14 Motorcycles That Are Great for Passengers / Two-Up Riding

14 Motorcycles That Are Great for Passengers / Two-Up Riding

Motorcycling, for the most part, is a solo hobby. You might have friends or family who ride, or be part of a riding group—but most of the time you actually spend on a bike will be by yourself. Still, sometimes you’ll want (or need) to carry a passenger—and when that time comes, you’ll want a bike that’s designed to seat one.

But before you get into the list below, I’m going to offer a few words of caution. First off, riding with a passenger is not recommended for beginner motorcyclists. When someone gets on the back of your bike, they’re putting their life in your hands. Please avoid carrying passengers until you’ve got at least one (1) full riding season under your belt, unless it’s an emergency situation.

Putting an extra person on your bike changes everything. It adds more weight and spreads it out differently across the machine, changing your riding style and requiring you to adjust your lean angles. Your passenger will also have to learn how to lean with you and avoid squirming or fidgeting so the two of you can ride safely. And of course, they’ll need full protective gear. ATGATT, baby!

Also, since riding two-up isn’t really for beginners, be advised that some of the bikes below aren’t for beginners either. They’ll suit you just fine if you’re relatively new to carrying a passenger—but if you are, we’re assuming you’ve already had plenty of time in the saddle by yourself. Many of these bikes aren’t great picks for someone who’s still learning to ride comfortably by themselves.

Even so, the bikes we’ve chosen for this list make absolutely bulletproof choices for riders who are ready to start carrying a passenger. If that’s you, read on—and get ready to saddle up with your partner, partner.

Honda Gold Wing

2022 Honda Goldwing

Recommended skill: Advanced

The Honda Gold Wing was always intended to be a long-distance touring machine, even as far back as its very first iteration in the 1970s. Older models might look like simple, no-frills baggers—but they’re still comfortable, low-maintenance machines with smooth, quiet engines that offer plenty of torque.

Then you’ve got the 2022 Gold Wing, which offers all the same benefits in a lighter, more performance-oriented package. It comes with either a six- or seven-speed transmission, refined bodywork for weather protection, and a bunch of touring amenities—including Android Auto™ and Apple CarPlay™ integration. Out of all the new Honda bikes for 2022, this one’s almost certainly the most comfortable for long trips when you’ve got someone riding pillion behind you.

Top-of-the-line Tour models of the Gold Wing give you even more: fog lights, ample room for luggage, heated seats and grips, GPS, ABS, electronic cruise control, and a comfy passenger backrest. What more could you and your passenger ask for?

BMW R1250 RT

2022-BMW-R1250-RT

Recommended skill: Advanced

If your interests fall on the sportier side of touring, the BMW R1250 RT has you covered. While many luxury touring bikes focus on quiet torque, the R1250 RT has a 1254cc boxer twin that BMW has refined over decades to deliver smooth, linear power throughout its RPM range.

The rear suspension on the R1250 RT is also adjustable on the fly, allowing your passenger to ride in comfort and avoid getting shaken to bits whenever you hit bumps in the road. Their seat is also extra plush, providing plenty of comfort while the rider’s seat sits lower and closer to the tank for enhanced control.

This is simply one of the best sport touring bikes on the market today. You and your partner will probably have more fun on the road to your weekend getaway than you will when you get there.

BMW F750 GS

2022 BMW F750 GS

Recommended skill: Beginner to Intermediate

If the Gold Wing is too plush for you and the R1250 RT is too intimidating, never fear—BMW has another offering that might suit you and your passenger. Enter the F750 GS, which fits perfectly in the gap between the luxury- and sport-touring markets (or see the other new BMW bikes for 2022 here).

The 2022 F750 GS has a standard seating position with a slightly sporty vibe, along with a soft, comfortable tail rest. Your passenger gets plenty of classic BMW comfort too—with a nice cushion, easy-access foot pegs, and easy-to-find grip handles if they want to sit back a bit and stretch out during long rides.

As a BMW, this bike is also packed with electronic riding aids and passenger comfort items. Dynamic stability control across all weather conditions (apart from snow), LED running lights, and options like a windscreen and luggage are just some of the things you can look forward to on this mile-muncher.

Yamaha MT-07

2022 Yamaha MT-07

Recommended skill: Intermediate to Advanced

Not every passenger-friendly motorcycle is a multi-day touring bike. Yamaha offers at least one definite winner with their MT-07, a great intermediate naked that has enough power and torque to get two people moving without much effort (to see the rest of Yamaha’s 2022 bike lineup, click here).

