While many of us who ride prefer to ride on our motorcycles alone, there are those for whom the importance of having a comfortable place for a pillion rider to join us. It could be as simple as going out for an evening, to crossing through states to get to a meetup or camping spot.

While keeping the beginner or intermediate rider in mind, we’ve put together a list of the 14 best motorcycles from the past few years that are comfortable for two-up riding. We have made sure to note which models are more aimed at the intermediate rider with a couple of seasons under their belt.

Keep in mind, when traveling with a passenger, the entire dynamic of your bike changes, as there is more weight, which is farther back, and it is imperative that you ensure your suspension and tires are adjusted and inflated properly. As well, we here at Best Beginner Motorcycles highly recommend that you have at least one (1) full season of riding under your belt as a beginner before considering carrying passengers. Also, many of these bikes are recommended for intermediate riders and not necessarily beginners.

As with all things on two wheels, safety first.

NOTE: Unlike some other lists on this site, this is not a list ranking the motorcycles, just a list of our 14 favorite, including some odd ball choices.

Honda Gold Wing

2020 Honda Goldwing Tour

Recommended skill: Intermediate

From the very first iteration of the Gold Wing, Honda had a multi-day, long-distance tourer in mind. From a simple bagger at the low end, all the way to the Gold Wing Tour with fog lights, passenger backrest, and more storage than pretty much any other bike on the road, it is the ultimate in refinement.

Other standard features on the top of the line Tour model are heated seats, heated grips, GPS, ABS, and electronic cruise control.

BMW R1250 RT

2020 BMW R 1250 RT

Recommended skill: Intermediate

If you’re more for the sporting side of touring, the BMW R1250 RT has you covered. Unlike the quiet torque monsters that most luxury tourers have, the R1250 RT has a 1254 cc boxer twin that they have refined over decades into the smooth power unit it is today.

The rear suspension is also adjustable on the fly to allow for a pillion to ride in comfort without getting shaken to bits, as well as the pillion seat being extra plush over the rider’s seat being low and tight to the tank. One of the best sport tourers on the market, it can also make the mountain roads on the way to your campsite fun for both rider and passenger.

BMW F750 GS

2020 BMW F750 GS

Recommended skill: Beginner

The Gold Wing is too plush for you, and the R1250 RT is too much bike to handle. Never fret, BMW again has you covered with their F750 GS.

Positioned right in between the luxury and sport-tourer markets, the BMW has the sporty standard seating position for the rider with a nice tail rest that is also quite soft and comfortable. The pillion gets BMW’s classic comfort with a nice cushion, easily access foot pegs, and easy to find grip handles if they want to sit back a bit to stretch out during a long ride.

Of course, being a BMW, the bike is packed with electronic riding aids and passenger comfort items. Dynamic stability control across all weather conditions apart from snow, LED running lights, an optional windscreen, and lots of (optional) cargo space are just the tip of the iceberg on this mile muncher.

Yamaha MT-07

2020 Yamaha MT-07

Recommended skill: Beginner

Moving away from the multi-day tourers, there are many bikes that can carry pillions that are great for  in-city levels of fun. Yamaha has a definite winner with their MT-07, a great starter naked that has enough power and torque to get two people moving without much effort.

The pillion cushion may not look all that comfortable, yet it is twice as thick as many sport bikes have for their passenger seats. Then again, many sport bike passenger seats are barely thicker than two pieces of cardboard stacked, so while it may be comfortable for an hour or two, long-distance comfort would require many a stretch-and-hydration stop.

Honda CBR650R

2020 Honda CBR650R

Recommended skill: Beginner

If your preferred ride is a sport bike, then Honda again gets a nod for passenger comfort. While any sport or supersport bike will have a fairly stiff seat, the CBR650R takes a somewhat relaxed view of things. The pillion seat is moderately padded, and should do for rides up to a couple of hours long, and the pillion pegs are placed perfectly so that a pillion’s knees are out wide enough that they shouldn’t impede the rider’s control of the bike.

We don’t recommend the CBR300R however, as the engine on that model is perfectly fine for one rider, but adding a pillion can cause it to be anemic in response. The 650 engine has the power to pull through, however, and ensure that freeway cruising or sporty mountain roads are enjoyable.

Ural Gear-Up

2020 Ural Gear Up

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

And it’s at this point we come to the first oddball on the list. The Ural Gear-Up, and the many derivative models of it, is not a traditional 1+1 ride. It’s a great, albeit very Russian, throwback to the days of sidecars. However, the Russians have had some great inventions in the past that have taken a beating and still run, and the Ural is retro-modern iteration on that.

While it will happily cruise around on the roads, the purpose of the Ural is to be an unkillable workhorse on rougher roads or short distance blitzes. With a maximum weight allowance of over 1,300 lbs, it can also haul pretty much any size, shape, or type of person or even animal in the sidecar.

And best of all, if you as a rider have a four legged friend, it’s been well known that dogs love riding in the sidecar. Just get them some doggles, dog friendly ear protection, and a sherpa harness to clip to the tire rack for safety.

Check out Jim’s review of the Ural.

Suzuki Burgman 400 ABS

2020 Suzuki Burgman 400

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 most successful maxi-scooters for the past decade, with ample power, loads of storage under the seat, and a sporty, albeit restrained, handling profile, as demonstrated in the above picture taken directly from Suzuki’s website.

