Introduction: Being Safe As a Pillion Passenger on a Motorbike.

This stuff is rudimentary to some, they just do it anyway but some people can be nervy and some can react the wrong way...

Basically this 'ible is here to help people bumming a ride on their mates motorbike be as safe and comfortable as possible.

Lets continue...

Please note there are nicer images coming tomorrow...

Step 1: For Starters...

Before you get on ask the driver if they want you to put your feet down at the lights etc. It's actually a serious point, if they can balance with the extra weight most will say no from the people I know, the reason being is that when they're taking off you'll inevitably be moving your legs around behind them which isn't good for balancing and you can sometimes get in their way.

Look at where you're going to be sitting, flip out the pillion pedals, they're really fiddly to get once you're perched up on the seat...

Look at what kind of grips you have to hold on to, most bikes have a handle across the rear of the seat, which you put your arms behind you for, some have handles on the side...

A top box is a great thing for a pillion passenger, it eliminates the whole, worry of falling off, even though it's hard to do...

Step 2: Getting On.

Let the rider get on and get themselves set up, don't get on until they've shifted the bike to somewhere they're ready to leave from, ride-arounds are hell with a pillion passenger in a smaller street...

I usually get on from the left hand side, it's the side you'd be getting on if you were at the side of the road in the UK anyway, it's up to you, it's usually easier to get on the side opposite the exhaust if it's a single exhaust bike...

Swing your leg right over the bike and put your foot on to the peg and bring yourself up on to the seat, putting a hand on the riders shoulder makes it easier all round for both of you to balance, bring your other foot up and round and get comfy, once both of you are happy say you're ready to go.

As for holding on that's a personal choice for both of you to make, using the baby sissy bars behind you can be a bit of a pain, holding on to the rider can be a tad weird but is at least comfortable...

handles down by your side are the comfiest of compromises but can leave you feeling a little unstable at the end of the day...

Step 3: Now You're Moving.

So once you're moving there is that whole business of staying on the bike...

Lock your arms behind you or beside you, this stops you tilting back when accelerating and takes less energy than constantly resisting acceleration.

When it comes to braking you should be resisting swinging forward with your legs mostly, it's not very nice on your arms to resist braking that way, also try to sit straight up, it's easier on your back for bumps and give you less chance of being woody woodpecker, when you swing back and forth and headbutt the driver...

Turning is a very important point aswell, you should just roll with it, don't resist the leaning of the bike, if you try too hard to sit straight up you'll cause the bike to be pushed towards the ground with your weight or you'll force the rider to run wide and possibly into object or traffic.

If you find yourself thinking about it and having a lot of trouble just rolling along with it just go for keeping your shoulders in line with the rider's and make your movements calm and sensible, sharp movements are bad for control and for distracting the riders attentions. If you do find yourself incapable of following leaning aspect then hold on to the rider by the waist as your way of holding on, then you can't go wrong...

One really important point to make, if you do get uncomfy or have to shift position then don't do it in a corner, wait until you're on the straight and narrow. never make any sudden jerks or shift your weight quickly to one side without reason, you don't want to upset the balance of the bike...

To give you a good example, my friend and I were shooting over the hills on his Honda, as the top of one hill there a long sweeping turn that's quite sharp, we were going in pretty fast for not having a pillion and we ended up coming within an inch of the outside line, both of us were leaned right in, say I hadn't have done so then we definitely would have been on the wrong side of the road approaching a bus, when we finished it was a case of, woah thank god that wasn't so and so on the back, that got a bit hairy...

Step 4: The Other Bits.

When it's windy it can be a bit unnerving to be coming over a bridge at 60mph and suddenly be hit by gusts of wind, try not to react to these and give the rider any extra correcting to do, also if you're going at high speeds It's good to tuck in behind the rider a bit more, it gives you a bit of protection and means you don't have to resist as much drag forces, and the bike will go faster...

If you're directing them to somewhere then agree on something beforehand, you can speak to each other at the lights etc. but it's hard to hear much on a powerful bike.

The system we use is usually tap them twice on the shoulder when the turn is coming up, right for right left for left...

If you're nearly coming off the bike because they're accelerating too hard squeeze your legs in against the rider, it'll be a good signal to let off and it'll help keep you on the bike.

For some tips on helmet usage...

When you're moving around town etc. two fingers of opening will keep you mist free, at high speeds open a couple of the vents and pull the visor down...

If you open your visor halfway it'll be poking straight out and it'll be really hard not to poke the rider with it, of course that's a bad thing...

Before you leave get your helmet on nice and comfy, otherwise it'll bug you on the ride...

Step 5: Little Extras and Good Ideas.

