Motorcycling is primarily a solo activity, but for many, riding as a group -- whether with friends on a Sunday morning ride or with an organized motorcycle rally -- is the epitome of the motorcycling experience.
Here are some tips to help ensure a fun and safe group ride:
- Arrive prepared. Arrive on time with a full gas tank.
- Hold a riders’ meeting. Discuss things like the route, rest and fuel stops, and hand signals (see diagrams on next page). Assign a lead and sweep (tail) rider. Both should be experienced riders who are well-versed in group riding procedures. The leader should assess everyone’s riding skills and the group’s riding style.
- Keep the group to a manageable size. If necessary, break the group into smaller sub-groups, each with a lead and sweep rider.
- Ride prepared. At least one rider in each group should pack a cell phone, first-aid kit, and full tool kit, so the group is prepared for any problem that they might encounter. Ride in formation.
- The staggered riding formation allows a proper space cushion between motorcycles so that each rider has enough time and space to maneuver and to react to hazards. The leader rides in the left third of the lane, while the next rider stays at least one second behind in the right third of the lane; the rest of the group follows the same pattern. A single-file formation is preferred on a curvy road, under conditions of poor visibility or poor road surfaces, entering/leaving highways, or other situations where an increased space cushion or maneuvering room is needed.
- Avoid side-by-side formations as they reduce the space cushion. If you suddenly needed to swerve to avoid a hazard, you would not have room to do so. You don’t want handlebars to get entangled.
- Periodically check the riders following in your rear view mirror. If you see a rider falling behind, slow down so they may catch up. If all the riders in the group use this technique, the group should be able to maintain a fairly steady speed without pressure to ride too fast to catch up.
If you’re separated from the group, don’t panic. Your group should have a pre-planned procedure in place to regroup. Don’t break the law or ride beyond your skills to catch up.
more on Group Riding:
- Group riding is in a staggered double line. Bikes form two columns in a one lane. The first rider (Road Captain) is to the left side of the lane. The next is behind and in the right side of the lane and so on. Leave a minimum of two seconds between you and the bike ahead of you in the same lane, and one second between you and the bike to your right or left riding in the other track.
- Maintain your level of comfort! Do not feel you must keep up or meet anyone’s expectations and sacrificing safety as a result. We will not lose you and the group will adjust to everyone’s comfort level. Always think safety, safety, safety, for both you and your fellow riders.
- Try to keep the formation tight, but be willing to allow traffic to merge through the group to enter and exit the highway. Don’t feel impatient to regroup if a car integrates. We are not tied together. You do not have to act recklessly on the impulse that a car has split the group. Most cars are as uncomfortable being in between bikes and in time they will leave. Just be patient!
- Passing other vehicles should be done one-by-one, in two’s at the most – but never as a group. The lead bike should not attempt to initiate passing unless he/she estimates that there will be sufficient room and time to allow the entire mini-group to pass safely. The left-most rider should yield extra space so the right-most rider has room to pass.
- Maintain your lane position unless you need to ride up to fill a gap in the group formation.
- Fill gaps in the event a rider drops out of the ride. This should take place with riders in the column in which a gap has been created moving forward to fill in the gap, so that if there were five bikes in one column, and the second rider leaves, the rider who had been behind him moves up to taker his spot, and each rider behind moves up one space. Do not change over to the opposite track as this forces every rider behind you to criss-cross to re-stagger the whole group, which increases the chance that someone will clip another bike.
- At traffic signal stops, pull side-by-side. When starting out again, both bikes leave together with the left being allowed to accelerate a little faster in order to re-stagger the group.
- Hand Signals should be understood by every rider in the group and passed back when used by the lead riders.
- Avoid waving to other riders or pointing to things while riding in a group, which may be misinterpreted as hand signals.
- If another bike gets too close to your comfort level, signal him/her to back off.
- On turns at intersections, let the rider who was traveling ahead of you go first.
- Know the route ahead of you and never run stop signs or traffic signals to keep up… the group will slow down, pull over or exercise the Last Rider Rule, allowing all to catch up.
- The Last Rider Rule: After making a turn, look behind you. If the group has separated from behind you – WAIT – at that intersection for the rest of the group to catch up, so they don’t miss the turn. Any section of the group ahead of you will be waiting at the next turn to direct you, and so on. This is important so that everyone knows where the group has made turns.
- If you are going to leave the group inform the group leader. If you become separated from the group, stay on the designated route. If you make any stops, stay within view from the road so as to be spotted by Road Captains.
- For Emergency Pull-Off, signal your intentions to the bike following and proceed to the shoulder. The Road Captain behind you will pull-off to render assistance. The remaining bikes should stay on the road and continue to the next rest stop or designated stop, whichever comes first.
- Pay attention to directions and instructions from the Senior Road Captain prior to departure.
- Each rider is expected to have his or her cycle in proper working condition with a full tank of gas. Be prepared for all kinds of weather. You should be alert and feeling well. Perform a safety check (tire pressure, turn signals, stop lights, oil, parts loosened by vibration). Your bike is to be licensed, inspected and insured.
- The club frowns upon alcoholic beverages and recreational drugs. You’re riding in formations and must be aware, sharp and alert.
- Group riding involves BrainPower, not HorsePower. It is easy to be mesmerized and/or hypnotized into feeling connected to the bike in front of you. It is important to avoid this, and to stay alert.
- Don’t be afraid to split from the group if you are uncomfortable or the group is becoming a “bad experience”. If the bikes you’re with are not riding safe or you’re having a tough time, hang a right and get “lost”. It’s fun to ride in a group but it’s sometimes more fun to cut loose on the back roads alone.
RIDE SAFE, STAY ALERT and HAVE FUN !