11th January 2022

When Can A Child Ride As A Pillion Passenger On A Bike?

It may surprise you to know that there is in fact no limits on age when it comes to carrying pillion passengers on a motorbike. However, there are a number of restrictions which mean that it will only be practical for children of around 10 years of age to ride as a passenger.

There are no specific rules relating to classic bikes.

What does the Highway Code say about carrying pillion passengers?

Rule 85 of the Highway Code states:

"You MUST NOT carry more than one pillion passenger who MUST sit astride the machine on a proper seat. They should face forward with both feet on the footrests. You MUST NOT carry a pillion passenger unless your motorcycle is designed to do so. Provisional licence holders MUST NOT carry a pillion passenger."

Due to this rule, it would be illegal to carry very young passengers as they would not be able to reach the footrests. In fact the Road Safety (Pillion Passengers) Bill of 2005 specifies that: "The supports or rests... shall be constructed so as to enable them to be reached by the feet of a person aged 10 of average height for that age".

Main Requirements for Carrying a Pillion Passenger

In short, if you wish to carry a child as a pillion passenger on your classic bike:

  • The bike must be fitted with an adequate seat for pillion passengers
  • The bike must be fitted with adequate footrests for pillion passengers
  • The rider must have a full licence and be insured to carry passengers (this comes as standard with a Footman James classic bike policy)
  • The rider and passengers must wear the appropriate protective clothing and helmets
  • Parental consent for under 18s must be provided
  • You should also follow any guidance from the bike manufacturer on carrying passengers e.g. weight limits and amending rear tyre pressures

Do you have any questions about the above rules? Let us know in the comments.

Regarding the regulations for pillion passengers, are they exactly the same for a motorcycle fitted with a sidecar?

Andrew, 16/01/2022

Can a provisional rider still carry a pillion if the pillion has a full licence?

T80, 15/01/2022

Many years ago before I passed my test, it was legal for a provisional licence holder to carry a pillion passenger if the passenger had a full licence, did this change if so how long ago?

Belgarion_11, 15/01/2022