The Art of Riding Side-Saddle

People say that travelling around Bangkok can be one of the most frustrating and tiring parts of living in this mega city.  It wasn’t design with the knowledge that one day thousands of cars will be travelling its road.  I can’t count the number of times I’ve sent a message to a friend or colleague saying ‘Sorry, I’m running late – stuck in traffic.’   I think because of this the number of methods of getting around are vast.   On any given day I use 3-4 modes of transport sometimes more.

The easiest and fastest has to be motorcycle taxi, covering short distances 10 x faster than a taxi.

Motorcycle taxi

Motorcycle taxis waiting for passengers

It took me almost a years to brave riding a motorcycle side-saddle. I thought that it was surely more unstable and you’d have to be really conscious of keeping your balance.  One day the conditions were just right, or just wrong depending on the way you looked at it.  I’d dress in an almost floor length dress (I hadn’t planned on riding a motorcycle that day), but I needed to get food and a friend was heading out on his bike and it would be a quick trip.  He promised to drive slowly.   And luckily for me my first experience riding side-saddle was a good one and actually every ride since has been positive too.

Riding side saddle

Riding side-saddle in Myanmar.

How to ride

Funnily, I now find riding side-saddle the easiest way of catching a motorcycle taxi.  Probably the hardest part is getting on the bike.  Unlike when you normally ride a bike, when you can use your own body to support yourself getting on, you have to make sure that the driver is actually aware that you are about to get on.  This is one mistake I’ve made, and I think you’ll only make it once.    Once you’ve got the drivers attention and he is maintaining the bike’s balance, then go round to the side without the muffler (you don’t won’t a muffler burn), put your right foot on the foot peg to give yourself a little boost and just sit down.

Either way you ride a motorcycle you need to keep your balance and it’s actually not too hard.  I find it easier side-saddle because my body feels like it is more on the bike and I can lean in or out of the corners easily.  Where as when I’ve straddled the bike, sitting behind the driver I’ve often bumped my head and felt like I was going to fall off.

Riding safely

For some people they don’t like the risk that riding a motorcycle entails and I agree I don’t want to be in an accident but so far (touch wood) I haven’t.   For me the fear of an accident doesn’t stop me from riding.  But I do keep a few phases on hand just in case I’m a little scared and the best one is ‘cha cha noy ka’ (slowly please).

Also make sure to hold on if you feel insecure and ask for a helmet for some added protection.

Side-saddle has become my go to riding position.  I think I’ve become a tad too comfortable – one day I caught myself riding along, carrying my shopping, on my phone, drinking my ice lemon tea and nibbling an apple.

 

© 2014, Kristal Collis
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2 thoughts on “The Art of Riding Side-Saddle

  1. “I caught myself riding along, carrying my shopping, on my phone, drinking my ice lemon tea and nibbling an apple.” !! The adventurer in me says that makes you almost a local. The mother in me is tempted to say something else, entirely …
    the adventurer wins out 🙂

  2. Greetings. I was always amazed how passengers stay on those things. It’s also funny how 3 or 4 people sometimes ride on one motorbike.

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