Things that will be of help:

- Gloves, a decent pair should keep you from freezing to the bike...
- A proper motorbike jacket is a plus for protection during crashes and to keep you warm, if not leather or other tough heavy materials are still a good idea.
- A neck scarf can be a god addition on cold days, don't buy one just get an old beanie cap and cut the top off of it...
- Motorbike trousers are advised but if not then wear something like combats or jeans (don't wear jeans when it's raining...) Try to avoid holes in clothes and if you have small pockets then remove the things from them for comfort and to avoid losing them. One interesting thing is you can make an interesting standing wave with jeans with holes in the knees, it's quite tickly on it, plus you're going to have an Ice pop between your legs if you're a dude.

So once you've got in to the swing of things you should feel comfy enough but at the end of the day the rider shouldn't be caning it all the time with a pillion on the back, it's a bit of a laugh but it gets a bit hairy most of the time.

Some important points are that the bike may need to be adjusted somewhat for when you're taking pillions, usually it's just adding a bit of tyre pressure to cope with the extra weight, consult the manual or try google...


skunkbait (author)2008-11-08

WHy hasn't this gotten more exposure? It's a great ible, but it's only had like 500 views!

asmotsat (author)skunkbait2014-12-07

Yes, well done, Having created and posed this you have done really well, because now 6 years on it has had 33,529 views. the beauty of good information, is that it remains good information well into the future. - Cheers


Not sure, think it needs some mre exposure elsewhere to help it...


I'll se what I can think of. I hate for this to go unnoticed.


Hum, maybe a couple of motorbike blogs, I took a look through the referrals, most of the hits are coming directly from people using search engines for advice, which is good, meaning at least people are thinking to look for safety tips and finding some...

robin yates (author)2011-06-15

any rider who 'guns' a motorbike when a pillion is aboard, is nothing but a fool.It is not clever, more stupid. Riding pillion is easy, sit upright, use the grab bars if you want,when the bike leans, just follow what the bike is doing. Relax, no need to worry ( as long as the rider is a good boy ! )I have slept on a Honda 1000, 140 mph I was told,,,,I slept for 45 minutes apparently

abadfart (author)2010-07-31

i always liked it when the girl on the back squeezes me and scueals when i speed up fast

Rishnai (author)2008-10-07

Excellent! I've never ridden on the back, but I've been the rider a few times with a passenger. I hear when my mom first rode with my dad, she thought they were going to fall over and panicked on the steep, winding backroads. Not good if you like not falling oto your death. Of course, then she spent 15 years of only having a bike to ride, and not riding herself, was naturally on the back, carrying 50 lbs of dog food, balancing groceries and the like. Another tip, especially for all you girlfriends out there: don't snuggle up to the rider too much. On the highway or in city traffic is the wrong place to have someone nibble on your ear. I've you're got an openface helmet and it's windy, go ahead and bury your face in the rider's shoulder or duck your head down, but keep it there, no sudden changes. Not that I'm speaking from experience or anything... P.S. The above tip is especially applicable to dudes. At least warn the rider first, because some people will have a spazz attack to try and shake you off before they remember to keep their balance. Other people just find it weird.

killerjackalope (author)Rishnai2008-10-08

Aye my mate was giving someone he knows a lift, another dude, he got some shock when the guy went to hold on to him and put his hands a little low down, near couped the bike without moving... On the back is nice in it's own way, you get most of the fun with added surprises of not knowing when the hammer's going down and you don't have to do all the work, unless you're giving a friend a hand and her kick start gets a bit iffy, near fell over that time, something went in it and she stood right up on it rather than it going down... I kick it once... So she resigned me to pillion for the day...

Rishnai (author)killerjackalope2008-10-08

I *might* be teaching my friend how to ride soon, and then I'll be able to to give myself premature grey hairs by climbing on the back. I'm not sure I'd trust myself, let alone anyone I taught!

skunkbait (author)Rishnai2008-10-30

I've taught like 15 or 20 people to ride. THen once (only once!) was I willing to ride pillion. But on the upside none of my students has ever been hospitalized due to cycle-accident.

killerjackalope (author)Rishnai2008-10-08

It can be difficult to trust people you know too well at times... One thing, caning it overtaking up the middle of two lanes on a windy day is not the time to be a pillion, I've been there... Try it out, it's not that bad, just don't forget they're there...

vegatek (author)2008-10-12

To help with the balancing act - if the motorcycle is going/banking into a right hand side curve, look over the right shoulder of the person in front of you, and over the left shoulder if going into a left curve.

killerjackalope (author)vegatek2008-10-13

Good point, naturally leaning in should create that anyway, lately I've been trying to figure a lazy way, to minimize effort for people, so far straight arms and back, seems to be ok, it comprise less moving because more of you is just in line with the bike, just don't get straight back and sitting straight up confused...

