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Should you take your child pillion on a motorbike?

Child Pillion Motorbike ClothingMany people have speculated that children shouldn’t be allowed on the motorbike because it’s unsafe but this is untrue, I’m here to explain the possible issues and solutions for children as a pillion on a motorbike. In this article, we will cover the legalities, safety concerns, where to buy motorbike gear and some handy tips!

The Legalities

According to UK law, a child of any age can ride as a pillion as long as a few basic requirements have been met:

  • The motorbike has a pillion seat
  • The child can reach the footrests
  • The child has a well-fitted helmet

It is also highly recommended that the child has protected clothing, (such as; a jacket, trousers, gloves, boots etc.) and some form of hi-vis, though these aren’t required by law.

Safety concerns

Letting your child pillion on your motorbike can be safe and enjoyable if you are responsible and understand the risks involved. You must be confident that your child is mature enough to know how to react to the motorbike’s movement, whether this is braking, cornering or especially acceleration. They will need to stay still and not jerk around.

You must also be aware that children’s attention spans are short and it’s safest they are only taken on short journeys. Also, there is a danger the child may fall asleep so regular toilet and snack breaks are needed.

Where can I buy my child protective clothing?

Seeing how fast children grow out of clothes, it can be tempting to purchase second-hand gear, which in all respects is completely fine and often encouraged. But one thing to note is to always purchase helmets new because you can’t tell if the helmet has been previously dropped and has a crack on the inside.

There are many brands out there that claim to have safe motorbike gear but it can be hard to know which companies will sell quality, safe clothing for your child, so a few brands that guarantee great, reputable motorbike gear are Duchinni, Held, Frank Thomas, IXS, and Hein Gericke. You can find some of these at:

One thing to be aware of when shopping for motorbike gear is not mixing up motorbike and motocross gear. Here are some of the key differences;

Motorbike Gear Motocross Gear
  • Has abrasive protection designed to protect you from slides across the tarmac at high speeds
  • Some armour. Back armour is usually optional
  • Waterproof and often with thermal liners for winter
  • Lightweight and vented trousers and tops to cover separate armour
  • Extensive armour to protect against impacts
  • Not waterproof or winterproof

If you are taking your child pillion on the road do not buy motocross gear, they will not be sufficiently protected as it’s not made to slide across the tarmac at high speeds if any accidents occur.

Handy tips

If it’s your first time taking a child out as a pillion here are a few helpful tips that are recommended!

  • Have a communication system while riding, whether this is an intercom or a series of tapping patterns that mean different things. An example would be 2 taps to the rider’s shoulder indicates the pillion wants to stop soon, but 3 taps mean they want to stop immediately in case of emergencies
  • Let the pillion know they are only to get on and off the bike when instructed to prevent the rider from being unprepared and toppling the bike
  • Make sure your child always holds onto the rider or the hand-hold bars when riding. You can also buy handles to clip around the rider’s waist for smaller children to hold onto

In conclusion, taking children as a pillion on the motorbike can have risks if the safety precautions are not met, but if you are responsible and mindful it can be an enjoyable experience for you and your child. Always remember to follow the laws in your country and ensure your child is wearing safety gear and a brand-new helmet. Finally, if you don’t have an intercom, do agree on another form of communication, it can really help, whether it be a toilet stop or an emergency.

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