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Learn to Ride Two Up on Your Sport Bike

Posted on 15 Jul 2014 in Motorcycle, Sport Bikes | 2 comments

Yes, that little pillion on the back of your sport bike can hold a passenger.

Two up sport bike

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.

Two up grab bar for sport bike

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:

  • When mounting the bike, the passenger needs to make sure that you are on the bike and ready with the bike stable.  If it’s possible, the passenger should try to swing their leg over the seat without putting pressure on the foot peg.  All of the passenger’s weight on the peg could cause the bike to tip.  If they do need to use the peg, they should try to put their weight toward the center of the bike before mounting.  The same procedure should be used for dismounting the bike also.
  • The passenger should try to sit as close to you as possible.  Too much weight towards the back of the bike can affect your steering by taking too much pressure off of the front tire.
  • If you do not have the PSR Passenger Bar or any other type of grip rails, your passenger will need to hold on to you around your waist.  Any higher up and your body will get tired trying to maneuver the bike while fighting the pressure of their grip on your upper body.
  • Once the passenger is in place on the bike, they shouldn’t make any sudden movements that could throw the bike off balance.  The more relaxed they are, the better.
  • While cornering, the passenger shouldn’t lean before the rider does.  In fact, the passenger doesn’t really have to lean that much compared to the rider.  The passenger should just slightly mimic the movements of the rider in the corners.
  • The passenger’s feet should never leave the foot pegs.  If they have to, they can squeeze their knees against your legs to accomplish this.
  • Communication is hugely important when riding with a passenger, especially when it’s their first time.  If you don’t have an intercom system, it’s a good idea to create a system of signals that the passenger can make, whether it’s by tapping on your shoulder or by some other form of signalling.  The signals should be fairly simple and cannot obstruct your vision.

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.

The Ride

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.


Ryan is one of the lucky ones who gets to combine their passion with work. He has enjoyed powersports his whole life and now gets to write about it. Ryan has been around the industry since High School and continues to enjoy learning and sharing about powersports with others in his role at DK.


  1. Robert / April 18th, 2016 3:12

    Very short ago I had my very first ride on a motorcycle on the back of an r1 sportbike of a friend. At a certain moment he rode 160 mph and also did very fast accelerations and really sharp turns. I really loved it and now I am looking for other fast pillion rides on sportbikes.

  2. Marisa / January 12th, 2020 13:46

    I don’t think hubby is going to install a grip on his Ducati. We have other bikes better suited for two-up and he usually commented to work on this. But occasionally I like the experience of being on a rocket. When braking, holding on to the pilot’s waist doesn’t do much even if I’m using my legs to hold myself back. So I brace myself with my hands on the tank. Problem is, I can’t reach to get my palms flat so a lot of pressure on the fingers. I see others are able to hold their palms flat and there must be a trick to positioning to do this?


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