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!