Riding two up: Before you get going… [Part 1]

The first time I rode two up on the back of a motorcycle I was sure I was going to blow off. I held on for dear life. I did as I was instructed — put my hands on the driver’s waist (rider #1) and relaxed.

riding-two-up-motorcycleWell, I tried to relax. The first few miles were fine but when we hit the highway — yikes! Where’s my seatbelt???? Here I am with nothing to hold me down — surely the wind is going to take me, I know it is!

It was exhilarating, scary and something I knew I wanted to do again.

Riding two up… here’s what I have learned

Your two-up ride begins before you mount the bike. You need to ready yourself and you need to coordinate your timing with rider #1.

Getting yourself ready is greatly enhanced by knowing your gear. It may sound almost too obvious to mention, but if you are wearing safety gear specifically designed for riding, it’s the most complicated wardrobe you’ll ever own. There are pockets and zippers and flaps and vents and snaps — everywhere.

There are spots to store your ear plugs, your glasses, your money, your breath mints, your Kleenex, your snacks, your phone numbers, your keys. You simplify your life by deciding where to keep each of these items that you ALWAYS take with you and then ALWAYS keep them there. It’s a gift to yourself and your traveling companion to know that the extra key is in your inside, zip up, left breast pocket of your jacket.

What do you want to carry?

Thinking in advance what you want to carry on the bike, not on your person, will also help you be ready for a ride.

  • Do you need shoes for a hike to a waterfall?
  • Do you want both a tinted and clear face shield for your helmet?
  • Do you want a water bottle handy?
  • Does rider #1 know you need space for these?
  • Will these items be in zip up soft luggage on the bike that you can easily access at a rest stop? Or might it be stored in hard luggage that requires a key to open?
  • Do you have a key or will you depend on rider #1 to get these out for you?

If you’ve planned for these “carry ons”, they’ll be non-issues to retrieve when you want them. Now, we’re through with planning and ready to mount the bike.

How to mount the motorcycle

Rider #1 is on the bike, has it warmed up and is ready for you to get on. You have everything you need and everything in its proper place, right? Your jacket is zipped. The Velcro around the bottom of your pant legs is fastened and either tucked into or outside of your boots — whatever your preference.

Your gloves are on and you’ve got on a glove liner if you think you’re going to need it. You’re ready to put on your helmet. Oops. Can’t do up your helmet chin strap with the gloves on — too bulky. Take off the gloves and put on the helmet. Okay, helmet and gloves on. Oops. Forgot the earplugs (the earplugs that you keep in the right hand pocket of your pants and you hope that‘s where they are). Okay, earplugs in, gloves on, helmet on and secured.

Ready yet?

Did you need neckwear? Did you remember it? Is rider #1 impatient yet… possibly hot and frustrated? Gear is heavy and cumbersome no matter what the weather. Plan in advance to keep this period of final “dressing” short for both of you. You owe it to your riding partner.

Develop a routine… and stick to it

I have learned to develop a mental checklist… a routine that I follow on every ride. I’ve found through the years that when I alter my routine (could you wait just one more minute, I’ve got to run to the house and see if I turned off the stove), I usually forget something important like securing my chin strap. A helmet with an “undone” chin strap is like no helmet at all. And that’s not a mistake you want to make. Keep it simple, but develop a routine to help you master the pre-ride portion.

Now it’s time to mount the bike and go for a ride!

Donn Brous