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Pillion paradise: The world’s best bikes for two

a man and a woman on a BMW bike by markyweissA guide to going two-up on two wheels  

It might sound romantic - just you, your bike and the open road, but it could also be a bit lonely. Even Ewan McGregor asked a mate to tag along when he rode ‘The Long Way Round’ the world.

But what happens if your travelling companion can’t ride? Put them in a pillion seat – that’s what! has the guide to the world’s best motorbikes for two.

1)  Honda GL1800 Goldwing Deluxe 

Surely there’s no better way to travel two-up than on a Honda Goldwing? Boasting the kind of spec sheet you’d expect to find on a BMW 5-series, the Wing offers cruise control, GPS navigation, airbags, ABS, a radio and speakers – and even a reverse gear. Who wouldn’t want to perch themselves on the sumptuous leather throne of this pillion seat? It’s so soft and comfortable it will swallow you whole.

However, sitting in the lofty insurance group of 15 will drive up the cost of your motorbike insurance. A credit-crunch defying price tag of £21,451 accounts for the pricey insurance premium - you might require a loan for this one!

Honda GL1800 Goldwing Deluxe
Price £21,451
Engine 1,832cc, 12-Valve, flat-six
Power 118bhp
Weight 417kg

2)  BMW R1200RT

BMW’s twin-cylinder, super-tourer is lighter, cheaper and four insurance groups lower than the mighty Goldwing – but by no means is it the budget option, even if your motorbike insurance says otherwise. The R1200RT offers a decent touring spec with a CD player, a deafening set of treble-toned speakers, ABS, heated-grips, electric windscreen and cavernous in-built luggage space.

Unfortunately your pillion won’t be treated to such decadent comfort as the Honda provides, but fit the optional top-box and it doubles as a nifty backrest.

Price £10,895
Engine 1,170cc, flat-twin
Power 110bhp
Weight 259kg

3) Harley-Davidson FLHTCU Electra Glide Ultra Classic

The Electra Glide is the cheeseburger-chomping Elvis Presley of the bike world - large, loud, brash and 100 per cent American. What’s more, your passenger will be treated to lashings of camp, cruiser chrome and tasselled leather.

Like the Goldwing, the Harley-Davidson sits at the top of the motorbike insurance food chain, so fitting an alarm and chaining the bike to a ground anchor – even inside your garage, could help lower premiums.

Harley-Davidson FLHTCU Electra Glide Ultra Classic
Price £18,680
Engine 1,584cc, air-cooled, V-twin
Power 65 bhp approx
Weight 413kg

4) Triumph Sprint ST ABS 

Unlike our other bikes, the Triumph is a serious sports-tourer, capable of doubling the national speed limit without breaking a sweat. However, despite the razor sharp handling, alloy frame, single-sided swingarm and sporty three-cylinder engine, the Sprint ST makes for a very comfortable long-distance tourer.

It’s a pillion’s pleasure on the back, perfect for an Autobahn blast during your next European tour (see’s Guide to Biking in Europe). Unfortunately, the Sprint ST’s Superbike performance figures account for its high motorbike insurance group of 15 - age and a decent no-claims bonus are the best remedies for this.

Triumph Sprint ST ABS
Price £8,679
Engine 1,050cc, in-line triple
Power 125bhp
Weight 213kg

5) Piaggio XEvo 400

Stylish, nippy and comfortable, the Piaggio XEvo is the quickest way to get around London… oh, and it’s a scooter! Not something you’ll cross-continents with, but it will get you, and your pillion passenger, to the shops 10-miles down the road in comfort and style.

An automatic, the Piaggio is fitted with a back support to increase confidence in nervous passengers. Sitting in insurance group six, it’s much cheaper to insure thanks to a 400cc engine, a modest power figure and a lower retail price.

But scooters are magnets for bike thieves, so invest in decent security before arranging your motorbike insurance – it could make a big difference to your premium.

Piaggio XEvo 400
Price £3,999
Engine 400cc, single-cylinder with automatic transmission
Power 94bhp
Weight 199kg

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photo by markyweiss