The pillion cushion may not look all that comfortable, but it’s twice as thick as the ones on many sport bikes. Then again, many sport bike passenger seats are barely thicker than a few sheets of cardboard—so while this one might be comfortable for an hour or two, long-distance trips would require frequent stretch breaks.

Honda CBR650R

2022 Honda CBR650R

Recommended skill: Beginner

If you’re really committed to riding two-up on a sport bike (whatever; I’m not judging), then you’re gonna want to consider this offering from Honda. While any sport or supersport bike is going to have a fairly stiff seat, the CBR650R is designed with a little more comfort and relaxation in mind.

You get a (relatively) padded pillion seat here, which will probably keep your partner’s ass from aching for at least a few hours of riding. The passenger pegs are also exceptionally well-placed, keeping your passengers knees out far enough from the bike to prevent them from getting in your way while you operate the controls.

We don’t recommend the CBR300R however, as the engine on that bike just isn’t powerful enough to really handle two-up riding. If you want to enjoy freeway cruising or twisting through mountain roads with a passenger, you’ll want the engine in the 650. See more of Honda’s 2022 motorcycles here.

Ural Gear-Up

2022 Ural Gear-Up

Recommended skill: Beginner (with some time learning how to drive a sidecar)

As a proud Eastern European with a penchant for weird bikes, I can’t help but get excited about Ural motorcycles. This Russian brand began in 1940, using BMW’s designs and production techniques as the jumping-off points for what would soon become the world’s premier brand of heavy sidecar motorcycles.

Which brings us to the Ural Gear-Up. This is not a bike for traditional two-up riding—it comes with a sidecar as a standard feature, and you would be foolish to put your passenger anywhere else. Like most technology with Soviet roots, this thing looks janky-as-hell—but like most technology with Soviet roots, it is also way tougher and more reliable than you’d expect. Never underestimate my people.

While it will easily cruise around on the road, the purpose of the Ural is to be a nigh-unkillable workhorse on rougher terrain or short-distance off-road blitzes. With a maximum weight allowance of over 1,300 lbs, it can also haul pretty much any size and shape of person (or animal) in the sidecar. And yes, that’s been done.

Want to learn more about this glorious oddball? Check out Jim’s review of the Ural.

Suzuki Burgman 400 ABS

2022 Suzuki Burgman 400 ABS

Recommended skill: Beginner

Since we’re wandering off the beaten track a little, why not step into scooter territory? The Suzuki Burgman 400 ABS is one of the last decade’s most successful maxi-scooters, with ample power, loads of storage under the seat, and a sporty (albeit restrained) handling profile.

Suzuki has plenty of new bikes for 2022, but if you want a scooter designed for two-up riding, this is the one. The Burgman has a stepped seat that offers tons of comfort for your passenger, while staying stiff but forgiving for you. The pegs are also placed such that your pillion can be up tight against you or use the grab handles to sit back a bit and keep your helmets from banging together.

Suzuki V-Strom 650

2022 Suzuki V-Strom 650

Recommended skill: Beginner to Intermediate

Okay, now we’re completely abandoning the beaten path—any path, actually. The Suzuki V-Strom 650 is the Swiss army knife of bikes; it can do anything and everything. Road riding? Yep. Dirt paths? You bet. Bombing across trails washed out by streams? See for yourself.

This is the bike you’d want to use if you and your passenger wanted to find a campsite far from civilization and enjoy a night under the clear sky. Despite being a workhorse, the V-Strom 650 isn’t the ultimate off-roader—but it gets the job done in more comfort than most, since its seat is made to soak up bumps and shocks for both the rider and the passenger.

Triumph Bonneville T120

2022 Triumph Bonneville T120

Recommended skill: Intermediate

Let’s get back to the road for a while. The Triumph Bonneville T120 offers a retro look with modern conveniences. Its 1200cc parallel-twin produces more than enough power and torque for two-up riding, while also providing plenty of comfort, thanks to the highly-tuned suspension (click here to check out more 2022 Triumph bikes).

On top of all that, the T120’s stitched leather and plush padding practically begs you to ride with a passenger so they can enjoy it. And for the café racer enthusiasts here, the fully-retro, behind-the-back grab bar is the cherry on top for styling.

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

2022 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic LT

Recommended skill: Intermediate

Yeah, I’m writing about my bike again. Get used to it. Not only is the Vulcan 900 Classic one of the best bikes new riders can buy to get used to bigger and heavier machines, but the LT version also comes with features that make it ideal for two-up riding.

