An Entertaining and Informative Look at the Rider/Co-Rider Relationship



This article first presumes that you actually have one, a relationship with either a rider or co-rider, that is. And if you do, whether you have been riding for years or just a few weeks, hopefully the following thoughts and ideas will make the ride more enjoyable for both of you. The bottom line to this article, is that the more comfortable and prepared you are, then the more you will enjoy the ride you are about to take.

There needs to be a basic understanding by both parties of each other’s conditions while riding the motorcycle. The Rider needs to understand that the wind at the passenger is greater, the available room to move around is less, the optional foot positions are limited, the view is less than ideal, (unless you really enjoy counting the hairs on the back of the neck of the Rider), it can be hotter and colder. Under the same conditions, there is a need for a different radio volume, a need for different clothing, and a need for different face protection, and the need for special seat considerations. The Co-Rider needs to understand, that the rider in addition to enjoying the ride is responsible for the operation of the motorcycle, supporting its weight while you get on and off, balancing it at stop lights, trying to operate the bike smoothly whether starting or stopping, making sure the bike is running properly, being constantly aware of the traffic conditions and in most cases, most of the driving directions, (even though there is always a dispute about “where are we going”). In addition the rider usually knows where everything is on the bike, and pumps the gas (I’ll leave which gas to your own thoughts). So, lets get started….. The first understanding by both persons is the agreed right to stop at any time to dress appropriately and make rest stops when needed. If you are over or under dressed after you start your ride, or the weather changes, don’t become uncomfortable, which will affect your safety and enjoyment, make it known, and make the stop. The same for the rest stop, STOP! Even in a group, you make the call, when necessary. As I have experienced, there is usually someone else who needed to do that exact same thing, but wasn’t saying anything. Okay, the Rider is on the bike and waiting for you to get on. What is the first thing you should do? Make sure he has enough money for shopping of course. Before you can get on the bike, you need to get a recognizable response that it is really OKAY for you to get on. Too many times there is an implied nod or motion or grunt, and the Rider really wasn’t ready and the bike goes over on its side. Making for a very unhappy Rider and not a good start for this ride. So I recommend getting a verbal response from the Rider before getting on the bike. It can be whatever you two decide, but it should be the same every time. You do not want any presumptions. In my case, its very simple, Co-Rider says, “can I get on”, and the Rider, me, says, “yes, you can get on”. The reason for more than a one-word answer is that a simple yes or yah may not be completely heard, where a few words can be better understood. This exact process should be repeated for getting off the bike, at the end of the ride. Do not look for a nod of the head or gesture with a hand, get the verbal response only. ”Yes you can get off the bike”. Now the formality of getting up and on the bike. For the average leg length, it is actually easier to get on the bike if the bike is off the side stand and balanced upright. If however, you are like Marge, you can just throw a leg over and touch the ground on both sides with out a problem. Leaving the bike on the side stand, puts the peg or floor board lower to the ground and your first step is a short one, leaving you a long way to go to get that leg thru and over the passenger seat and backrest. This also is a little more work for the Rider, cause now they have to balance the weight of the bike and control it while you try and get on. Once you put a foot, usually the left one, on the peg, you should have your left hand on the shoulder of the Rider and the right hand on the passenger backrest or speaker. CAUTION, do not use the after market arm rest to support your weight they are not made for that purpose. Now, instead of pulling against the Rider and the backrest to get on, you propel yourself upward, pushing up off your left foot, keeping your body weight centered over the middle of the bike. Then you work your other leg, that would be the right one, over the seat, and onto the right side peg. Making sure not to scuff the saddlebag in the process, (another bad start to the trip). Once you are seated, you should plug into all the necessary places for the Radio and Intercom and Heated stuff, and then announce that you are all ready to take off for the ride. At which point the Rider can now pay attention to the job of driving. Unless, you are like Carol, who has the most interesting dance I have ever seen for getting on the bike after she has hooked up to all her lifelines, and I believe that she is giving dance lesson if you are interested. Anyway, I recommend hooking up after you are on the bike, and before you get off the bike. Okay so now, while riding, the Co-Rider needs to change positions or adjust the bottom of those beautiful jeans. Moving around on the back of the bike can have a big affect on the operation of the motorcycle. As a Co-rider you could actually steer the bike from the back seat. Depending on the amount of your moving, you should advise the Rider that you need to move around a bit and make sure they