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When choosing a motorbike suitable for carrying a pillion, there are a number of things to consider including style of your motorcycle, comfort for both you and the pillion and making sure you’re both safe as possible when out the road.
What does the rider need:
Think about yourself as the rider first as you need to find a motorbike that, with the added weight of a pillion, you will be able to control and manoeuvre easily. Choosing a motorbike with a reasonable seat height, wide bars, smooth controls and a good riding position will help make your decision on the best bike for you.
What does the pillion need:
Think about what the pillion need. The passenger needs a spacious seat to give them room to move into different riding positions and ideally situated a few inches above the riders seat so they are not dangerously high and exposed or too low to have an obscured view.
Before riding with a passenger you need to make sure they are wearing appropriate clothing, the best clothing is head-to-toe safety gear including trousers, jacket, helmet and gloves. Explain to them that to ensure the safety of you both they should only mount and dismount the motorbike when you say you’re ready for them to do so and always on the left hand side of the motorbike.
When carrying a pillion, you need to ride smoothly and you can do this by dragging a little back break to maintain stability at low speed and by avoiding big inputs to the throttle, brakes or steering.
Remember your breaking distances will increase with extra weight on the back of the motorbike due to more weight being pushed forward over the front wheel when breaking. This will impact on the steering when slowing, so ride at lower speeds to avoid quick, heavy breaking.
If your motorbike allows, adjust the front and rear suspension to handle the extra weight as best as it can.
Additional Tips for riding with a pillion passenger:
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Best motorbikes for carrying a pillion:
These motorbikes are built for 2 and this is evident with an ‘armchair’, with back and arm rests, fitted for a passenger and other luxuries including a stereo, two heated seats, GPS, ABS airbags and a large luggage capacity. This is the best motorbike for taking a friend on some long distance touring and as this motorbike is designed for 2, the handling and comfort is rated very highly.
BMW R1200 GS
This is an adventure motorbike with an 1170cc engine and has a telelever front suspension to keep the ride smooth for a passenger. This motorbike is comfortable for both the rider and passenger as it has a high comfortable riding position with wide bars.
“BMW R1200 GS for anyone who wants to do it all!” Mark Robinson
Ural Patrol T
Another way to transport a pillion around is via a sidecar and this is an a affordable sidecar due to it having one-wheel drive configuration. It is a classic design and performance isn’t great but riding this sidecar is a unique experience for both the passenger and the rider.
Allow extra time if travelling this way as it isn’t the quickest mode of transport.
“Yamaha XJR1300 probably best I’ve owned for 2 up, loads of torque and big comfy seat, handled okay too.” Peter Herrington
This Suzuki is one of the fastest ‘sport’ motorbikes ever made offering an exhilarating ride for both rider and passenger. This motorbike has low pegs for a sport bike and a huge passenger seat making it comfortable and controllable for the rider.
If you are an inexperienced rider then you will feel comfortable riding the NC700X with a passenger as it is easy to control and manoeuvre. The passenger has a comfortable seat with large grab handles so you don’t have to be distracted or made uncomfortable by the passenger holding on to you.
“Honda VFR was great for taking my daughter around, felt she was safe enough, with the top box on with built in back rest. Also had a Fazer though, which had a comfy seat and good hand rails.” Ricola Redmonds
Suzuki V-Strom 650
This motorbike promotes excellent rider control, smooth performance and ABS brakes making riders feel comfortable, confident and relaxed on this sporty looking motorbike while carrying a passenger. There’s plenty of room on the V-Strom 650 for both rider, passenger and any extra luggage you may be taking.
Moto Guzzi Norge
The Guzzi has an air-cooled twin torque engine adding classic character to its design and makes it fun to ride even with a passenger on the back. It is also easy to handle to keep up the pace even with extra weight on board.
“Moto Guzzi California is my wife’s favourite we’ve ever had.” Steve Rosevear
Triumph Tiger 800 XC
The tall rider seat combined with a spacious flat pillion seat and big grab handles makes this Triumph a smooth ride with excellent handling and providing a great view of the road ahead from the rider position. This is a great motorbike for touring on all types of terrain.
“Triumph Explorer – really roomy and comfortable for rider and pillion, loads of torque and handles great too.” Graham Jones
Harley Davidson Road King
It’s all about style and comfort with the Road King, there’s plenty of room for both you and your pillion as well as any luggage and panniers. Fitted with a large windshield and incredible headlamps giving a strong resemblance to the original King of the Road. The new Road King features Reflex Linked Brakes with ABS, one-touch saddlebags, left-hand cruise control and newly designed handlebars that are taller and closer to the ride.
If you have the right bike, the right legal requirements, follow the right rules, and a passenger with great understanding of what they need to do to help keep you both safe while on the road, then sharing your riding career with passengers can be a very rewarding and experience for all involved.