for a few miles before stopping and dismounting and chatting about the journey so far. Everyone loves it!
I explain that now we will be riding within traffic, overtaking cars, filtering between them and that there will be lots happening with vehicles all around and stress on them that if they need to get comfortable then only to shuffle and move on the bike when we are in a straight line at higher speeds and never when riding slowly as moving on the bike steers it. Always sit still when the bike is slow. I also make them aware that this is all new and they will panic breathe-in as we squeeze through gaps simply because they do not see the gap as a normal space to get through. I ride through a small town in my usual manner gentle filtering as required followed by a small section of countryside and then home making as many simple overtake as I can keeping it looking easy
BEFORE THE RIDE
The pillion needs my level of protection and if I cannot give that then I dress down to theirs. The UK law says only a lid is required. For a pillion experience I add bike jacket and gloves because we have many and I ask them to wear some kind of strong boots, if that’s not possible then I wear jeans and trainers too
Before they get on the bike I make it plain that I am in charge and we ride to my rules even if they have ridden years ago or pillioned in the past I still go through the basics and expect them to listen
Do not get on the bike until I say so
When I am on the bike upright with front brake on yet with the side stand down (just in case) get the ok and then climb on board
Put most of their body weight central over the seat and then step on the rear peg climbing gently over the seat.
This is now their riding position they must never put their feet down and don’t climb off until I say its ok and then using the same method of side stand down (just in case) and all their body weight central over the seat as they dismount, also they do not wave at anyone or do any sudden jerky movements unless we are travelling quite fast in a straight line.
Sit like a sack of potatoes laid across the back seat and lean with the bike in line with the back wheel and never against the lean
Find the rear grab rail to stop them sliding forward when braking but at other times they can hold on to me or keep one hand on the grab rail if that is more comfortable
Enjoy the ride!