Your passenger doesn't have...
Your passenger doesn't have to remain perfectly still during the ride, but should avoid any sudden movements, Looking over your shoulder in a turn will help keep her weight in the right place as well as reduce the chance of queasiness.
Carrying a passenger can be one of the more enjoyable or one of the more stressful aspects of motorcycling-or even both on the same ride. Much of the experience depends on how prepared you and your passenger are, and some pre-ride conversation and preparation can go a long way toward making the ride a more pleasant experience for everyone. With the right person, a Sunday ride can be even more enjoyable two-up than it is solo, as you've got someone to share the experience with.
Of primary importance is that your passenger has good gear that fits properly. Too often we see riders properly dressed but carrying a passenger wearing much less, or-even more odd-a rider that has given his gear to the passenger and goes without. Remember that your passenger may simply not be aware of the consequences of a crash, and it's up to you to make sure you're both dressed appropriately. Good gear will not only protect your passenger in the event of a tipover, but also it will make things much less uncomfortable if it rains or turns cold on your ride.
Before your first ride with...
Before your first ride with a new passenger, explain to her how to get on and off the motorcycle, some basic signals, and what she can expect during the ride. Some brief instruction beforehand can make the ride significantly more enjoyable for you both.
Before your first ride with a new pillion, go over some ground rules and discuss what each of you can expect from the other. Instruct her (or him) as to the correct way to come aboard: You (the rider) should always mount first, and hold the bike upright with both hands on the bars, the front brake applied, and feet spread as far apart as possible for support. Arrange a signal beforehand that will indicate you are ready for your passenger to proceed. From the left side of the motorcycle (away from the hot exhaust), she should place her left foot on the passenger peg and left hand on your left shoulder. In one motion, she will swing her right leg up and over, using her foot on the peg and arm on your shoulder to lift her body.
There are a number of ways a passenger can hold themselves aboard, including some alternatives from the aftermarket that offer handles on the gas tank or a belt the rider wears. Certainly today's sportbikes are not built for passengers, with tiny, sky-high pillion seats and equally small-if any-grab handles. If you plan on riding two-up fairly often, it may be a wise decision from a relationship viewpoint to consider a standard or sport-touring mount that has nice seating accommodations rather than something from the sporty end of the spectrum. In our experience the safest and most comfortable approach on almost any kind of bike is to have the passenger wrap her arms around your waist and place her palms on the back of the fuel tank. This allows her to brace herself under hard braking without pushing on your back, as well as grip your waist under acceleration and in turns.
Discuss some signals to use while riding, and make sure their meaning is clear. For example, you want the signal to stop right now to be different from the signal to stop at the next exit. Likewise, if you know a bump or dip in the road is coming up, you need a signal to warn your passenger to sit tight and expect a jolt. Keep things basic for a start, as you don't want to overwhelm a new passenger with too many things to remember. As time goes on, you can agree on more elaborate signals for other, less important details.
Gently apply the brakes when...
Gently apply the brakes when you want to slow down, and release the brakes slowly rather than coming to a sudden standstill. Be similarly gentle when using the throttle, avoiding sudden surges of acceleration or deceleration that can toss your passenger around.
Even a light passenger adds a significant amount of weight high up on the motorcycle, and there are some simple guidelines for her to minimize the effect of her weight. While it's fine for a passenger to move around, she should avoid any sudden movements, especially from side to side. In corners, it's not necessary for her (or you, for that matter) to hang off, but she should lean with the motorcycle and look over your inside shoulder. This will both lessen the effect of her weight on the chassis as well as force her to look up and ahead, reducing the chance of motion sickness or nervousness. It's not necessary for her to maintain a death grip on you or the motorcycle at all times, but she should be constantly paying attention to what's coming up and be ready for a stop or turn.
For your part, you can minimize your passenger's lurching around by being smooth and avoiding sudden changes in braking, acceleration or turning. You can still brake just as hard as you can on your own, but avoid grabbing a handful of brake all at once. Likewise, when you come to a stop, don't stay hard on the brakes right until you're stopped, but rather gradually release the brakes as you approach the stop. In a panic stop you won't have much choice, but under normal conditions this will keep both you and your passenger calm and relaxed. The same applies for acceleration and cornering-avoid being jerky on the throttle or grabbing a big handful at the exit of every corner, and be smooth transitioning from side to side in turns. With some practice you'll quickly find what you can and can't do, and how much your inputs affect the passenger's-and, in turn, the bikes-stability.
The smoother you ride, the...
The smoother you ride, the less your passenger will sway around. That, in turn, means your bike is affected less by your passenger's weight, making it easier to be smooth. This snowball effect makes things much easier for both of you over time, and you will be surprised at how little a passenger can affect your bike's handling.
Over time, you'll realize that an experienced passenger has little effect on the dynamics of your bike and that you can ride in a manner that has her comfortable on the back in practically any situation. A good rider/passenger combination can hustle surprisingly quickly down a canyon road or even around a racetrack-although you shouldn't take that to mean you should be testing your limits with a passenger aboard. Indeed, the consequences of a crash are far greater than if you were solo, and you should be accordingly even more vigilant than usual and well within your comfort zone.
When you are finished with your ride, come to a complete stop with the brakes on and your feet spread wide, and signal your passenger that you are ready for her to hop off. Dismount is just the opposite of getting on: With her left hand on your shoulder and left foot staying on the peg, her right foot will swing over the bike and onto the ground. If everything has gone well you'll both have big grins on your faces and can talk about how much fun you just had.