Children as Pillion? WORTH THE RISKS?

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Lunatik, Mar 17, 2011.

  1. Lunatik

    Lunatik Been here awhile

    May 28, 2007
    Just had a difference of opinions with parents about taking our child on the bike. They feel it is a completely insane thing to do. :huh:huh
    Wife is a new rider, I am 30 year+ experienced, IBA rider. Child would be with me on bike, not wifey.:1drink

    Thoughts would be well appreciated here.... We cannot be the first to experience this backlash from the "grand-parents" :kboom

    GOSTAZ Adventurer

    Jul 10, 2008
    Rockville, MD
    Your kids, on your bike? There is a short answer, but it probably ain't politically expedient... sooo...

    Don't know if this is helpful, but I give the kids in my neighborhood rides. Short little hops. Usuallly up to the school and back. We might go 20 mph tops. I usually start out thinking it will be one kid, one trip, turns into 6 kids, two trips apiece. I have my own little munchkin fan club. There was one Mom, and there was no way in the bad place she was letting her little spawn on that big scary bike. I am not one to push, but this kid WANTED a ride. I offered Mom a ride, with the idea that maybe she feared what she did not understand. Had to offer it three times, but she finally accepted. I really felt bad for her son, but to his credit, he was patient and cool. Took Mom for a little spin, and she came back smiling. Little dude got his ride. And he is usually at the front of the line now, with Mom's blessing. Story has a happy ending.

    I call this little public service "Spreading the Sickness". I have met too many adults that are terrified of bikes. I have a half-dozen pre-teen kids in the neighborhood that are not gonna grow up terrified. Makes me happy. I have loved motorcycles as long as I can remember, because I got introduced to them by patient, cool people. When I have the chance to intro someone to motorcycles? Low key, slow little ride first.... then, when they feel comfortable? They will let you know.

    Grandparents can be a delicate situation, but I think you have to find a way to make them "put up or shut up". Take them for a ride or at least offer it. If they are not willing to experience or evaluate your rig and your riding? Then they kinda have no credibility.

    Hope it works out. Sharing a ride with a kid? Kind of a neat bond, providing the kid enjoys him'/her self. Good Luck!
  3. orangebear

    orangebear Long timer

    Aug 12, 2010
    dumfrie scotland
    i was on the back of my dads bike from 11year old. and now at 24 i have started to take my girl freind on the back on my bike and i am learning with every ride about carrying pillions and she is learning what to do.

    if they are in gear and now what to do it should be fine. just go short runs and then go out longer ones and if you need to fit a head set.
  4. SteelRain

    SteelRain Beer Cooled

    Jul 18, 2007
    San Diego
    I am an IBA rider also, but don't think that has anything to do with a skill level (sorry, I believe that most of the style if riding is the easy part of riding)

    That said, my dad put me on the back of his bike when I was 3, and I have been addicted ever since, I got my first bike the next year for "christmas" (in May) and never looked back. In Kentucky there were no helmet laws then, and there might as well not be today.

    If your child is old enough to maintain the focus needed to ride as a passenger, want to ride with you, and you have the funds to buy the VERY BEST in protective gear than by all means go for it. There is risk in everything, growing up we saw/knew a few kids who didn't grow up, the two I remember the most were a fall from a tree and playing HS baseball (line drive to the head). My future wife and I have decided to I will get to buy a Hack so that we can take the kid with us once he/she is old enough (we are thinking about 4 years old) then maybe around 6 or so throw them on the back if they want.

    Racingwise, I have seen kids crash hard at junior level races and the parents never thought twice about the paramedics slicing off $5k in gear (no joke the EMT asked the dad if they should cut it off or slide it off to save money :huh) I also was at the track when a 12 year old died in a minor lowside.

    I cannot stress this enough the following:
    1) Gear, get the best and ATGATT, kids don't always know what they are getting into. It is your responsibility to mitigate the risk. My fiance didn't when I invited her to ride with me for the first time, but we went to some shops and found gear she liked that was at or near the best available.

    2) Focus. My girl did a 2up ride with me on the track also, she loved it and learned alot about being a passenger and how much her movements effect the bike. Kids will not know this instinctively, you really should ensure your child has the focus and start with SHORT trips to the store, McDonald's, etc and work your way up.

