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Old 03-17-2011, 08:02 AM   #1
Lunatik OP
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Children as Pillion? WORTH THE RISKS?

Just had a difference of opinions with parents about taking our child on the bike. They feel it is a completely insane thing to do.
Wife is a new rider, I am 30 year+ experienced, IBA rider. Child would be with me on bike, not wifey.

Thoughts would be well appreciated here.... We cannot be the first to experience this backlash from the "grand-parents"

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Old 03-17-2011, 08:19 AM   #2
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Your kids, on your bike? There is a short answer, but it probably ain't politically expedient... sooo...

Don't know if this is helpful, but I give the kids in my neighborhood rides. Short little hops. Usuallly up to the school and back. We might go 20 mph tops. I usually start out thinking it will be one kid, one trip, turns into 6 kids, two trips apiece. I have my own little munchkin fan club. There was one Mom, and there was no way in the bad place she was letting her little spawn on that big scary bike. I am not one to push, but this kid WANTED a ride. I offered Mom a ride, with the idea that maybe she feared what she did not understand. Had to offer it three times, but she finally accepted. I really felt bad for her son, but to his credit, he was patient and cool. Took Mom for a little spin, and she came back smiling. Little dude got his ride. And he is usually at the front of the line now, with Mom's blessing. Story has a happy ending.

I call this little public service "Spreading the Sickness". I have met too many adults that are terrified of bikes. I have a half-dozen pre-teen kids in the neighborhood that are not gonna grow up terrified. Makes me happy. I have loved motorcycles as long as I can remember, because I got introduced to them by patient, cool people. When I have the chance to intro someone to motorcycles? Low key, slow little ride first.... then, when they feel comfortable? They will let you know.

Grandparents can be a delicate situation, but I think you have to find a way to make them "put up or shut up". Take them for a ride or at least offer it. If they are not willing to experience or evaluate your rig and your riding? Then they kinda have no credibility.

Hope it works out. Sharing a ride with a kid? Kind of a neat bond, providing the kid enjoys him'/her self. Good Luck!
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:21 AM   #3
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i was on the back of my dads bike from 11year old. and now at 24 i have started to take my girl freind on the back on my bike and i am learning with every ride about carrying pillions and she is learning what to do.

if they are in gear and now what to do it should be fine. just go short runs and then go out longer ones and if you need to fit a head set.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:21 AM   #4
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I am an IBA rider also, but don't think that has anything to do with a skill level (sorry, I believe that most of the style if riding is the easy part of riding)

That said, my dad put me on the back of his bike when I was 3, and I have been addicted ever since, I got my first bike the next year for "christmas" (in May) and never looked back. In Kentucky there were no helmet laws then, and there might as well not be today.

If your child is old enough to maintain the focus needed to ride as a passenger, want to ride with you, and you have the funds to buy the VERY BEST in protective gear than by all means go for it. There is risk in everything, growing up we saw/knew a few kids who didn't grow up, the two I remember the most were a fall from a tree and playing HS baseball (line drive to the head). My future wife and I have decided to I will get to buy a Hack so that we can take the kid with us once he/she is old enough (we are thinking about 4 years old) then maybe around 6 or so throw them on the back if they want.

Racingwise, I have seen kids crash hard at junior level races and the parents never thought twice about the paramedics slicing off $5k in gear (no joke the EMT asked the dad if they should cut it off or slide it off to save money ) I also was at the track when a 12 year old died in a minor lowside.

I cannot stress this enough the following:
1) Gear, get the best and ATGATT, kids don't always know what they are getting into. It is your responsibility to mitigate the risk. My fiance didn't when I invited her to ride with me for the first time, but we went to some shops and found gear she liked that was at or near the best available.

2) Focus. My girl did a 2up ride with me on the track also, she loved it and learned alot about being a passenger and how much her movements effect the bike. Kids will not know this instinctively, you really should ensure your child has the focus and start with SHORT trips to the store, McDonald's, etc and work your way up.

3) The dangerous riding (at least IMHO) is traffic; the stop and go stuff in town, make sure you (30+ years you should) and your passenger know what to do. I would suggest a helmet to helmet communication system and if possible get one for your wife also and have her ride behind. You can communicate to your child and she can let you know if junior is loosing focus and may need a short break.

I don't have any kids, but I have been thinking about this stuff for a while now and look forward to the responses of others also.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:22 AM   #5
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If you do a search for kids/pillion/children/passenger type tags you'll get a lot of hits on this subject.

