The PJ Guide to Pillions

The Pawan Jaitly Guide to Pillions

You know how it is when you eye up a fresh pillion, intending to indulge in consenting motorcycling with them - you wonder what it'll be like, how you'll cope with that special close contact, whether you'll enjoy it, whether they'll respect you afterwards. All too often your enthusiasm gets the better of you when you go for it, and your pillion slaps you, shrieking "I'm not that kind of pillion!", and it seems that the problem is really not knowing what kind of pillion you actually are facing - well, to help you out in this matter, here's the PJ Guide to Pillions.

Fork Bottomer

FB, aka Fat Bastard, sits like a sack of potatoes on your overstressed bike. Helps you pull monster wheelies though, even on C90's. But watch out you don't get pulled off too. If you do get pulled off, though, you get a guaranteed soft landing, and the pleasure of flattening the FB.


Delightful. You don't notice they're there. Occasionally pound at your back when you're really enjoying yourself 'cos you've forgotten they're there. Worth checking to see if they're still there now and then; you may have dropped them at the lights. The looking-over-the-shoulder routine you're taught to have as a reflex proves invaluable with these pillions.


These pillions are the best. They remain frozen with fear and you forget they're there. Take a crowbar with you to prise them off the seat afterwards though.


These are a challenge. Unlike Petrified, Terrified moves all over the place, counter-leaning in corners, clenching their buttocks and squirming on their seat as you filter through traffic, emitting pitiful cries of unhappiness as you blast off from the lights... truly annoying. Cure by applying more terror until they become Petrified.


Can't hear/understand a word this pillion says. Impossible to swap witty remarks with, especially in the cut-and-thrust of London traffic. Eg: "I cannaestrudelfitzlochgommrag." "What?" "I cannaestrudelfitzlochgommrag." "Er...what?" "I CANNAESTRUDELFITZLOCHGOMMRAG." "Hunh?" "I CANNAESTRUDELFITZLOCHGOMMRAG." "What? Oh soddit, the lights have changed" (repeat at every set of lights) Frustrating.


Not impressed by the smoothest corners, the beefiest blast offs, the wildest of wheelies and the most perceptive, prescient and pre-emptive of roadcraft; this pillion knows no fear either. Riders are mystified by this one, though theories abound: Possibly a despatch rider's panniers in a previous life. Possibly plays Russian Roulette in spare time. Possibly a follower of the Roger Moore school of method acting. Check pulse - possibly dead - to avoid confusing with the Petrified pillion.


Like Indifferent, but with the reason that this pillion is dozing off. Occasionally wakes up with a sudden movement or falls off. Cure with coffee, or letting them fall off. Or try and be less enthusiastic in bed the night before with your pillion, if that's the cause.

Backseat driver

Type A: Non-vocal

Usually people with their own bike who're scrounging a lift off you. They send useful feedback about your riding style, mostly non-verbal (eg clutching you really hard just when you're really enjoying a corner).

Warning: If this pillion expects you to take a turning you will find your bike is heading that way regardless of your own wishes, just because the pillion has leant that way. Very disconcerting.

Type B: Vocal

Gives a running commentary of everybody and everything on the road - eg: "Bastard! Try using your indicators, fat-arse Jaguar!", "Leaf litter!", "Golly, what a pothole!" "AGGH! Volvo Battlecruiser in sight!" Takes while to get rid of the feeling that your mind has developed an echo. Mildly disconcerting, then you get used to it.

No-Way-Am-I-Gay (The Jason Syndrome)

If the pilot's a bloke, and the pillion is too, this personality trait sometimes shows up in the pillion: The pillion tries perching as far away from the bloke in front as is feasible, keeping hands off the pilot. No-Way-Am-I-Gay ocassionally falls off under acceleration, but prefers that to being thought gay. Usually Italian or Greek. Will kick your head in if you tell him he's insecure (even though you only meant he'll find it hard to stay on).

Watch out when accelerating:

  • For wheelies
  • For feet in the armpits as the pillion heroically attempts to stay on without doing anything so poofy as to grab on to the bloke in front.



Amuses himself (rarely herself) by witty little jokes designed to endear himself to other road users.

Typical Joker actions:

  1. With cigarette in hand, to open-top car driver while cruising along: "scuse me mate, you got a light?"
  2. To open-top car driver who has just refused the Joker's request for a light, and mumbled "Don't be stupid, you'll kill yourself": "No, 'salright mate, honest. I'm down to five a day now!"
  3. To car driver with smokey exhaust: "Your car's belching out a lot of smoke." Followed by long belch through car window.
  4. At the lights next to a driver who's been on the car phone: "Ah, a telephone box!" Followed by urinating into car.

Incurable, but fortunately rare (doesn't live long).

Well, this guide has now covered the main categories of pillion - learn from it, and may you and your pillion be blessed with many, many happy miles together!

© Pawan Jaitly, Jan 1993.

(Published in the UBG around that time)

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