How Does A Motorcycle Passenger Hold On?

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If you’re planning on taking a ride on a motorcycle as a passenger, you may be wondering how you’ll need to hold on especially if this is your first time. As a passenger, there are a few things to consider when it comes to your safety and a lot of that depends on how you keep yourself anchored on the bike.

How does a motorcycle passenger hold on? The best way for a motorcycle passenger to hold on is to either hold on to the operator’s waist or hips, wrap arms around the operator’s torso, or hold on to the designated handles on the motorcycle specifically manufactured for passenger use and safety.

A motorcycle passenger’s safety depends a lot on how he/she is holding on to the motorcycle. There is a right way and a wrong way to do it and this article can explain exactly how to stay safe while holding on appropriately so you can enjoy yourself being a passenger.

The Correct Way To Hold On

People can get pretty creative with ways to hold on to the back of the motorcycle. But some of those ways aren’t the safest, so if you plan on being a passenger on a motorcycle you should know exactly how you’re going to cling on to the machine.

There are two main ways to hold on to a motorcycle. The first way is to hold on the the operator of the motorcycle who has a good trip on the motorcycle itself. If you have a firm hold on the driver, you have firm hold on the bike itself. The best way to go about this is by holding on to the operators waist or hips. It may be helpful to hook your fingers through the belt loops of their pants if they have any.

An alternate way to have a firm grip on the bike (if you’re going to use the “hold the operator” route) is to snugly wrap your arms around the biker’s torso. This is a popular option for two people who are romantically involved though you don’t have to be to use this method. This gives you the tightest grip and will ensure you won’t fall off the back of the motorcycle in the case of a sudden acceleration.

If holding on to the operator seems a bit awkward to you, you’re not alone. Some motorcycles, such as touring bikes, will have handles on the back specifically placed there for passengers to hold on to. If the motorcycle you’re riding has these, use them. This is likely the safest way to keep yourself anchored to the motorcycle and will ensure further safety for both you and the operator.

If none of these options are available or there are obstacles making it difficult to hold on, such as the size of the operator or lack of handlebars, you should consider not riding the motorcycle at all. Your safety is first priority and if you’re unable to hold on to anything, you’re endangering yourself and others on the road.

Ways You Should Not Hold On

Now that we’ve covered ways you should hold on as a passenger on a motorcycle, let’s go over ways you should not hold on. There are plenty of ways to do it wrong that can make the experience unsafe.

Don’t hold on to the operator’s shoulders. Though it is something for you to hold on to, the physics of it doesn’t work as well as holding on to their waist, torso, or handles. My wife and I were out for a motorcycle ride one afternoon and she almost fell off the back of the motorcycle because she was holding on to my shoulders and didn’t have a firm grip.

Keep your legs lower than your waist. Some motorcycle passengers think it’s cute/comfortable to wrap their legs around the back of the operator. Not only is this unsafe for you, but it’s dangerous for the operator because your legs can get in the way of their riding and potentially cause an accident.

Don’t keep your hands free, even if you have a back rest. Having a back rest on a motorcycle can make a passenger feel more relaxed and give them the feeling they’re more safe than they actually are. Though having a backrest does help a lot with anchoring yourself to the bike, you still need to hold on and not let down your guard.

How To Stay Safe

Having the right hold while riding on the back of a motorcycle is just the first step in ensuring your safety. The accompanying positions of your body will greatly help you stay on the motorcycle and keep you and the driver much more comfortable.

As it was stated earlier, always keep your legs down below your waist and never have them wrapped around the operator. Keep your feet on the back foot pegs the entire time the motorcycle is on, even during stops at lights and signs. Remember to wear the appropriate footwear to prevent burns from the exhaust pipes. Having the right clothes during a motorcycle ride will make you much more relaxed and enjoy the ride more.

Be sure to lean with the motorcycle operator during turns and corners. This will be easy to do if you are holding on to them as they will be much easier to follow. Not leaning with them will off-set their balance. Ensuring you have a snug hold on either the motorcycle or the operator will greatly help with the operator’s balance.

When you first mount the motorcycle, make sure you have a firm hold and that you are comfortable with the position you’re in. This is important because once you’re out on the road, readjustments are dangerous to do unless the motorcycle is stopped and turned off. Sudden jerks and movements can throw the operator off balance.

If, for any reason, you need to let go of your hold while out on the road, communicate with the operator and let them know. You may need to move your hair out of your face, adjust clothing, get that terrible itch on your nose, etc. These things tend to happen in the least convenient of times, so let the operator know ahead of time so they can either stop, slow down, or brace themselves until your issue is solved.

What Happens When You Don’t Hold On Right

Unfortunately, there are a lot of consequences to not holding on right while being a passenger on a motorcycle. The most obvious is, of course, falling off the motorcycle. But a lot of passengers don’t realize that not holding on properly has a lot more consequences outside of what could happen to them.

When a motorcycle passenger doesn’t have a good hold or anchor to the bike itself, that also puts the operator at risk. An unstable passenger makes the operator unstable which increases the risk of an accident.

A motorcycle passenger having a weak hold on the bike also puts the drivers around them at risk. It’s kind of a domino effect; when the passenger doesn’t have a good hold, that puts the operator off balance which in turn makes them less of a defensive driver which means they could possibly hurt someone else.

Aside from physical harm, there are also some legal consequences. According to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, all state laws require that in order for a passenger to ride on the back of a motorcycle, there needs to be additional seating for them as well as extra foot pegs that they are able to reach with their feet.

A good hold from a passenger should include these factors. If a motorcyclist and their passenger are caught without abiding by these laws, either or both the operator and the passenger could receive some hefty fines.

If you’re going to ride on the back of a motorcycle, make sure you’re aware of where you’re going to hold on to and that there’s room for you to securely ride on the road. It’s not worth your safety if you feel uncomfortable and don’t have the ability to appropriately anchor yourself to the motorcycle.

For additional tips on how to be a good motorcycle passenger, see my other article by clicking here.

This article has been reviewed in accordance with our editorial policy.

Kyle Cannon

Kyle currently works as a mechanical engineer and graduated with a minor in automotive engineering. He loves restoring motorcycles, has a vast knowledge of how they work, and has sold his restoration projects to customers from all over the United States.

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