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No Free Rides: Safe Motorcycle Adventures with A Passenger

For you, and the owners of more than 9 million registered motorcycles in the U.S1, the best part of spring is the open road on two wheels. And the season starts the first day you can ride without getting frostbite on your face. While a solo ride might be first on your list, if you plan to carry a passenger, take time to prepare your bike, yourself and your rider for a safe and fun adventure.

Adapting to a Passenger
Before you offer a ride, make sure you and your bike are prepared to accommodate a passenger:

  • Equip your motorcycle with a second seat and footrests for a second person
  • Check the manual for tire pressure and suspension adjustments for a heavier load
  • Do not exceed the weight limitations listed in the owner’s manual
  • Carry an extra set of safety gear for passengers and be aware that helmet laws vary by state
  • Practice low-speed clutch/throttle driving with a passenger in a low-risk area like an open parking lot before driving on the open road
  • Practice allowing more time for passing and avoiding dramatic leans during corners

Communication is Key
An uninformed passenger can jeopardize a ride no matter how experienced a rider they are. Take time to discuss:

  • Parts of your bike with hot and moving parts, locations vary between manufacturers and models
  • Where/what to hold during the ride and location of the footrest
  • How to hold the body in neutral position during corners and turn
  • Your preferred mounting and dismounting procedures
  • Your preferred non-verbal communication plan – for example, passenger taps shoulder once to slow down, twice to pull over at next exit or three times for an emergency.

Encourage your rider to be honest about his or her comfort level before the ride and drive conservatively until he or she acclimates to proper riding techniques.

Taking precautions by inspecting your bike before each ride, checking your operator’s manual for specifications and reviewing safety guidelines and tips is the great way to prepare for an enjoyable ride with friends. Also, remember to visit with your Farm Bureau agent to SuperCheck your current motorcycle insurance. It’s the best way to make sure you have the right insurance coverage for your current needs.

1National Highway Traffic Safety Administration National Center for statistics and Analysis
Source: Motocycle Safety Foundation,, last visited March 2015