5 Tips For Riding With A Passenger

Eli Madero
by Eli Madero

One of the best things about riding ATVs or SxS vehicles is that you can go out and have a great time with a good group of friends. With plenty of options for 2-up (rider and passenger) ATVs and SxS vehicles, you can really share the experience firsthand. We have some great tips to help make the experience as fun and safe as possible for you and your passenger(s).

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With the increasing popularity of SxS vehicles and even 2-up ATVs, getting out to explore some great trails with a friend has become easier than ever. As the operator of one of these machines, you have control of the bars or the steering wheel to provide an exhilarating experience for your passenger. With this control comes great responsibility, since your passenger is essentially putting their life in your hands.

You have full control over what happens when you’re piloting one of these machines and your passenger is literally just along for the ride. From proper equipment to proper etiquette, we’ve got some great tips to keep you and your passengers safe out on the trails.

Before we even get into our list, we want to make something clear. When it comes to ATVs, there isn’t a Sport ATV produced from any manufacturer that has been designed to accommodate both an operator and passenger. If you are going to have a passenger on the back of your ATV, make sure it is a proper two-up ATV.

Wearing the Right Helmet

We always emphasize wearing the proper safety gear when riding, which includes over the ankle boots, gloves, and most importantly a good helmet. Which helmet we recommend really depends on what machine you’re on/in. If you’ll be riding a 2-up ATV, we highly suggest using a full-face MX style helmet. Honestly, we recommend this style even if you’re riding solo because it protects your face from slamming into the handlebars and controls, potentially causing serious injury. While many opt for an open-face style helmet, you don’t have the increased protection that a full face helmet provides.

This is even more important if you have a passenger riding on the back of an ATV. It’s not uncommon to see facial injuries from people wearing open-face helmets because the operator accelerated or stopped suddenly, causing the passengers head to snap forward into the back of the operator. A good full-face helmet protects your passengers from potential injuries.

If you own a SxS, you and your passengers should all be wearing a proper helmet. It seems as though many SxS operators assume that since they’re in an enclosed vehicle, protected by a Roll Over Protective Structure (ROPS), that they’re not at risk of head injuries. This is simply not true. It is still possible to have your head hit the steering wheel as a driver or a grab bar as a passenger. Additionally, it is possible to hit your head on the tubing of the roll cage, so the more protection you can have to prevent head injuries the better off you and your passengers are.

Listen to Your Passenger

As the person behind the controls of the machine you’re operating, you’re assuming responsibility for the safety of yourself and your passenger. Sure, it might be fun to give your passenger a quick rush of adrenaline, but you really need to take their wellbeing and comfort into consideration. By trying to show off or possibly riding at or above your ability, you are putting their safety at risk. If they tell you that you need to slow down, it’s a good idea to listen.

Know How to Ride As a Passenger

Seems simple enough, right? If you’re riding double on a 2-up ATV, they’ll be equipped with specific hand holds for you to keep yourself in place while tackling the terrain. Traditionally, people would wrap their arms around the operator of the ATV, but this can affect their mobility potentially causing them to lose control. For example, if the passenger were holding onto the operator while accelerating, it is possible for the force of acceleration to pull them both back, affecting the operator's grip on the handlebars, throttle and/or brake. By utilizing the hand holds that were specifically designed for those units, you minimize the potential of any loss of control.

If you’re operating a SxS, ensure that the grab bar for the passenger is well within reach so they can keep their hands on it to stabilize themselves. Also, just like when you’re a passenger in a vehicle, don’t grab or distract the driver.

Check to See How Your Machine Handles

A common mistake people make when riding with passengers is not realizing how much the extra weight affects the handling of the machine. Whether it be an ATV or a SxS, the additional weight can throw off the physical handling characteristics of the machine, causing you to lose control if not prepared for it. If it’s your first time riding with a passenger, start off easy and get to know how your machine is handling the extra load. Once you get familiar with how the machine handles, you can push your threshold more and more within safe reason.

Never Carry More Than Designated For

We brushed over this in our opening statement about Sport ATVs, and the same applies to any ATV and SxS. You never want to operate a vehicle with more passengers than it was designed for. The fact that there isn’t adequate seating for extra passengers is just asking for trouble.

Check out the New Riders Hub for more articles geared towards new off-road enthusiasts.

Eli Madero
Eli Madero

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