This is pretty much the view you get. The back of someone’s head. If you’ve ever ridden two-up on a sportbike, you know very well what I’m talking about. Of course, this isn’t the case with all motorbikes. If you’re a pillion rider on a cruiser or a bike that allows you the freedom to sit back on your bum fully relaxed, then you probably get to take in a lot more of your surroundings. But that’s never been my experience. All I know is the back of my husband’s head.
Have you ever seen a CBR1000RR? Many simply refer to it as a “thousand” or “Fireblade.” To me, it is the bike with one of the coolest, whippiest-looking tails, but has the smallest guest seat or pillion to be more precise. The first time I saw it, I wondered how in the world my booty would ever manage to stay put on such a small surface. No joke. It’s freaking tiny. Imagine a thin piece of plastic and then slap some leather cushioning over it. That’s your seat. Now squat down on it with your knees up and pretend your feet are balancing on foot pegs. Remember there’s nothing else behind you to support your back so stabilizing your core is key. Last but not least, hang on.
The thing you have to remember when riding two-up on a sportbike is that you’re riding, too! You can’t be all relaxed, sitting back, and taking in the view. (By the way, I took this photo while we were parked on the side of the road. As if!) Paying attention to what’s ahead and being able to predict the next turn, stop, or lane change is essential. Why? Because basically if you move, the bike moves and any sudden change to weight distribution on the bike can cause a whole lot of trouble for the person who’s controlling the gears. But believe me, it’s pretty hard to move at all once since you’ve been frozen in a full squat position for the past half hour.
Lately I’ve been noticing a number of pillion riders (mostly chicks) who ride without wearing any protective gear. We all know a helmet and gloves are necessary, but to pair that with a tank top, daisy dukes, and flip flops combo? I can’t help but think that: A) The chick is really stupid, B) Her boyfriend/partner is really stupid, C) She doesn’t care about herself, or D) Her partner doesn’t care about her either. Seriously, girls–go get some proper gear.
I know how it feels though. I’ve been there. I wanted to be a sexy pillion rider too. When I first rode two-up, I had all these images of me gracefully stepping off the back of my husband’s motorbike and taking off my helmet, allowing my long hair to slowly unravel and twirl around in slow motion as I revealed a photo finish face. But that never happened. I’ve tried many different hairstyles to make it happen, thinking it was a just my inexperience. Three years later, it still happens. Movies are movies for a reason. No one wants to see reality–flat, heavy locks of hair pressed against up my head which is a red hot, sticky mess covered in lines resulting from the helmet’s inner cheek pads squishing up against them. Sooo not sexy.
As a chick, there’s plenty to consider when riding two-up: bad hair, heavy clothing that makes you sweat, leg cramps–but I have to say it’s all worth it. The thrill of hearing the exhaust screaming through the highway tunnels. The rush of blood that comes as you accelerate to top gear down the freeway. The joy of seeing the world around you whiz past in a series of coloured images like a flip book. The freedom of getting from point A to point B faster. I can’t deny it–riding two-up on a thousand has become one of my favourite ways to travel.