Doc Wong Ride Topics:
Riding With a Passenger

Tips from the Doc:

Hi, I thought I'd share some riding tips for both passengers and riders: (any that you have would also be appreciated)

Up until now, I haven't taken many passengers and have generally loathed it. However, this last month I've done several rides with a very good friend of mine and it's become quite a good experience!

So, riding with a passenger CAN be fun. (at least it's news to me)

Here's what we worked out riding the hills off of Skyline.

Instructions for passenger:

  1. Lightly "wallpaper" yourself onto the rider's back. That way you can easily sense when the rider begins to lean.

  2. Lean only to the degree that the rider leans, no more, no less.

  3. When comming to a stop or slowing down, put one had against the tank and maybe one hand the back of the bike (many bikes have a handhold at the rear of the seat) to lessen the forward pressure against the rider.

  4. Don't be afraid to hang onto the rider. He or she will be happier, knowing you have a secure hold and won't fall off the back of the motorcycle.

  5. Whatever you do, do NOT make any sudden moves or any abnormal moves at all while in the middle of a turn. My 170 lb son decided to shift his body to get more comfortable while in the middle of turn....shall I say "wiggle"? It should have stained my leathers!

  6. When coming to a stop, keep your feet up on the pegs.

Instructions for the rider:

  1. Get a good rider to passenger intercom, it makes all the difference. I use and recommend "Sonic" which I got from Cal BMW/Triumph in Mountain View.

  2. Riding with a passenger may expose some of your own skill deficiencies as your errors may be accentuated by the extra weight. I found myself very conscious of smooth throttle and clutch control, entry points, lines, and body english.

  3. If you normally ride at a "brisk" pace, click down a couple of notches in your usual speeds. No particularly logical reason for this except to leave an even larger margin for error and my desire not to have an injured passenger in case I screw up.

  4. In addition to keeping your bike well maintained, I make sure my tires are not underinflated and use the manufacturer's specs for riding two up.

  5. If your passenger is leaning correctly, you'll need less body lean to get around that same turn at that same speed. It was very confidence inspiring to know that when I leaned, she would lean that exact amount, no less and no more.

  6. Start your lean a moment before you begin to turn. You too should not be shifting around in the middle of a turn. ;-) It got to the point where she was able to predict when I would lean and be able to lean at exactly the same time as I. Quite an experience.

  7. Check your passenger's helmet strap before the ride, it's often too loose.

  8. Show your passenger how your stopping and taking off from stops will occur and keep it smooth. This will reduce the turtle humping to almost nothing.

Ride street, ride dirt, ride trials...oh yes, ride well!

Recommendation if you ride street: Get a dual-sport bike or dirt bike and learn how to ride in the dirt where it's always loose. Besides being a blast, it'll make you a more confident street rider.

–Dr. Wong

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