ADV Pulse

Get ADV Pulse delivered by email
Sign up for ADV Pulse Weekly


Get ADV Pulse delivered by email
Sign up for ADV Pulse Weekly

Connect With Us

Follow On Facebook:

ADV VideosRiding Pillion Off-road Is the Ultimate Adventure Ride

Riding Pillion Off-road Is the Ultimate Adventure Ride

Matt and Kelly show how much fun you can have two-up on an ADV Bike

Published on 10.18.2013

Riding pillion on a street bike can be a great thrill, but how about off-road?  You need a skilled pilot and a pillion rider that has a lot of trust in the pilot.  A willing off-road pillion rider has to be a bit nuts as well.

Matt and Kelly (nicknamed BigWan and LittleWan), an adventurous couple from the San Francisco Bay Area, are probably the fastest off-road two-up team you will ever see. It appears nothing can stop this duo. Not even thick mud, big rocks, deadly cliffs, torrential rain or deep river crossings.

Kelly is only 5 foot 1/2 inch tall (1.5 meters) and Matt is a big guy at 6 foot 2 in (1.85 meters), so Kelly fits snugly in-between Matt and their luggage.  Kelly may be small, but shows unbelievable strength holding on through terrain that most riders would never dare take their KTM 990 Adventures on.  Many of us might be unhappy if one of our riding buddies said they were bringing their girlfriend along for an epic ride.  But this is no ordinary girl and don’t think that she will slow the group down.  The two can ride faster than most solo Adventure Riders can dream of.


Why would she want to ride pillion for thousands of miles off-road?  Kelly says, “I love the roughest, gnarliest, rockiest, scariest trails.  I love blasting across the desert, I love ripping over the rocks, I love tearing through the sand, I love hammering out long 200-400 mile dirt days….”  Kelly knows it would be impossible to ride a big Adventure bike with her small stature on her own. So she would rather benefit from Matt’s husky build and years of experience by riding pillion so she doesn’t miss out on the action.

Here is a video clip of the couple riding near Baker, Nevada on a section of the Trans America Trail.  Watch this two-up terror pass their solo riding friends on the trail like they are standing still.  You can see Kelly in the rear view mirror hanging on tight.  You can also check out LittleWan’s Great Basin National Park ride report on

Here is another clip of the couple riding over Pearl Pass in Colorado!  This was right after being told by a shop owner in the nearby town of Gunnison, Colorado,  “I’m a ISDE champion so you should listen to me cause I know what I’m talking about. There is no way you can ride those bikes through Pearl Pass.”

Apparently, they didn’t heed the advice of an old ISDE legend and decided to do Pearl Pass two-up in the rain! You can also check out the couple’s ride report of Pearl Pass on here.

Author: Rob Dabney

Rob Dabney started a lifelong obsession with motorcycles at the age of 15 when he purchased his first bike – a 1982 Honda MB5. Through his 20’s and 30’s he competed in off-road desert races, including the Baja 250, 500 and 1000. Eventually, his proclivity for exploration led him to dual sport and adventure riding. Rob’s never-ending quest to discover what’s around the next bend has taken him on Adventures in Latin America, Africa, Europe, Asia, and throughout the American West. As a moto journalist, he enjoys inspiring others to seek adventure across horizons both near and far.

Author: Rob Dabney

Related Stories

Related Stories

Notify me of new posts via email

Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
December 10, 2013 4:52 am

Very nice write up. They are good team and great people to hang out with.

Debbie Shah
Debbie Shah
February 16, 2014 10:59 pm

Awesome 2-up 🙂 What an inspiration. We do 2-up trails in Africa (where we live) on a KTM 640, and cruising in the US on a Volusia. Can see we need the 990 for the States too now!


Watch: 2024 Triumph Tiger 900 Rally Pro Tested

For 2024, Triumph's dirt-focused Tiger 900 — the Rally Pro — has received...

My First Time Riding Enduro, How Hard Could It Be?

Nestled between the Sierra Nevada and Inyo Mountains of California lies a l...

DoubleTake’s Popular Off-Road Mirrors Get Major Upgrade For 2024

Life always looks clearer in the rear view, that is, until you’re looking int...