• Good Advice / Rider Skill / Road Safety
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Company is always nice. Some pillions weigh 50kg, others weigh 100kg. Putting extra weight on the motorcycle will affect the handling. Adjust your suspension and tyre pressures to compensate for the amount of company you’ve brought along. (Check your owner’s manual.)

Also realize that your braking capabilities have changed; take that into account. The more weight you have on the motorcycle, the longer it takes to stop. Passengers should be instructed to always mount from the same side, and to warn you before they climb on or off. This goes a long way to preventing a muddled heap lying on the ground. Either work on a set of hand signals or invest in helmet comms.

First things first. Get to a open parking lot and work on the mounting and dismounting techniques, and then run through a few exercises like stopping, swerving, turning etc. before heading out on the road. It is vital that both parties get very comfortable and complete trust is instilled to maximize the experience.

Passengers need the same protection that you do – proper clothes and helmet. Five meter scarves flapping in the wind may look dashing, but not on a motorcycle. You don’t want shoe laces or loose pants legs catching on rear wheel or chain parts.

Never carry anyone sidesaddle. Passengers should always straddle the bike with their feet securely planted on the footrests. Tell passengers not to put a foot down when you come to a stop. Show them where the hot things are – like header pipes and mufflers.

Caution passengers against coming in contact with the hot parts to prevent any injuries. Also, rubber soles can melt and leave a mess.

Instruct passengers to hold onto you at your waist or hips. Ask them to lean forward slightly when you leave from a stop or accelerate along the highway.

Also, when you brake, passengers should be firmly braced against your waist and should push back slightly. You don’t want their weight to shift forward.

Advise passengers not to lean unless you do. You do not want the person behind hanging off the bike at 30 degrees; that will do funny things to the steering.

However, when you lean going around a corner, passengers should definitely lean as well. So have them look over your shoulder in the direction of the turn when you go through a corner; that will put the weight where you want it.

Hein Jonker

Editor & Chief Instructor of Bike Talk SA. Senior Instructor for Honda SA On-Road Academy in KZN & Exhibition Rider for Harley-Davidson SA

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