Riding a motorcycle with a passenger changes everything.
It affects how the bike handles.
And yes, it’s more responsibility for the rider.
But it’s also instant relationship therapy.
No-one cares who cleaned the toilet when you’re roaring down the highway together.
It’s helpful to remember that many motorcycle passengers are not bike experts.
Not even close.
Unlike you, they haven’t been obsessed with motorcycles since they were 19.
So your motorcycle passenger may be secretly worrying about what to expect from this experience.
That’s why it can be helpful to offer a little guidance.
This is not hard.
It just involves having a quick chat.
And yes, be gentle if you can.
But also be very clear about the ride ahead.
Because how else can you both get on the same page?
Motorcycle passengers need your help to be safe and comfortable on the bike. They probably have a few big questions they need answers to – but might be too embarrassed to ask. If you reassure and inform them, they’ll enjoy the ride as much as you.
Here are the most common topics you’ll need to cover with your motorcycle passenger.
Depending on her level of experience, you might only need to cover one or two.
But if she’s completely new to this, you may need to explain a little more.
I’ve made it easy for you to start the conversation.
Let’s get into it.
Riding a Motorcycle with a Passenger: Cover These 10 Key Topics First!
1. “Let me show you how to get on and off the motorcycle.”
Many new motorcycle passengers worry about how they’ll get on and off the bike – without hurting themselves, and without looking like complete idiots.
But they know this could be seen as a stupid question.
So they may be too embarrassed to ask, and just try and figure it out themselves.
Why let them suffer in silence, when you can easily solve the mystery for them?
Give them a quick demo of how to mount and dismount from the motorcycle.
Do a run-through in your driveway, in private, and without pressure.
And just watch as a grin of relief spreads across the face of your motorcycle pillion.
2. “You’ll be needing to wear full safety gear.”
Just because someone’s sitting on the motorcycle passenger seat rather than the rider’s seat, that’s not a licence to ride without the proper gear.
You know that – but does your pillion passenger?
Does she know it’s not OK to climb onto a motorcycle in a little dress and sandals?
A quick explanation of what to wear on a motorcycle (and why) is essential.
And if you need help covering all the details, I’ve written a really simple guide here:
3. “I won’t be trying to scare you.”
We’ve all known guys who finally persuade their girlfriend to get on the back of their motorcycle – and then go fast enough to break the sound barrier in the first 5 minutes out on the road.
That means the motorcycle passenger will be utterly terrified.
It also guarantees she’ll never go near a motorcycle again.
She’ll also now be pretty strongly anti-bikes, in fact.
She may even make it her mission to convince you to sell the motorcycle and get a nice safe Volvo.
So reassure your motorcycle passenger that you’re not trying to scare her silly.
You’re not setting out to terrify her, or trigger a panic attack.
You don’t actually find it fun to see her screaming in fear.
Instead, you’ll be riding carefully and safely.
And if she feels scared at any time, she just needs to touch you on the shoulder so you can pull over, and check in with her.
4. “Your comfort matters.”
Before riding a motorcycle with a passenger, it can be helpful to set up some realistic expectations.
Because this experience won’t be like stretching out on the couch in front of the fire.
Yep, sometimes it gets a little too hot, or too cold.
On a windy day, it can sound like 100 demons are howling in your helmet.
And even the most plush motorcycle passenger seat in the world is not anything like a king size bed with 3 quilts, 30 pillows and a cat.
Even so, there are lots of ways to increase a motorcycle passenger’s comfort.
Here’s a little tailored guidance on that:
5. “Where would YOU like to go on our ride?”
One of the downsides of being a motorcycle passenger is that you can feel like you have no say in the riding experience.
Have you seen those t-shirts that say, GET ON, SIT DOWN, SHUT UP?
Yeah, that’s funny – unless it’s directed at you.
So encourage your motorcycle passenger to get involved in the ride.
Ask her if she has a preferred destination.
Maybe suggest a little coffee shop out of town, or a quiet back road with less traffic.
Talk about your options for where you could go, and then arrive at a decision together.
Suddenly she has a part to play in the riding experience.
She has buy-in now, and she’ll be excited to start this adventure with you.
6. “Here’s how you hold on as a motorcycle passenger.”
Many motorcycle passengers genuinely worry about falling off the bike.
If they’ve only ever ridden in cars, of course they’re used to seat belts.
Perching on the back seat of a motorcycle feels really unsafe when you’re not used to it.
So explain to her why she won’t fall off.
For example, holding on with her knees works a treat.
Then there are further options: she can hold on to you, or the grab rail behind the motorcycle passenger seat.
Once again, I’ve covered all the alternatives for you, right here:
7. “Here’s what to do in corners.”
I can clearly remember my first time as a motorcycle passenger.
It was truly embarrassing – and actually needlessly dangerous.
We were riding through some winding mountain roads, and I’d heard somewhere that I should be leaning into corners.
So I obligingly lurched from side to side as we went around every curve.
I had no idea that this was really not helpful, and actually quite dangerous.
The rider has enough to focus on without a wildly unpredictable passenger lunging back and forth at random.
So explain to your motorcycle passenger that when you go into a corner, she should just follow the line of your body, and not try any gymnastics.
8. “Keep your feet on the foot pegs at all times.”
This was another major fail for me, the first time I got on the back of a motorcycle.
I was nervous, and hadn’t even noticed that I had my own set of foot pegs.
What I HAD noticed, though, was those very quickly turning wheels that were very very near my feet.
So what did I do?
I kept my legs out straight, well away from those scary looking wheels.
Eventually the rider gently pointed out what foot pegs were.
What a relief!
It was much more comfortable, much safer, and made a lot more sense.
9. “Could you please not smash your helmet into mine (honey)?”
A new motorcycle passenger will find wearing a motorcycle helmet pretty weird.
As the rider, you’re completely used to it, and it’s just second nature.
But for a new pillion passenger, a motorcycle helmet makes her feel locked into a very strange bubble.
The helmet seems heavy, clumsy, and turns her into a top-heavy bobble head doll.
So of course, she’ll be sitting on the motorcycle passenger seat with her head wobbling all over the place.
And sure enough, her helmet will keep smashing into yours – at least until she gets used to it.
In the meantime, she has no idea how annoying and distracting this is for you.
So tell her (gently).
And encourage your motorcycle passenger to sit a little further back and stiffen her neck until she gets used to wearing a motorcycle helmet.
10. “I’ve really enjoyed riding with you!”
Riding with a motorcycle passenger can be an incredibly positive experience.
Flying down the road with your favorite person (or a new friend) is beyond fun.
And if you’ve shared a great day out on the bike, why not say something?
You don’t have to get all mushy about it.
You don’t have to buy diamond jewellery on the way home.
But if you’ve had a great time with your pillion passenger, say so.
It confirms she was welcome on the ride.
And it lets her know that she made a good thing even better.
This is important information.
It totally needs to be said.
Motorcycle Passengers Need Your Guidance
Pillion passengers can really benefit from a little advice.
Especially if they’ve never ridden on the back of a motorcycle before.
But with this list of topics, and some easy opening lines, now you know how to start having the necessary conversations.
They don’t need to be confronting, exhausting, or lead to an argument.
A few quick chats can reassure your motorcycle passenger, and let her know what to expect.
And then she’ll enjoy the motorcycle ride as much as you!
Like this article?
Then you might want to show your motorcycle passenger this one: