I know there are plenty of riders out there who hate taking pillions for all sorts of reasons. Me. I enjoy sharing the experience with others. And there is something special in sharing the ride with your partner. I love riding and I love sharing that experience. And I certainly don’t subscribe to the notion of scaring pillions.
Here is what I have learnt – a comfortable pillion is a happy pillion. And a happy pillion is likely to jump on the bike and suggest weekends away on the bike. There are a number of factors that make up this.
- Bike – In an ideal world we’d have many bikes. One for two-up touring, one for long distance riding, one for scratching on the weekend, one for getting out in the bush, etc. But I don’t so I have attempted to make my bike as pillion friendly as possible.
- Seat – the seat needs to be comfortable and not a just an after thought perch that many sports bikes have.
- Footpegs – One of the big issues with many sports type bikes is that the pillion pegs are too high for most pillions. They may be okay for a quick trip to the shops but further than that your pillion is going to be unhappy. Moving the pegs lower makes a huge difference. Below is a couple of photos of the difference between the standard pegs and lowered pegs, you will notice the difference in the angle of my knee.
- Secure – I really don’t like pillioning without some form of back stop such as a top box or rack. These are not back rests but mostly just peace of mind to have that security to know there’s a back stop if the pillion isn’t ready for the unexpected acceleration. The other consideration that needs to be considered is for somewhere to hang onto.
- Suspension – most bikes are set up way to soft so adjusting your suspension is really important. We have a suspension guy here who for a small charge will set up all the static sag, preload, dampening and compression for you (and it’s worth every cent!). But you will often need to wind up the rear preload for a pillion as they change the weight characteristics of the bike and therefore the handling. This is where remote preload adjustments come into their own (my next suspension upgrade will include this feature).
- Relaxed – a lot of this has to do with the rider. The pillion must have confidence in the rider. Often a new pillion doesn’t know what to expect or even basics like getting on and off. Spend the time having a chat to the new pillion about what to do and what to expect – and give them permission to tell you that they are uncomfortable as not everyone likes being on the back of a bike. Take them for a short ride and see how they are going. And most importantly – you must ride differently, smoother, no sudden braking or acceleration, and most importantly … be predictable.
- Practice – just do the miles.