Two-up Touring.

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by Zeid, Oct 13, 2013.

  1. Zeid

    Zeid Adventurer

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    I figured this wasn't really the same as "Bikes and Wives" as it's more than just pictures- of which I would absolutely LOVE to see (anything involving two-up please).

    I'm just curious how many of you have your significant other on the back of the bike as opposed to their own when you go touring and how that works out for you. I've always ridden solo but my sweetheart has gotten about as addicted to being out on two wheels as I am. She doesn't have a license or bike at the moment, something on the to-do list but for now she enjoys going along with me.

    I often question if the R1200GSA is a good bike for two up touring, some times it feels awkward and the back end feels a bit bouncy and the bike seems a little less than stable than others I've ridden two up but not the worst either (maybe I just prefer the ol' GSA solo). I'm questioning how well it will do with the panniers filled up and both of us on it. Neither one of us is super sized, I'm about 190lbs and she's about 120.

    I've thought of getting a bike like the road king or better yet have not been able to take my eye off that new Chief-Vintage (with the bags and windscreen) as it looks a bit more stable for two up riding, is it just me? Just random thoughts that shoot through my head.

    I'm really curious how it works out for you and how comfortable you are exploring, how stable you feel, maybe any advice or tips you could give me, stories and of course pictures involving anything two up would be fantastic. :D
    #1
  2. The Hag

    The Hag Daily rider

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    My wife and I have toured extensively on a 1500 Gold Wing before we got our first r1200gs. We now have an '09 GSA. It has a BMW tank bag, Micatech Pilot cases, and a small Pelican case. I have found that too much weight on the luggage rack is bad for handling, hence the small Pelican case which has a Stealth backrest bolted to it's top.

    The GSA is great for two-up, we do take back-country byways sometimes (which probably explains the shock issues with the Honda). The best thing I've done for handling is to call up Ted Porter at the beemershop and order custom shocks (Yacugar). The ESA was nice, but I could never get the rear preload where I needed it. I don't overload the bike, total weight of us with gear, plus bags, plus stuff in the bags, loaded for a typical four week trip is 430 pounds.

    You can ride some pretty rough stuff with these bikes loaded up, but I do my best to keep the heavy stuff close to the center of the bike. Of course, my wife is a co-rider more than a passenger, which makes a huge difference. An intercom helps, too.

    If you are going to tour with a passenger practice emergency braking, it is much harder to swerve a fully loaded bike. Include communication, I say "deer" as I squeeze the brakes and brace my knees to the tank, she instinctively braces her knees against me which keeps us both from ending up on top of the tank. Start with slow speeds and work up. Do this a few times every time you ride together until it becomes instinctive. Also, slow down, and do whatever it takes to make her feel safe and comfortable. If she's willing to take the MSF rider course that will help tremendously, even if she never rides her own bike.

    We'll, if you've read this far let me know if you have specific questions and I'll try to keep the answers shorter than this response.
    :ear
    #2
  3. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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  4. Full Power

    Full Power Long timer

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    THe "Stainless Steel Pillion" is around 115 or so with boots and helmet.
    I cannot tell she is on back of F800gs, have to reach back and check on her.
    500, ,600 mile days are easy travel .
    Took a 2500 mile weekend ride to Prudhoe Bay, never heard any complaints,, except the mosquitoes were particular fierce this year.
    ...If she wants to travel, packing her on back will not be any trouble.
    #4
  5. Zeid

    Zeid Adventurer

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    Thanks for the posts and information so far folks! I agree, I can't seem to ever get the preload right for a passenger. It seems way too soft and squishy. When I'm on my own it feels much better, but I love having her come along with me and she loves it as well. How much would those shocks set me back? Seems a bit expensive. I figured maybe the GSA is just a bit top heavy for two up touring.

    Again, thanks for the advice and posts so far everyone, keep them coming, and some pics as well please! :D
    #5
  6. AlanCT

    AlanCT The Byronic Man

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    My first gen Concours was a good two-up bike. There was plenty of room for my wife to sit in relative comfort without crowding me, and the Concours was such a pack mule that having a passenger was barely was noticeable. As for suspension, I would set the rear shock to its hardest setting but the biggest advantage was that it was such a nose-heavy bike to begin with.

    She prefers the Ural hack now though.
    #6
  7. Maggot12

    Maggot12 U'mmmm yeaah!!

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    I just sold a CBF1000 that my wife and I did some weekend camping trip. I adjusted the rear shock and that was it. Couldn't tell she was back there and lots of room. I could feel the braking being a little slower at first, but you quickly learn. Everything else was great. I love when she rides with me.
    Gonna hunt down a FJR soon and it'll be more than capable.

    A stiffer spring on the GSA and you should be fine.
    #7
  8. rocker59

    rocker59 diplomatico di moto

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    Rebound damping is probably the biggest issue.

    I've carried a pillion rider on almost every ride over the past 20,000 +/- miles.

    [​IMG]

    No road couches for us. :deal
    #8
  9. wb57

    wb57 Long timer

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    Just picked up a 2010 Concours primarily for two up riding. Haven't had much of a chance to explore it all just yet, but the handling difference is almost insignificant with two compared to solo. I did put passenger footpeg lowering brackets on it and she said it made a HUGE difference. She's 5'9" and didn't really feel cramped prior, but they allow a lot more comfort.
    #9
  10. Dan-M

    Dan-M Long timer

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    My wife finds the back of my '11GS very comfortable. She was used to an RT so there is a little less seat and a little less weather protection but it is no problem. The handling is fine with her there as long as I adjust the suspension to compensate. A top box or back rest adds some security.

