Riding with a pillion passenger

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Riding with a pillion passenger

to travel

Riding with a pillion passenger

Riding with a pillion passenger
Precious cargo

True to the motto: “A joy shared is a joy doubled”, many people like to travel together on a motorcycle. In order for this to be a positive experience for the driver and front passenger, they have to communicate with each other. MOTORRAD gives tips on how the tandem tour works.

Markus Biebricher


Motorcycling for two, that can intensify the driving pleasure and the depth of experience. But it can also go in your pants if the passenger does not participate in the world of the driver and the driver does not participate in the world of the passenger. For example, a passenger who is riding a motorcycle for the first time should get on of her own free will and out of curiosity. Anyone who is afraid and cramped can put the driver in dire straits. Psychologists give the following advice on reducing stress: Anxiety is not reduced by avoiding situations that can be frightening, but by consciously dealing with them.

So, get to the machine and let the driver briefly explain the motorcycle, its technology and driving dynamics to you. If the co-driver is aware of what his chauffeur is dealing with and the driver can assess the needs and needs of the co-driver, the double occupation of the motorcycle becomes a successful team.

The ten commandments for driving in pairs

1. Prepare the motorcycle: adjust the chassis and tire pressure
2. Create trust: explain motorcycle and driving technology to the passenger
3. Communication: Identify signs of understanding
4. Driving style: do not accelerate and brake suddenly
5. Speed: not faster than 160 km / h

6. Self-protection: Wear safety clothing
7. Ride: Follow what is happening on the road
8. Focus: get close to the driver
9. Curves: form a line with the driver
10. Viewing: look over your shoulder on the left in left turns and right in right turns

Tips for the first time back

A person who has never ridden a motorcycle before will usually show the machine a good deal of respect, regardless of performance and type. The most important prerequisite, before you roll just a meter, is therefore a certain basic understanding of the matter and trust in the pilot. Both can be promoted if the chauffeur easily explains a few features about technology and driving dynamics to his passenger before getting on.

He should also instruct the inexperienced partner in the road conditions and his driving technique and identify signs for an understanding. Joint route planning is also conducive to interest, cooperation and communication. Without wanting to paint the devil of the fall on the asphalt, the pilot should also make sure that his passenger wears a helmet, gloves, sturdy shoes and safe motorcycle clothing on the exit – no matter how short it is.

Requirements for a decent pillion seat

According to an old motorcyclist proverb, how you sit, that’s how you drive. But what suits the driver, who is constantly engaged with clutching, shifting, accelerating and braking, can become a torture for the passenger who remains largely passively in the back seat. Therefore, the sitting posture should be comfortable and allow adequate freedom of movement. The knee angle must not be too narrow, and an asymmetrical arrangement of the footrests can also be uncomfortable. The ideal seat cushion is large, non-slip, waterproof, ergonomically shaped and has no annoying edges.

Even if the passenger should primarily hold on to the driver’s hips, it is not a disadvantage if the machine has additional holding and support options for braking and acceleration. Very high pillion seats, such as on a Triumph Sprint ST 1050 or the current Tiger, but also on super sports bikes (which also usually have footrests mounted far too high) offer a better overview, but also mean more wind turbulence, poorer driver contact and more difficult climbing. Benches change the company Kahedo (www.kahedo.de) or Jungbluth (www.alles-fuern-arsch.de).

Advice for fun-filled rides with a pillion passenger

The driver should consider this when taking passengers with him:

  • Start, shift and brake gently.
  • Stronger acceleration only after consultation and upon a sign.
  • Avoid high continuous speed (160 km / h is enough), the neck muscles of the passenger are extremely stressed due to the turbulence and are usually not as trained as those of a frequent driver anyway. The rear of the passenger is also often used more quickly than your own.
  • Take frequent breaks (better every 100 than every 200 kilometers, more often in the beginning), encourage the passenger to relax during the breaks, chat, exchange experiences, develop and maintain interest in and enjoyment of driving.
  • Warn of potholes.
  • Take the requests and needs of the passenger into consideration.
  • Avoid extreme lean angles and overtaking maneuvers in close contact.

