I know pillion is a seat behind the rider of a horse or motorbike etc.

I would like to know the word for the person sitting on pillion.

  • The correct term might not be the most user friendly. Are you a casual rider or, for example, part of a cycling club? – tylerharms Dec 16 '13 at 8:23
  • @tylerharms no, i mean it for casual driver. – asitis Dec 16 '13 at 8:36
  • Note that, if riding a tandem bicycle (where the second person also pedals), that second person is called a stoker (at least in the US). – Hot Licks May 25 '16 at 20:52

Pillion is the right word for the person too. Source Wikipedia

A passenger in this seat is said to "ride pillion" or may themselves be referred to as a "pillion".

Or you can say 'pillion rider' as in these news articles.

  • 2
    You can certainly say that, but I don't know anyone who would understand it. – Jim Dec 16 '13 at 6:53
  • @Jim check additional link in answer about news articles using the term. – user13107 Dec 16 '13 at 7:10
  • 2
    Ah, they are all from India or other places on the far side of the world from where I live. Maybe that's a common term in some regions. It's certainly not in the U.S. – Jim Dec 16 '13 at 7:12
  • 2
    It's OK in the UK. – Andrew Leach Dec 16 '13 at 7:15
  • 3
    For the UK, 'pillion passenger' is also common. – George Stirling Dec 16 '13 at 9:39

If you're in casual conversation, you can just call them the person in back, but if you need to be technical, they can be called the

stoker, navigator, tailgunner or rear admiral.

Those words are fantastic, IMHO, but they are esoteric to most casual bike riders. Best to stick with "front/rear rider" or "person in front/back".


If the motorcycle passenger is a girl, you might consider back warmer

back warmer: a girl on the back of your motorcycle

Total Motorcycle


I call that person the passenger. "bicycle passenger" gets 28 million hits on Google, "bicycle pillion" gets 370 thousand.


In the US, I'd refer to that person as "riding shotgun", although that usually is in reference to riding beside the driver in a car. It's origins appear to come from riding stagecoaches.

It's a more recent phrase than riding pillion, per ngram. Ngram does support that usage "riding pillion" is more common in British English than American English.

Much, much less common is the term "Wookie", originating from the film "Fanboys". The passenger assumes the role of Chewbacca, the Wookie, implying the driver is Han Solo, and the vehicle in question is the Millenium Falcon.


"Tandem" is what I would use, as in "riding tandem".

protected by tchrist Apr 21 '16 at 23:31

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