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Common Tread

How to gear up your passenger

Jun 14, 2017

Nothing would make me happier (well, except a free KTM SuperDuke GT) than if the phrase “just a passenger” were to fall off the vocabulary planet.

Too many times in the RevZilla Boutique I hear a rider say “Oh, (name) doesn’t need any protection” because he or she is “just a passenger.” Shut the front door. My view is that if someone trusts us enough to get on a motorcycle behind us, we are responsible for that person. New passengers, especially, typically don’t know exactly what they need to wear to be safe or comfortable, so it’s our job to help them.

Based on my years of educating people about gear and helping people find the right gear, here are my tips on how to get your passenger geared up.

passenger on a motorcycle
Different riders choose different levels of protection, based on what they feel comfortable with. But your need for protection doesn't change based on which seat you're sitting on. RevZilla photo.

Where to start: Having the talk

Sometimes, not all passengers are thrilled with the idea of gearing up, so it’s important that you take a few minutes to educate your person and explain the risks. Having “the talk” is crucial. If it isn’t obvious already, point out that their bodies are equally as important as yours and if something goes wrong the asphalt won’t care which of you is at the controls and which is just a passenger. You’ll both hit the ground at the same time.

I know what you might be thinking: But my buddy doesn’t have $2,000 to buy a fancy Klim suit like mine just for an occasional ride. That’s fine! So, let's get geared up at a level they’re comfortable with in terms of cost and style. Today, the number of options can be overwhelming, but the good news is that means there is something at every level and price point, from the very top to the very bottom.

You may also have to emphasize to a new passenger that there are distinct differences between real motorcycle gear and what’s merely some fashion designer’s idea of motorcycle “style.” Buying a leather jacket or “biker boots” at the mall means you won’t get the serious protection of body armor, strong seams and material that stands up to abrasion.

Helping your riding partner buy gear

Helping your person get geared up is a lot like being one of RevZilla’s gear geeks. Understanding the various brands, fitment issues, sizing and more can be a challenge, especially when you have to do it for someone other than yourself.

women's jacket
We all know women need gear that fits differently from men's gear, but everyone also has different tolerances for cold or heat. Consider the features that will keep your passenger comfortable. They may be different from your preferences. RevZilla photo.
The best way to help your passenger shop for gear as you navigate the website is to include your person in the process and the conversation so that you can answer questions and they can have a say in what kind of gear they’ll be wearing.

Sometimes, though, whether because you’re buying a gift or buying for a passenger who isn’t directly involved in the process, you have to do most of the legwork yourself. That makes the job harder, but there are ways you can figure out what they will like or need.

Gear is about comfort, as well as protection, and we all have different temperature sensitivities. Keep in mind that what might be comfortable for you could vary greatly from what keeps your passenger comfortable. Something I see all too often are large men trying to suit their smaller passengers in the same type of gear they wear while riding. But, as a very small person, I can assure you that our temperature sensitivities vary quite a bit from the average male, so that’s something to think about.

Another thing to consider is the riding position, which may not be exactly the same for your passenger as it is for you. Have your passenger sit on the bike and consider how that’s going to affect the ideal fit of the gear.

couple on a Gold Wing
Uniforms are not required. You don't have to dress your passenger in identical gear. But wouldn't you want your passenger to have an equal level of comfort and protection? RevZilla photo.

Sizing, sizing, sizing

If you are trying to figure out what someone else should be wearing, it’s essential to have the basic information. Maybe you’ve been riding a long time, but honestly, when’s the last time you dressed another adult? Do you have any idea what kind of sizing and fit issues your riding partner has?

Want to learn more about sizing? RevZilla has some videos for that. While these videos may not apply to the specific needs of your particular passenger, they provide additional guidance on how to be sure you're getting the right fit:

The first step is to know your riding buddy’s clothing sizes, shoe size and measurements. You can’t choose gear that’s going to fit right, be comfortable and be protective without that information. Often times, I’ll try to help male riders who come into the RevZilla Boutique to shop for their female passengers. And when I ask them a simple question, such as height, they’re unable to give me an answer. Without basic measurements such as height, chest, waist or hips, I can’t be much help.

If you’re intent on surprising your riding buddy with a gift (and I assume you want it to be a pleasant surprise) and you can’t get actual measurements, then do some investigation. Look through your passenger’s closet and see what’s going on. See what sizes of pants and jackets are in there.

Also, think about how your passenger likes to dress in general. Loose or snug clothing? Is there anything about your passenger that might make “average” sizes not fit right, like long legs, a particularly thin or muscular physique, tall or short?

Of course, actual measurements are best, but if you can provide us with some of this information, we have an incredible customer service team here at RevZilla, available via phone or e-mail, and a showroom team at our Boutique in Philadelphia and we can help you reduce the likelihood of fit mistakes.

And lastly, don’t forget to tell your buddy that they’re more than “just a passenger.” Make all your passengers feel that you care as much their comfort and safety as you do about your own.