PKM (author)2008-09-29

The only addition I can suggest is "talk to the rider beforehand". The last pillion ride I went on, the rider made a point of cranking the throttle to the stop, drop throttle and shift up, crank throttle to stop again, drop and change up, crank, drop... that was on a race rep so I was rocking backwards and forwards like a crazy person. As pillion passenger, you should remind your rider (especially if they are of the more "enthusiastic" riding style) that you can't tell when they are going to accelerate, shift, brake etc. so they should start those actions slowly.

killerjackalope (author)PKM2008-09-29

I did make a point of saying to talk to the rider beforehand about all issues, now I suppose that bit didn't phase me as much because I know my friend's riding styles so well I can usually predict their throttle and brake movements... Also one simple system, if you hear muffled swearing then hold on...

skunkbait (author)2008-09-29

Excellent job on the ible! BTW- You are right about boarding from the left. It is the only CORRECT way to board a bike. (I'm not really a snob about it, except with my wife and kids!) I'm pretty sure the tradition developed from equestrian pursuits. Most bikes have the kickstand on the left too. I won't say I NEVER get on from the right, as there are occasionally exceptional circumstances (sprained ankles, etc.), but old school riders (often) look down on those who board from the right (at least in the U.S.).


Be the same here really, I just prefer it from the left anyway unless I'm on something dodgey, in which case I definitely get on from the right so I can hold the front brake, just in case it falls to bits beneath me... One other way of boarding low down ones for tall people and geting off the centre stand in one move if to hop on from the back, note sissy bar not reccomended for that one... It's more a joke move, lus it's pretty dodgey for loasing balance...

johnson_steve (author)2008-09-27

If you want to stay safe tip #1 should be don't get on the back of my bike, it's a freaking deathtrap.


I dunno, I've survived some pretty insane ones, I'll just put on loads of weight, keep you in check..


well let's see: no fenders, no mirrors, no high beams, no front brakes, mechanical drum brakes on the back, no padding for a passenger, signals are to dim for daylight (so I use my hands), no horn, bald tires (the originals from 1978), nothing keeps you from sliding off the 'hump' and on to the rear tire where you would be immediately castrated by the jagged exposed frame. it's very loud, pretty and definitely has balls but safe it is not. I've already ended up all bloody laying in the road with it on top of me once. great 'ibble though

skunkbait (author)johnson_steve2008-09-29

Awesome! Sounds like the last half dozen bikes I' ve owned! (Real brakes and tires are for sissies!)


Sounds like fun... At the moment we've been playing around fixing the wreck of CG my mate owns, it got stolen, one he went after we managed to hotwire it and get it moving, apparently he can now stand on the back brake without slowing down, combined with a semi inflated front tyre... Thanks for the compliments, people approving is a good thing according to recent surveys.




Not too worrying it's still got a front brake and it wasn't too fast without the exhaust on properly, then after we got that far I went to do the electrics and the bugger zapped me...

terramonkey (author)2008-09-27

As a pillion passenger of many miles and a driver of a few I think it only fair to add that if your riding the rear seat you should trust the driver and not try to see over his/her shoulder. If you dont trust the pilot - don't get on in the first place. When you try and see around or over the driver mid turn or even on a straight, the balance shift is usually sudden and unexpected and makes you both nervous.


A good point, something I'd missed out... One thing I've found an issue is that when there are crosswinds at high speeds your head gets pushed around a lot because the driver's slipstream is hard to line up with and you get slapped with it, one more reason not to try and see past them... you did remind of one thing, under hard braking though putting your head to one side a little as you come forward causes little shift in weight and stops you clunking the driver...


being upfront on only a couple of occasions i'd have to take your word for it, i've never gunned it with a pillion and dont aim to scare my friends. I feel the need to elaborate on this particular instructable - but maybe a collaboration is in order as I feel your knowledge stems from the viewpoint of a driver and not a passenger, and I don't really want to pepper the comments if I can add some worthwhile info to the main instructable.


I was talking about being a pillion passenger there, I've done both a fair bit but recently I haven't driven anything other than my mate's honda a little bit...

LinuxH4x0r (author)2008-09-27

Good to know. I want a motorcycle! but I don't have a job :(


You'll like the 'ible I'm writing now... Also we just rebuilt my mates bike because it got stolen, in one day it went from seized clutch, no ignition at all, squiffy exhaust, missing indicators and lots of damage to running (I hotwired it) clutch repaired and much more stuff... The 'ible I'm writing now is a precursor to your first time on a motorbike, like a kind of what to do so you'll know what to expect... Tomorrow I may have even more cool 'ibles out! All depends...


Great, I'll need it!

bernard192 (author)2008-09-27

very nice instructable! very well written. just curious, what model bike is in the pictures?


Thanks bernard, glad it made sense! It's my mates CB500 bit older like but it's a great bike, it's restricted until they get the chance to dig it out but it hauls all 25 stone of us two pretty well and it's bulletproof.

About This Instructable




Bio: A Northern Ireland based maker with a propensity to cause trouble and freshly constructed family.
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