Under no circumstances are you allowed to carry a pillion whilst learning to ride. You may only do this once you have passed your practical riding test.
Footrests and a rear seat are necessary requirements, draping your passenger over the tank simply will not do. Show with your pillion what they can hold onto (either the rider or grab rail). Make sure they are sitting comfortably before taking off.
Adjust your tyre pressures and rear suspension as per the bike manual. Also adjust your headlights and mirrors to allow for the extra weight. With the best will in the world sometimes having a 20 stone pillion may be impractical and not particularly great for the suspension.
Check your policy before carrying a pillion. Many companies will ask if you intend to carry a pillion and will adjust your premium accordingly. The same applies for your licence - see our types of licence section.
Keep it smooth
Unless you want to be endlessly head butted from behind avoid harsh acceleration and braking. Indeed a real indication of how smooth you actually are can be measured in head butts! Be sure to brief the pillion before you set off. Some will try and lean for you, cheerfully wave at cars and fidget excessively while you are filtering. Also consider the fact that you might be recruiting another motorcyclist or at the very least portraying the image of one. Being perched on the back can be quite intimidating at the best of time without the rider nailing it around at breakneck speeds in between a milk float and the local bus. Give yourself more braking distance and allow for harder turning circles.
Make sure that the pillion wears protective clothing which includes the right fitting helmet. Metal tipped stilettos may look great at the local nightclub but are not so fantastic heading towards your face after an off.