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how does a motorcycle passenger hold on

How Does a Motorcycle Passenger Hold On? (4 Easy Ways)

How does a motorcycle passenger stay in place rather than fly off into the air?

Is there some kind of seat belt you could use?
Or maybe even a handy piece of strong rope?

Um, no … but there’s no need for that!

It’s actually pretty easy for motorcycle passengers to hold on.

And once you know how, it quickly becomes second nature.

There are four ways for motorcycle passengers to hold on.
The best way is to use your knees to grip the rider or bike.
You can also hold the rider’s waist, or the strap in front of the passenger seat.
And there’s often a grab rail behind you, so you can reach back and hold that, too.


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Let’s look at these four techniques in a little more detail.

1. Use Your Knees to Hold On

It might sound strange, but on a motorcycle, your knees work like a pair of anchors.

With your feet flat on the foot pegs, you can clamp your knees against the rider’s thighs, or the motorcycle itself.
This move essentially joins you to the rider, so you’re sitting on the bike as one.

It also makes it easier to brace for sudden stops – just tighten your knee grip, and lean back slightly.

And if the rider takes off again a little faster than you expected, well, a secure knee clamp will make sure you stay firmly seated.


knees clamped

Your knee connection secures you to the bike and rider, and stops you flopping around separately on the back seat.

So using your knees is the starting point for a passenger who wants to hold on to a motorcycle.

But, don’t worry – there are also plenty of ways to hang on with your hands.

2. Clasp the waist or hips of the rider

If you’re feeling nervous, put your arms around the waist or hips of the rider.
The key here is to hold the rider loosely, so both of you are comfortable.

If you cling on like a frightened baby monkey, you’ll annoy the rider, and stop him moving freely.

And after about 30 seconds, you’ll also find you’ve lost all feeling in your arms, which are aching with the effort.

Relax, and keep your grip loose.


hold the riders waist

3. Hold the strap in front of the passenger seat

Next time you’re sitting on the passenger seat, look straight down.
You’ll likely see a leather strap which stretches across the seat.
It lies flat and tight against the bike seat.

If your seating position allows it, you can hold on to this strap with one, or both hands.

It’s easier if you’re positioned quite far back on the seat, and you have room to comfortably sit with your arms in front of you.

Experiment with one, and then two hands and see if it makes you feel more secure.


seat strap

4. Reach behind you

Many motorcycles have a grab rail, or a luggage rack bolted on behind your seat.
At a low speed, try slowly reaching behind you and feel for the rail.

Again, you can use one or both hands for this.

And again, it depends on your riding position and whether you’re comfortable riding with one or both hands behind your back.


grab rail

Try Different Ways of Holding onto the Motorcycle

Holding onto a motorcycle as a passenger takes a little practice.
Every passenger is unique, and every motorcycle is set up differently.

It’s up to you to experiment with different ways of holding on, and see what suits you best.

You could try, for example, putting one hand on the rider’s waist, and one hand on the pillion seat strap.
Or one hand on the seat strap, and the other on the grab rail behind you.

Remember, all this time you’re clamping your knees to the rider or bike, and so you’re already fixed in place.

Now you know the four main ways for passengers to hold on to a motorcycle.

Pretty easy, right?

Two Ways to Make Holding onto a Motorcycle Even EASIER!

Here are a couple more practical tips that will also come in handy.
Do these two things, and you’ll look and feel like you’ve been riding pillion for years.

  • Practice in private

There’s no law that says you have to wait until the bike’s moving before you practice holding on.
Why not run through your different options in the privacy of the garage or your driveway?

If you get really familiar with how far to reach back to find the grab rail, or how to find the passenger seat strap, you won’t be fumbling around on the open road.

And while you’re practicing, get the rider to sit on the bike too.

See how strong the grip with your knees can be?
It really does clamp you to him.

  • Watch the road

When you’re out gliding through the sunshine on your next motorcycle ride, keep an eye on what’s happening around you.

If you’re watching the road and see a pot hole, or a stray animal, you can expect that the rider will slow down or jink around the obstacle.

And if there’s a corner coming up, they’ll tuck in to take their optimum line.

If you’re watching the road, you’ll be ready to clamp those knees tight, and use your hands to grip the rider or grab rail.
It’s much easier to sit securely when you can see what’s up ahead, and you’re not taken by surprise.


confident holding on

It doesn’t take long to feel secure.

After a couple of rides, you’ll have settled on the method of holding on to the motorcycle that works best for you.
You’ll have been through some sudden starts and stops.
You’ll start to enjoy flying around a corner, or down a hill.

The more practice you get, the more natural it will feel.

So has this put your mind at rest?
Do you get why you’re unlikely to fall off the bike?

With a little practice, your confidence will soar.

Before you know it, you’ll be enjoying the ride rather than worrying about how to hold on.

Like this article?

Then you might like to know…

Why Do Motorcycle Passengers Fall Asleep? (And How Not To!)


    Dear Liz, thank you for this article! It was very helpful to me, when I. sat down on the pillion seat for the first time in my lifetime – at the age of 63 . I felt much more secure and confident after reading this. Now my biker man and I made our first little tour through the streets of our town and I love it ! Lots of love from Germany ☀️

      That’s so fantastic to hear, Petra! I’m glad the article helped. I wish you lots of amazing adventures on the bike! 🙂

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