Fact# 1: The moment we hear someone wants to ride with us as a pillion, we start to make excuses as we know it will be a great discomfort!
Fact# 2: If you are asked to ride as a pillion, you get panicky and start making excuses. You don’t feel comfortable someone else riding and may end up killing you!
Now let’s accept these facts and take a moment memorizing those incidents where you were the pillion and the rider almost killed you; or if you were the rider and because of your pillion, the whole ride was a pain in the butt and since then you’ve decided not to ride as a pillion or to be pillion!
Well, to be honest, riding with a pillion or as a pillion can be a great experience if both, the rider and the pillion, learn some basic skills and can ride miles together without even feeling they are there.
If you are planning to take a pillion, especially for a long ride, you must ensure your pillion’s seating is proper and that can be achieved by adjusting the bike’s rear suspension for that extra weight by easing off the rebound and upping the compression by 25% to avoid the unsettlingly light feel of the steering.
If you are taking a pillion, take some time to brief them about the Dos and Don’ts.
The very initial frustration a rider feels when the pillion tries to get on to the saddle! If they climb the bike using the foot peg instead of swinging their leg over, that sudden weight on the side could be enough for the disaster before you could even start your journey! Tell your pillion rider to alert you before he/she decides to hop on the saddle so that you can hold the handle bars and are prepared to control that side weight, if they decide to climb by stepping on the footpeg.
When the pillion is on the saddle, we usually tell them to relax before we twist the wrist. Ensure that you explain what actually you mean by “relax”! Make sure they do not lean with the bike thinking they gotta be hanging behind the bike with their knees out or dragging their feet down making you and the bike unstable and shaky! Tell the pillion to sit upright and keep their feet on the pegs, even on a stop at the red traffic light or junctions for any unexpected movement, especially at low speed, can make the bike loose balance.
A rider needs to be easy on the clutch and while applying brake. Don’t give a jolt to the pillion with a sudden release of the clutch. Start slowly at first and be smooth while shifting gears. Your pillion rider has not got handle bars to hang on to; also, they do not have a good view ahead. They will not be able to anticipate your actions and may not be able to sit steady while you apply sudden brake. Gauge the distance of an object/vehicle or any other obstacle on the road of which you may have to slow down or apply brake. This can be done by focusing on the road, being vigilant, and keeping a far sight so that you have enough time to smoothly slow down the machine. This will also save you from the head butt in the back of the helmet.
Your sense of applying brake plays a major role while you have pillion’s weight over the rear wheel. Your rear brake will be more effective as there will be less weight transfer to the front and will keep your bike more stable. When required, use more of rear brake, 60/40 or 50/50 front to rear instead of the usual 75/25 front to rear braking for solo riding. This will also save you from that “head butts”!
It is the rider’s responsibility to make the pillion feel confident and comfortable which can be achieved by rider’s smooth riding.
A confident and skilled pillion rider can be a great companion during long rides and adventure tours.
If you are a new rider or pillion rider or experienced pillion/rider reading this article and found it helpful, please share it with others too and let them know that you care!
Please feel free to share your thoughts, comments, experience, suggestions etc.
Ride Safe, Rev Hard!
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