12 Tips For Riding With A Pillion

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by kaosbandit, Nov 25, 2013.

  1. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

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    My quite ordinary and long suffering Websters Colligiate Dic. has a second listing as an ADVERB. Thus, my understanding is that the person riding pillion may be refered to as the pillion. Lots of words are connected but have more than one understanding. One of my fav's is 'fob' which means the both the tassle used to get the watch out of the pocket and for the pocket itself. Language is difficult but can be fun.

    And, yes, when I look up a word, I tend to highlight it so that it is easy to find again and others get a wry smile out of the fun when they see the highlights.
    #21
  2. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

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    Dear Thread Readers might want to consult the MSF site for more info and/or read "Proficient Motorcycling" for better tips? There is a lot more about this than first meets the eye. Whether or not the pillion is a rank noob or experienced? Whether or not the pilot has had pillion experience with this particular pillion or any pillion?

    One of the great joys of riding is introducing riding to a rank noob and not spoiling the moment, or the rest of the noob's outlook, for life. Huge responsibility and not ever to be taken lightly. Riders often get only one chance with any given pillion. "Don't screw the pooch." (line from "The Right Stuff" book)

    Another great joy is to take an experienced pillion for a ride and recieving the comment post-ride, "Damn that was great! I didn't know that it could be that good? Other bikers don't do it half that good! ...yada yada"

    From my POV, the vast majority of bikers do not take the honor of the opportunity near seriously enough. The moment is so dear to me that I bother to rehearse my pre-ride conversation emphasizing the fun of it with light humor and as much grace as I can muster. There is a 3x5 index card checklist for this residing in my tankbag so that I can assure myself that I forgot nothing when the moment presents itself.

    So, lets go over the OP's linked article.
    1- Patience: It is about the pillion and not the pilot. Don't rush things. Listen carefully. Lots of bikers do not want the hassle of a pillion. No problem. Do not give rides if you are not interested. If interested, do the very best job possible. Half-assed measures give h-a results which are unacceptable for the risk. Many problems can easily be avoided or dealt with right at this juncture. I usually take 20-40minutes for this moment. There is absolutely zero agressive riding for as long as it takes to get the pillion comfortable on the bike. And absolutely no pushing of the pillion's comfort zone until the pillion actually requests to 'go a little faster'. There is a lot more to this little bit but it is tiring to type it all out here.
    2- Pre-flight inst: "Look over inside shoulder and far thru the corner" is good. Adding "enjoy the scenery on the straights" helps. If the pillion's eyes are doing what they should be doing, taping the speedo is unnecessary. I tell the pillion that squirming around on the straights is ok. Their butt should be inert and relaxed like a sack of potatoes in the turns. The 'hand on the tank' for suport and braking is ok and it is ok if they want to lean on me. If I am smooth enough, any pillion falling on me is usually delightful.
    3- pillion's feelings: scared, loss of control; If a biker is not willing to be a pillion him/herself, there is no reason for them to expect a pillion would ever want to go with that biker. To get a good idea of what feelings a pilliom might have, be a pillion long enough to figure out how you are going to address those problems in another.
    4- chemical assist: WTF!!! My pillions are stone cold straight and sober or they do not ride with me. If it takes chemicals to get them to relax and enjoy the ride, one is doing it allllll wrong. Good luck with that to those who opt for this tactic.
    5- Deploy Mass Distraction: Not a totally bad idea but one has to be careful about it. I like the idea of a comm. I do not use one and rely on some basic hand/touch signals. Those using comms usually sort out what works for them and what doesn't. I think using a comm with a rank noob could be problematic but have no direct experience. I hope those who know will share what they got on this bit? I prefer to have my pillion be involved in the ride and not feel like him/her is baggage. I wanna know that they feel paticipatory in the travel and have duties and have to make a contribution. Thus, they are distracted in a good way. First, I teach 'em how to wave and tell'em to wave at everyone who looks like they could use the cheer. Second, I tell'em that I can't see all the scenery due to safe riding duties and they must be able to remember the neat stuff and tell me what I missed at the end of the ride. The pillion should now have enough to do (positive distraction) that being bored and getting scared is a way more remote possibility.
    6- Safety Gear: the OP put his part here. I usually do it as a combo of Step 1 and step 2. Also, somewhere in the pre-flight, I take the time to teach the pillions how I want them to get on/off the bike. The noobs are e-z cause they don't know nuttin. Experienced pillions sometimes take the process for granted, have bad habits, and miss-time things. While I want them to do as they are used to doing, I also want to be prepared for whatever that might be. It is a good time to comm and sort procedures out. There should be some Q&A both ways on all this stuff.
    7- A smooth ride pays dividens like nothing else. For practice, set a styro-cup 3/4 full of water on your gas tank in a parking lot. Take it for a ride w/o spilling it. THAT kind of smooth. Learn to brake as hard as possible w/o spilling it. Practice all the slow ride moves. Exactly how hard can you accelerate w/o spilling it? Put a 10lb bag of potatoes sans tie-downs on the pillion seat and ride the parking lot as hard as possible w/o losing it. Stack a 2nd bag on the first and try that. Think that you are hot-shit smooth, try a 3rd bag?
    8- Building trust & confidence in the pillion is THEEE sole object of the effort. Anything that lessens trust&confidence has to be avoided. There is a lot more to it and the thread could go a long way dealing with various issues and tactics to get the job done.

