Saturday, November 17, 2012

Passengers, courtesy of MSF

No Need To Go It Alone
There are basic adjustments operators should make to their motorcycle and their riding style when carrying a passenger. Adjustments to the tire pressure and suspension settings are usually required. And, be sure not to exceed the weight limit (total of operator, passenger, accessories, and cargo). Refer to your owner’s manual for those details.

Regarding riding style, the extra weight of the passenger will tend to make the motorcycle slower to respond to steering input, may require more throttle and clutch finesse to start off from a stop, may require greater pressure on the brake controls, may reduce cornering clearance, and may increase the time and space needed for passing. A lighter motorcycle may be affected more than a heavier motorcycle, because passenger weight will constitute a bigger percentage of total loaded motorcycle weight.

If you’re a novice when it comes to carrying a passenger, practice turning and braking with your passenger aboard in a low-risk area like an open parking lot before you take to the streets. Learn the needed skills gradually. Remember too that novice passengers tend to fear lean, so make turns, corners and curves more gentle (less lean) than you normally do. Remember that passengers new to motorcycling can experience anxiety and may want you to pull over and stop at times. If you do not have a helmet-to-helmet communications system, or if your system fails, you might try an old fashioned approach: When your passenger gives your arm three quick squeezes, it's time to pull over. It's a simple but effective signal, and just knowing there is a stop-option can help reduce your passenger's level of anxiety.

Your passenger should know to brace him/herself when you’re stopping to avoid knocking helmets together, keep their feet on the footrests at stops, and look over your shoulder in the direction of the turn to ensure he/she leans with you in a corner. And passengers should always wear proper protective gear, even for short rides.

Finally, don’t overlook the advantages of carrying a passenger. Two immediately come to mind:

More weight over the rear tire may increase the usefulness and stopping power of the rear brake, especially in quick-stop situations.

And most importantly, a passenger serves as a trusted companion with whom to share the joy of motorcycling!

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