It’s also designed for two-up riding from the get go, with a stepped seat that is incredibly plush for the pillion, and stiff but forgiving for the rider. Depending on the ride, the pegs are placed so that the pillion can be up tight against the rider, or use the grab handles and sit back some to prevent helmets clashing together.

Suzuki V-Strom 650

2020 Suzuki V-Strom 650

Recommended skill: Beginner

Continuing the idea of going off the beaten path, how about abandoning the path altogether? The Suzuki V-Strom 650 is like the leatherman tool of bikes: it can do anything and everything. Road riding? Yes. Dirt trail? Yes. Bombing across a place trails washed out by streams? See for yourself.

This is the bike you’d want to use if you and your passenger wanted to travel across remote trails to find a campsite far from civilization, to enjoy a night under the clear sky. Despite being a workhorse, the V-Strom 650 is not an ultimate off-roader, but it gets the job done the most comfortably, as its seat is made to soak up bumps and shocks for both rider and pillion.

Triumph Bonneville T120

 

2020 Triumph Bonneville T120 Recommended skill: Intermediate

Okay, we understand, enough with the beaten path jokes. Back on the road, the Triumph Bonneville T120 is the kind of motorcycle that embraces the divide between a retro look with modern conveniences. It has more than enough power and torque from its 1200cc parallel-twin, while also giving a great ride due to highly tuned suspension.

On top of it all, it’s immediately apparent just from the entire look of the bike that a passenger is almost a necessity, just so that stitched leather and plush padding can be put to use. And, for a few of us here, the fully retro, behind the back grab bar is just the cherry on top of the styling.

Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

2020 Kawasaki Vulcan 900 Classic

Recommended skill: Intermediate

The retro style cruiser has been making a comeback in recent years, and Kawasaki have jumped feet first into the deep end with the Vulcan 900 Classic. A low, thick seat for the rider and cruiser style forward controls leave ample room over the rear tail for a thick pillion seat.

And much like the classic cruisers, this bike requires you to be well known to your pillion, as they will have to be hugged right up to your back with their arms around you. There is a slightly more plush version known as the Classic Light Tourer (or LT for short), but the cleaner lines and bad-boy v-twin blacked out except for the fins just give the 900 Classic the right attitude.

Harley-Davidson Sport Glide

 

2020 Harley Davidson Sport GlideIntermediate (with cruiser background)

Of all the Harley’s out there, of all the arguments about which model is better, of all the custom choppers, baggers, bobbers, and all that, there is one thing that any Harley-Davidson fan can agree on: The Harley-Davidson Sport Glide is the one that any of them could own without thinking about it.

Using a thundering 1753cc v-twin engine with enough torque to spin the world backwards on its axis, the Sport Glide combines a sports cruiser with a bagger and a long distance tourer to bring forth a beast that is at home anywhere from Route 66 to City Hall. Add to that Harley’s always comfortable seats for rider and pillion, and price it aggressively against the Japanese bikes that are encroaching on the all-around cruiser market, and you have a Harley that will take a passenger without a second thought.

Yamaha Tracer 900 GT

 

2020 Yamaha Tracer 900 GTIntermediate

The Yamaha Tracer 900 GT is one of those bikes that touches three different styles at once. With the 847 cc engine from the MT-09 naked, the dash cluster and functionality from the YZF-R1 supersport, and the adventure stylings of the Tenere 700, the Tracer 900 GT is a comfortable, powerful, and fuel efficient Grand Tourer that doesn’t look like it.

Adding to the touring style of the GT are hard side cases that are low and far back enough for a pillion rider to comfortable have their legs clear of, and heated grips for the rider. The GT model also sports semi-adjustable suspension, and an electronic cruise control for the long highway sections of your trip. And to top it off, the throttle is gentle and controllable enough that even a beginner rider should find the bike easy to control.

Kawasaki Ninja 650

2020 Kawasaki Ninja 650

Recommended skill: Beginner

Unlike the more sport focused Honda CBR650R listed before, the Kawasaki Ninja 650 is much more of a sport tourer than anything. While it still has the get-up-and-go to haul around a track in fine style, the raised clip-ons, the less aggressive seating position, and the slightly taller tail to raise the pillion’s head higher for better visibility show that this motorcycle is a street bike first and foremost, that is capable of being a sport bike.

As well, Kawasaki seats, somehow, are generally quite comfortable no matter what bike of theirs you sit on, and the Ninja 650 is no different. In fact, it is so plush for both rider and pillion that we think an all day trip on this bike, such as between states or cities, is not out of the realm of possibility. We just recommend stretching and hydration breaks along the way.

Learn more about the awesome Ninja 650.

Ducati HyperMotard 950

2020 Ducati Hypermotard 950

NOTE: Recommended for intermediate riders or better due to the aggressive handling characteristics of Ducati motorcycles.

One of the few Ducati models, alongside the MultiStrada, that allows for the actual idea of carrying a passenger, the Hypermotard 950 is not what one would call the most comfortable of rides. It’s a sport tuned pavement ripper, that’s meant to spin up the rear tire and make a glorious sound while doing so.

For a spirited ride around town, however, the HyperMotard 950 is more than capable. And while Ducati doesn’t really concern itself with passengers all that much, it is an Italian super-brand joined by names like Ferrari, Pagani, and the like. Basically, a passenger ride on one is more for bragging rights and to say you’ve done it, over actual usefulness.

But we’ll be damned if it isn’t a beautiful bike to be a passenger on.