Parents who are also motorcycle riders love what they do, so it should come as no surprise that most want to share the experience with their kids. As with any activity involving children, safety should always be a top priority. It’s up to adults to make sure that kids riding on a motorcycle have all the right gear and training to keep themselves safe on the road, so parents should check out these safety precautions before heading out for that first tandem ride.
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Requirements for bikes
There are some legal requirements for carrying children as passengers on motorcycles. When shopping for a used motorcycle, parents who plan to ride tandem with their kids should make sure the bike features a pillion seat and footrests. The motorcycle must be able to safely accommodate not just a second passenger, but a smaller-than-average one, so pay attention to the size. The child should be able to sit on the motorcycle and hold onto the pillion hand-holds or bar or the rider safely and comfortably.
Safety Gear for kids riding on a motorcycle
Just like adults, children should wear well-fitted helmets whenever they ride on the backs of bikes. It’s also preferable for children to be outfitted with protective clothing, including boots, a jacket, gloves, and trousers that will help to prevent road rash in the event of a crash. Keep in mind that while it’s fine to purchase second-hand clothing, helmets should always be brand-new and DOT-approved.
Legal riding age for passengers
Every state is a little different when it comes to legal riding age for kids riding on a motorcycle. Some states, such as Texas, have a specific age requirement of five years. Others, like California, put height requirements into place instead, in that case requiring children to be 4’8″ tall before riding on the back of a motorcycle. Parents and other caregivers of young children should always follow the state laws, but don’t assume a child is ready to ride because it’s legal. Some kids won’t be ready until they’re older, even if they technically meet the legal requirements for riding on the back of a bike.
Ability to ride safely
Regardless of age, not all children will be able to understand how to react properly to a motorcycle’s movement on the road. Acceleration, braking, and cornering all feel very different on the back of the motorcycle than they do in the backseat of a car, and passengers must be able to pay attention to and react to those actions. Remember, kids have short attention spans. Sticking to short journeys can help when you first try your kids riding on a motorcycle
What adult riders need to know
Since adult riders are the ones who are responsible for maintaining their own safety and that of their child passengers, they should always be sufficiently trained and experienced before taking on passengers. Even skilled riders sometimes have trouble adjusting to things such as:
- Altered handling due to changes in the bike’s centre of gravity
- The extra weight requires earlier and harder braking, more throttle, and better clutch control
- Changing clearances while cornering due to the increased weight
- Changes in speed and general maneuverability
Don’t be scared with kids riding on a motorcycle
It’s important to note that while adult riders should be cautious when taking on child passengers, there’s no reason to let those fears stop them from trying. If the child is old enough to understand directions and tall enough to reach the pillion hand-holds.
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