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Different Ways Sissy Bars Improve Passenger Comfort on Long Motorcycle Trips

Different Ways Sissy Bars Improve Passenger Comfort on Long Motorcycle Trips

Long-distance solo rides are not always enjoyable, especially if you want to share the experiences with a partner. Unfortunately, due to longer trips often being uncomfortable, few passengers are excited about motorcycle rides.

Motorcycle riding can be physically demanding, especially for passengers. Passengers have to maintain body posture, adjust to wind, drag, and friction, and try not to affect handling.

Though riders find it easier to stay active while navigating the road, passengers have to sit idle which can cause boredom, fatigue, and drowsiness to set in. In addition, the deafening sound of the exhaust and wind adds to their fatigue as passengers are not used to these noises . While there are many ways to make a passenger more comfortable on a long-distance motorcycle trip, installing a sissy bar is the most practical option.

This article discusses how to use motorcycle sissy bars to make the ride more comfortable for your passenger and provides additional tips for an enjoyable two-up riding experience.

Also Read: Reasons Why Sissy Bars Are Essential for Wilderness Trips

1. Benefits of Using a Sissy Bar for Passengers

With two-up motorcycle riding, motorcycle tours, and camping trips becoming more popular, the demand for sissy bars has increased significantly.

Sissy bars can be used for a variety of things, such as carrying large luggage bags and increasing storage space. When riding solo, riders often replace a quick-release detachable sissy bar with a fender rack to reduce overall weight and improve handling. Plus, sissy bars with luggage racks help make it easier to organize luggage and give your bike a neat look. Passengers can also benefit from sissy bars in the following ways:


In two-up motorcycle riding, passenger safety should be a priority. A sissy bar can help your passenger feel safer and more secure on long-distance rides. Passengers may encourage you to ride faster or more aggressively due to being reassured by the sissy bar. Sissy bars can also make riding on challenging motorcycle roads with a passenger safer.


During long-distance trips, you might encounter poor road conditions, bumps, and potholes. With sissy bars, your passenger will not bounce around as much or experience too much discomfort. If you install a sissy bar appropriate to your passengers height, the frame will help keep the passenger secure. Plus, a sissy bar at the right height would offer adequate back support and comfort. The passenger can recline against the backrest to relax and rest.


American motorcycle roads are known for their scenic views, landmarks, and tourist attractions. When riding the scenic highway, a sissy bar can help your passenger sit back, relax, and enjoy the scenery.

Peace of Mind

Sissy bars with luggage racks offer peace of mind to the rider and passenger who usually are stuck with the responsibility of holding onto the luggage during long rides. Thanks to sissy bars, passengers do not need not wear heavy backpacks as all your luggage can be mounted on the rack or strapped to the bars.

Child Safety

Riding with children requires extra care and safety precautions. Sissy bars allow you to attach motorcycle safety harnesses to help keep children from falling off, especially if they fall asleep during the ride. Moreover, sissy bar backrests would offer back support, relieving the strain on a childs spine.

2. Tips to Improve Passenger Comfort Using Sissy Bars

Motorcycle sissy bars are versatile and functional on long and short motorcycle rides. Riders and passengers can enjoy a comfortable riding experience due to motorcycle sissy bars. Here are some tips to help you improve passenger comfort using a sissy bar and backrest.

2.1 Install Sissy Bar Pads/Backrest

Sissy bars improve aesthetic appeal, storage space, and protection. But without a backrest, a sissy bar does not offer maximum riding comfort to the rider or passenger. If you wish to improve your motorcycles ergonomics and make the pillion more comfortable for the passenger, mount a sissy bar pad or backrest.

2.2 Choose Leather & Avoid Vinyl Sissy Bar Backrests

To improve passenger comfort, consider installing a leather sissy bar pad instead of a vinyl one. Often, riders choose vinyl sissy bar pads because the material is soft to the touch and seems more comfortable. But after frequent use, vinyl becomes rough and hard, requiring you to get a replacement. Hence, vinyl is not as budget-friendly in the long run.

Vinyl is waterproof and tends to warm up quickly, allowing comfortable long-distance motorcycle trips in wet and cold weather. However, it makes vinyl unsuited for summer motorcycle trips. Vinyl has poor breathability and generates a lot of friction when in contact. During long-distance motorcycle trips, your passenger may become dehydrated and tired due to excessive sweating.

Therefore, it is best to get leather sissy bar pads to improve passenger comfort. Leather backrests/sissy bar pads become softer and more comfortable with time. As leather ages, it becomes shinier and smoother, improving the style and comfort of the passenger seat.

Leather is ideal for summer motorcycle rides due to its excellent breathability. The material remains cool for a long time, has good ventilation, and does not cause friction or excessive sweating. Unfortunately, leather takes longer to warm up in winter, is not waterproof, and does not perform well in sudden downpours.

Leather Sissy Bar Pads vs Vinyl Sissy Bar Pads
Leather Vinyl
New Seats Are Hard New Pads Are Soft
Softens Over the Years Hardens Over the Years
Becomes Shinier with Frequent Use Becomes Rough and Dull After Frequent Use
Porous & Breathable Non-Porous; Poor Breathability
Remains Cool a Long Time Warms Up Quickly
Low Water Resistance; But Not Waterproof Waterproof
Ideal for Motorcycle Rides in All Weather Best for Winter & Rain
Expensive but Budget-Friendly in the Long Run Cheap But Not Durable; Frequent Replacements Required

2.3 Use Waterproof Covers for Leather Sissy Bar Pads

During long-distance motorcycle trips, you may get caught out on the road. Due to heavy rainfall, your motorcycle seats and sissy bar pads can become wet, especially if they are made of leather. While sissy bars and leather sissy bar pad can repel moisture to some degree, wet sissy bar backrests can make your passenger uncomfortable. Therefore, cover your sissy bars and leather backrests with a waterproof cover or carry one with you in case of unexpected rainy weather. A waterproof sissy bar cover may also come in handy if you need to protect your sissy bar bag or backpack from rain if riding solo.