    3) The dangerous riding (at least IMHO) is traffic; the stop and go stuff in town, make sure you (30+ years you should) and your passenger know what to do. I would suggest a helmet to helmet communication system and if possible get one for your wife also and have her ride behind. You can communicate to your child and she can let you know if junior is loosing focus and may need a short break.

    I don't have any kids, but I have been thinking about this stuff for a while now and look forward to the responses of others also.
  5. LuciferMutt

    LuciferMutt Rides slow bike slow

    Aug 19, 2008
    New(er) Mexico
    If you do a search for kids/pillion/children/passenger type tags you'll get a lot of hits on this subject.

    Naturally this is a biased place :lol3 but most of us agree no kids on the bike until their feet can reach the passenger foot pegs and fully gear up the little tykes.
  6. Flashmo

    Flashmo Whatever...

    Dec 21, 2008
    Vagabond Hippie
    If they can sit still for the length of the ride, you are good to go.
  7. atk_nut

    atk_nut and atk_nut_wife

    Jul 13, 2007
    Duncan, BC
    We've ridden with our kids for years now.Some approve,some do not.I let my kids be driven to school on the school bus.I've never met the driver and there are no seat belts:eek1
    I don't like them riding their bicyles on the road because of other drivers.They understand because of what they have seen on our trips.
    Auto Com and gear is all I can say.
    PM me if you have more questions
  8. Aussijussi

    Aussijussi Long timer

    Oct 29, 2009
    I didn't take my girl pillion untill she was 12 i think. My other daughter is 9 now and i wouldnt take her with me yet. Then again i am bit of a worry wart, when it come's to my kids. I think when they're under 10, it's bit early, you wont know what they get up too,while sitting in the back, if something happen's you'd never forgive yourself.
  9. lemieuxmc

    lemieuxmc Banned

    Mar 19, 2009
    East La Jolla... it's just Clairemont!!
    I used to ride my kids around the neighborhood and out on the trail, and sometimes people would freak out; "My God that's so DANGEROUS!".

    These same folks would let their kids ride a bicycle on the streets, or play tackle football, or let 13 year old girls hang out with friends in a mega-mall, or give them a fast car for their 16th birthday.

    I taught Middle School for 8 years, so I know from personal experience that my kids were a lot safer on the back of my motorcycle with me, than if they would be out on their own or with a bunch of other kids.
  10. rspennac

    rspennac Super n00b

    Jan 21, 2008
    South East Michigan
    My kids are 8 and 11. I take them for rides as often as they want to. The 11 year old doesn't like the big roads so we just ride where we can keep it under 20 ish.

    My 8 year old like to go out on the "real" roads. He hasn't been on the freeway yet. There is no need for that. Both of them touch the foot pegs fine but my concern is if we go on a long easy ride oneof them might get a little sleepy. I make sure that we talk alot so I can keep track of this.

    The kind of crap I did on a BMX bike when I was 8-11... and then I got a mini bike... I'm glad they like to go for rides.

    DADODIRT Long timer

    Jun 25, 2004
    Durango,CO(not quite Purgatory)
    I'm just about ready to get son number 2 on the back of the GS. He is 6 and can touch the passenger pegs. His brother is 11 and has been riding on the back since he was 6 or 7.
    Besides being ATGATT, I keep them tethered to me via an old climbing harness and quick draws. At least for the first year.
    We also have a system of 'taps' to let me know what he needs.
    One tap-gotta pee
    Two taps-tired
    Three taps-slow down
    I also make sure he knows what I am doing. I'll give him a tap on the knee when I am going to accelerate into a pass or before I slow for a turn.

    As for the grandparents.....whose kids are they?
    I sure as h&!! don't ask my folks what to do with my kids.

    My dad and I have ridden together a few times, but I never rode on the back with him driving. He has been a passenger on my bike, though.
  12. PT Rider

    PT Rider Been here awhile

    Aug 29, 2009
    NW Washington State

    How old, how tall, how obedient?

    Do their helmets fit exactly right, and you'll need to buy them new helmets every year as their heads grow. Can their neck structure at this age support the weight of a truly protective helmet in case of a wreck.

