As the weather warms up, motorcycle enthusiasts across the U.S. prepare their bikes for the first ride of spring. Whether you’re the operator dusting off your favorite ride, or you need tips for riding on the back of a motorcycle, we’ve got you covered. Make sure your bike and your riding partner are ready to get back on the road again with the following motorcycle passenger tips and checklists.
1. Review tips for riding on the back of a motorcycle.
As the owner of the motorcycle, you are responsible for the safety of your passengers. Ideally, anyone who rides on the back of your bike should be physically and mentally capable of operating the bike solo. Before you start the first ride of spring, take the initiative to review a few motorcycle passenger tips from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation:
- Feet on footrests, even when stopped
- Helmet and safety clothing on
- Legs, feet and hands away from mufflers
- No sudden movements or turns
- Hold onto the driver’s waist, hips, or the passenger handles.
- Brace against the tank when braking, not against the driver’s back.
- When turning a corner, look over the operator’s shoulder, toward the turn.
According to DMV.org, most states require that you have a full-fledged motorcycle license before carrying passengers on the back of a motorcycle, not an instructional permit. Also, check your state’s equipment requirements for riding on the back of a motorcycle, which usually include passenger footrests and separate seating. If your license and passenger equipment are in order, refer to your owner’s manual to check weight limits and make any necessary adjustments to the suspension.
Motorcycling expert and author Basem Wasef advises that an empty parking lot or a back road can be a good place to get used to turns and stops together, and review tips for riding on the back, before you hit the highways.
2. Make Sure You, Your Passenger, and Your Bike Are Still Street Legal.
The Fort Campbell Courier notes that state laws may change without much notice, especially after the start of the new year. Make sure you are caught up on any safety classes and certifications required by your state, and that your registration, motorcycle insurance, and operator license are up to date.
Any passengers you bring along must meet the age requirements and other restrictions imposed by your state. Check requirements in your area before you hit the road.
3. Clean and De-winterize Your Motorcycle.
It’s a good idea to thoroughly clean the bike after unveiling it, to better see any new damage or dents that may have occurred in storage. Small animals or insects may have taken up residence in nooks and crannies, so inspect it carefully, and make sure all openings are clear.
4. Follow the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s T-CLOCS inspection.
T-CLOCS stands for:
- Tires: Check the air pressure, check for wear on the tread, look for bent or broken spokes, inspect bearings and brakes.
- Controls: Check the levers, switches, cables, hoses, and throttle for breakage, wear, and leaks.
- Lights and Battery: Make sure all lights and electronic components still work properly. Look for corrosion on the battery leads. They may need to be cleaned with baking soda and water.
- Oil and fluids: Look for leaks, and check levels of oil, hydraulic fluid, and coolant. Check for gunk in the fuel cap. If this is dirty, you may need to drain the fuel and refill it before starting. If you need to top off brake fluid, make sure it is from a new container of the same brand.
- Chassis: Adjust the suspension for the load you will carry, including extra passengers, and check drive components.
- Sidestand: Make sure the tension spring is in working order.
5. Be Gentle.
Wasef advises, “Don’t just take off after a thorough inspection; let the bike idle for a few minutes to get its fluids circulating. Take those moments to get reacquainted with the bike’s ergonomics.” You may be rustier than the bike after three or four long months without a ride. A few minutes of review time while your bike warms up can make a big difference in your response times, your safety, and the safety of anyone riding on the back of your motorcycle.
6. Ride on.
Once your springtime prep rituals are finished, and you’ve reviewed your motorcycle passenger tips, and everything is warm and in order, you’re ready to go. Enjoy the first ride of the new year!