Transporting Precious Cargo: Pillions, Children and pets
Learning to ride a motorbike is one thing and nothing beats your first solo ride – you feel free and on top of the world. But soon enough your girl/boyfriend and best mates are looking to bum a ride with you.
Before you are ready to help the oyster card brigade, you need to get legals sorted; you must have a category A1 license or above to carry a pillion. Once you have that, check that your motorcycle insurance allows you to carry pillions (you must not overlook this).
You’ve got the paperwork out of the way, but how do you know when you’re ready to take on precious cargo? And how can you make sure you keep yourself and your passenger safe?
Well, first you’ll probably need to invest in a spare helmet and gloves – these are essential – I never take a passenger without gloves – it’s just not worth it! You need to make sure your friend does the helmet up properly - and that it fits! - and definitely invest in spare protective gear.
Show them how to hold on to the bike – if it’s your girlfriend you might want to encourage the waist hold, but if it’s your hairy best mate make sure you show him the grab rails on the bike. Instruct them to keep their feet on the footrest at all times and show them which side to get on/off from –a burn from the exhaust is never a good look!
Remember that carrying a passenger will change the way your bike handles; this includes acceleration/braking and cornering. The trick here is to be smooth. Gentle acceleration will stop them falling off the back and gentle braking will stop them head-butting you when slowing down. And of course with all that extra weight you'll need to allow for extra breaking distance. When it comes to cornering your passenger should try to stay in line with you ie lean into the corner. This may take a little getting used to but a passenger who sits up half way round a corner has a dramatic affect on handling so take it steady until they are confident in you and the bike.
You should refer to your manual for suggested adjustments to your tyre pressure, headlights and suspension. You may also need to adjust your mirrors.
If it’s your first time take a short ride on a well known road and make sure your passenger is feeling confident – no one can ride well with a shrieking back-seat rider – one of the first times I took my friend Sasha for a ride she held me so tightly I couldn’t move or breathe – this was less than ideal!
Child passengers on motorcycles
The only legal requirement, as well as those above is that they can reach the footrest and hand rails. I’ll add that it is important to be sure they are mature enough to understand what is required of them to ensure safety. Only short rides are advised, as children have short attention spans. Keep checking they have not fallen asleep during the ride.
Transport Pets on a Motorcycle
What to do when your passenger is non-human? Sometimes you’ll see people with dogs strapped to them – I’m not sure how they train them to be good passengers but I’ve certainly never taken any non-humans as passengers – good luck if you want to! Nothing is more important than you and your passenger’s safety so take extra care when you agree to be someone’s taxi service!
Image credit: chucka_nc on flickr