Easy rider. Sharing your love of motorcycling with friends, family, and loved ones is one of the most rewarding things a rider can do. It’s not only a way to connect with the people around us, but it’s also a great way to share the addiction and bring more people into the fold. AMERiders has made a list of best Motorcycles for carrying a passenger.
MORE LISTS, MORE OPINIONS
That stops being effective, though, if your pillion passenger has a bad experience. Legs don’t belong around shoulders when you’re on a motorbike, and an uncomfortable seat or frightening ride can turn anyone off the greatest mode of transportation there is.
First, some general tips for selecting a bike and taking a passenger.
As a Rider
One extra-human can add as much as 30 percent to the total weight of your bike and rider package. That has an impact on your agility, your body as a rider, and on stopping distance. You need a balanced chassis, good ergonomics for control (wide bars for example) and a moderate seat height all help. Anything with smooth power delivery and handling will be good too.
As a Passenger
First and foremost, let’s erase any misconception that a sportbike passenger seat is any good. They’re too high, too narrow, too hard, and often, too close to under-seat exhausts to make them comfortable. A flat seat is no good either, as then your passenger’s view is of the back of your helmet. It might be a great helmet, but it’s not a great view. The seat should be thick, smooth (not humped or ridged) and wide.
How You Can Make Passengers More Comfortable
Rule Number 1: Your passenger doesn’t care how many miles per hour you do in how many seconds. They don’t care that you won your last six track days and got bumped to intermediate after two laps. They care that they’re suddenly not protected by steel and airbags and highly aware of their own fragility. So let’s put them at ease.
Start with gear. If you have spare gear, make sure they wear it. Proper pants, boots, jacket, gloves, the lot. If you have no spare gear but insist on taking a passenger: Give. Them. Yours. If you ride a bike in full gear and your passenger has no gear on you are a bad person.
Next, the pep talk. Brief them on how to be a good passenger and what to expect while riding. Make sure they know to NOT hop on or off the bike without first getting verbal confirmation from you that you’re ready. Also, always have them mount and dismount from and to the left side.
I, as a consistent passenger, say “be their backpack”. A person that is planning on taking a passenger should be able to accept a fair amount of weight against their back and through their arms. Again, smooth braking and maneuvering means you don’t have to take a lot of weight. If they’re not comfortable with that level of physical proximity, ask that they keep their body in line with the bike at all times.
Ride smoothly while they’re on board, short-shifting to make gear changes as smooth as possible. Dragging a little back brake at low speed can help with stability and smoothness too. Avoid big inputs to the throttle, brakes or steering and remember, if their helmet taps yours from behind, it’s because you’re not riding smooth enough.
If your bike has the facility for doing so, adjust the suspension (front and rear) to handle the extra weight. At a minimum, crank up the preload. Some modern bikes with electronic suspension have preset modes for passengers. Use them.
Now that’s out of the way, on with the list!
Honda Gold Wing
Honda’s Gold Wing. End list. Seriously, there is no better bike for a passenger in my humble opinion. Passengers can, and do, (but shouldn’t) fall asleep in the supportive rear seat. The Gold Wing has armrests, heating, cooling and is more comfortable than my Ikea sofa. Honda’s engines are barely noticeable, and there’s even an entertainment system.
Ural Gear Up
Sidecars are a lot like bow ties: They’re very cool in the eyes of everybody. The Ural is the ultimate in passenger comfort because they’re comfortably cocooned in a sidecar. Your buddy will have uninterrupted vision, a sense of adventure, and a little blanket over their legs for warmth. Dogs love sidecars too.
Kawasaki Concours 14
If you’re looking for something a bit more potent for your passenger’s enjoyment then the Kawasaki Concours 14 packs a lot of power in a surprisingly comfortable package. The chassis is well balanced, and the seat is wide, soft and comfortable. It’s a large sport-tourer so there is plenty of room for both rider and passenger.
BMW R 1250 GS
This flagship adventure bike archetype is smooth, confident and built for true multi-purpose use. BMW’s Telelever front suspension eliminates brake dive and the shaft drive delivers power smoothly. The seat is well staggered, not too high, not too low, and the available electric suspension has modes for pillion. Wide bars for control and one of the most stable chassis on the road add to passenger comfort.
Suzuki Burgman 650
It’s a scooter, and that’s the point. Smooth automatic transmission, punchy 650 cc motor, smooth handling and unquestionably passenger-friendly comfort all add up to excellent passenger experience. Large scooters are commonly used as taxis in Europe, further proving my point.
Triumph Bonneville T120
Retro classics are cool. Triumph makes some of, if not the best, retro classics around. The Bonneville T120 is a great passenger bike purely because it’s one that is more likely than many others to attract passengers. The seat is also comfortable as all get out. My daughter is forbidden to ride on the back (and is too young anyway) but I used to push her two miles to school each day on a bike. She gave the Bonny rave reviews. There probably isn’t a more appealing bike out there to inexperienced passengers. We’d also accept the W800 or a Royal Enfield.
Do you guys have to put this bike in every list?” If we want it to be a good list: yes. Easily adjustable preload: check. Good ergonomics: Check. Smooth Honda power delivery: Check. Big grab handles so they don’t have to touch you if they don’t want? Checkmate.
Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Ultra Classic
If it must be made in America, Harley’s Electra Glide Ultra Classic is the bike for you. The Ultra is probably the second most common bike passengers fall asleep on unless of course, you’re cranking the massive sound system. The Milwaukee 8 engine delivers a pleasing built-in massage too.
Suzuki V-Strom 650
Big stopping power on a medium-sized bike that’s built for versatility makes Suzuki’s V-Strom 650 a great option for two-up riding. The ergonomics are just right, but it’s the balance of agility and comfort that sets the smaller ‘Strom apart.
Whatever Bike You Own
Even if you’re bike isn’t on this list, when you find someone who wants to come out riding with you: take them. Take them multiple times and then one day take them on the back of your bike to the DMV so they can get their license too. Any time you put someone on your bike in a safe, responsible, considerate manner, you grow our industry.
~And as always…
~Live Free Ride Hard~
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And as always don’t forget to send us your stories, pictures, and events for posting to GALLERY.AMERIDERS @ GMAIL.COM and we will post them for you. The more people that know about your event the better and we are offering free advertising. We would also love to hear about your rides and love to see those bikes so send those stories and pictures.