    I like my pillions to be MSF grads. They know more and are easy to ride with. They get a lot more out of one of my rides than rank noobs and experienced-with-no-education pillions. If something happens and I can't pilot, they might be able to ride/pilot for me?

    I like to check-in with my pillion...a lot. Every traffic light has me asking: having a good time? Need a break for the potty or a cramp or tobacco or hydration...? Are you warm/cool enough?

    It is mentally tiring to ride so safe and smooth all the time with a pillion. I like to stop often and take a break from my own stressful part. Pillions see this as a confidence building moment that I care so much that they are having a good and safe time. The ride should be so smooth and so safe that the pillion never gets a clue that there might have been a close moment.

    Somewhere on this forum is a pic of a nice 2-up couple on a Tri. Sprint ST. They are railing thru a turn and each has a knee down. From my POV, that pillion is way more co-rider than pillion. The best part is that when each gets somewhere that they both like a lot, they are not alone in the moment. I hope to get there some day too.
    #22
  3. Jacl-Kampuchea

    Jacl-Kampuchea Booze Merchant

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    Meh,

    I tell my passengers to make like a bag of potatoes. If they do then they are more or less invisible. If they don't then I slowly and carefully drive to their destination and refuse to carry them again:deal

    Personally, I cannot be a pillion passenger, or in the front seat of a car that I am not the driver of, with just a few exceptions. I keep on looking for imaginary pedals, levers etc. .

    I trust two people in the world to ride pillion with and three to co-pilot a car with. We are similar rider/drivers.
    #23
  4. Bill 310

    Bill 310 Poser Emeritus

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    My wife and I have been riding solo for quite some time and when we decided to tour in Europe we decided to ride two up.

    We had done little riding two up and rode to California, got a new seat built for the KTM 990, installed a back rest and then spent two days at the Streetmasters two up riding school. We shipped the 990 to Europe and it now lives there.

    http://www.streetmasters.info/index.html

    This was an excellent investment in riding harmony

    We also have an intercom system on the bike.

    Works well and the lessons taught us to ride well and safely two-up
    #24
  5. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

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    Thanx for that info, I have emailed them for more specifics.
    #25
  6. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

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    Got this in a pretty quick response.

    "Yes we do have 2-up instruction available, but it is only for 1 day (not 2). We call it Teamwork on Two Wheels.


    We conduct the 2-up at the same time we are having our regularly scheduled class on the dates listed on our website.


    The cost is $440 (includes both rider and co-rider). If you are interested, please let me know and I will send you a special link for the 2-up sign-up."

    So, I asked a bunch more Q's in reply. We'll see what come back.
    #26
  7. Bill 310

    Bill 310 Poser Emeritus

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    My wife is a good rider (Prudhoe Bay, Inuvik, etc). However, one point in her riding career she rode bike that didn't fit her well and she dropped an 1100R 10 + times in tight u-turns.

    This kind of event can cause some confidence issues and when we rode two -up and I was making slow tight maneuvers she would really tense up and throw the bike's handling off. I could see tis being a real issue riding in traffic in Italy and in the mountains.

    Incidentally in case you didn't know Walt Fulton who runs StreetMasters has a pretty good riding bio as do the other instructors. You would have seen Walt in On Any Sunday

    http://canyonchasers.net/reviews/program/streetmasters/

    The course really helped her and therefore us enjoy two -up. Incidentally I think ours was the first KTM 990 to participate in the course.

    Here is a video of us riding two up in the Alps as my wife films the road.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sq1DsUwPi70

    If you take the course post up
    #27
  8. Zeid

    Zeid Adventurer

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    The big problem I have is riding with a pillion offroad. I weigh under 200 pounds and she's only about 120 after a big meal, but offroad things get more tricky. Biggest problem is my steering always feels vague, like no matter what I do the front wheel might tip and send us down. I've been told to get more off-road oriented and or let out some of the air in my 80/20's. They are the stock tires the R1200GS Adventure come with. I've also noticed unless I'm in sport mode on my bike with a pillion it crouches down in the back and doesn't like to get up and go so much as some other bikes.
    #28
  9. kaosbandit

    kaosbandit Been here awhile

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    Nice response! Thanks!

