How to Ride Your Harley With a Passenger

How to Ride Your Harley With a Passenger

by Chris Rutter November 12, 2020

Riding with a passenger on your Harley can be a lot of fun, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility. You need to keep your passenger safe and ensure they're comfortable. The best Harley riders will take the time to learn more about improving their passenger's experience.

Give your passenger the best time possible by learning how to prepare your bike for more weight and exploring how you can make the riding experience more enjoyable for them.

How Does a Passenger Change the Riding Experience?

The big change riders have to account for when a passenger joins them comes down to how the extra weight changes the handling. The passenger's additional weight will change how the bike rides and its center of gravity. A passenger will also impact the bike's acceleration, suspension and braking. Usually, heavier and bigger bikes can handle the weight of passengers easier than a smaller and lighter bike will. This is because the heavy bike's handling may be less affected by the increase in weight. 

Due to how a bike's handling is affected by the passenger's weight, it's crucial to make sure you've prepared your bike appropriately and know how to ride with a passenger on a motorcycle safely.

Before you hit the road with a passenger, make sure your bike is properly set up.

Prepare Your Bike for a Passenger

Before you hit the road with a passenger, you should take a few minutes to make sure your bike is set up properly. Find some of the top ways you can prepare your bike for a passenger below:

  • Check suspension and brakes: If your brakes are getting close to needing a replacement, it's not recommended to add even more weight to them before you get them repaired or replaced. Additionally, you can check your suspension to make sure it can handle the extra weight. Usually, you won't need to change the suspension for a short ride, but if you plan to take a passenger on a long ride, it can be worth adjusting the suspension and tire pressure of the bike.
  • Prepare a comfortable saddle: You want your passenger to feel comfortable and safe while they ride on your bike. The most comfortable seats are usually fairly wide since they give a passenger more room and help them feel more secure in the seat. Passengers also typically prefer a seat with a deep front that gives them the ability to adjust their position without crowding you. The rear of a passenger saddle should never be sloped downwards, as this can lead to a driver slipping off.
  • Ensure passengers have a place for their feet: When someone's riding behind you, they need to have a place where they can safely rest their feet. A passenger's dangling feet can catch the pavement and cause an injury. If your bike doesn't have any place for the passenger to place their legs, invest in pegs or floorboards for your bike before taking anyone out for a ride.
  • Consider adding a backrest: Backrests aren't a must-have feature for passengers, but they can make a long journey more pleasant. If you want to give your passenger a more comfortable experience, you can invest in a compatible backrest and arm supports for your bike. Backrests also help prevent riders from sliding off the bike. 

Riding Tips for Traveling With a Passenger

With your motorcycle prepared, it's time to learn how to ride a motorcycle with a passenger. Before riding a motorcycle with a passenger, check out a few tips you can keep in mind to give them a quality experience:

  • Slow it down and keep it smooth: When you drive with a passenger, build trust with them by slowing down and giving them a smoother ride. The need for a slower ride is especially important for passengers who aren't used to riding on bikes and aren't prepared for the feeling of going high speeds on a bike. Avoiding turning too quickly or accelerating too fast can give new passengers a much better experience on a bike.
  • Brake sooner: The more weight your bike has on it, the longer it's going to take to slow down. Since a passenger adds a significant amount of extra weight, get in the practice of beginning to stop well before where you're aiming to bring your bike to rest. Stick to stopping too soon rather than stopping too late as you get used to riding with a passenger. 
The more weight, the longer it's going to take your bike to slow down.
  • Corner carefully: Cornering with a passenger on your bike should be done carefully. The extra weight of the passenger will compress the bike's suspension and provide much less ground clearance. Keep your bike safe by taking corners more cautiously. Additionally, communicate to passengers that they should be leaning with you into turns rather than away from the turn. To help them lean properly, you can tell them to look over your shoulder on the side you're turning.
  • Go easy when accelerating: It's going to take longer to accelerate when carrying a passenger. Slow down on all your inputs, especially since the passenger's weight is right over the rear wheel. Jerking the throttle with this extra weight on the back can send the front end of your bike upwards, potentially throwing you both off of the bike.
  • Wear safety gear: Both the driver and the passenger should be wearing safety gear. If you are in an accident while driving, the passenger will be affected just as much as the driver. Motorcycle jackets, helmets, gloves and longs pants are a must for both parties.

How to Be a Motorcycle Passenger

If you're in the position of a motorcycle passenger, there are a few things you can do to make it easier for the driver. First, you can make sure to wait for the driver to tell you when they're ready for you to mount the bike. When they give you the okay, get on from the non-muffler side.

Once the bike is moving, hold on to the driver tightly. Holding on to the driver too loosely can be dangerous, as you'll be more likely to slam into them if they stop suddenly. Don't put your weight on the driver, and keep your hands on each side of the driver's waist. Since placing your feet on the ground can throw off the balance of the bike when it's stopped, keep your feet on the footrests or pegs.

It's also a good idea to have a way to communicate with the driver while you're on the road. If you don't have helmet-to-helmet communication devices, you can usually communicate using hand signals or taps. When your ride comes to an end, wait to get off the bike. Give the driver time to brace their legs to keep the bike upright before you dismount on the non-muffler side.

Choose Fat Head Cycles for All Your Motorcycle Needs

Fat Head Cycles is here to provide plenty of high-quality parts and accessories for your Harley. Whether you want to improve your bike's performance or purchase a new suspension system suited for a passenger, we have the parts for you. We're ready to help no matter your needs, and our excellent customer service team will do all they can to help you find a solution to any challenge you're experiencing.

Browse our selection of Harley parts available at our online store, and contact us today if you have any questions about our products or services. 

Contact Fat Head Cycles for all your motorcycle needs.

Chris Rutter
Chris Rutter


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