Two Up Riding - Hints, Secrets, Things to do or not to do

"Dave Swider Date: Fri, 17 Sep 1999 23:36:19 -0400

Tina and I rode together for 15 years before she decided that she'd rather sit in front on her own bike. We always had a set of hand signals and signs that made things easier. Suggested signs and important communications:

A nod from the rider means it's OK for the passenger to get on.
A nod from the rider means it's OK for the passenger to get off.
The passenger squeezing the rider with her thighs means the rider is going faster than the passenger is comfortable with.
The passenger reaching around and touching the inside of the rider's thigh means the passenger has to pee. Poking the rider in the thigh means I HAVE TO PEE!
The passenger pointing down the road and then holding the palm of her hand up, as if asking a question, means how much farther.
The rider pointing down the road, holding up two fingers and then jerking a thumb means two more exits.
The rider pointing down the road, holding up two fingers and then pointing at the road means two more miles.
The rider pointing down the road, holding up two finger, then a clenched fist, pointing at the road, then putting the open palm against the side of the helmet means, 20 more miles and we're done for the day.
Numbers may be indicated by two methods, the normal holding up one through five fingers to indicate one through five (duh), to indicate six touch the little finger with the thumb, to indicate seven, touch the ring finger with the thumb, to indicate eight, touch the middle finger with the thumb, to indicate nine touch the index finger with the thumb (but don't make it look like OK) to indicate a zero, make a clenched fist. The other method is that if a four fingers are held out and the hand is held low, it means four. If the hand is held high, it means nine. The second method is better for bike to bike communication.
The passenger reaching over the rider's shoulder, holding her index finger straight up and twirling it around means, I saw a cop. Directional finger pointing can help clarify where.
Holding the hand with three fingers pointing straight down means, I think it's gonna rain.
Rubbing the front of the body means, I'm cold.
The passenger punching the rider in the back of the helmet means "I didn't like that you freaking moron. I'm getting my own bike so you can't kill me!"

For more tips, try Whitehorse Press' Motorcycle sign language. Effective communication makes all the difference. A comfortable passenger is a fast passenger.

__________________________________________________________________________ From: "Colorado Jeff Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 02:12:44 EDT

First of all..everything is going to take a little longer..getting up to speed, stopping etc..Depending on her weight your riding style will be altered a little or a lot... My wife only weighs 98 lbs..but it does make a difference. Practice is the key.. Turning..and learning how your passenger is going to react is another thing to get used to. IF your SO is new to motorcycling, she'll probably lean "against" your turns initially.. until she gets used to it.. Here's a few tips to give your SO on being a passenger...

1) Always hold onto my waist. Don't signal turns or any other bs..
2) DON"T get on or off the bike until I give you the ok. Good communication is key..
3) Tell her to look over your shoulder in the way you are turning.. i.e. look over your left shoulder when turning left.. That will help her get into the lean of the motorcycle.
4) Keep your feet (her feet) on the pegs at all times. After she gets the hang of it.. (PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE..AT THE LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL PARKING LOT) she'll start to naturally move with the bike and make your job a lot easier.. just my .02
Colorado Jeff

__________________________________________________________________________ From: "William Safford <> Date: Sat, 18 Sep 1999 02:52:34 -0400

Riding with a passenger is fun and rewarding. I do so all the time. However, there are a few things to consider before doing so. First of all, how new a rider is "relatively new?" You should be a proficient rider when riding solo before you first take a passenger for a ride. Operating a motorcycle solo is complicated enough before you add the variable of a passenger. Not only does a passenger add weight to the motorcycle, but the passenger changes the weight distribution of the bike.

These factors, in turn, affect how the motorcycle handles, rides, and brakes. In addition, a passenger is a dynamic load in addition to being a static load. (Your SO won't appreciate being referred to as a "load," but I digress) A passenger will move around. Even a minor fidget at an inopportune moment can have a deleterious effect on the handling of the bike; heaven help you if she panics in the middle of a sharp turn! You need to be skilled enough to be able to compensate for such events.

Finally, you take on an additional responsibility when you take a passenger with you. Make sure you're up to the task before you do so. An excellent step towards becoming a proficient rider is through rider education. Since you live in the U.S., I recommend that, if you haven't done so already, you take an MSF (Motorcycle Safety Foundation) riding course. Not only will it help you learn (or refresh) your riding skills, but it specifically covers the topic of carrying passengers. (BTW, a K1200RS is a handful for a new rider. I own one, so I know whereof I speak.) If you are a proficient rider (or once you become one), here are a few basic rules to go over with your passenger:

[The following is quoted from the MSF Motorcycle RiderCourse Riding and Street Skills Student Workbook:)
Always hold onto the operator's waist or hips for stability.
Keep your feet on the pegs at all times, including while stopped. Keep your hands and feet away from hot or moving parts.
The motorcycle operator sits in front. Help the operator by not trying to control the motorcycle. You can do this by looking over the operator's shoulder in the direction of turns. Otherwise, avoid leaning and making any unannounced shifts of weight. As the operator, you have a few rules, too.
The added weight of your passenger will affect your turning and stopping. Get used to the differences in handling.
Start the engine before your passenger gets on. Hold the front brake while your passenger mounts and dismounts.
Don't try to impress your passenger with your skill and daring. For the new passenger, the greatest impression will be from a smooth, relaxed ride. [End quote.] Before you take your passenger on her first ride, remember to adjust your bike's suspension and tire pressures to accommodate the added load. Where do you find out what those settings should be? In your motorcycle owner's manual.

Make sure that your passenger is wearing riding gear that is at least as good as yours. The gear should comprise: a DOT-approved helmet, preferably full-face; over-the-ankle motorcycle boots; motorcycle gloves; motorcycle leather or synthetic jacket and pants or one-piece riding suit; and eye protection such as riding goggles (if not already supplied by the helmet, e.g. face shield).

Make sure that your motorcycle insurance covers a passenger. After a mishap has occurred is not the time to find out that you didn't pay the $5 (or whatever amount) for the insurance rider (if needed) for passenger coverage. As for the first two-up ride, I recommend that you choose a fairly benign stretch of road. Neither rush hour on the Interstate nor Deal's Gap is a good first venue for your first foray into two-up riding. Choose a wide, open road with little traffic and lots of visibility. Take it easy at first. I've heard too many stories from people who were terrified by their first experiences on a motorcycle because the rider decided to show off.

Be as smooth as you can, and take a moderate pace. Save diving into the twisties for another day. Every passenger I've taken on the back of my K12 has remarked on the comfort of the passenger accommodations. I hope your SO finds the back of your bike comfortable as well. If not, there are mods that can be made to improve her comfort level. Maybe your SO will, after a while, develop her own interest in riding. Maybe she'll decide she doesn't even like being a passenger. Maybe she'll be content with riding on the back with you. Whatever happens, I hope you and your SO have fun riding together. Best wishes to both of you. Let us know if you have any other questions or comments. --Will Safford

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