Taking a pillion

On the upside, having someone ride with you means you share the fun and experience. They might even help navigate and keep an eye out for hazards.

On the downside however, you have such things as potential distractions, the effect on bike handling and agility, and the likely need to adjust things like suspension preload and headlight aim.

Riding with someone you know, preferably another rider or experienced pillion, makes life easier. You never know how a stranger will react. Either way, every ride should start with a briefing.


It is always worth reminding passengers of the essentials: how to mount and dismount, only get on or off when told, no feet down, no wiggling about, etc. Take novices or less experienced pillions through the sensations they are likely to experience: leaning when cornering, acceleration, braking etc.

Ask them to:
  • look over your left shoulder for left bends and vice versa, to better move in unison and minimise helmet clashes
  • look where you look
  • mount and dismount only when you indicate it's okay
  • sit relaxed and as part of the machine, so they avoid leaning into or against banking angles
  • keep their feet on the footrests at all times
  • place hands on knees, around your waist or gripping the rear passenger handles.
Work out some basic signals:
  • point to something of interest
  • raise a left thumb to ask, or indicate, all is well
  • use the left hand to simulate a talking mouth when you want to talk
  • rider taps the passenger’s left knee as a signal to hang on because you want to accelerate
  • passenger taps rider’s left thigh to signal danger
  • passenger hits rider’s right thigh as a signal to stop ASAP.


And always make sure your pillion has full protective gear and that everything is done up properly. With less experienced pillions, ask to check their helmet chin strap.

These tips are included in rider skills coaching courses you can take to make your ride [and that of your pillion] more enjoyable and safer. Click here for information on course providers near you