Tips for a long motorcycle road trip with a pillion

Here are a few tips that would hopefully put to rest some questions on how to ride a motorcycle comfortably with a pillion while also making sure your pillion is comfortable on your adventurous road trip. Most of the tips are based on my experience riding with a pillion on long distance rides as well as being one.

Most wanderlust hungry friends & loads of couples who want to experience adventures on the roads together miss out on the fun of road trips on motorcycles because they just can’t seem to make out how easy or comfortable it would be hitting the road with a pillion.

First off, if your pillion is accompanying you on a relatively longer motorcycle roadtrip for the first time, you need to reassure him or her that you will be riding safe. That being said, riding gear should not only be a pre requisite for the person at the handlebars, but also the pillion.  A good full face helmet & if not a riding jacket & pants, atleast elbow & knee guards are highly advisable. There are easily available online & don’t cost a bomb either.

Tips for the pillion:

  1. Who gets on first

It’s always advisable for the rider to get on the motorcycle first & let him take it off the stand & firmly plant both feet on the ground on either side before you hop on. Ask the rider when he is ready for you to get on the bike. Do the same before getting off- always ask the rider.

  1. Getting on

You’re getting on a machine with 2 wheels with someone doing the balancing act, so try not to use the foot peg as a stirrup. Putting all your weight & standing up on the foot peg to mount the motorcycle will only make it tricky for the rider to maintain the motorcycle upright. The heavier the motorcycle or the shorter the rider, the more complicated the situation becomes when you use the footpeg as a stirrup to mount tit. In most cases like these, the rider is likely to lose balance on the side where you are getting on from.

The ideal way to get on a motorcycle as a pillion when your rider is already on would be to keep strong your left leg on the ground & swing the other leg over the back seat . Once you have your legs on either side, you can hold on to the rider’s shoulders & use the footpeg for the little push up to seat yourself comfortably.

  1. Staying on

Some bikes have pillion handles on either side. When you don’t have these, you have the option to hold on to the rider- ask the rider where would he/she prefer you hold on – the shoulders/ waist so as to prevent disturbing handling of the motorcycle.

Keep in mind the fact that you needn’t hold on too tight with fear, initially you might be pushed back slightly more with acceleration, don’t worry, you will get a hang on how much pressure to hold on with after a few kilometers.The advantage of holding on to the rider is also that you move in the same way as him/ her, helping with the balance. Sitting as close as you can to the rider also helps a great deal in maintaining the motorcycle’s weight & ensuring you enjoy your ride.

  1. Burn rubber, not skin

Another major mistake most pillions make is ignoring the exhaust & forgetting or simply not knowing that it heats up after a few kilometers. Making sure your feet are adequately distanced from the exhaust while getting on & off or even while sitting on the motorcycle can save a lot of agony of burnt ankles.

  1. Don’t panic

Most pillions sweat it out & get panicky while riding on ghats/ downhill or on narrow & steep turns. A suggestion would be to trust the rider & in any situation, not put your feet on the ground when the motorcycle is still in motion & even when it stops. This would only disturb the balance. Pillion seats are sometimes higher up than the rider’s seat and so pillion passengers might not be able to reach the ground- don’t worry, keep your feet steady on the footpegs & ask your rider to let you know when to get off when the motorcycle stops.

Loads of pillions wonder if it’s good to lean with the rider- ideally you should, but it should come across naturally after a few kilometers. Ask your rider to help you with your posture depending o his/ her riding posture & style.


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Tips for the rider:

  1. Brief before starting

It’s easier to brief your pillion before he/ she gets on the bike rather than losing your patience later. Ask the pillion to avoid putting their feet down from the footpegs when the motorcycle at all times, ask the pillion to avoid moving about or shifting  too much & letting you know whenever he/ she gets uncomfortable. Let your pillion know how he/ she can hold on to you during the ride & open up the footpegs for them if they don’t know where they are.

  1. Helmet help

When riding with a pillion, sometimes the pillion’s helmet bumps with the rider’s helmet, which can be pretty disturbing for the rider. What it means I feel, is that your braking & gear shifting needs to be a bit smoother. Switching gears without a drastic change in the speed & doing so quickly can help avoid this little nuisance of  colliding helmets. Braking hard also should be avoided, since the sudden change in momentum will only just push your pillion towards you & inevitably result in colliding helmets.

  1. Communicate with one another

Deciding on some kind of sign language or signals for common things like stop/ need a break/ need to adjust my seating position etc can be very helpful, especially since hearing can be tricky when riding at high speeds & with the helmet on. Communicating with the pillion to understand & make sure he/ she is comfortable becomes essential to ensure both of you are enjoying your motorcycle road trip.

Now that, that’s sorted, find here, ideas for road trips around you :

Road trips from Delhi 

Road trips from Mumbai

Road trips from Kolkata 

Road trips from Bangalore




This post was published by Samiksha Bali

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