18th January 2024

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

It may surprise you to know that there is no set age limit 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 and up to ride as a passenger.

There are no specific rules relating to classic bikes – all regulations and recommendations apply to any motorbike, regardless of age.


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".


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 a pillion passenger
  • The bike must be fitted with adequate footrests for a pillion passenger
  • The rider must have a full licence and be insured to carry passengers (this comes as standard with a Footman James classic bike policy)
  • Only one pillion passenger can be carried at a time, with no allowance for an adult and infant passenger at the same time
  • The pillion passenger should be able to hold on effectively
  • The rider and passengers must wear a suitable helmet that fits securely, and it is recommended that appropriate protective clothing is worn by both
  • Parental consent for under 17s must be provided under law
  • 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.

To find out more about a classic bike policy from Footman James and to get an instant quote online, visit our Classic Bike Insurance page.

Back in the 60s & 70s a learner riding an outfit could carry a pillion who hadn't passed their test. The motorcycle could also be any of any cc. An outfit was also cheaper to insure than a solo for some strange reason. Happy days!

Graham , 03/11/2022

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