The retro-style cruiser made a real comeback in the past decade or two, and Kawasaki jumped feet-first into the deep end with the Vulcan 900 Classic (see their other new bikes for 2022 here). A low, thick seat for the rider and cruiser-style forward controls leave ample room over the rear tail for a thick pillion seat. The LT version goes a step further, adding a backrest to give your passenger even more comfort (and a windscreen).

Much like the classic cruisers it’s modelled after, this bike requires you and your passenger to get pretty cozy. They’ll be right up against your back with their arms around your torso—but that’s more of an argument for being picky about who you ride with than anything else.

Harley-Davidson Sport Glide

2021 Harley Davidson Sport Glide

Recommended Skill: Intermediate (with cruiser background)

Ask a group of Harley fans what their favourite bike is, and you’re likely to kick off a fairly lively discussion. After all, the bar-and-shield isn’t just a brand; it’s a lifestyle—and as such, it inspires some pretty strong opinions amongst its adherents.

But there’s one bike Harley-Davidson fans can almost universally agree rules, and it’s the Harley-Davidson Sport Glide. Weirdly, there’s no new Sport Glide in Harley’s 2022 lineup but that doesn’t stop it from appearing on this list. Using a thundering 1753cc V-twin engine with enough torque to spin the world backwards on its axis, the Sport Glide combines the best parts of a sports cruiser, a bagger, and a long-distance tourer to bring forth a beast that’s at home anywhere from Route 66 to City Hall.

You also get Harley’s incredibly-comfortable seats, which will keep you and your passenger comfortable on even the longest journeys. Then there’s the fact that this bike is aggressively-priced to compete with the Japanese motorcycles that have been threatening to take over the cruiser market in recent years (looking at you, Vulcan).

Honda Rebel 500

2022 Honda Rebel 500

Recommended Skill: Beginner

Of course, you’re going to want to spend some serious saddle time on smaller, more forgiving cruisers before you hop on a Sport Glide (or a Vulcan, for that matter). And if there’s ever been a sport cruiser designed from the outset to help beginner riders learn comfortably, it’s the Honda Rebel 500. You’ll have to shell out an extra $140 USD to get the passenger seat added to the subframe—but if you do, this is simply the most affordable, reliable, and lenient sport cruiser out there.

While the passenger seat isn’t the thickest (or, frankly, the most comfortable), it does a great job of keeping your passenger close to you. That’s not just a nice feature for riders who like being the little spoon, though—it also makes it easier to manage your passenger’s extra weight and keeps you both more stable on the road. It also makes it easier to talk to your pillion, in case you need them to change the way they’re leaning or holding onto you. You’ll both appreciate the intimacy (as long as everyone showered that morning).

Kawasaki Ninja 650

2022 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Recommended skill: Beginner

Unlike the more sport-focused Honda CBR650R listed earlier, the Kawasaki Ninja 650 is more of a sport-touring bike. While it can still haul you around a track in fine style, the raised clip-ons, less-aggressive seating position, and slightly taller tail (which raises the pillion’s head higher for better visibility) show that this motorcycle is a street bike first and foremost.

Somehow, Kawasaki seats are fairly comfortable no matter what bike of theirs you sit on, and the Ninja 650 is no different. In fact, it’s so plush for both the rider and pillion that you could probably take a two-person day trip on this thing and only need to stop and stretch a few times.

Want to learn more about this bike? Read owner reviews of the Ninja 650 here.

Yamaha XSR700

2022 Yamaha XSR700

Recommended Skill: Beginner to Intermediate

The Yamaha XSR700 is a superb two-up bike. Like many retro-themed motorcycles, it has a long, wide, and comfortable bench-style seat, with a dedicated pillion “hump” between rider and passenger. It also has a low-slung exhaust, which is preferable to the high-placed exhausts on many adventure-style bikes (since these can get uncomfortably hot under a passenger’s leg).

The XSR700 also has a strong enough motor to reach highway speeds with two people on board, which is important to consider if you plan on long-distance or inter-city travel. Finally, Yamaha has worked a mini-miracle with the rear suspension by mounting it at a near-horizontal angle, directly at the bike’s centre of gravity. This means your passenger’s weight actually helps keep the bike planted on the road, instead of moving its centre of gravity towards the rear. Just one more example of Japanese engineering at its best.