How to be a Motorcycle Passenger

Riding as a passenger (or “pillion”) on a motorcycle can be a great way to enjoy life on two wheels. But there’s a lot you might not know about how to keep it safe, fun, and secure for you and your rider!

How Motorcycles Work:

  • Motorcyclists lean to make turns
  • Riders shift their body in the seat for proper angle and balance.
  • Turning with the handlebars only happens at low speed.
  • At a stop, the rider puts his or her feet down to keep the bike upright.
  • The rider uses hands and feet to shift gears and brake.
  • Tires, exhaust, and engine parts get very hot.

Gear Up:

  • Wear a good helmet that fits you snugly without being tight. It should not move around on your head.
  • Wear tough (leather, kevlar) clothing that blocks wind. Even if it’s summer, wind is always cold.
  • Don’t forget ankle‐supporting boots and gloves.
  • No loose, flapping clothing, jewelry, or ponytails. Keep it tucked snugly or do without.

On the Road:

  • Mount when told by grabbing the rider’s shoulder, putting your left foot on the left peg, and swinging your right leg over the bike. Sit down on the passenger seat and get centered. Give the “Ok” only when ready.
  • The rider may have you hug their waist, put your hands in their pockets, or hold a strap to stay secure.
  • You and the rider should be “one unit” – stay with their body: don’t lean more than them, but don’t resist leaning.
  • In turns, look over the rider’s inside shoulder in the direction of the turn.
  • Keep your feet & weight on the pegs at all times, even when stopped.
  • Try to keep your back upright when braking and avoid knocking helmets together.


  • Ask before you move: wait for the rider’s “Ok” before you get on or dismount, change position, or grip.
  • Plan a “shoulder tap” signal if you need to stop or are uncomfortable.
  • Ask what route you’ll be taking, at what speeds, and how often you’ll stop. You have a right to know!
  • Smile, wave to children and onlookers, and show the world you’re having a good time!

Why do they Hate us?

Why Do They Hate Us?

Ever wonder why there is seething antipathy towards motorcyclists in New York City?  Why are responsible riders shouted down at Community Board meetings by residents claiming we’re all a bunch of noisemaking, lawbreaking hooligans?  Why do you get a sideways glance when you’re locking up your full-face helmet to your 50 MPG commuting bike?

Sadly, a number of riders seem to be intent on creating the most hostile environment for two-wheelers by offering themselves as the worst possible examples of motorcycling.  And as the “squeaky wheels”, their behavior gets the attention while the overwhelming majority of responsible riders are ignored.

On September 4 2011, “Hollywood Stuntz” organized a motorcycle riot at the Gateway Mall in Brooklyn.

They incited hundreds of riders to meet and proceed to endanger the lives of citizens and police officers – not to mention their own – in a terrible display of squidliness.  They rode recklessly throughout the city, ignored traffic signals and swerved through the streets, up sidewalks – many with minimal gear, illegal modifications and obscured or missing license plates.

Of course, they documented their dangerous nonsense for YouTube.  The ride was advertised “for all our fallen soldiers.”  Though it may not be obvious to all, they were referring to friends of theirs who died — not actual military soldiers.  We have never met anyone in the military who would want to be represented by this sort of behavior.  (And indeed, the armed forces have a history of working with the MSF to promote rider safety.)

If you were on the ride or involved in promoting it, know that it is because of you that motorcyclists are regarded so poorly in this city.  You are doing nothing but ruining motorcycling for the rest of us.