    Imagine the worst. Some fool in a car does something stupid and you hit the ground. How will the child fare?
  13. Rad

    Rad Done riding

    Sep 24, 2001
    I did very little of kids as pillon while radwife and I raised our two. The reason, I knew I could never live with myself if anything happened to one of them on a ride with me.

    As a matter of fact, Radwife and I did very few long rides together during those years for a slightly different reason. You know, the President and Vicepresident never on the same plane sort of concept.

    It worked for us, tiz' a very personal choice
  14. randyo

    randyo Long timer

    Nov 17, 2007
    Northern NewEngland
    back in 1955, I went for my first ride on the tank on my uncle's Harley

    in 1982, I took my son for his first ride on a tank when he was 5 years old

    I wouldn't have any problem taking a child for a ride

    I don't see any more risk than letting a child play in a tree house
  15. Bucho

    Bucho DAMNrider

    Dec 10, 2006
    Was on a camping trip w/ several other familys when I took my son for his first ride. My wife actually suggested it. He was 2.5 yrs old. My wife got on the back and he sat between us. It was a pretty deserted dirtroad w/ less then 6-7 cars a day driving down it. I took my son then I ended up giving rides to most of the other kids.

    It will be a while before I take my son on any real rides, but a few times I've hauled my bike over to a dirtroad area and have taken my wife and son for a spin.

    My son has fallen asleep seveal times on the bike. But for now he only sits between the wife and I.
  16. PeterW

    PeterW Long timer

    Nov 11, 2005
    Gold Coast
    If the gear fits and they can reach the pegs why not.

    My oldest two kids aren't at all interested in bikes, but the younger two have the bug.

    It's had it's amusing moments - I had to take my teenage daughter to guitar lessons on the bike - she's pretty easy on the eyes ;), add the jacket and guitar and I think I destroyed the transmissions on more hoons cars in 20 back and forward trips than the police have managed with 5 years of "seize and crush" policies ;)

  17. Blur

    Blur Gone.

    Jun 2, 2010
    Here are guidelines that I have used with my son over the last few years:
    - appropriately dressed (over-the-ankle footwear, long pants, long sleeves, gloves, full-face helmet)
    - must be able to reach footpegs
    - must understand the importance of holding on and not falling asleep
    - And for me.....the first few months, stayed within 10 miles of house within 45 mph zones (so that he could get used to the experience)

    Lastly, in my opinion, those "toddler belts" that some people use to strap their kids to themselves are dangerous. In the same vein as "dress for the crash, not the ride", could you imagine having your child strapped to you as you're tumbling down the road?

    A 4 mile trip to school in 35 and 45 mph zones when he was 6:


    A 80+ mile trip to an OHV trail just last year (7 or 8):


    I had a friend trailer his bike down for me:

  18. Zerk


    Jan 23, 2010
    Straight jacket memories, and sedative highs
    I wouldn't do it if you or your wife have been spayed or neutered.
  19. mrxinpa

    mrxinpa Just Get Out and Ride !!!

    Feb 21, 2009
    NEPA Right at Base of Blue Mountain Ski Area .5 mi
    Excellent Topic. Thanks to everyone for offering their opinion.

    We live out in the country on a beautiful section of road right at the base of a ski area. We have bike traffic all summer long. I have a 2yr old who , Runs to the window everytime a bike passes. He really lights up every time he hears me crank up on of the steeds. The wife and I have had to conversations about when is a good time to:
    A) get him his own bike (4-5)
    B) take him for a real ride. (we agreed on 4-5 depending on a few things)

    My dad bought me my first bike at 7 and I briefly remember my first ride with my uncle at 5-6? @ 47 I've been riding a long time and feel that all the information here has been very useful. Putting a child on the tank of of a KTM450 and riding in circles in the grass is one thing but ploping them behind me on the Strom would be something totally different. There I agree with those who state the kids feet should reach the pegs and ATGATT.
  20. DAKEZ

    DAKEZ Long timer

    Mar 18, 2007
    Begin Op Zoom
    I don't see the risk. Done right riding is not dangerous. :deal

    If they are big enough to fit and old enough to follow instructions they are good to go.