Feeling confident on a motorcycle doesn’t happen automatically.
Especially if you’re a new motorcycle passenger.
It can take awhile to build your confidence, and enjoy the experience as much as the rider does.
When your confidence levels are high, there’s nothing better than roaring through the countryside on two wheels with your favorite person.
The sun smiles down, and the worries of the week suddenly don’t seem important.
These are the moments that matter.
But it takes a while for most motorcycle passengers to feel like this.
Right now, you might see riding pillion as something of an ordeal.
It can become another source of stress you really don’t need.
But it doesn’t have to be that way.
Riding pillion’s supposed to be fun!
And there are lots of ways to make sure it is.
If you’ve been worrying about how to feel more confident on a motorcycle, here’s the good news. There are plenty of ways to increase your confidence, with some easy, practical steps you can take right now.
So if your stomach does an anxious double flip whenever that bike engine starts up, these motorcycle confidence tips are for you.
You’re about to learn some simple but powerful strategies.
They’ll help you see that riding pillion is all about fun – not fear.
10 Ways to Feel More Confident on a Motorcycle – Just for Passengers!
1. Motorcycle confidence is easier when you trust the rider.
Who you ride with really matters.
It’s not a great idea to climb aboard with a maniac who rides like a stunt double.
Think about whether you should trust the rider first.
You can do that by asking these vital questions – before you go anywhere near the motorcycle:
- How experienced is the rider?
- Does he know how to ride with a pillion?
- Is he safety focused?
If the answers to these questions are ‘yes,’ then that’s a pretty good start.
Riding pillion is an act of trust.
So you absolutely must trust the rider.
If you do, that should help make you feel more confident.
You’re in good hands.
He knows what he’s doing.
And if you don’t trust the rider, you’d be crazy to get on the motorcycle in the first place.
Do something else with your weekend instead.
If you’re still not sure, here’s a checklist of red flags to look out for:
2. Motorcycle confidence increases when you wear full safety gear.
If you get onto a motorcycle in shorts and a t-shirt, you’re going to feel really vulnerable.
That’s because you are!
You’re totally exposed, without any defence if something goes wrong.
But good motorcycle riding gear changes everything.
Think of it as a suit of armour.
It gives you serious protection against possible injury.
There are 5 items which are absolutely essential to wear on a ride:
- A long sleeved riding jacket
- Riding pants
- Riding boots
- A road legal helmet, and…
- Riding gloves.
These items wrap you up in a cocoon of protection.
You’ll feel safer, because you are safer.
You can learn more about what you should wear as a motorcycle passenger over here.
3. Motorcycle confidence can be boosted by getting to know the bike.
Any new experience is daunting at first.
If you’re new to riding pillion, a useful way to address your fears is to find out a little more about the motorcycle itself.
You don’t have to roll around on the garage floor with a spanner, or read all about the history of motorcycles.
Just take a quick tour of the bike, and its bits.
Ask your man to point out the main parts, and what they do.
We’re talking about a 10 minute mini-tour.
Not a 4 hour lecture (God forbid)!
And you don’t need to spend the whole afternoon in the garage.
Locate the foot pegs, for example – you’ll be needing them on the ride.
Ask him about the basics of how he changes gear, steers and stops.
It’s a whole new world out in the garage, and a whistle-stop tour like this is surprisingly interesting.
(Even to me, and I spend ZERO time thinking about engines and carburettors.)
But getting to know the metal beast up close takes away some of the mystery.
And it also gives you a little glimmer of understanding about why men love motorcycles.
Just watch out for getting sucked in to spending 4 hours on the end of a spanner while you’re out there…
4. Motorcycle confidence increases when you know how to get on and off the bike.
While you’re already getting up close and personal with the motorcycle, why not take the next logical step?
Climb aboard, and see how it feels.
Ask the rider to walk you through the process of getting on and off.
It’s pretty simple.
Try it a couple times in private in the driveway until it feels natural.
And sit for a moment on the passenger seat.
Put your feet on the pillion pegs.
Adjust your seating position to be comfortable.
This is how it feels to sit on a motorcycle.
It’s pretty cool to be on the back of a gorgeous beast like this, isn’t it?
When you’re out on the road, the motorcycle will feel just like this.
It’ll just be going a little faster!
5. Motorcycle confidence increases when you get involved.
There’s more to being a motorcycle passenger than just sitting passively on the back seat of the bike.
In fact, a pillion rider plays a vital role in how the bike handles.
Believe it or not, what you do on the back of the motorcycle can have a real impact on your safety.
You can contribute to the overall safety of the ride by:
- Sitting still, and not making sudden movements (especially in corners or when stopping)
- Letting the rider know when you’re getting on or off the bike (so you don’t pull it over), and
- Trying not to clash helmets with the rider (this is distracting, and will drive him completely crazy).
