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Discussion Starter #1
I'm looking at doing some riding with my girlfriend this summer, though I'm wondering if I'm ready for it. I've got about two seasons of riding under my belt, and consider myself to be pretty dang good with just myself. I've done a few short rides with my girlfriend on the back, and was pretty comfortable with it. I ride a CBR600 F4, for reference.

However, she and I want to go on longer rides together, and hopefully twistier. I'm somewhat concerned about the dynamics of it all though. She's about 5'5, and has some meat on her bones. I'm 5'10 and about 190-195, mostly muscle. Will her being of a cuddly build have a more extensive effect on handling? I understand that having extra weight on the back changes a lot, but will it be amplified much or have a noticeable effect given the conditions? I mainly ride somewhat curvy roads (such as Great River Road, for those of you in the vicinity of the Mississippi), but obviously won't be attempting to drag a knee with her on the back. I'd like to think that I'm ready to take a rider, and am doing the Experienced Rider Course this year, but I don't want to be putting her at unnecessary risk.

Here's a picture of us taken last year during a Tai Chi class at school. Ignore the glare, she's not all that evil :p.

 

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A passenger makes all the difference in the world, however alot depends on the passenger and how well they lean with you, not necessarily their weight. The only time weight is really an issue is when you stop, IMHO. You appear to be a big enough guy to handle her.:biggrin: Just take the twisties slow until you get a feel for riding together.
 

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Make sure she does not have the idea (she surely knows to do what you do or do nothing) of counteracting leans by leaning herself in the opposite direction, which means disaster. I carried some people with less or more weight than me. I mentioned to them not to somehow counter-lean under any circumstance but either copy me or do nothing. No problems.
 

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The Bassman Rocketh
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25,244 Posts
Take your time, get used to it and work your speed up slowly. As long as she doesn't try to compensate for your lean, you'll be fine. I love riding 2-up with my wife.
 

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2007 900 Classic
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2,517 Posts
Wow you better hope she never reads your post. She is a small little thing. The most important aspect of riding with a passenger is how good of a co pilot they are. Do they lean with you and the bike properly, is she nervous at all, because you can feel that? My wife who is pretty small and light is hardly noticable to me, she really does not hold on, just a light touch on my side. I was so worried that I put a back rest on, against her wishes, just so I knew she would not roll off the back. If your preload is set right and tires properly inflated you should have not problems with your girl friend. Although if you keep saying she is meaty over the internet, I suspect she will try to lose weight, like a 190-195 pounds ;)
 

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Premium Member
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820 Posts
Not a problem with heavier passengers (btw, she doesn't look big at all - I'm lighter than you, and have ridden 2-up with "cuddlier" girls ;-) ) . Just take a few trips with slower, easy turns to get the feel for how turns feel, then proceed to sharper turns a little faster... practice somewhere safe doing slow maneuvers (these are the hardest).

Most importantly, I think, is to give your bike more time to stop! It will take longer to stop and go further before you do stop.

What I tell my passengers is to not move when I am coming to a stop, maneuvering slowly, or on turns. On turns, look over my shoulder in the direction I'm turning, and their body will react naturally, this has worked great for me.

After a little while, you'll get used to the changed center of gravity, maneuvering, etc., and you'll see it's very enjoyable.
 

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Biking Old Timer
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445 Posts
Start slow, have her hold your waist and copy your movements. I have my wife watch the road ahead and merely look to the inside of the curve as we enter it. That automatically sets her torso into the same angel of lean as mine. Its simpler than I made it sound, really.
Ride 'em Safe. Oh yeah, she doesn't look evil, just intense on learning the stuff.
 

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KawiLove
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2,933 Posts
From a "cuddly" girl, I have some advice for you...
I was a passenger for years before I got my own bike, and it has everything to do with if she "learns" how you ride. Its not easy being a co-pilot. Every rider is different. After riding with my fiance with 2 years, I learned his style and I could anticipate when he was going to pass a car or open-up the throttle around the twisties. She has to learn "you" and you need to let her practice on shorter rides first.

Since getting my own bike and learning to ride, I've ridden my son around the parking lot and he's only 65 pounds. He counter-leans all the time, and even at his small size, he can throw off my comfort. My step-daughter, who is more confident on the back of the bike, is nearly 75 pounds, and I can barely feel her behind me. It all depends on the rider.
 

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KawiLove
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I should ad, as a passenger, my comfort level when I started out was to place my hands around the rider and flat against the tank. This forced me to stay with the rider around turns, etc. Just an option.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Perhaps I've been listening to her complain too much about her size. Thanks for the advice everyone, I'll be applying it. All of it :oops:.
 

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Norfolk,England
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240 Posts
I've got about two seasons of riding under my belt, and consider myself to be pretty dang good with just myself.
And how do other riders consider you ? :wink:

Seriously, riding two up is a lot different to riding solo. I would agree with everything that has been said upthread, but also add....
1/ Go out and have a practice two up on a quiet road or parking lot. Get to know how much further the bike takes to stop, and also how the extra weight makes the bike feel at slow speeds and when you stop. The extra weight can catch you out when staionary.[I know !]
2/Do not brake hard unless you really need to. You have a pair of bars to hang onto, and know that you are going to brake. Your passenger has no real warning and will push against you under hard braking if she is not expecting it.
 

