|Ed and I with his new Ultra Limited|
teamwork. Reading and anticipating each other became second nature. Riding together on the same motorcycle was a natural extension of that way of thinking, making the whole experience safer and more enjoyable. We believe that we each share the responsibility for getting ourselves safely down the road as rider and co-rider, not rider and passenger. After more than 100,000 miles—not completely without incident—I still believe we have a winning formula.
Sometimes couples seem as though their ride has been choreographed, moving seamlessly. Typically, they’re communicating the whole time. Communication doesn’t require an intercom; nudging, pointing, nodding, key words, (“Bambi!” = deer, moose, caribou…goats) all qualify if they are mutually understood. One-way communication is not communication.
|Somewhere in Nevada|
Our ride starts before the ride. We both agree on the route, so I can anticipate turns, and of course we both understand when one suggests a change enroute. I spot for him as he backs the bike up—watching for sand on pavement, small stones or large cars. Getting on is an art in itself; I cringe when I see a rider struggle when the passenger doesn’t keep their weight close to the centre line of the bike. Holding up several hundred pounds can be tough enough without being pulled or pushed sideways. I don’t get on until I get “the nod”– and he doesn’t go until he gets “the double pat”.
|Pennsylvania Back Road|
Compensating for braking is possibly the most important action a co rider can take. During braking, weight is transferred onto the front wheel and off of the rear wheel, giving it less traction. Managing this loss of rear-wheel traction is a large part of braking. If passengers are unprepared —especially during emergency braking—two things happen.
First, they physically move forward, compounding the problem of weight transfer forward. Second, their weight falls on the rider, who is already busy enough maintaining their own position during a dynamic braking situation. In this case, the passenger’s inaction can contribute greatly to a crash. We have had different motorcycles, each one having some means for me to hold myself from shifting forward during braking. A strap across the saddle in front of the passenger won’t stop upper body motion at all, whereas grabbing the backrest bracket or rigid handles at the side will. I rest my hands nearby to use them in addition to using the boards or pegs to control my forward motion. Being prepared has definitely paid off on a couple of notable occasions. An added plus; handholds are nice to have in severe wind.
We have followed bikes where the passenger is bounding around to sightsee, get more comfortable, take pictures or get things from their pack. If you wouldn’t stand in a canoe, why would you dance on a bike? Sudden and erratic movements have a significant impact on the rider’s ability to control the bike, especially in corners. All of those things can be accomplished with no impact if done in the right way at the right time.
I adjust my butt when we shift or go over bumps and otherwise move smoothly and slowly. Leg-stretching is saved for when we are at a stop, and even then I let him know what I’m going to do. Another added plus; a less-fatigued rider is a lot more fun during happy hour at the end of the day.
Co-riding is an active, not a passive role, but at the same time it is not “back seat riding.” The rider has a job to do and your role is to complement his or her actions, not complicate them. For his part, my husband shares his knowledge of riding techniques and is very mindful of my needs and comfort. You are an extra set of eyes and ears, able to see and hear things that the rider cannot. Your life is in the rider’s hands and the rider’s in yours, so you have equal responsibility for the outcome. Now that’s sharing the ride.
As our friends have said, we ride as one and so can you.
|My view - Confederation Bridge, PEI|
This article was originally published in Canadian Biker Magazine - Jan/Feb 2009 issue #248. Check out their site at: Canadian Biker Magazine