The Dennis Kirk Blog
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Yes, that little pillion on the back of your sport bike can hold a passenger.
Not everyone wants to ride their own bike, but a lot of people still want the experience of riding a sport bike. Being a passenger is the next best thing to actually controlling the sport bike. You might know someone close to you that falls into this category. Once you’ve become a solid rider on your own, you can ride two-up on your sport bike to share those experiences with that someone.
Now that’s not to say that you should just tell that person to hop on and head for the nearest twisties. Riding with a passenger is a whole new experience for the passenger and you as well. Before you hit the road, you need to be prepared with the right gear, bike setup and skills. Without those, your fun two up dream trip could turn into a riding nightmare.
If you plan on giving someone a ride, make sure that they have all of the proper riding gear that fits well. The passenger is your responsibility, so you should take extra precautions with them, even if you don’t yourself. Once they have become seasoned on the bike, they can make the decision on what gear they want wear. Until then, ATGATT is the way to go.
Setting Up Your Bike
You may have your sport bike dialed in perfectly for you, but as soon as you throw another body on the back, the handling will be completely different. There are a few things that you can do pretty easily to set up your bike for a passenger.
The first thing that you need to think about is your bike’s suspension. You’ll find that keeping the front tire down on a snappy sport bike is a lot more difficult with a passenger on the back. A quick fix to deal with this is by adding some preload to the rear shock. You can play around with this in some test runs until you get a good balance. Next, make sure that your tires are properly inflated to handle the extra load on the bike.
Another thing to consider, but is not necessary, is a 2-Up Passenger Bar from PSR. This grab bar mounts around your gas cap and provides the passenger something solid to hold on to. It gives the passenger something besides you to brace against and hold on to during the ride. As the driver, you won’t get as exhausted because you won’t have to support the passenger’s weight the whole time. If you plan on doing a lot of two up riding on your sport bike, the PSR Passenger Bar is solid investment.
Prepare and Practice
Now that your passenger and bike are all set up for the ride, you should do a little practicing before hitting the open road. A big empty parking lot provides a low pressure environment for you and your passenger to get used to riding two up on your sport bike. If your passenger has never been on a motorcycle before, take the time to show them the basics. The more they know about how the mechanics of the bike works, the easier it will be for them to get a hang of riding on the back by knowing what to expect.
With an understanding of how the bike works, you can inform the passenger on what to expect during the ride. Here are some of the things that you should let them know about:
With all of these things in mind, you can now put them to practice in the parking lot. In the no pressure environment of the empty parking lot, the passenger will get a sense of what to expect without having to learn on the road with other motorists where an error could prove to be far more costly. This is also your chance to iron out all of the wrinkles to make for a safer and more enjoyable ride once you hit the streets.
All of the prep work is done and now it’s time to actually get on the road and go for a ride with your new passenger. Being that this is your passenger’s first time on a bike, it’s not a good idea to show them how fast your bike is or how well you can take those S turns. You want your passenger to enjoy the ride, so take it easy. If they get comfortable enough and ask to go faster, then you can ease your way up.
Being smooth is the name of the game when you are riding two up on a sport bike. You need to be smooth going through the gears to ensure that you don’t end up on your backside at the start and also so your helmets aren’t smacking into each other with every shift.
You also need to be smooth with your braking. With the extra weight on the bike, you will need to give yourself more room for braking. It’s easy to fall back into your solo riding habits and stay closer to the cars ahead or not leave enough distance at a stoplight.
Cornering while riding two up needs to be a much milder act as well. If you’re used to getting your knee down in the corners, you’re going to have to adjust your style. It takes a lot more work to get around corners with the added weight.
Riding with a passenger allows you to share the open road with someone you care about. When done safely, riding two up on your sport bike can produce some of the most memorable rides.
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