Motorcycle drivers willingly and enthusiastically take their safety into their own hands with training and practice. But if you’re going to ride with a passenger, the stakes for staying safe are even greater as you expose someone else to the risk of accidents and injuries.
Besides just getting used to having another rider on your bike, it’s important to understand that adding a passenger dramatically changes the weight of the bike, and consequently how it accelerates, brakes, and handles. The way you drive with a passenger is likely to require you to change your riding style and to even be prepared for your passenger to cause problems.
As you get ready to get out and ride this spring, take some time to review these passenger safety tips so that everyone is safe on the road. And learn about how motorcycle insurance is necessary to protect you when things go wrong.
Motorcycle Passenger Safety Tips
Here are some tips on getting started with a new motorcycle passenger.
- Insist on full protective gear for your passenger. At a minimum, this includes a DOT-certified helmet (preferably full-faced), eye protection, sturdy pants and jacket, full-coverage footwear, and gloves. Seasonally appropriate layers to combat heat and wind chill are also important.
- Provide comprehensive pre-ride instructions. Your passenger needs to be educated before climbing onto your bike. Provide complete pre-ride instructions, including:
- Point out parts of the bike that can burn or pinch if the passenger is new to motorcycles.
- Tell the passenger how to get on and off the motorcycle, including what side to get on and off from and any other mounting or dismounting instructions.
- Tell the passenger to refrain from sudden movements during the ride.
- The passenger should be taught that their movements should match your movements. Anything else can work against you and destabilize the bike.
- Discuss and agree on tap or hand signals before you start. Make sure both you and your passenger agree on what they mean, because it’s nearly impossible to communicate verbally while the bike is in motion.
- Tell the passenger where you prefer they hold on. Passengers can hold on to the driver or to safety handles if the bike has them.
You may want to start with a short ride to see if both you and the passenger feel comfortable. Then you can discuss any potential problems or concerns before you go for a longer ride.
How to Ride a Motorcycle with a Passenger
Once you’ve laid the groundwork for your ride and both you and your passenger feel ready, you’ll need to know exactly how to adjust your riding to accommodate your passenger. Here are some tips on how to ride a motorcycle with a passenger.
- With the bike upright and both feet on the ground, signal to your passenger that you’re ready for them to get on the bike. Your brake should be engaged, and the foot pegs should be out for the passenger.
- The rider’s feet should remain on the foot pegs at all times, even at a stop. The rider’s weight should stay evenly distributed between the foot pegs and their seat.
- Tell your rider what to hold on to, depending on your preferences and what your bike is equipped with. The rider should not hold on to your shoulders or arms.
- When rounding corners, the passenger should naturally lean into the turn as the bike does, and should not suddenly shift their weight in the middle of a corner. Passengers new to the back seat of a motorcycle can sometimes counter your steering efforts by sitting upright on corners. To avoid the counter-leaning problem, ask the passenger to lean with you and look over your inside shoulder.
- Ask your passenger to pay attention to what’s going on and to brace for braking and acceleration by holding the grab handles or your waist. It’s your job to be smooth and avoid abrupt or extreme starts or stops, but the passenger plays a critical role in overall bike stability.
- Verbal communication can be nearly impossible while riding. Pre-discussed hand signals are okay, but if you regularly ride with a passenger, consider Bluetooth communicators for added convenience and enjoyment.
Inform your passenger when it is okay to dismount the bike. Remind them to watch out for hot exhaust pipes.
Motorcycle Passenger Safety Belts
Passenger safety belts are an extra piece of safety equipment for your passengers. They provide an extra layer of comfort that enables your passenger to relax and enjoy the ride by providing a better grip than trying to hold onto the rider's waist or jacket.
Without a passenger safety belt, passengers often hug the rider or use the passenger grab bars on the bike. It can be tiring, to say the least, to hold on around the driver’s waist on a long trip. Plus riding that close often leads to helmet bumps. And passenger grab bars aren’t ideal on turns or at higher speeds.
Riders are now more frequently turning to newer products like passenger safety belts, which strap around the driver’s waist and offer more convenient handles for passengers.
Motorcycle Passenger Safety Straps
A motorcycle passenger safety strap is similar to a seat belt for a motorcycle passenger. Some bikes come equipped with passenger straps, and you can also purchase straps anywhere you buy your motorcycle gear.
Motorcycle passenger safety straps prevent your passenger from sliding into you, and help you maintain consistent weight distribution while you're riding with a passenger. A passenger strap can also help you keep the excess weight of the passenger off your back and reduce fatigue.
These handy straps help keep both you and your passenger safe, secure, and alert while you’re on the road.
Do You Need Motorcycle Insurance?
Motorcycle insurance is essential to protect you, your passengers, and others on the road if you cause an accident. In its most basic sense, motorcycle insurance helps you pay for property damage and medical costs if you cause an accident while driving your motorcycle, or if your bike is stolen or damaged in some other way.
That alone is reason enough to purchase motorcycle insurance. If you caused an accident and don’t have coverage, you’d still be required to pay for any injuries or damage to other vehicles or property that you caused. If you’re sued, the cost to defend yourself alone is likely to be insurmountable, and that’s before any financial settlements or court-ordered judgments you could be required to pay.
Aside from protecting your own assets and being able to help people that you’ve harmed, motorcycle insurance is necessary because most states require motorcycle owners to purchase a minimum amount of liability insurance or face fines or other consequences.
Just like with auto insurance, some types of coverage are required for motorcyclists, while others are optional. Most states require motorcycle owners to carry a minimum amount of liability insurance, in order to cover the costs of bodily injury and property damage to other people involved in an accident. In some states, uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage is required. The minimum coverage required for motorcycles is typically the same as what is required for personal vehicles.
How to Find Motorcycle Insurance near You
A local independent insurance agent can help you find motorcycle insurance. Independent agents aren’t tied to one insurance company, so they can get you multiple quotes for coverage and you can choose the one that best fits your needs and budget.
Start your search now for an agent in your city.