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Kids Like to Ride Motorcycles Too

By Jeff Sinason

Roaring up on a motorcycle has a strong draw for all of us who have adopted the biker lifestyle. This draw often hits our children too. I know that for me my kids love to ride and probably want to do it as much as I do. I love taking them for rides and sharing the experience with them. But there are some additional considerations that have to be taken into account when loading them on the back of your motorcycle.

Protective Clothing
Just like for us, kids have to have protective clothing on. It's really great that several of the leathers companies have started producing good quality leathers for kids. I always make sure that they are properly dressed. This means that they have long pants (denim or chaps), long sleeves (denim and leather jackets work best), full finger gloves, good sturdy shoes, and a properly fitted D.O.T. helmet. All of these items can be obtained through a multitude of sources on the internet, local bike and leather shops, and at swap meets.

One other piece of protective clothing is a good pair of sunglasses. Recent studies have shown that the earlier children start wearing eye protection while outdoors the better their chances of avoiding major eye health problems later in life.

Damage to the eyes is cumulative, increasing from year to year. The sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation can be very harmful to unprotected eyes and almost half of a person's total lifetime UV radiation exposure occurs before age 18. Young eyes let more UV rays inside and normally get more exposure because they spend more time outdoors, usually without eye protection. Exposure to sunlight at an early age appears to be a critical factor in the development of eye cancer. The good news is that high quality children's sunglasses (kids aged 3-12) are easier to find than ever. Modeled after adult versions, they feature high impact-resistant lenses with sturdy, durable frames and lots of great colors.

Look for polycarbonate plastic lenses since this is the most shatter-resistant. Always make sure to buy sunglasses that block 99% to 100% of both UVA and UVB.

Passenger Comfort
Often the passenger pegs or floorboards are set for a normal height passenger. They are definitely not set for riding around kids. Make sure that you have a good solid support for them to put their feet on. My son uses the highway bars on the back as his foot rests, since they fit just about right. My daughter has now started using the regular floorboards since she's gotten tall enough to reach them. I've talked to people who have gone as far as rigging up adjustable floorboards on their bike to adjust to the height needed by their passenger.

Passenger Rules
Make sure that your kids understand the rules about being a passenger. Make sure they know where they need to be holding on to. Make sure that they understand not to make any sudden movements. Make sure that they know to keep their bottom flat on the seat at all times. These really are the same rules that would apply anytime you carry a passenger, but with kids you have to make sure that you explain them in a way they would understand.

Rider Responsibilities
When you have a kid on the back of your motorcycle you have to be more aware of what they are doing. They may have a tendancy to move more than an adult passenger. They may play games by sticking their hands out in the wind (like we don't ever do that do we?). I find with my kids that they generally want to talk more than an adult passenger and they get more excited over things they see from the back of the motorcycle.

Be aware that the steady rumble of your motor can have a tendancy to lull passengers to sleep. There's been more than once that I've had passengers fall asleep when riding with me (must be my stellar personality). With adults this usually doesn't present much of a problem since it'd be harder for them to fall off. With children it's a completely different situation. Since there is generally more room for them between the rider and the sissy bar, if they do fall asleep, there is a greater chance for them to flop over to one side or another. When they do this they increase their chances of falling of to the side. When you have a kid as a passenger stay alert of this and be prepared to hold them up and stop, if this situation occurs.

Riding with kids can be a very enjoyable experience. But please be aware that with that comes some additional responsibilities.

Be Safe ... Enjoy the Ride

- Tools

Jeff Sinason aka "Tools" is a long time motorcycle enthusiats. Being a motorcycle nut, he has run into all kinds of conditions and ridden through them unscathed. He is the owner of http://www.bikerwares.com which is a site dedicated to Enjoying the Ride.


I was really glad to come across this article. My husband wants to take my step-son riding and I'm just afraid he is too young. My step-son is 5 and my husband has a dual sport. Although he (my man) has been riding for years and rode motocross as a kid, I flipped out when I found out he took our son for a short ride and over some hills. I realize I probably over-reacted, but either way, I was curious if there are any height, age, or weight requirements for a child to ride other than if his feet reach the peg. Anything you've got is appreciated.
- Jana

i really enjoyed this article. i have a seven year old son who loves to ride with me, so i can relate to wanting to share the experience but at the same time trying to keep it as safe as possible. i have taken him out before for short trips on my Buell lightning. while i chose to put him in front of me i soon realized that was limiting my ability to control the motorcycle. braking and steering were compromised so much that i haven't taken him out since. i recently purchased a Yamaha R1 and i am looking forward to carrying him behind me (low speeds of course), do you know of any products designed to affix or strap a child behind you for an application like this. just in case he should let go or his hands get tired. any advice will be greatly appreciated.
- Justin

Hey Tools, I enjoyed reading this arcticle wich will help with my older son, but I have a 4 year old that I am concerned about riding with my husband. He puts him in front of him and with his hands on the tank. This seems a little dangerous to me, and has only happened once as it caused me to have a massive anxiety attack. My fear is of him not fully understanding that he's not on a toy and fidgeting while my husband has no means of catching him from falling while raring down the road at 40 or 50mph, resulting in tragedy for most likely both of them. I want him to enjoy the thrill with his dad but feel he's just too young for anything but going up and down our streeet in the neighborhood. Can you help me out with some advice? Sure do appreciate it.
- Eva

You're right. At 4 years old the kid is to young to go on rides anywhere else besides around the neighborhood. In my case my kids didn't start riding with me until they were around 6 and then only after they were able to show me that they understood what I wanted from them. At younger ages, the kids have a tendency to fidget a whole lot more which increases the risks.
As for riding on the tank. I've personally never thought that was a good idea. Firstly the tank is slicker than a set and could result in the kid sliding. Secondly I believe that having the kid in front of you could interfere with the riders ability to control the motorcycle.

As always these are my opinions and only that. Many people may think differently, but these are the things I know.

Be Safe ... Enjoy the Ride

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