Touring Tip: Touring Two-Up

Mar 13, 2012 View Comments by

Part of the enjoyment of motorcycle travel is sharing the experience with others, particularly doing so with non-riding passengers  who are experiencing the exhilaration of motorcycling for the first time. Whether it’s a trip around the block or a journey cross-country, it’s important for a rider to properly prepare their passenger, their motorcycle and themselves before departure. The following are the three most essential areas to plan for when touring two-up.

Passenger: Unlike riding in an automobile, the passenger on a bike should be an active participant. Passengers should: (1) wear protective gear; (2) understand how to lean with the motorcycle on turns; (3) be tall enough to reach the passenger pegs; (4) hold on to the rider’s waist or handholds on the bike; (5) avoid sudden movements; (6) keep hands and feet clear of moving and hot components; (7) avoid banging helmets with the rider when stopping and (8) stay relaxed and supple with the bike’s movements.

Motorcycle: Because the bike will be carrying more weight with a passenger, weight distribution, center of gravity, suspension, performance and handling characteristics of the motorcycle all will be affected. Considering these factors, the rider should ensure that: (1) the rear suspension preload is adjusted appropriately for the additional weight; (2) tire pressure also is adjusted for additional weight and (3) the gross vehicle weight limitations specified in the owners manual are not exceeded. And, of course, it goes without saying that the motorcycle should be designed to accommodate a passenger.

Rider: The motorcycle rider must appropriately modify his or her riding technique when touring with the extra weight of a passenger, because: (1) stopping distances will increase; (2) handling will not be as crisp as riding solo; (3) passing distances will increase; (4) cornering clearances may decrease; (5) pressure on the tire’s contact patch will increase and likely reduce traction on wet or loose surfaces; (6) additional weight over the rear tire will likely increase the effectiveness of the rear brake; (7) gusty crosswinds will have more surface area to grab onto; (8) throttle and clutch response will be altered and (9) last, but certainly not least, it’s important to make sure that the passenger is comfortable with the riding pace and that their biological needs are being met. Riders generally should have at least one year of solo riding experience before transporting a passenger. They also must ensure compliance with legal requirements for passengers in the states they will be touring in, such as minimum age and necessary safety gear.

Seeing the country two-up on a motorcycle, with a special someone, can be a wonderful touring experience, but riders must make sure that the proper safety precautions are followed to provide a safe and enjoyable riding experience.

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