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I would really suggest riding someone on back for a few rides that is experienced both driving and riding... They'll instinctively know what to do so you can get used to the feel of the bike with another person properly.

Last season was my first season, I had taken a safety course bout ten years ago though... a decent portion of it was spent with a passenger, the first person I took as a passenger was very experienced as both driver and rider. I couldn't imagine trying to both learn AND teach someone else at the same time.

edit: for reference I'm 5'8" @ 125 lbs... quite small of a guy.
 

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Alien Test Subject
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3,515 Posts
Riding two-up isn't that difficult. You just have to adjust your riding style a little bit. Everything will feel a little 'heavier' as you've changed the power to weight ratio of the bike, as well as the center of gravity.

Things for YOU to keep in mind:
You've added a lot more weight over the back of the bike, so the front end will feel noticeably lighter. The front wheel will feel like it wants to 'push' to the outside, through a corner, and the steering will feel a little less responsive. Hard acceleration will lighten the front-end quicker than riding solo, so the front will feel 'vague' to steering inputs. Stopping will take a bit more effort, as you have more mass to slow down. Essentially, the bike reacts to everything a bit slower. Think of driving an empty pick-up truck, compared to one with a fully loaded bed.

And smooth is key. Jerky inputs to the controls will transfer to your passenger, which will transfer back to the suspension.

Things for HER to keep in mind:
She is an active participant in the equation, not just ballast like in a car. Every movement she makes will transfer back down to the chassis. If she squirms around or gets fidgety, you'll feel the bike wobble accordingly. The slower the speed, the more you'll notice it. So she needs to be just as smooth as you do.

Being an active participant also means that she can help avoid problems. Heavy braking? She can lean back a little, so she's not thrown forward into you (and banging helmets :lol:). Accelerating? She can lean forward a bit with you, so she's not sliding off the back, plus it'll move the center of gravity forward, helping to weight the front wheel.

When cornering, have her look over your shoulder in the direction your going. Turning left, look over your left shoulder. Turning right - right shoulder. This will keep her moving naturally with the bike.

And finally, she always gets on after you, and off before you. But only when YOU tell her to.


Riding two-up is really no big deal. Just takes some adjustment. Keep relaxed and enjoy the ride. And it's not a bad idea to work out some hand signals to communicate with. A tap on the leg for this, a pat on the helmet for that, a little tickle for... well you get the idea! :lol:
 

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03 ZX-12R
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On a sportbike, a passenger is a huuuuge adjustment if you're doing anything but cruising around town. Especially on a smaller 600.
The smaller/lighter the bike, the more sensitive it is to weight displacement.
 

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Alien Test Subject
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3,515 Posts
On a sportbike, a passenger is a huuuuge adjustment if you're doing anything but cruising around town. Especially on a smaller 600.
The smaller/lighter the bike, the more sensitive it is to weight displacement.
+1

My wife is an excellent pillion (partially because she rides as well), but I notice her more on the sportbikes.

On the Meanie or the ZX-10, I can barely tell she's there. Passengers don't affect the big, heavy bikes nearly as much.

But on her 599, it's quite noticeable. The two of us combined weigh almost as much as the bike does...
 

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Eddie Lawson is God!
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5,683 Posts
Just remember that the bike's handling and braking is GONE with a passenger. A riding style that is acceptable to you might terrorize her. Be prescient of that. Figure you're on a 100 HP Rebel and you'd be OK. She might not enjoy the Ob/Gyn position your rocket is going to put her after a couple hours. (Time for the second bike. I suggest a KZ650!) The average rocket (even if it has a pillion seat) is not really set up to carry a passenger. Increase preload on rear shock.
 

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KawiLove
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My wife is an excellent pillion (partially because she rides as well)...
I was considered a good passenger BEFORE I started riding.
AFTER I got my own bike and started riding, that consideration went down the drain. After months of being on my own bike, bretsk2500 and I took a decent ride into Portland, with me as passenger. He b*tched and complained the whole time that I was "trying to steer." I couldn't stop myself. I hate the way he drives my jeep and I hate the way he rides his bike... lol :biggrin: No longer am I a good passenger.
 

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Rolling with the big dogs
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1,019 Posts
I was considered a good passenger BEFORE I started riding.
AFTER I got my own bike and started riding, that consideration went down the drain. After months of being on my own bike, bretsk2500 and I took a decent ride into Portland, with me as passenger. He b*tched and complained the whole time that I was "trying to steer." I couldn't stop myself. I hate the way he drives my jeep and I hate the way he rides his bike... lol :biggrin: No longer am I a good passenger.
I bet you like to lead when the two of you dance :biggrin:
 
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