    #29
  10. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    There were some interesting things in that link not usually discussed.

    If you want you passenger to continue to ride with you, mental stimulation and comfort are the two biggest things to consider. Passengers usually need more frequent rest stops than the rider. Don't make a big deal out of it or try to push until the tank is empty, just stop and enjoy the scenery. Helmet comms have been great for my wife and I. Before we had them, she was just stuck back there to wonder where we were going or when we would stop. Even now that she has her own bike, they are very useful to us. We warn each other about hazards, make decisions about stopping points, interesting looking trails, or whatever.
    #30
  11. drrod1

    drrod1 Been here awhile

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    Great post and summary of the situation. If you want your pillion to enjoy the ride, ride with you again, and appreciate the sport, then keep their comfort in mind. If you don't really care, then at least care enough not to have them get on in the first place. That way you won't give them the wrong impression.


    We use a comm (Sena) and find it much better than without but YMMV.

    Rod
    #31
  12. TassieMark

    TassieMark Been here awhile

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    How true. My wife came with me on a trip from Venice to Paris and return in 2011. We started with just a small cushion on the pillion, but after the 1st day it was obvious that it wasn't enough. We then bought an extra large cushion but the damage was done and she never recovered. I thought ( to myself ) she was amply padded in that area without the cushion. She refused to accompany me in 2012 and 2013, but we are going to try again next year on a short trip around Wales and southern England. We will only be on the bike an hour a day so I'm confident all will be well. I've still got that cushion.

    [​IMG]

    Cheers,
    Mark
    #32
  13. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

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    Today, I recieved a reply from Walt Fulton to a bunch of Q's that I asked. It is not a basics course and participants are supposed to meet some mileage/experience standards in order to qualify. No dirt is involved. I humbly suggest that interested persons direct their Q's to Walt at the web site eddress. Any participants might want to post a Ride Review of the course in this thread where it might be of note and help others to make decisions.
    #33
  14. ibafran

    ibafran villagidiot

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    Here's a thought that is new to me. If the ride is going correctly, the pillion feels as if it's cuddle time with great scenery.

    Also, part of my 'routine' is to teach the pillion how to give and recieve a 'biker hug'. If she is having a great time and wants to express some appreciation, she can give a nice little biker hug anytime as long as it is not during a corner. And I can return the favor at stops by grabbing her hands and wrapping her arms around me for a few moments. One of the most fun times I had with this involved a remote ride where all the sectional crossroads had stop signs. She got a longish biker hug at every sign which averaged about a mile apart for a long distance.

    Caveat: This sort of thing can lead to ballroom dance lessons on the downside. But pairs ice skating/dancing on the upside. Go ahead and laugh. But remember where you read this prediction/warning.
    #34
  15. orangebear

    orangebear Long timer

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    1 of my rules is the pillion has the gear if there is not the gear for 2. because if you ride like a fool and crash then you get the road burn and not them.(my wife has full gear know and aways wears it )

    2. teach them hand signs for me i pat my wife on the leg and if she is ok she will squeeze me with her legs so she can keep a grip of the grab rail.

    or if i am going to be going fast i let her know my pushing knees closer to me.

    if she needs me to pull over she squeezes me 2 or 3 time with legs in to to my waist.

    3. i tell them to sit there and dont move just keep there body in line with mine
    #35
  16. Nadgett

    Nadgett Been here awhile

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    Finally, sombody who gets it!

    :clap
    #36
  17. /dev/null

    /dev/null Been here awhile

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    [​IMG]
    #37
  18. gsstampeder

    gsstampeder Long timer

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    Be prepared for more pee stops
    #38
  19. DarthJ

    DarthJ Been here awhile

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    pillion

      Use Pillion in a sentence
    pil·lion

    [pil-yuh[​IMG][​IMG]n] Show IPA
    noun 1. a pad or cushion attached behind a saddle, especially as a seat for a woman.

    2. a pad, cushion, saddle, or the like, used as a passenger seat on a bicycle, motor scooter, etc.

    3. a passenger's saddle or seat behind the driver's seat on a motorcycle.



    Origin:
    1495–1505; < Scots Gaelic pillinn or Irish pillín, diminutive of peall skin, rug blanket, MIr pell < Latin pellis skin


    from dictionary.com. similar at merriam-webster's too
    #39
  20. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Been here awhile

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    Oh dear, another semantic pedantic…… Words have a life; some people should get one too.

    [​IMG]
    #40