Here’s a simple guide to what not to do as a motorcycle passenger if you want to learn a little more.
By remembering a few simple things like this, you actually play quite a big part in making the ride safer.
That’s good to know, right?
6. Motorcycle confidence is affected by your route.
If you think riding down a four-lane highway in rush hour is stressful, guess what?
So do I!
I’ve been a motorcycle passenger for 30 years, and I still hate riding in rush hour traffic.
So until you get used to being a motorcycle passenger, ask the rider to choose quieter roads with fewer cars, and less hazards.
No-one enjoys sharing the road with angry commuters who think they’re professional rally drivers.
That’s not fun whether you’re on a motorcycle, or drinking French champagne in a stretch limo.
Pick a low stress time, and a quieter route for your ride.
7. Build your motorcycle confidence with shorter rides.
Some people want to turn every motorcycle ride into a 10-hour endurance challenge.
That’s just nuts.
Being a motorcycle passenger is not about testing your limits.
You don’t need to find out about your pain threshold here.
This is not rock climbing.
It’s not white water rafting.
It’s not a wilderness survival weekend, where you’d better get used to eating bugs.
So there’s really no reason to turn a short Sunday afternoon ride into the biggest physical challenge of the year.
A smarter way to slowly get used to riding pillion is to take shorter rides (with no rock climbing on the agenda).
It’s OK to stop and take in the scenery.
A 30-minute ride to a coffee shop on the edge of town won’t even come close to testing your pain threshold.
And 30 minutes is a good amount of time.
It’s just about long enough to make you want to say:
Hey! What a lovely ride! Are we stopping already…?
8. Motorcycle confidence is easier when the sun is out.
Let’s not pretend that riding in the rain is fun.
Sometimes you have to do it, sure.
But if you don’t have to – don’t.
There’s no need to ride in all kinds of weather to prove you can do it.
Until you build up your confidence, take a look at the weather forecast before you go riding.
If the sky’s turning black and is hurling down hail stones, postpone your ride.
The same applies if it’s a thousand degrees outside.
If the heat is shimmering up off the road in waves, you might want to choose to stay in air conditioning over riding in an oven.
I’m not saying you need to wait for perfect riding conditions.
That would mean you’d ride one day a year.
But it helps you feel more confident if you’re riding in a comfortable temperature – not a blizzard, a hailstorm or a heatwave.
In comfortable conditions, you become a moving part of the landscape.
You can smile and relax, because you’re not a target for hail stones.
9. Get a confidence-inspiring motorcycle passenger seat.
The motorcycle passenger seat can make or break this experience.
Some pillion seats are so small, they surely were made for children.
If you’re clinging onto a tiny, hard passenger seat, of course you’ll feel unsafe.
And of course you’ll want to get off the motorcycle as soon as possible.
That’s only natural.
The ideal solution is to get a better motorcycle passenger seat.
Ask the rider to find you a pillion seat that’s wider and thicker, with some generous padding.
And if you ask nicely, he might also throw in a back rest.
A padded back rest is a great addition to a pillion seat set up.
It’s so reassuring – now you can’t fall off backwards, ever.
And a back rest makes the ride more comfortable, too, by giving your back a little support.
When you’re more comfortable, you’re more confident.
So the right motorcycle passenger seat can help on both counts.
And no, you’re not a spoiled princess for expecting a little comfort.
Here’s why you deserve a comfortable motorcycle passenger seat.
10. A sheepskin is an instant comfort (and confidence) booster.
While you’re waiting for that plush new motorcycle passenger seat to be delivered, here’s a hack you can use right now.
A sheepskin thrown over the seat is the quickest comfort fix I know.
You may have heard the rumors that we have a lot of sheep here in New Zealand.
It’s all true.
There are about 5 sheep to every person.
And that’s a good thing, because a piece of sheepskin’s the quickest way to make a motorcycle seat more comfortable.
It improves the quality of the pillion seat instantly.
A sheepskin helps to absorb road bumps, and provides some welcome softness.
When you’re not flinching every time you ride over a little bump, your confidence levels increase.
You start to notice that riding is fun, not painful.
You sit up straighter and take in the view.
And soon, you’re having too good a time to be nervous.
So there are 10 practical ways to feel more confident on a motorcycle.
As you can see, it’s not that complicated.
The more you ride on the back of a motorcycle, the more natural it feels.
As you get used to being on the motorcycle passenger seat, you’ll come to understand why people love motorcycles so much.
A day out on the bike can help you relax, make you smile, and forget about your troubles.
And riding as a couple does wonders for your relationship!
I bet it won’t be long before you hear yourself say:
Hey honey, let’s get the motorcycle out and go riding!
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