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.

The information contained in this blog post is based on sources that we believe are reliable and should be understood as general information only. It is not intended to be taken as advice with respect to any specific or individual situation and cannot be relied upon as such.

I am 69 yrs old and have never passed a bike test but due to my age have 'Grandfather Rights' allowing me to ride up to 50cc on my car licence. I do have a Honda 50 Cub that has a dual seat and rear footrests. Can I carry a passenger?

Pete, 26/06/2022

My wife used to carry our 3-year-old on pillion. Her Honda 400F had Dexion bars (Meccano type shelving struts) fitted between the frame and the original footrest brackets. The footrests could then be mounted at a suitable height and adjusted downwards as he grew bigger. He wore a kiddy harness which was strapped around my wife's waist so he couldn't fall anywhere. The main difficulty was finding a helmet to fit. Regarding sidecars, a pillion passengers on the bike must comply with the same regulations as on a solo bike. Passengers in the sidecar are not covered by any regulations (apart from those regs. covering a 'safe load'). No helmet, no seatbelt, as many people as you can get in; it's a free world but be sensible. I understand that the allowance for a provisional licence holder to carry a full-licence passenger was removed some time ago.

IAMRider, 25/06/2022

Why, do I require their parent's consent, if under 18? This "advice" relates to England/Wales and is not relevant to Scotland.

ab00, 25/06/2022

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