Naturally this is a biased place but most of us agree no kids on the bike until their feet can reach the passenger foot pegs and fully gear up the little tykes.
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Old 03-17-2011, 08:25 AM   #6
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If they can sit still for the length of the ride, you are good to go.
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:16 AM   #7
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We've ridden with our kids for years now.Some approve,some do not.I let my kids be driven to school on the school bus.I've never met the driver and there are no seat belts
I don't like them riding their bicyles on the road because of other drivers.They understand because of what they have seen on our trips.
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:16 AM   #8
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I didn't take my girl pillion untill she was 12 i think. My other daughter is 9 now and i wouldnt take her with me yet. Then again i am bit of a worry wart, when it come's to my kids. I think when they're under 10, it's bit early, you wont know what they get up too,while sitting in the back, if something happen's you'd never forgive yourself.
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Old 03-17-2011, 09:22 AM   #9
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I used to ride my kids around the neighborhood and out on the trail, and sometimes people would freak out; "My God that's so DANGEROUS!".

These same folks would let their kids ride a bicycle on the streets, or play tackle football, or let 13 year old girls hang out with friends in a mega-mall, or give them a fast car for their 16th birthday.

I taught Middle School for 8 years, so I know from personal experience that my kids were a lot safer on the back of my motorcycle with me, than if they would be out on their own or with a bunch of other kids.
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Old 03-17-2011, 01:19 PM   #10
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My kids are 8 and 11. I take them for rides as often as they want to. The 11 year old doesn't like the big roads so we just ride where we can keep it under 20 ish.

My 8 year old like to go out on the "real" roads. He hasn't been on the freeway yet. There is no need for that. Both of them touch the foot pegs fine but my concern is if we go on a long easy ride oneof them might get a little sleepy. I make sure that we talk alot so I can keep track of this.

The kind of crap I did on a BMX bike when I was 8-11... and then I got a mini bike... I'm glad they like to go for rides.
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Old 03-17-2011, 02:26 PM   #11
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I'm just about ready to get son number 2 on the back of the GS. He is 6 and can touch the passenger pegs. His brother is 11 and has been riding on the back since he was 6 or 7.
Besides being ATGATT, I keep them tethered to me via an old climbing harness and quick draws. At least for the first year.
We also have a system of 'taps' to let me know what he needs.
One tap-gotta pee
Two taps-tired
Three taps-slow down
I also make sure he knows what I am doing. I'll give him a tap on the knee when I am going to accelerate into a pass or before I slow for a turn.

As for the grandparents.....whose kids are they?
I sure as h&!! don't ask my folks what to do with my kids.

My dad and I have ridden together a few times, but I never rode on the back with him driving. He has been a passenger on my bike, though.
I find your lack of faith in the force disturbing.
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Old 03-17-2011, 02:41 PM   #12
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How old, how tall, how obedient?

Do their helmets fit exactly right, and you'll need to buy them new helmets every year as their heads grow. Can their neck structure at this age support the weight of a truly protective helmet in case of a wreck.

Imagine the worst. Some fool in a car does something stupid and you hit the ground. How will the child fare?
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Old 03-17-2011, 02:53 PM   #13
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I did very little of kids as pillon while radwife and I raised our two. The reason, I knew I could never live with myself if anything happened to one of them on a ride with me.

As a matter of fact, Radwife and I did very few long rides together during those years for a slightly different reason. You know, the President and Vicepresident never on the same plane sort of concept.

It worked for us, tiz' a very personal choice
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Old 03-17-2011, 03:14 PM   #14
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back in 1955, I went for my first ride on the tank on my uncle's Harley

in 1982, I took my son for his first ride on a tank when he was 5 years old

I wouldn't have any problem taking a child for a ride

I don't see any more risk than letting a child play in a tree house
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Old 03-17-2011, 11:47 PM   #15
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Was on a camping trip w/ several other familys when I took my son for his first ride. My wife actually suggested it. He was 2.5 yrs old. My wife got on the back and he sat between us. It was a pretty deserted dirtroad w/ less then 6-7 cars a day driving down it. I took my son then I ended up giving rides to most of the other kids.

It will be a while before I take my son on any real rides, but a few times I've hauled my bike over to a dirtroad area and have taken my wife and son for a spin.

My son has fallen asleep seveal times on the bike. But for now he only sits between the wife and I.
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