    I've never been a fan of cruisers especially for touring. The pillion may be plenty comfortable but I don't like the forward control riding position.
    #10
  11. txwanderer

    txwanderer Been here awhile

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    Can't comment on the GSA, but my wife has been a near constant companion over the past 10-12 years. Can't remember exactly when she climbed on and said "take me for a ride", but it was on a Star/Yamaha Tour Deluxe. 2 Ventures, a Goldwing and now a Victory XCT, later she and I have a little over 300K that I can account for riding Texas and the Gulf coast.
    As for the two bike thing, it isn't our thing She has no interest in taking the controls. She enjoys looking around and the quality time we spend in the saddle.
    What ever works for two might not be what works for YOU.
    As for the feel, well I never notice her unless a hard stop and she isn't ready. Nothing to get worked up over though. Talk to her and see how she feels about the ride and the accomodations.Don't limit yourself to a certain bike. You may lose performance in a good 2-upper, but gain a whole lot.

    I wouldn't change the past few years for anything I can immagine right now.
    #11
  12. purplepeopleeater

    purplepeopleeater The Official VW Nut

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    Good thread, I am going to try and buy a GS next spring for the wife to come along with me on my trips (good to have someone along to keep the pipes clean:rofl)

    She likes the goldwings, I do not for some reason.
    #12
  13. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    My previous 2 up bike was a 95 R1100GS. It worked pretty well but met it's demise in a high speed encounter with Bambi. After that I went a few years without a bike suitable for riding 2 up. After selling the GS and a couple of other bikes, my wife suggested we get something comfortable 2 up. My wife is not really into riding long distances and likes to bring along way more than is practical on a bike on long trips. My solution was to get something easily loaded into the back of my pickup while still being fun and comfortable 2 up. Instead of going big and heavy like most people do for 2 up riding, I went the other way.

    Here's my 2 up " touring" bike:

    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]


    [​IMG]

    244cc and 326 pounds dry, it works pretty well. It could use a little more power and better rear suspension but handling is actually less affected by a passenger than most of the larger bikes I have owned. With it's light weight and short wheelbase it's a blast on a twisty road. Eventually I'd like to get something slightly larger but this works for now.
    #13
  14. blue72beetle

    blue72beetle Look at my Wee

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    [​IMG]

    After doing 718 miles in one day, I decided to sell it and get a DL650.
    #14
  15. klaviator

    klaviator Long timer

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    Last time I was at Deals Gap there was a couple there touring on a Triumph 675:huh
    #15
  16. High Country Herb

    High Country Herb Adventure Connoiseur

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    Exactly. Does the GSA have dampening adjustment?

    I noticed the bouncing the last time my wife and I rode 2-up on my Aprilia. At the next stop, I gave the rear shock 2 more clicks on the dampener and the issue was gone. I didn't even need tools, just a dime to turn the slotted adjustment knob. :clap

    The best thing I have purchased for 2-up riding has been the intercom. Since it is wireless, it even works on separate bikes (for a limited range).
    #16
  17. davesride

    davesride Adventurer

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    My Mrs and I have done quite a bit of two up touring. We have a 2012 Vstrom 650 ADV. No issues at all. Lots of room with the stock cases, she did buy us a Corbin seat though... nice touch. As far as the riding goes... I just have to remind her once and a while not to lean into the turns but just to follow the bike, then all is good. I am 220, she is 115. I never have the suspension cranked to the end front or rear!
    #17
  18. The Hag

    The Hag Daily rider

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    My '05 gs had manually adjustable shocks, preload adjustable front and rear, rebound damping adjustable rear only. I'd max out rear preload for 2-up touring and adjust rebound soft for dirt, and bad roads, firm for super-slab or nicely paved twisties.

    My '09 gs ad w/ESA was too soft when set for 2-up, tried using the off-road settings, but that put too much preload on the front. It has three rebound damping settings which was nice to change on the fly. The Yacugars I have on this bike now are sprung for the weights I carry, and the sag is properly adjusted. I opted for fully adjustable front and rear shocks with a hydraulic preload adjuster on the rear with 15mm of adjustment, I have yet to max out the rear preload. You may or may not want the fully adjustable front shock, I am a control "aficionado" (freak), and the extra adjustability has allowed me to totally transform this bike's handling. The bike is way more composed, especially when fully loaded 2-up. I paid about $2400 which included a Mudsling. I think you could get a fully adjustable rear and front with rebound damping only for about $1600.

    Good suspension is spendy, but they all seem to cost about the same, depending on options. The Yacugars are steel, which means they shouldn't eat themselves up if I'm traveling and don't get them serviced in a timely fashion, which can happen with the aluminum shocks.

    Can't say enough good about Ted Porter and the www.beemershop.com :clap
    #18
  19. Zeid

    Zeid Adventurer

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    Awesome, thank you for the replies everyone!

    $1600 bucks is a big wad of cash to lay out right now just to be able to ride well two up. :eek1 Is there any other options? As others have said, it feels very soft, very squishy and even the clutch seems a bit out of sorts when I set the ESA to two up. Is there a magical ESA setting I should be zeroing in? When it's just me, the bike is all out ballistic and balanced perfectly. It's not horrible two up, but just feels unstable at times and awkward coming away from a full stop.
    #19
  20. FLX

    FLX Been here awhile

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    i ride a r65 probability 90% of the time with my wife on the back and camping gear, works well. before i owned a 250cc mz wich was as comfortable but a bit to slow with two people and camping gear on it. i think for two up you have to enjoy minimalism otherwise it wont work..
    #20