Look at the verb "ride" in the dictionary

[transitive, intransitive] to sit on and control a bicycle, motorcycle, etc.

ride something + adv./prep. The boys were riding their bikes around the streets.

ride something He rode a Harley Davidson.

It 's like riding a bicycle: one day you can't and the next day you can.

+ adv./prep. The ground there is too rough to ride over.

and the verb "drive"

[transitive] to take somebody somewhere in a car, taxi, etc.

drive somebody + adv./prep. Could you drive me home?

My mother drove us to the airport.

They were driven to an unknown place in the hills.

drive somebody I don't want to take the bus. Will you drive me?

We normally say "to ride a motorbike / a bike / a Harley / a horse etc" or "to ride on a motorbike / a bike / a Harley / a horse etc"

But I am not sure if we can say "to ride a person on a motorbike / a bike / a Harley / a horse etc"

For example, can we say "I am riding my friend on my motorbike / bike / horse"?

However, the verb "drive" can be followed by a person, for example, we can say "I drove her to the airport in my car". But "drive" is often used with a truck, a car, a taxi. I am not sure if it can be used with a motorbike, a bike, a horse, etc.

For example, can we say "I drove her to the airport on my motorbike / bike / horse"?

How do we express that you are riding a motorbike / bike / horse with your friend sitting behind you on it?

  • Horses are not driven, unless they are pulling a carriage, they are ridden. Besides, they are not a common form of public transportation, so it probably deserves a separate question of its own.
    – Mari-Lou A
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 7:42

2 Answers 2


A "Pillion passenger" is a person sitting behind the driver on a motorbike.

You don't say "I rode a pillion passenger". It is possible to say

I took a pillion passenger
I carried my friend as a pillion passenger
I rode with my friend as a pillion passenger

You can use the phrase "ride pillion"

My friend rode pillion. (but avoid "I rode my friend pillion")

You sometimes see it as verb, though this is somewhat non-standard

Learn to pillion (but avoid "he pillioned")

Pillion is the right word for motorbikes, it would also be the right word for the back seat of a pedal bike (though I have never seen such a thing). Technically it is also the word for a small cushion that can be used for a second rider on a horse, but now the word is only in common use for motorbikes. Double saddles are rare.

If the rider isn't on a separate seat then you could used "carry"

George carried his son in a child seat on his bike.

Normally, though you would use the person being carried as the subject

George's son rode in a child seat in front.
Mary rode behind Susan on their horse
Katie perched on the back axle of Mike's bike.

You can't use "ride" as a transitive verb, because the direct object of "ride" is the bike/horse

He rode a horse (OK)
He rode Mary on a horse (not OK)

The verb "drive" is usually used with cars, and not motorbikes.

I drove Mary to work (suggests "by car")

  • What if the passenger (like a small child, for example) sit in front of the rider? do we have a name for the seat before the rider on a motorbike?
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 6:29
  • Besides, "pillion" is quite complicated, can we say "I drove her on my motorbike"?
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 6:41
  • In addition, "pillion" is not generic, it is a back seat of a motorcycle. What about a backseat of a bicycle, tricycle, horse, etc. We often see 2 people on a horse in movies. How do we express in that situation?
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 6:46
  • I've edited. Not "drove" but "carried". But better to change the subject. Pillion is the precise word, for a precise meaning. "Pillion" is common enough that I'd understand it when applied to the (rare) situations of two horse riders.
    – James K
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 7:27
  • but what about the person is sitting in front of the rider (like a little child, for example)?
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 7:32

You might say, "I rode a horse with my friend sitting behind me." This sentence would indicate you were most probably the one in control.

Alternatively, "My friend and I rode a horse together, and I held the reins." This makes it clear who was in control.

  • is there a way to make it shorter. For example, "I rode my friend on a horse" (which broke the standard structure)?
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 23, 2020 at 7:18

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