Smooth operator – how riding with a pillion will make you a better rider

Discussion in 'Riding Advice' started by Simon, Jan 6, 2017.

  1. Simon

    Simon Professional storyteller
    Staff Member Premium

    Mar 25, 2015
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    Contributor Nathan Millward was living close by and needed a lift for four weeks while he was doing some work for RiDE. No problem I thought, I’ll take him on the back of a BMW S1000XR test bike on my commute. How difficult could it be?

    I’d never had anyone on the back of any bike before, and I underestimated just what a difference it made to everything – brakes, acceleration, cornering, gear changes, comfort and practicality.

    The first couple of trips were horrible – to accommodate Nathan I was forced to ride far closer to the tank than I normally would, and my legs and feet were cramped, so much so that I was struggling to use the pegs. Then there was the riding dynamic to deal with – Nathan holding on for dear life while I did my best to stop us clashing heads with every clumsily executed gear change and Nathan fighting against the lean and throwing the big Bandit horribly off course. Then there was the fact that I couldn’t wear a rucksack anymore, so we had to start sharing luggage. After that first trip the look of fear through his clear visor made me realise there was a lot of work to do.

    So I refined my technique over the following four weeks and having a pillion on the back, although hard work, actually benefitted my riding in a lot of different ways. It made me plan everything much further in advance, made me smoother and made me assess my riding in a way I never had before.

    And it all came together on a long weekend’s ride to Scarborough. Nathan was so comfortable on the back he actually fell asleep, and only woke up as we pulled on to his parent’s drive. I took that as a compliment, rather than an insult – I like to think he fell asleep due to comfort and not boredom. Job done.

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