My sister just completed her first moto journey, a 5 week tour of Argentina on the back of my F650. As such she feels compelled to spread the good word to all about all the tips she learned along the way, especially the important ones like Bike Fasion and Hair Tips. This is for my website, but I think it is accurate enough to have its own topic here! To put this all in perspective, her knowledge of motorcycles the day before her trip started was limited to "My brother has a white one". Her other chapter can be found at www.renedian.com
This chapter is being written from my hometown, Edmonton, Canada, after finishing my backseat tour through Argentina just a few weeks ago. The last time I wrote I spoke a bit about what life is like from the rear. At that time I was a relatively new rider or should I say sitter, as really I don’t ride and whenever anyone asked me if I did ride, I’d simply respond, “No, but I can sit real well!” (No, I don’t do any other tricks). Anyhow, I would now like to write more about life from the back seat and give some tips on how to be a good sitter on the back of a motorbike.
First off, when you are getting ready to ride a moto you need to consider the riding gear. You must somehow get a hold of a helmet and leather gloves, as these are very important to looking and feeling like a biker, not to mention the safety aspect they have. A pair of jeans, windbreaker jacket and sturdy pair of boots will do, if you do not have all the fancy gear like the moto heads do. Also, some rain gear is essential for the rainy days. However, if you don’t have rain gear, just do what I did and become environmentally unfriendly and use a lot of plastic bags. I have to say here, that plastic bags can be a traveler’s best friend. To explain, you can put them on your feet before putting on your boots to keep your feet warm, or any other appendage for that matter, you can wrap all important items, such as cameras, guidebooks and passports to keep them from getting wet and the list goes on.
Back to looking like a biker. The hairdo is something that is very important to consider. If you have long hair, especially with no bangs, you are in luck. There are many great styles you can choose to fit under the helmet. The best is braids, because the hair doesn’t blow around and become a tangled web that is awful to comb out. Another option is using a bandanna and doing the Axle Rose or Willie Nelson look. You take your pick for whatever mood you feel in that day. Now, if you have bangs, they require a bit of work. You have to somehow smooth them under the helmet, so that when you take it off you don’t look like a rooster, only later to find pictures of you looking that way are put on the web by your brother. As for those with short hair, you’re on your own.
Another thing I would like to address is getting on and off the bike. It is critical to remember the driver has a lot of work to do with keeping the bike upright on the road, looking out for traffic or sheep, dodging oncoming insects, let alone having to worry about the extra dead weight sitting on the back. So to keep the driver happy and make things easier for yourself, you want to make getting on and off the bike as quick and painless as possible.
My suggestions are first, to decide beforehand, which side are you more flexible on and then get on and off from that side. (Some warm up exercises are a good idea before getting on). Next, make sure the driver is stable with the bike before stepping up and swinging your leg over. Caution this is a tricky move and could cause a tip over. You will need to hang on to the driver while you are doing this, but try to not grab onto their head or anything else that can cause discomfort. Rather, lightly take the shoulder for support and do most of the get up work with your legs. Once you are on the moto, try not to fidget too much, as the driver will notice. And remember, as much as you may or may not like it, they are in control. As for getting off the bike, use the same advice for getting on, just in reverse. Use the drivers shoulder for balance and support and work from the legs. This can be tough, especially after sitting for numerous hours, but it can be done.
Some other tips for the back seat sitter:
Gum is great for the long rides (choose a variety of flavors to keep it interesting)
A Discman or MP3 player is nice if your song repertoire is limited
Taking pictures is possible, but make sure you have many riding hours first
Drinking coffee isn’t a good idea (yes, we tried)
Be warned that oil and other gunk may get kicked up onto your clothes
Work out some sort of stop, go, gotta go, need water because that salami was way too salty, but damn good kind of communication system with the driver before you head out
Well, this should be plenty to work with for those that are considering becoming a back seat sitter and for those that already are; maybe you can empathize with some of what I am writing about. If you don’t ride, that’s ok. Life on the back seat is just as enjoyable, besides you have far less to worry about. Who knows, if you spend enough time in the rear, you may eventually decide you’ve had enough there and get your own bike! The thought has crossed my mind.
PS. If you are in Buenos Aries, you can get a great deal on a leather jacket and really look the part. I did, now all I have to do is get the bike.