You and your motorcycle

Carrying passengers and goods

You should wait until you are an experienced rider before carrying passengers or large loads. The extra weight changes the way the motorcycle handles, the way it balances, the way it turns, the way it speeds up and the way it slows down.

This section gives you some guidelines to follow when carrying passengers and loads.

Carrying passengers

When you start carrying passengers, try to carry someone who is light before carrying a heavy person.

Equipment for carrying passengers

To carry passengers, you will need the following equipment on your motorcycle:

  • a seat that is large enough to hold both you and your passenger without crowding - you should not have to move any closer to the front of the motorcycle than you usually do and your passenger should not hang over the end of the seat
  • footrests for your passenger - these are required by law and, without a firm footing, your passenger can fall off and pull you off too.

Your passenger is also required by law to wear an approved helmet. They should also wear protective clothing.

Adjusting your motorcycle when carrying passengers

Because your motorcycle will change angle with the extra weight of a passenger, you should adjust the mirror and headlight. Have the passenger sit on the seat while you do this.

It's also a good idea to add some air to the tyres (check your owner's manual for correct air pressure).

If the shock absorbers are adjustable, they should also be adjusted to carry the added weight.

Instructing passengers

Don't assume your passenger will know what to do, even if he or she is a motorcycle rider. Before you move off, you should tell them to:

  • get on the motorcycle after the engine has started
  • sit as far forward as possible without crowding you
  • hold on to your waist, hips or belt, or to the passenger's handgrip
  • keep both feet on the footrests at all times, even when the motorcycle is stopped
  • stay directly behind you, relax and lean as you lean
  • avoid any unnecessary movement or talk.

Ride with caution until you are sure your passenger can follow all these instructions.

Important

You must not carry a pillion passenger until you hold a full Class 6 motorcycle licence.

Riding with passengers

When you are carrying a passenger, the motorcycle responds more slowly because of the extra weight. It takes longer to speed up or slow down and makes your motorcycle react differently when making a turn.

To adjust for the added weight of the passenger, you should:

  • ride at a slower speed, particularly on corners, curves or bumps
  • begin to slow down earlier than usual when you approach a stop
  • allow a greater following distance and keep more distance between yourself and vehicles on either side
  • look for larger gaps whenever you cross, enter or merge with traffic
  • adjust the tyre pressure and suspension to make them firmer.

Warn your passenger when you intend to start moving, stop quickly, turn sharply or ride over a bump. Otherwise, talk as little as possible.

In order to make yourself understood, you may have to turn you head. Do it carefully, because your eyes will be off the road.

Loads

Although motorcycles are not really designed to carry goods, small loads can be carried safely if they are properly positioned and fastened.

Keep the load low

Secure loads to the seat or put them in saddlebags or tank bags. Don't put heavy loads high up or near the back of the motorcycle, particularly on light motorcycles. This will change the centre of gravity and disturb the balance of the motorcycle.

Keep the load central

Putting a load too far back or forward will affect the stability of the motorcycle. You shouldn't have the load behind the back wheel or at the front of the motorcycle, and never on the handlebars.

Distribute the load evenly

If you have saddlebags, make certain the weight in each one is about the same. An uneven load can cause the motorcycle to pull to one side or wobble.

Secure the load

Fasten the load securely with elastic cords or ropes. A loose load may cause the motorcycle to be unstable on rough roads or while cornering. An insecure load can catch in the wheel or chain. If this happens, the rear wheel may lock up and the motorcycle may skid.

Check the load

Check the load every so often when you are stopped. Make sure it has not worked loose or moved.

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Last updated: 25 June 2010