Touring is an experience matched by none other, whether it’s a weekend ride out of town or a longer ride to a far-off destination. Some of us are solo bikers while some like to ride in a group. And then there are some who don’t mind the added baggage of a pillion and believe in truly bonding through the shared experience of riding on the same bike.
All these experiences are quiet distinct and need very different preparations. Riding solo is more challenging for sure and hence it’s written about often, but you don’t find much information forthcoming when it comes to riding with a pillion. Team HNP is here to help in preparing to ride with a pillion and making it a fun experience for both -
1. Choosing the right bike: Choosing the right bike is one of the most important factors while setting out with a pillion. The wrong bike can create problems not just for you and your back, but also be uncomfortable for your friend at the back. Sports motorcycles and naked motorcycles are comfortable for short rides, but absolutely avoidable for longer tours with a pillion. Choose a bike with a broad and cushioned seat. The pillion’s weight should not fall on you and there should be enough space for air between the rider and the pillion.
2. Educate the pillion about the bike – All pillions may not be familiar with how a motorcycle works. So educate him/her about moving parts or parts that heat up while riding. For e.g. inform the pillion that the bike exhaust can turn really hot and burn body parts in case of contact, so to be extra careful.
3. Communication: It’s all about teamwork, so there has to be efficient communication between the rider and the pillion.
Decide on hand signals for halting, dismounting, slowing down or speeding up. And of course Bluetooth communicators such as the Sena 30k Dual pack and Sena SMH-10 are the best option for easy communication while riding.
4. Mounting and dismounting: Mounting and dismounting a motorcycle with a pillion rider can be tricky, especially if the pillion is heavier than the rider. The pillion should communicate to the rider when he/she is mounting the bike so that the rider has complete control of the handlebars and both feet firmly on the ground. Pillion mounting with the side stand down can bend the stand itself, and mounting with the main stand down can make the bike too heavy for the rider to rock it down to riding position. The pillion should also always immediately dismount when the bike stops and the rider should park the bike alone.
5. To lean or not to lean: Some riders ask their pillion to lean in along with them on curves so as to make that perfect corner, while some ask the pillion to lean on the opposite side so as to counter the incline. However, we would advise pillions to stay firmly stable as even the slightest wrong movement can throw the rider off balance.
Pillions should also be aware that they should hold on to a rider and not their clothes. This is where an accessory like the Oxford Rider Grips - Pillion Grab handles are really useful. They allow the pillion to hold on to the rider comfortably, without tugging on his/her clothes.
6. Accelerating and braking: A rider needs to be smooth while accelerating and braking with a pillion sitting behind. This is especially important on long rides where the pillion is mostly wearing the extra luggage on them. Sudden acceleration or braking can throw a pillion back or forward due to inertia – hurting himself/herself or the rider.
7. Avoid pinging: Pinging is the frequently seen phenomenon of the pillion hitting his/her helmet with the rider’s helmet, which can be very distracting and frustrating for the rider. One can say that they’ve really mastered riding pillion when they’ve figured how to do so without pinging!
8. Gearing up: Though most riders focus on wearing appropriate gear these days, rarely do you see a pillion as well geared up. Anyone mounting a bike, be it pillion or rider should always wear suitable riding gear which includes a helmet, riding gloves, appropriate boots and protection gear. In case of night riding, the pillion should be the one wearing a bright vest or something reflective to increase their visibility to others on the road.