Carrying passengers and loads on your bike

A pillion passenger sits behind you, the rider, on a motorbike. You can only carry a pillion passenger if

  • you’ve passed your practical motorcycle test
  • you have a full motorcycle licence for the category of motorbike you’re riding.

Your motorbike will need to have rear footrests and a proper passenger seat.

Preparing your motorbike

You’ll need to make some adjustments to your motorbike before you carry a passenger: these will be explained in the motorbike handbook. They usually include

  • changing the tyre pressures
  • adjusting the preload on the rear shock absorbers
  • adjusting the headlight aim, if necessary.

Preparing your passenger

Before you start a journey with a passenger, talk to them about what they should and should not do while they’re riding with you, especially if they’ve never done it before.

They should

  • wear a safety helmet, properly fastened
  • wear suitable weatherproof protective clothing
  • sit on the motorbike facing forwards
  • keep both feet on the footrests
  • hold on to your waist, or use the passenger grab handle if your motorbike has one
  • lean with you while going around corners.

Your passenger must not

  • look behind or signal for you
  • lean to the side to see ahead – this could affect your balance.

Riding with a passenger

When you move off, take some time to get used to how the motorbike handles. The extra weight will affect

  • your balance, especially at low speeds
  • your stopping distance: it’ll take longer to stop so leave a bigger gap when following another vehicle and begin braking earlier
  • your acceleration: it’ll take longer for your motorbike to accelerate so allow more time when you’re emerging at junctions. You’ll need to stay in lower gears for longer too.

While you’re carrying a passenger, you’re responsible for their safety and yours. It’s important to make sure they do not distract you. If you need to, find a safe place to stop and ask your passenger to sit quietly so you can concentrate on riding safely. Never allow your passenger to put pressure on you to ride dangerously or show off.

Carrying loads

If you’re going to carry a load on your motorbike, you must make sure that

  • the load is secure
  • the motorbike is not overloaded.

Look at your motorbike handbook for information about how best to safely carry loads. You can buy specialist luggage and load-securing equipment, such as panniers, tank bags, top boxes and luggage racks, at motorbike supplies shops. Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions or ask for specialist help to make sure you use the equipment correctly.

Use the same tips as when carrying passengers to prepare your bike for carrying a load and when riding with a load.

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