The machine should be prepared for passengers

Before driving, you should adjust the suspension elements to the load. On most machines, this means pretensioning the spring in the rear. If you own a motorcycle with a fully adjustable shock absorber, you can also increase the compression and rebound damping. If the fork is adjustable, you can turn it a little harder to reduce excessive immersion when braking. In addition, you should bring the tire air pressure to the maximum value. If it is not noted in the driver’s manual, 2.9 to 3.1 bar cannot damage any radial tire, depending on the load, from 160 mm width. Due to the barely increased wheel load, the pressure on the front wheel only needs to be increased by 0.2 to 0.3 bar to 2.5 to 2.7 bar in order to maintain braking stability and steering precision.

Tip for more ambitious drivers who have already adapted the chassis to a more dynamic driving style in solo mode: Use a ruler to measure the height of the rear of the vehicle. Then increase the spring preload, let the passenger sit up and measure again. If the stern is roughly the same height when standing with a passenger as in solo use, driving with two people will in all likelihood also be fun. In addition, there is no harm in checking or adjusting the headlight setting to avoid glare. When inspecting, take a look at the brakes, which are exposed to increased loads when driving with a pillion passenger. Also pay attention to the rear brake, which becomes very important in the case of heavy decelerations.

Effects of the precious cargo on driving characteristics

A passenger on the pillion seat of a motorcycle permanently changes the entire dynamic human-machine system: the front wheel becomes light, lifts off quickly, especially when accelerating, and transmits steering commands less precisely. At the rear, however, the motorcycle sags a lot and noticeably loses its maneuverability. The dynamic wheel load shift becomes more extreme, and the machine’s center of gravity shifts backwards and upwards. The entire chassis geometry changes, which is anything but convenient for more ambitious drivers. With a moderate driving style with pillion passenger and luggage, 80 percent or more of the total weight is on the rear axle.

The rear springs, dampers and the tires are heavily stressed and can have at least as negative an impact on driving behavior as a passenger who behaves incorrectly. A pumping or pounding rear of the machine lets any reasonable curve line fail, instead of driving fun, fear and anger spread. Motorcycles that have little suspension travel and are softly tuned are hardly suitable for a fun-filled pillion ride on longer journeys. If the passenger is still a pleasure-loving person who has lost control of his pounds, the driving behavior becomes underground.

In addition, it should be noted that even with more powerful engines, an additional weight of 60 or 80 kilograms, especially when overtaking uphill, is clearly felt and must be taken into account. Conclusion: A rider on the motorcycle changes driving performance and braking behavior permanently. Due to the “light” front wheel, depending on the tires, handlebar flutter (shimmy) in the range of 60 to 100 km / h can occur. With correspondingly sensitive tires, the following applies: Do not drive free-hand or one-handed. Anyone traveling in the Alps should take into account that the braking distance can increase significantly on steep gradients.

The ten best pillion seats

  1. Honda Pan European
  2. BMW R 1200 RT
  3. Moto Guzzi Stelvio 1200 4V
  4. BMW K 1200/1300 GT
  5. Yamaha FJR 1300 A
  6. Moto Morini Granpasso 1200
  7. Honda Varadero 1000
  8. Suzuki V-Strom 1000
  9. BMW R 1200 GS
  10. Kawasaki 1400 GT

Tips for ultimate enjoyment in the back of the table

This is what pillion riders should keep in mind when driving:

  • Sit loosely, but still leave a certain basic tension in the body.
  • An upright sitting position (chest out) helps prevent the helmets from hitting each other due to the inertia when braking or the interruption of traction when shifting.
  • Participate in the movements of the driver (body contact helps), stay in line with him, even on larger lean angles. Motorcycles can go very obliquely depending on the type. So don’t panic if machine parts scratch the asphalt.
  • Never straighten up in a curve out of fear. The helmsman then has to react with an even more lean angle in order to curb the centrifugal force.
  • Do not make abrupt movements.
  • Move up close to the driver without constricting him (the center of gravity should not be too far back, the machine can be controlled much better if the driver and pillion passenger form a unit).
  • Don’t lean back. L If possible, hold on to the driver’s waist rather than the luggage racks or grab handles.
  • Be ready to go at the traffic lights, hold on, think along, as well as while driving.
  • When braking hard, reach around the driver’s waist and support yourself on the tank.
  • When turning right, look over the right shoulder of the person in front, when turning left, look over the left shoulder.
  • Always keep your feet on the footrests while driving and when stopping to make it easier for the driver to balance the machine.

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