3. Additional Tips for Passenger Comfort on a Long Motorcycle Trip

Besides installing motorcycle sissy bars and backrests, here are other ways you can make long motorcycle trips more comfortable for your passenger:

Related: How to Make Motorcycle Trips More Enjoyable

3.1 Relocate Passenger Foot Pegs

Either buy new foot pegs or reposition the current ones a little higher. High passenger floorboards or footpegs will lift the passenger’s feet a little higher. The elevated foot pegs will relieve pressure from the passenger’s tailbone, allowing him/her to adopt a more comfortable riding position. Elevated footpegs provide more room for the passenger to move around and prevent backaches, sores, and strains. When changing the position of the footpegs, make sure the pegs do not obstruct access to lower riding controls.

3.2 Install Fairing and Adjustable Windshield

A passenger’s back and neck are the most vulnerable body parts. If you prefer riding without a windshield, take into consideration that your passenger will have a hard time being constantly battered by strong winds even if he/she is wearing a helmet.

Some motorcycles feature built-in windshields, but the windshields are often short or non-adjustable. Shorter windshields redirect the wind towards the neck region and put more strain. Therefore, help improve wind protection by installing a fairing and a tall adjustable windshield.

3.3 Take Breaks

Keep in mind that your passenger may not have the same amount of stamina as you do; therefore, you need to be mindful of your passenger’s needs.

Take frequent breaks even if your passenger doesn’t ask you to as it will lessen the risk of headaches and other bodily aches. You can plan small activities like stretching, stopping at roadside truck shops, getting coffee, or walking for 10 minutes to help the passenger relax.

Related: How Often Should You Take Break During Motorcycle Trip

3.4 Ask Passenger to Move

During a ride, ask your passenger to move around and change their posture every 15-20 minutes. Staying in the same riding posture for too long will cause fatigue to set in faster. Also, it takes several days to recover from pain and exhaustion due to muscles becoming stiff when stuck in the same riding posture.
Make sure to slow down as your passenger changes posture to stay safe.

3.5 Provide a Seat Cushion

Just like a sissy bar pad, a seat cushion is a custom accessory that can help improve the comfort of the passenger seat. Provide a seat cushion made of viscoelastic foam and silicone gel. The gel cushion reduces pressure on your bottom, lessening the risk of sores. For an average passenger, a low- to medium-risk gel cushion will suffice. If your passenger often suffers from sores, invest in a high-risk gel cushion.

Sitting on a gel cushion for a long time reduces its effectiveness. After traveling 200 or so miles, the seat may start to feel stiff to the passenger even if the gel cushion is intact. Have your passenger alternate between riding with and without a cushion after every stop to ensure the gel cushion retains its qualities.

3.6 Add Cover to Passenger Seat

During long-distance motorcycle rides, the rider and passenger can suffer from excessive sweating. Motorcycle seats tend to warm up quickly due to friction and poor airflow, resulting in perspiration, rashes, chafing, and discomfort.

Since passengers have little riding experience, they are more susceptible to sores and rashes on their bottoms. To prevent bottom sores, add a seat cover to the passenger seat. Look for lightweight, breathable, and porous seat covers for optimal airflow and ventilation.

3.7 Plan Short Riding Trips

On a long-distance trip, you need to give your passenger a chance to get used to touring. To help them develop stamina, plan short-distance trips every few weeks or months. Once your passenger develops stamina, traveling hundreds of miles won’t feel as exhausting or daunting.

3.8 Compression Clothing

Ask your passenger to wear compression clothing on long motorcycle tours. Compression socks, shoes, or leggings can help improve blood circulation and prevent numbness and sores.

3.9 Use a Motorcycle Cup Holder

Motorcycle cup holders can be attached to handlebars, clutch and brake perch, rear crash bars, and rear fender struts. A motorcycle cup holder is a great way to keep your passenger hydrated and refreshed. Your passenger can leave a water bottle, a coffee cup, or any other drink in the cup holder instead of inside a bag or holding it with his/her hands.

3.10 Communicate

Communicate with your passenger about the road, incoming turns, and possible stops. You can also ask your passenger to move and change posture using your helmet’s Bluetooth intercom. The device can also be used to listen to music, audiobooks, and block the deafening noise of the wind.

4. Takeaway

Motorcycle sissy bars, backrests, and other custom motorcycle parts can ensure your passenger is comfortable and prepared for the long journey ahead.

Long-distance riding can be challenging for inexperienced passengers and to make them feel comfortable, you should consider travel-friendly add-ons, especially sissy bar and backrest. If you ride with a passenger once in a while and don’t want to add a sissy bar permanently, use a detachable one.

The quick-release sissy bars will also come in handy during your solo moto camping and backpacking trips.

In any case, make sure you install durable sissy bars and follow riding tips to make every motorcycle trip pleasant for your passenger.

Reading next

Should You Buy New or Used Motorcycle Sissy Bars? - Beginner Buyer’s Guide
Quick & Easy Rigid-Mount Motorcycle Sissy Bar Installation Guide

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