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Taking A Passenger

The Phatt files
In the Phatt Files I will try to organize and present useful information. This information has been learned by me personally or riders of my acquaintance over many years of riding. I present it to you so that you may learn from our experiences.
I hope you find them useful and interesting.

Today’s topic, “How to be a great passenger.”

Do passengers upset your riding? Do you find that they do annoying and sometimes dangerous things in the middle of a corner? Do they keep banging into your helmet?

Well perhaps I can help. Here are a few tips that you and your passenger can share that will make them a better passenger and you a happier rider. ALL of the points here should be talked about before you start the ride. Nothing is worse than bad communication as you yell through a helmet. They will have trouble hearing and probably misunderstand what you said.

The First Thing to Remember is;
If you ride like an A$$ all the good instructions in the world will not help.
So, Wheelie's, Stoppies, full throttle acceleration and two G stops on your GSX-R 1000 are pretty much out until you have a very experienced passenger. Of course, if they can already handle those things you will not need to read this.

The second thing to remember;

Get over it and move on. I have no idea why this is so but it is. Saddle straps are usually underneath your butt where passengers cannot get at them. Grab rails are usually behind them where they can pull themselves right off the back of the bike, or so far down the bodywork they cannot reach them. So forget those things, you do not need them anyway or a backrest for that matter. The lovely Wafer Thin has ridden many, many thousands of miles, without any mechanical devices, and this is how it is done. Before you begin, make sure your passenger understands, that they must ask if you are ready for them to get on and off. Only if you are ready may they start. So with permission granted have them mount up.

Step One
Make sure you are seated properly on the bike with both of your hands on the controls, the front brake applied and BOTH feet firmly on the ground.

Step two
Assuming they get on the left side they put both their hands upon your shoulders and their left foot on the left peg. They then straighten up their left leg and swing their right leg over the saddle thus clearing any side bags and place themselves upon the saddle and their right foot onto the right peg. Make sure their heels are not on the muffler or you will both be unhappy.

Step Three

It is important top know that the stomach and leg muscles are some of the strongest muscles you have. You should also know that leverage is your enemy as far as a passenger’s upsetting your ability to control your bike. So, to prevent the passenger from having an adverse effect on you and your bike, have them place their hands off of your shoulders and upon your kidneys, with the palms of their hands against your back and thumbs vertical. That is the area of your back just above the belt line on either side of the backbone. They should keep their elbows down and against their body. The next important point is to make sure they keep their legs firmly against the side of the bike. This will allow them maximum control in an emergency stop without pitching forward and transferring their body’s momentum to your shoulders or back thus upsetting your ability to control the bike. It will also stop that annoying head pitching forward into your helmet. They must also make use of their legs to hold on during acceleration. By squeezing their knees into the saddle they are using the strongest muscles they have to prevent rolling backwards as you accelerate.

Step Four: Cornering
This is an area that can cause the most unnerving moments of riding two up. The passenger must trust the driver to make smooth clean turns with out dropping the bike in the corner. To do this they must learn to lean with you into the turns. Rather than have a long explanation of the physics involved, try this simple lesson. The easiest way to get them to do this is to tell them that when you turn into a left hand corner please look over your left shoulder and when you turn into a right hand corner please look over your right shoulder. That is it. Do not give them more than they need to know and that is all they need to do. There is no need to twist their body or hang off or anything else. Their head will go wherever your head goes and their body will follow. You should also tell them to keep the horizon level by tilting their head. This will prevent the feeling of falling into a corner and at the same time move them a little further into the corner which will aid a bit as you go through the corner. It has been noted that, I can corner better with the Lovely Wafer Thin than without.

Finally, Step Five: Stepping Off

When it is time to dismount AGAIN you must be at a complete stop with both feet on the ground and the front brake applied AGAIN they must ask if you are ready to have them dismount. AGAIN only if you are ready may then do so. Then have them place their hand upon your shoulders and stand up on both of the passenger pegs and then swing their leg off of the bike and gracefully dismount.

That is it. They will now stop banging into your helmet. They will no longer feel like they are falling off the back of the bike and they will no longer try to stay straight up and down in the corners, there by making it much less difficult to turn and they will not feel as if they are falling into a corner, causing them to panic and try to sit up straight in the middle of a corner, with an attendant lack of control.

NOW it is up to you to Ride in a SANE MANNER! No one is impressed if you Ride in such a way that they think they are going to die at any moment. Intelligent riding will result in happiness for both of you and return visits by your passenger, if that I what you are hoping for. As your passenger gets more experience the two of you will develop your own best methods of riding but the pints above will be a good starting point. In fact the lovely Wafer Thin has found this method so comfortable she has been known to fall asleep while riding and still not fallen off. Not that I recommend that.

Happy Motoring, Johnnie Phatt

Johnnie Phatt was a Regular SoapBox Contributor to CMG (now defunct)
These instructions were written in response to a recent thread
on those message boards

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