Can I carry a child as a pillion passenger on a motorcycle?

Can I carry a child as a pillion passenger on a motorcycle?


You can carry a child as a passenger on a motorcycle, providing legal requirements are met. The motorcycle must have a pillion seat and footrests that the passenger can reach with their feet. The child must be able to sit astride the machine safely and hold onto the rider, the pillion hand-holds or bar.

The child must wear a suitable, well-fitting helmet and preferably protective clothing (gloves, boots, jacket and trousers in a suitable material). Preferably child and rider should wear some high visibility clothing. Protective clothing can be expensive, so RoSPA recommends sourcing second-hand equipment (but helmets should always be purchased brand new).

The child must be able to understand how to react to the motorbike’s movement, especially acceleration, braking and cornering. They must pay attention to what is going on, and as children’s attention spans can be short, they should only be carried on short journeys. The rider must be aware of the danger of the child falling asleep, and that children need extra stops to go to the toilet and eat regularly.

Parents need to be confident that the child is mature enough to understand what is required of them and to remain alert and play their part in ensuring safety.

The rider should be trained and experienced with sufficient skill and ability to carry a pillion safely and deal with the following:

  •  Altered handling of the motorcycle and changes in centre of gravity
  • A pillion tends to shunt forward under heavy braking; the helmet can clash with that of the rider, so the rider should be prepared for this
  • Extra weight, particularly on a smaller motorcycle, requires more throttle and clutch control and earlier and harder braking
  • Riding downhill requires an increase in braking distance, as does riding in the wet
  • More care is required in cornering – increased weight can affect clearances
  • Allow more time and space for overtaking – extra weight will affect speed and manoeuvrability.

Riders should consider taking advanced or refresher training before carrying a pillion for the first time.

Advanced Motorcycle Training London