are ready for the possible changes to the bike when that happens. I find that at speeds from 35 to 55 most normal moving adjustments will not present a major affect to the bike, but at lower speeds, and stopped, and at some high speeds, you can have a big affect. Many times, Co-riders wait till your stopped and then move around. The Rider, at a stop, sometimes, will take their hands off the handle bars and relax at stops, so this movement would be both a surprise, and you could end up, kissing the ground. Riders need to be aware that there is a need for the Co-Rider to mover around a bit, and they should also suggest that the Co-rider stretch from time to time, as well. So there you are enjoying your ride and the Co-Rider shouts out, “Did you see that?” And of course the Rider says, “SEE WHAT, WHERE”. I always get a kick out of the hand pointing that goes along with the verbal, especially when the Co-rider is pointing behind you. I say, “How am I suppose to see your hand behind my head”. So I highly recommend using the old clock routine. Your traveling toward the 12 o’clock position always and then everything else is in relationship to that. So if there is something off to the right, say at 2 O’clock is a dog humping the pig, then I know where to look, presuming I want to see it. The Co-Rider needs to better identify the location of something for the rider to actually get the time to see it. The Rider needs to understand that the Co-rider also does not see very well straight ahead, cause your big head is in the way. Some Co-Riders will lean a little right or left and peer around the Rider to see ahead. The Co-rider needs to know what to do in a few operational conditions that take place while riding. The first would be STOPPING, at any time with or without your knowledge, the Rider will apply the brakes, this forces the Co-Rider forward in the seat, and often the clanking of helmets occur. To do your part, you need to learn how to use your legs to control you positioning during braking. You also have to learn to do it without even thinking about it. Even though there are handgrips on either side to hold on to, you’re most effective method of control is your legs. What you do, is push downward against the foot pegs or boards. By pushing downward you force yourself upward and rearward, keeping space between you and the Rider.  Once you get use to this, it will become automatic. Practice, Practice, Practice. The process is the same, but braking is not the only time to use this method. Every time you start from a stop, the shifting of the gears will cause you to lean forward and back, and here you will need to control your motion as well, using the same technique. Here is a point to the Riders; your ability to start and stop smoothly will result in many less dents in your helmet. Many Riders tend to use the motor to brake the bike and this method is a very jerky, though fun for the Rider, not so for the Co-Rider. I suggest when riding two up, that you pull in the clutch and use the brakes to stop the bike; this will be much smoother and easier for the Co-rider to control. And when starting from a light, try to shift more smoothly, which means not smoking the tires in each gear. The next item to discuss, making the turns. The Co-Rider can actually be a great help to leaning the motorcycle and making turns. One of the simplest things for you to do when turning is the looking in the direction of the turn. This is for both persons to do. This is a simple method with lots of results. When you look into the turn, or over your shoulder for a “U” turn, it causes your shoulders to turn in the direction of the turn and it causes your legs to push and lean in the same direction. All this aids in the turning of the motorcycle. To better clarify, the Co-Rider needs to look over the shoulder of the Rider, the right shoulder for a right turn and the left shoulder for a left turn. Look in the direction of where you want the bike to go. This is a must to learn and again practice makes its simple to do. It can start with the on/off ramps of the expressways and then you can use a little parking lot practice to round it off. Eventually, it will pay off big on the street. Riders, make your Co-Rider aware of the directions for the ride or anything else you need to watch for, and Co-Riders, take part in the responsibility for getting you there. Help with the directions and the traffic conditions, (now, this doesn’t mean “back seat driving”). This covers the more basic Rider/Co-Rider to do list, but I would like to add a couple of others. I believe every Co-Rider should have their own key to the bike, and they need to have it on them at all times. Unless your like Bernie, and leave the keys on the bike so you never have to worry about where you left them, or who has them, I highly recommend both persons have a set of keys to the bike and other locks for the bike. This alone splits the responsibility for both to be able to get in and out of the boxes when they want without needing the Rider to always look for the keys and let someone in. I would like to see more Co-Riders consider the bike as much theirs as the Riders, and help with some of the more traditional activities, like packing and cleaning and covering and trailering, knowing where everything lives on the bike, helping to choose the music you listen too. It’s a big help when two persons are backing each other up to remember things and do things, especially after a long day of riding, when our thinking caps are a little soggy. I hope this will cause you to communicate a little better and increase your two up riding pleasure.