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Being a passenger on a motorcycle can be an amazing experience. Freedom is a full tank of gas is a real thing! This post is about motorcycle safety for passengers. To get my perspective on what it is like to be a passenger, read Finding Peace in The Passenger Seat.
Before you hop on the back of a bike, there are some safety things you need to know in order to have a successful, enjoyable ride. So, sit back and enjoy the ride, after you have read this article, of course!
Make sure you have an appropriate, DOT approved helmet. Make sure that the helmet fits correctly. A helmet that is too small will be uncomfortable. A helmet that is too big is going to rattle your head and give you a headache, and that is not a fun way to ride. Also, a helmet that does not fit appropriately has a better chance of coming off in the event of a crash. And yes, helmet head is real, but for anyone with long hair, you need to tie your hair back. Nothing worse than riding with your hair blowing in your face or a strand of hair in your eye. Ponytail, braids, headband, bandana, anything is better than nothing. I know ladies, we want our hair to look nice, so bring a brush and use it when you get off the bike because there is nothing worse than riding with a hair in your eye or tickling your face.
You also need a good pair of sunglasses, goggles, or face shield for riding. Not only do you want to protect your eyes from the sun and wind, but all kinds of things are flying around in the air and if you get hit with something in the eye you could have serious damage. Even a small bug can cause damage when on a motorcycle. To read more about safety, see Motorcycle Safety Tips and Things to Remember for All Riding Levels.
Wear the appropriate clothing for a motorcycle ride. Yes, I know, we all like to dress up sometimes, but this is not the time. You need to wear pants and keep your legs covered. Bugs, rocks, and other debris come at you fast and hit your legs. It will hurt if you are wearing shorts or a dress. And taking a rock to the shin is not a nice look in a dress! Road rash is also something you do not want! If your bike goes down, road rash is going to happen so better be as prepared as possible and wearing long pants helps! Also, dress for where you are going. It may be sunny and warm at home, but if you are riding to the mountains, it can get chilly! Always bring an extra sweatshirt or jacket to put on when the weather changes!
Make sure you have appropriate footwear. Boots are best, you want your ankles protected. No flip-flops or slip-on shoes that could come off while riding. Best to keep your ankles covered if possible. Again, a rock to the ankle doesn’t feel good!
Once you have your helmet and appropriate clothing, it is now time to learn how to get on the bike. First thing- do not get on the bike until your rider tells you they are ready. Same for getting off the bike. The rider needs to steady the bike and keep it upright, if you surprise your rider by jumping on or off when they are not ready, the bike could go down. My suggestion for getting on the bike is to put one hand on the shoulder of your rider and the other hand on the backrest or the trunk of the bike if it has one. Step on to the foot peg and swing your other leg over. Sit and get comfy!
While sitting on the bike you need to keep still. Don’t wiggle around, don’t lean or make sudden movements that could catch your rider off-guard and make the bike move in a way he wasn’t expecting as this could make controlling the bike difficult. Follow the body movements of your rider. When turning, look over the rider’s shoulder in the direction that you are turning, let the bike lean your body naturally.
Keep your feet on the foot pegs, don’t dangle your legs. You will need to brace yourself at acceleration, slowing down, on bumpy roads and twisting, turning roads. The best way to do this is keep your feet on the foot pegs and press down with your legs so your weight is distributed between the seat to the pegs. This helps absorb the bumps and keeps you from sliding around. There will be times when you are caught off guard and you will slide, if needed, hold on to your rider’s waist until you are able to secure yourself in a good, comfortable position again.
Riding on the back of a bike is an amazing experience, but you can get tired, sore muscles, hungry and dehydrated if you are not properly rested and if you don’t stop for food & water breaks. Sitting in the same position and engaging your legs, butt, and core muscle can cause sore muscle and a tired body. For this reason, you should take breaks accordingly. Let your rider know that you need a break. We usually stop after 2 hours of riding, sooner if we need to. This is a good time to have some water and a snack. You can easily dehydrate on a hot, sunny day when riding for several hours. Once this happens, your muscles really start to ache, and the ride is no longer enjoyable. So, when you start feeling sore and hungry, take a break, let your rider know that you are ready to stretch your legs, chances are your rider is ready for a break too. Even a quick 10-minute break is enough to fuel your body, stretch your legs and be ready for more riding, and seriously, who doesn’t need a bathroom break every few hours!
Now that you have read about some tips on how to make your passenger seat experience safe and comfortable, the last thing I will say is trust your rider!! Never jump on a bike with someone you don’t know. It is important to know your rider and their ability to handle a motorcycle with a passenger. Know what their thoughts are on safety, because after all, you are entrusting them with your life!
Being a passenger can be one of the most exciting things you do. Sit back and enjoy the ride!