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Carrying Passengers & Cargo

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You should avoid carrying passengers or large loads until you have gained a lot of experience riding alone. The extra weight changes the way the motorcycle handles, balances, turns, speeds up, and slows down. And, before taking a passenger or heavy load on the street, practice in a safe, off-road area.

PASSENGERS

To carry passengers safely you must:

  • Make sure your motorcycle is equipped and adjusted to carry passengers.
  • Instruct the passenger before you start.
  • Adjust your riding technique for the added weight of the passenger.

Equipment

To carry passengers, your motorcycle must have:

A proper seat—The seat should be large enough to hold both you and your passenger without crowding. You should not sit any further forward than you usually do. Passengers should not hang over the end of the seat.

Footpegs—The passenger must have their own set of footpegs. Without a firm footing, your passenger can fall off and pull you off too.

Protective equipment—Passengers should have the same type protective equipment and clothing recommended for operators.

You should also adjust the cycle to handle the extra weight. While your passenger sits on the seat with you, adjust the mirror and headlight to the change in the motorcycle’s angle. And it is a good idea to add a few pounds of pressure to the tires if you carry a passenger (check the owner’s manual). If the shock absorbers are adjustable, they also should be reset to handle the added weight.

Instructing Passengers

Don’t assume the passenger knows what to do—even if he or she is a motorcyle rider. Provide complete instructions before your start.

To prepare your passenger for riding, tell him or her to:

  • Get on the motorcycle after your have started the engine.
  • Sit as far forward as possible without crowding you.
  • Hold firmly to your waist, hips or belt.
  • Keep both feet on the pegs at all times, even when the motorcycle is stopped.
  • Keep their legs away from the muffler.
  • Stay directly behind you leaning as you lean.
  • Avoid any unnecessary talk or motion.

Also, be sure to tell your passenger to tighten his or her hold when you:

  • Approach surface problems.
  • Are about to start from a stop.
  • Are going to make a sudden move.

Riding With Passengers

Your motorcycle will respond sluggishly with a passenger on board. The heavier your passenger, the longer it will take to slow down, speed up, or make a turn— especially on a light cycle . Here’s what you should do to adjust for the difference in handling:

  • Go a little slower, especially when taking curves, corners, or bumps.
  • Start slowing earlier as you approach a stop.
  • Open a larger cushion of space ahead and to the sides. Wait for larger gaps when you want to cross, enter, or merge with traffic.

Remember, you should try to warn your passenger of special conditions ahead— when you will pull out, stop quickly, turn sharply, or ride over a bump. Otherwise, talk as little as possible. When you must talk, turn your head slightly to make yourself understood. But, be sure you don’t turn your head too far. Never take your eyes off the road ahead.

CARRYING LOADS

A motorcycle is not really designed to carry cargo. However, small loads can be carried safely if they are positioned and fastened properly.

Keep the Load Low—Fasten loads to the seat, or put them in saddle bags. Do not pile loads against a sissy-bar or frame on the back of the seat. Placing a load high against a bar or frame raises the cycle’s center of gravity and disturbs its balance.

Keep the Load Forward—Place the load over or in front of the rear axle. Tank bags are one way to keep loads forward. Mounting loads behind the rear axle can affect how the motorcycle turns and brakes. It can also cause a wobble.

Distribute the Load Evenly—If you have saddle bags, make sure each is loaded with about the same weight. An uneven load can cause the motorcycle to drift to one side.

Secure the Load—Fasten the load securely with elastic cords (bungle cords). A loose load can catch in the wheel or chain. If that happens, the rear wheel may lock up and skid.

Check the Load—Stop and check the load every so often. Make sure it has not worked loose or moved.