Taking to the Alabama roadways on two wheels is a great way to enjoy the state’s scenery or save money on a commute. Either way, a rider may need to bring along a passenger occasionally. Since motorcycles are not like any other vehicles, both the operator and the passenger should understand a few of the basic differences before that first ride.
According to the American Motorcyclist, Alabama has specific laws regarding passengers. First, the motorcycle must be equipped with a seat and footrests for another person. The passenger has to wear a helmet that meets state criteria for safety, as well. Although Alabama does not have an age restriction, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation points out that the second motorcycle rider should be tall enough to reach the foot pegs and to avoid contact with any hot or moving parts.
The change in weight on the motorcycle may require some adjustments to suspension or tire pressure, and the operator may need to compensate some, too. For example, braking typically requires more pressure and longer stopping distance with a passenger. Balance and wind resistance are typically also affected, and clearance on corners can be altered due to the extra weight. The second rider can help by looking over the driver’s shoulder toward a turn, and avoiding any sudden movement. Standing slightly with knees bent can help absorb impact when going over obstacles in the road.
The best way to prepare for differences is to check the owner’s manual, brief the passenger on the protocol, and then take a drive together on a quiet street to test the changes necessary. Someone who intends to be a frequent motorcycle passenger may want to take a rider course to learn more about how the vehicle operates and the ways that he or she can improve safety.