Pillion and rider on a motorbike

A Beginner's Guide to Riding with a Pillion


noun: pillion; plural noun: pillions

a seat for a passenger behind a motorcyclist."
Riding with a pillion can be terrifying, especially if you've not been riding long yourself. We've put together a summary of tips and rules to think about, so you can make riding a bike with a passenger as easy as breathing.
  1. A note on child passengers

    We've already gone into detail about this in another post, so here's a summary from Netmums:
       1) They must be able to reach the foot-pegs safely.
       2) They must wear a correctly fitted, E.C. approved crash helmet.
       3) If they are under the age of 16, they must have the parents' or guardians' express permission to ride on the back of the bike.
    There is no minimum age for pillion passengers in Great Britain.

  2.  Try out riding as a pillion for yourself

    An easy way to get to grips with being a passenger on a bike is to be one yourself. Find a trusted biker and join them on a ride. Notice what feels good or bad- what's the best way to sit? Are you wearing the right gear?

  3. Do you have a suitable bike?

    How tall is your passenger- will they be comfortable mounting and dismounting? Is the seat perhaps too small or too large? Do you even have a second seat? If you're going to be riding often with a pillion but your model doesn't have the right features, you should consider selling your bike. Finding a new model with better safety and comfort will be better for you both in the long run.

  4. Talk to your passenger beforehand

    Take a few minutes to explain things to them, such as:

    - They should let you get settled on the bike before mounting

    - They need to hold on to you, whether they think it's 'manly' or not

    - Point out where the hot exhaust pipe is so they can avoid it (and point out where the foot-rests are)

    - Are you comfortable with them talking/offering directions while riding? You might want to agree on a set of signals before setting off

    - Make sure they have the right gear, especially a helmet that fits- not just the spare you had hanging around. Are they comfortable? Do they feel safe? The last thing you want if a panicky pillion on the road.

If you've got any further questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

By Jo Butler on

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