A matter of synchronisation

Published on 08.05.2020

The motorcycling season has begun and many bikers are now out on the roads, with a passenger.

If the driver and passenger aren’t regular biking partners, they should watch out for certain “synchronisation traps”.

The first traps are encountered when getting on the bike. If the passenger swings suddenly onto the bike and stands on the left footrest without warning, the bike could rock and put the driver in difficulty. The Institut für Zweiradsicherheit (IfZ in Essen) therefore advises novices to clearly announce when they are getting on or off the bike.
Before getting on or off the bike, the passenger should wait until the driver has both feet on the ground and has control of the bike. It might also be helpful to briefly tap the driver’s shoulders.
The classic mistake made by inexperienced passengers is incorrect alignment in turns. On each direction change, the driver and passenger must be correctly aligned to maintain a stable balance. The passenger mustn’t take their foot off the footrest or lean reflexively in the opposite direction.
Another classic accident between driver and passenger: clashing helmets when braking or accelerating. The IfZ recommends a smooth and flexible driving style, maintaining a certain tension in the body to prevent accidental head contact.
Sitting as close together as possible also helps to create a dynamic driver-passenger unit. Before setting out, drivers and passengers should also agree on certain signals to communicate to each other if their helmets have no communication device. For example, a tap on the right thigh could mean stop, and a tap on the right shoulder slow down. In any case, this will enable any spurious gestures that might disrupt driving to be avoided.
With two people, braking and overtaking manoeuvres are longer than in solo mode due to the greater total combined weight of two people. The driver must account for this in their driving and, as a general rule, avoid risky and sudden manoeuvres. Moreover, due to the greater live load, the suspension and tyre pressure might have to be adjusted before taking to the road.



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