One of the first things I learned when I moved to Asia was how to ride a motorcycle sidesaddle. Women all over Asia, when wearing skirts, ride motorcycle sidesaddle and it’s actually not that difficult. Of course, if you’re in the U.S. or Europe, I wouldn’t recommend riding a motorbike sidesaddle as you’ll probably get arrested. In countries like Thailand though, if you don’t ride a motorbike sidesaddle you’re likely to get arrested, as no one wants to see your underwear if you’re wearing a skirt and riding astride. If you know you’re going to be in Thailand or any other country in Asia and likely to be taking motorcycle taxis, make sure you know how to ride one sidesaddle so you won’t fall on your butt in the road.
Wait Until the Motorbike Driver Starts the Engine – In Thailand, I’ve seen some western women, who obviously don’t know how to ride a motorbike sidesaddle, hop onto a motorcycle taxi before the driver has had a chance to start the bike. Always wait until the driver has kick started the bike before getting on it. That makes it easier for him and for you, and less likely you’ll overbalance and fall off it.
Getting on a Motorbike Sidesaddle – Once the motorcycle driver has started the bike, position yourself so your butt is next to the left side of the bike (girls always sit facing the left). Then, put your right foot on the foot pedal and push up ever so slightly. That will give you enough momentum to be able to hop up onto the bike, with your butt firmly on the seat. Make sure you shift your body so that your butt is squarely fixed on the seat of the bike, slightly overhanging the other side. With the weight of your body partially on one side and partially on the other, it makes it that much easier for the driver to balance the bike correctly.
Positing Your Body for the Motorcycle Ride – Now keep your right foot on the foot pedal so, as you’re riding, you can maintain balance with that foot. Let your left foot just dangle off the side of the bike, making sure you raise it slightly as the bike goes around a corner, or you’ll end up with your foot dragging on the ground. Put your left hand on the back of the bike and hold onto the back of the bike seat. You’re now ready to go. Tell the motorcycle driver “Okay” and concentrate as he starts to move the bike off, making sure you balance yourself with the bike.
Hold Up Your Skirt – Presumably, you’re wearing a skirt or dress, which is why you’re riding the motorcycle side saddle. Make sure, before the bike starts off, if you’re wearing a flowing skirt, pull the skirt away from the back bike wheel and hold it with your right hand. That way, your skirt won’t get tangled in the wheel and yank you off the bike.
Going with the Bike – Now that you’re on the back of the bike sidesaddle, don’t attempt to adjust your body position or move too much as that will unbalance the driver. Just sit comfortably and pick up the rhythm of the bike. As the driver moves in and out of traffic, make sure your body goes with the movement of the bike. Honestly, if you just relax, you’ll find yourself very quickly going with the movement naturally.
Don’t Hold Onto the Driver – Holding onto the driver isn’t ‘done’ in Asia, unless you know them very well. I always use my right hand to hold my bag or parcels on my lap, so I don’t drop anything on my ride.
Watch What’s Coming Up – Make sure you watch what’s coming up in front of you because, if there’s the likelihood of an accident, it’s sometimes safer to jump off the bike before you hit another vehicle (which you actually can do sometimes if you’re riding sidesaddle).
Have Fun – Learning how to ride a motorbike sidesaddle is actually great fun. It’s now my favorite mode of transportation in Thailand and I make sure I ride two or three motorcycle taxis every day. Enjoy the ride. It’s awesome. Sure, it’s dangerous, but some of the best things in life are.
My Thai friends tell me, because of the way I now ride motorcycles, that I’ve become Thai. I casually drape myself sidesaddle across the back of the bike, pull my three or four shopping bags onto my lap holding my skirt with the same hand, tell the driver I’m ready, and with my free hand get on my cell phone and have a conversation with a friend while on my way home. Look Mom, no hands! And really really fun.