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Best Bikes for Pillions

Some thoughts prior to purchasing the right bike

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.

We understand how much fun it is to travel with your partner, friend or children on your motorcycle, it’s all part of being a biker. But it’s also important that everyone on board is secure and safe. Here at Devitt we’ve considered a number of different things to remember when heading out 2-up!

Riding pillion: 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.

Regardless if you’re just planning short trips locally or heading out on big tours, finding the right motorcycle is the first key to a happy riding life. It’s best to head out and view as many bikes as possible before purchasing.

Riding pillion: What does the passenger 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.

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Honda Goldwing

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.

Honda Goldwing

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. The BMW R1200GS promises comfort for both the rider and passenger as it has a high riding position with wide bar for a relaxed stance.


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.

Ural Patrol T

Suzuki Hayabusa

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.

Suzuki Hayabusa


Honda NC700X

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 NC700X

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.

Suzuki V Strom 650

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 Norge

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 Tiger 800 XC

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.

Harley Davidson Road King

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.

Additional tips for riding with a pillion

Here are a few more tips to riding with a pillion, helping to make the ride enjoyable for all!

  • Ask the passenger to avoid making sudden movements or turning around.
  • Avoid dramatic lean angles and high speeds.
  • Ask your passenger to use the tank to secure themselves when stopping or slowing.
  • Agree on hand signals to communicate before setting off. Decide what you need the passenger to do to signal ‘pull over’, ‘slow down’ and ‘I am ok, keep going’.
  • Make sure the passenger can reach the footrests of the motorbike for safety.
  • Make sure you have the correct insurance for your riding needs and ensure that, in the unfortunate event of an accident, your pillion is covered too. Not all insurances cover you to carry passengers. If in doubt, take a look at Devitt Insurance.

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