Many novice riders don’t realize how uncomfortable the vibrations of even a smooth bike can be on a longer ride. For a passenger, who is often less engaged in the ride, the discomfort can be difficult to ignore. One of the best ways to ease this discomfort is with a good seat. There are several different options and since every bike and butt is different, it is a good idea to try one out before purchasing, perhaps by sitting on a friends bike (with permission of course).
While you’re looking at seats, make sure you get a backrest (sissybar) too. For those of us who are always in the pilot’s seat, it can be difficult to realize how unnerving sitting on back without one can be. Having to keep a grip on the passenger or handrails unceasingly can be very tiring, especially for a fearful passenger. You’ll notice your passenger’s death grip loosen up as she realizes she’s not going to fall off the back if she relaxes a bit.GEAR
Even with a backrest, many passengers will still feel vulnerable unless they have protective gear. Often the more and higher quality the gear is, the safer your passenger will feel. As a minimum, your passenger should have a good helmet. Consider a full-face because, with the passenger seat a little higher than the driver seat, the wind buffetings often hit her harder, even with a windshield, and a full-
face will help. Additionally, many passengers will feel more comfortable with a good jacket, protective pants/chaps, good riding boots, and gloves. If your passenger will be riding with you often, let her choose his gear to ensure a proper fit and help encourage her to wear it. And don’t forget rain gear. Being unprepared during that inevitable rainstorm could ruin anyone’s day.PASSENGER FLOORBOARDS
Most touring bikes already have passenger floorboards, but if your bike doesn’t have them, this is something you should definitely consider adding. Floorboards increase the range of secure foot placement for your passenger, which is especially important because they are more susceptible to leg cramps than the driver is (since they do not have to regularly move their legs to change gears or brake).INTERCOMS
One thing that is a bit of a luxury but that really changed the riding experience for my wife was a good intercom system. Being able to communicate with one another—chat about the scenery, the destination, whatever—without having to scream, will make a huge difference for the passenger. Our Scala unit also allows us to answer phone calls and listen to music.SAFETY/TRAINING
Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) classes are not just for the driver. Because a passenger will change the characteristics of how the bike moves, the riding techniques needed to safely maneuver the bike should be understood by the passenger as well as the driver. The MSF manual says “passengers should be considered as a second ‘active’ rider so they can help ensure that safety and procedural operations
are correctly followed.” Here are a few basic procedures recommended by MSF:
a. Complete personal protective gear is properly in use.
b. Hold operator’s waist or hips, or motorcycle’s passenger hand-holds.
c. Keep feet on footrests at all times, including while stopped.
d. Keep hands and feet away from hot or moving parts.
e. When in a corner, look over the operator’s shoulder in the direction of the corner.
f. Avoid turning around or making sudden moves that might affect operation.
g. If crossing an obstacle, stand on the pegs with the knees slightly bent and allow the legs to absorb the shock upon impact.Unlike some junk mail ads, I can’t guarantee a successful result or your money back. But I can give you my testimonial that the foregoing tips worked well for my wife and me—no medical precautions attached and no need to consult your doctor for elation lasting longer than 6 hours.