Riding two up: Mounting the Bike… [Part 2]

There’s more than one way for a passenger (rider #2) to mount a motorcycle and people find their own styles. There are two basic ways suggested below but what is most important is that you mount smoothly, efficiently and with full awareness by rider #1.

riding-two-up-motorcycle2Sound easy? Well, it is, most times, but like many easy things in life, it’s tempting to overlook its importance and the results can be disastrous if you do.

It’s nothing to take lightly

To grasp the significance of mounting a bike, think of it this way: Rider #1 is balancing a large machine — weighing between a quarter and half a ton — and you’re about to add another 100 – 200 pounds to that balancing act. For a few brief seconds, all of your weight will be to one side of the machine. If rider #1 anticipates this, it won’t be a problem.

At this stage it’s easy to drop the bike, damage it, damage you, damage an ego. With careful attention to mounting the bike properly, you’ll soon be on your way for a fun ride.

Here are some steps to follow

Step 1: Always “ask” rider #1 if they are ready for you to get on.
I recommend you get used to doing this primarily with eye contact. Often hearing is impaired by earplugs and helmets and so verbal communication is an obstacle. Tell rider #1 with your eyes that you are ready to get on and wait for an acknowledgement — a nod, a thumbs up whatever makes for clear communication between the two of you. Hopefully, you’ve discussed this in advance. Never assume – you know that expression? Never assume that rider #1 knows exactly what you’re thinking or exactly what you are about to do.

Step 2: Two basic ways to mount:
It is recommended that you get on the bike from the driver’s left side — just like mounting a horse – let them see you coming. Then mount by stepping on the passenger’s foot peg with your left foot, establish your balance and then gently swing your right leg over the seat. Find the foot peg on the right side and settle in.

Note: Check that both foot pegs are in the down position before you begin to mount; otherwise you‘ll be flailing around looking for a secure place to put your right foot.

The second way to mount the bike is to keep your left foot on the ground, place your right leg on the seat and slowly slide it across until you‘re centered.

The technique which works best for you will depend on how long your legs are, how tall the bike is, whether there’s luggage on the back which limits your maneuverability as well as the terrain in which you‘re mounting the bike. The smoother, the flatter, the easier.

Step 3: Settle in.
Once you’re seated, take a minute to jiggle around, pull your jacket down, make sure the protective armor for your knees and elbows is in place. Doublecheck the basics — your chin strap is buckled, right? Do your final adjusting now — not after you get moving.

Step 4: Announce that you are ready.
Okay, now you’re ready to go. Do you have a system for letting your partner know that? One tap on the shoulder, a squeeze around the waist — a signal that the two of you have decided on in advance. A clear signal. Good communication is the key to successful two-up riding. Tap away, squeeze away and you’re on the road.

Step 5: Notice the conditions.
When you mount the bike after various stops throughout the journey, notice when rider #1 is dealing with less than ideal conditions — a sloped parking lot, gravel underfoot, an incline. Especially if rider #1 has limited experience (and/or a typical male ego and wouldn’t admit for all the world that this might be a challenge), take the lead and suggest that you’d prefer to get on — let’s say, over there — where it is an easy mount.

There are few things more fun and participatory than to ride two up but you’ve got to get off to a good start!

Donn Brous

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