There`s nothing like riding on the back of a motorcycle as you speed off into the distance. Many of us love to romanticize the idea of cruising around on a slick bike, but the experience can throw you for a loop if you don`t know what to expect. Use this guide to prepare for your first motorcycle outing and be the best motorcycle passenger you can be.
What to Expect
There`s a lot to consider before you jump on the back of a motorcycle. If this is your first time, lay down some ground rules with the driver. You should know where you`re going, approximately how long it will take and the potential risks that come with riding. If you are being dropped off somewhere or ultimately decide riding on a motorcycle isn`t for you, make sure you have a plan for how to get home.
If you`re prone to car sickness, being on a motorcycle might make you feel even more nauseous. Bring along some anti-nausea medication in case you get the whirls.
Riding on a motorcycle means exposing yourself to the elements. Expect high speeds, fast winds and extra turbulence along the way. It`s best to cover as much of your body as possible. That means no shorts, flip-flops or short sleeves. You should wear pants, a jacket or long sleeve shirt, comfortable shoes and high socks. Wear thick items of clothing like jeans and those made of canvas to protect your skin from road rash.
It`s usually up to the driver to teach you how to get on and off the motorcycle. You will ideally sit right behind the driver, so be prepared to get close. Most passengers put their arms around the driver for extra stability. Don`t be shy. Grab on tight to make sure you don`t fall off.
You should be able to communicate with the driver during the ride. There are two important messages you may need to convey, including stop and slow down. Make sure you and the driver understand what these signals mean and how they`re used. For more peace of mind, consider using a Bluetooth motorcycle helmet so you can talk to the driver in real-time.
Helmet communication has come a long way in recent years. Depending on the make and model, you should be able to install separate speakers into the helmet. Motorcycles can be extremely noisy, making it nearly impossible to have a conversation with the driver. Use Bluetooth motorcycle helmet speakers that produce crystal-clear audio so you can ask questions and coordinate with the driver in real-time.
Questions for the Driver
Be prepared to ask the driver a series of questions before you depart. This might not be necessary if you know the person, but it`s usually best to ask questions anyhow.
First, make sure the driver is licensed to drive a motorcycle. They should have taken an official motorcycle safety course.
Talk to the driver about what they will do in case of an emergency. They should have a plan for calling for help as well as supplies for first aid.
Ask if they`ve ever been in a wreck. Mistakes happen from time to time, but avoid riding with those who throw caution to the wind. Read up on your state`s local riding laws. Some states require you to wear a full-face helmet.
The driver should also have insurance, although most policies don`t cover passengers, so you may be on your own if you get injured.
The driver should be prepared to ease you into the experience of riding on the back of a motorcycle. Stopping, turning and driving at high speeds can catch some passengers off-guard. The driver should agree to “go easy” on your first outing. If you feel comfortable, they can always slowly speed up. The driver should also check in regularly to make sure you are holding up well.
If you think you`re safer on the back of a motorcycle than in front, think again. A recent study suggests motorcycle passengers are less likely to wear a helmet even though they are more likely to suffer brain injury during a crash than the driver. That`s why it`s so important to stock up on the right safety gear, even if you only ride once in a blue moon.
Considering the risk that comes with being a passenger, it`s best to wear a full-face motorcycle helmet. Many riders may shrug at the idea of covering their entire head, but it`s better to be safe than sorry. Open-face, flip-up and ¾ helmets offer some protection from the road, but they can leave your chin, neck and face vulnerable to injury.
If the helmet doesn`t come with a face shield, you can always add goggles to your helmet for additional face protection. Make sure they are flush with the rest of the helmet so nothing can slip through the cracks.
Talk to the driver about finding a helmet. Ideally, they will have an extra one lying around if they like driving others around. If the driver isn`t wearing a helmet, it`s a sign that they either don`t care about their health or that they are underestimating the potential risk. Studies show helmet usage continues to increase year after year, so you should be in good hands.
Having a helmet isn`t always enough. You need to make sure it fits properly before hopping on the back of a hog. Use the chin strap to secure the helmet to your head. You should be able to adjust the length so it`s not too tight or too loose. Try to pull the helmet off your head with the chin strap attached. If it stays put, you should be good to go. If it slides off, you may need a smaller helmet.
You will also need gloves for riding to protect your hands. Others will want riding boots made especially for motorcycles, but this isn`t required.
Once you`ve dotted all your i`s and crossed your t`s, it`s time to enjoy the thrill of riding on the back of a motorcycle. Use these tips to make the most of your time on the road.