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I’ve ridden motorcycles for a very long time; I started riding off road bikes at a very young age, had a little Yamaha TZR125 as a youth, and passed my bike big test in my twenties. When it came to my kids showing an interest in motorcycling, however, it posed somewhat of a quandary.

Being an experienced biker myself and doing the job I do helping injured bikers after serious accidents; I am acutely aware of the possible dangers we face out on the road. Although I have always been happy to expose myself to these potential risks, balanced against the absolute pleasure being on two wheels provides, I always thought the kids might become interested at some point. But when this situation hit me square in the face, I was much more reluctant than I imagined I would have been.

Records began in the 1920s, and 1,832 fatal motorcycle accidents were recorded in 1930. The figures have been fairly stable since around 2010 (road safety and motorcycle safety equipment is much better these days) with 328 fatalities in 2012.. However, 1 is still too many and the thoughts of these statistics and some of the injuries I have seen, came rushing through my mind when my family and I were at a bike dealership last April. Whilst I was eying up a pristine 2004 Fireblade (which I didn’t end up buying) my then 11 years old son disappeared into the clothing section and was found wearing a child’s biker jacket and eyeing up some psychedelically designed lids proclaiming that he would be going on the back of my bike! Fortunately, as we happened to be in the car that day, so there wasn’t a risk of him doing so straight away.

After some tentative discussions with my better half, it was agreed that it would be a good bonding experience for me and the boy, but we both agreed it was imperative that he had the best gear. A wise man said spend enough on your bike but spend as much as you can afford on good protective gear. A good quality helmet (with interesting clown face design) was purchased, along with CE approved boots, gloves, jacket, and armoured Kevlar jeans.

My wallet much lighter, and the boy much happier, we left the shop and went home.

I’ve carried all sorts on my bikes over the years; works laptop in the top box, clothes/shoes in the panniers; but carrying this most precious cargo was initially very nerve racking indeed. The day of our first planned day out on the bike together arrived; the boy gleaming, grinning ear to ear inside his new lid, all dressed up and ready to go. Me in the usual full leathers, but with the addition of a handy wrap around the body pillion handle, to make it easier and more comfortable for him to get used to being on the back of the bike. I’d spent the last week or so briefing him on how to behave, what to do and what not to do, so was hoping he would make a good pillion.

The first few miles of buttock clenching anxiety soon subsided into an overwhelming pleasant feeling of pride and happiness that I was sharing my life’s passion with my youngest son. We went out loads last season, and are planning to do so again this year, perhaps with some trips further afield. He’s so comfortable on the bike now that even over the noise of the bike, the wind noise, through my helmet and ear plugs I can often hear him singing away to himself and whooping in delight as we pick up speed to enter a dual carriage way from a slip road.

It’s quite likely that he’ll want to get his own bike one day; as long as he rides sensibly, is aware of the potential dangers and wears the best protective gear he can, then I’m sure he’ll have (in my opinion at least) the best hobby for life!

Ride safe,

Gareth Noonan