Group Riding Tips


Some of the enclosed information has been obtained from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and from various articles written by other motorcyclists.†† We disclaim any liability for the views expressed herein. The following are suggestions only and are not to be considered rules. They are guidelines only. However, the more we as a group think and ride alike, the safer and more fun the rides will be. Riding in a group is strictly voluntary and should be done only if you feel comfortable with your motorcycle and the riding habits of your particular riding group.


Group Riding Protocol:


-- MSF-style staggered formation when riding close, such as in town; shift to two-abreast at stop lights, etc.. Spread out if you want in the countryside.†† Riding too close to the rider ahead of you in a staggered formation may A) put you in his blind spot, and B) Leaves him (you) no place to go in the event of a sudden hazard.


-- Lead, follow, or get out of the way... keep in order unless the rider in front of you waves you by.


-- You are responsible for the (one) rider *BEHIND* you -- at each intersection/turn in the route, signal and *MAKE SURE* the rider behind you makes the correct turn. Be prepared to *wait* in case they are held up behind you.

-- For some clubs, an open spot is left between the last rider and the drag (sweep) rider to honor those brothers lost and as an invitation to solo riders. 

-- If you're dropping out of the group, make sure the rider in front and behind you know you're splitting off.


-- Be careful at intersections, do not run red lights (the guy in front of you will wait for you at the next turn).


-- If you don't have 80 miles of fuel left in your tank at a fuel stop, FILL IT UP NOW!


-- Ride within your *own* limits.


-- The group should not stop on a bridge for any reason except an emergency.

-- Be considerate: donít accidentally flick cigarettes butts or trash as they will hit another biker.We donít litter either.


Inexperienced riders:


-- The *hardest* place to ride in a group is at the back. The pressure to keep up is *very* high. Don't ride in the back.


-- As the SECOND rider in the group, you have no-one in front of you in staggered formation, and you still have someone to lead you through corners. This is the *easiest* place to ride.


-- YOU WILL *NOT* HOLD US UP!!! Get that out of your mind right away... we do not resent novice riders and will always wait for you.


-- Be prepared to accept constructive criticism and comments.


The Ten Commandments of Group Riding(from MSF)


Arrive at a group ride ready to ride. This means with a full tank of gas, appropriate clothing for the weather, well-rested and fed, and a bike in safe operating condition. Riding is no fun if you are too hot or too cold, and your friends would rather ride than wrench on your bike or get gas for you.


Make sure everyone is aware of the proposed route and extended stops (such as lunch, fuel, and sightseeing stops). It is always a good idea to prepare a map of the route with these stops indicated.


The ride is self-paced, ride at a speed you feel comfortable with. No one should feel pressure to keep up with anyone else. In particular, no one will object to you riding as slowly as you wish. It is natural for people to feel they need to keep up with the rider ahead. However, riding outside their limits is the main reason riders get hurt! It is not the point of this ride to have someone get hurt.


Ride in a staggered formation, with a minimum of two seconds between you and the rider directly in front of you. This allows you to use the entire lane to ride in and gives you an extra margin of safety.


Ride your ride, not the rider's in front of you. Make sure you keep looking down the road and through the corners, not at the bike ahead of you. Set your own pace and choose your own lines through the corners.


A group of motorcycles is not considered a "single vehicle!". Be courteous and allow cars to enter/exit a highway or change lanes.Make sure you let the riders behind you know what is going on (this also applies to other hazards, as well).


At least one of the riders ahead of you (if any) will wait at every point where you might make a wrong turn.


Similarly, you are expected to wait at intersections and other decision points until the person behind you (if any) shows up.


Plan brief stops throughout the ride to let everyone regroup, make sure everyone is present, check gas supplies, and to allow for rests.


If you decide to split off from the ride, make a reasonable attempt to alert the entire group to your departure; if regrouping does not happen soon enough for you, you must let at least one other person know you are leaving.


Seventeen tips to ensure everybody has a great day

By Bill Andrews

The engine purrs beneath you as a string of motorcycles snakes through the hills in front of you. With a quick look in the mirror, you see your buddy following close behind with a smile on his face that matches yours. The camaraderie forms because, at just this moment, you're all on the same page.

That's what a group ride is all about. It's an opportunity to share the open road and wonderful scenery with other like-minded people. But like most motorcycle experiences, this one is best enjoyed by following a few simple guidelines that keep everyone safe.

1) The first thing you want to do is organize the ride. This can be as informal as standing around in a parking lot, or as complicated as a special meeting to hand out maps and cellphone numbers.

2) Remember that riding in a group does not mean you surrender any decision making when it comes to your safety. Ride your own ride, and don't go any faster than you feel comfortable going.

3) When picking your route and the stops you'll make along it, consider the stamina of the group, the experience of all the riders, and the limits of the motorcycles in the group. Remember, these are your friends. If it's going to be a long ride, be sure to have a few break stops along the way.

4) You'll need to communicate while on the ride, so make sure everyone knows the signals you'll use.

5) When creating your formation, it's wise to have your experienced riders at the lead and running sweep. Consider positioning the less experienced riders immediately behind the leader. This allows the front rider to adjust the pace if necessary.

6) Ideally, the sweep rider will have a cellphone to call for help if a motorcycle is disabled, or if there has been an accident.

7) If the goal of the ride is to keep the group together, the leader should only go at the pace of the least experienced rider.

8) While riding, don't fixate on the motorcycle in front of you. Instead, remember your basic training. Look well through the turn to where you want to go.

9) If the group is riding faster than you are comfortable with, let the sweep rider know you're dropping out and ride at your own pace. So you may reach your destination a few seconds behind the others, but you will get there, and that's what's important. Keep in mind, it's all about fun.

10) All riders are also responsible for making sure their motorcycles are mechanically up to the task. Before you even meet up with the group, make sure you've got plenty of fuel in the tank, and you've taken care of all those maintenance issues. Not sure what to check? Use T-CLOCK. You really don't want to be the reason for stopping the group for something mechanical you could have prevented.

11) If it's going to be a large group, consider establishing a buddy system among the riders, or divide the group into smaller five- or seven-rider packs. That way, if something goes wrong, you don't have 25 motorcycles sitting on the side of a busy highway. Also, smaller groups can more easily navigate through city streets.

12) On the road, motorcyclists should have at least a 2-second cushion in front and behind them. If you want to keep the group tight, consider a staggered formation. Leave enough room per lane so each rider can maneuver side-to-side if need be. Avoid side-by-side formations as they shrink your space cushion.

13) Trikes and sidecars should stay in the center of the lane, and should be given the same amount of cushion as if they were a car.

14) As turns get sharper, or as visibility decreases, move back to a single file formation. You'll also want to use single file when entering or exiting a highway, at toll booths, or when roads have a rough or questionable surface.

15) At intersections where you've come to a stop, tighten the formation to side-by-side to take up less space. As the light turns green, or when traffic opens up, the bike on the left proceeds through first.

16) Remember we share the road with many other vehicles, and it's against the law to block an intersection.

17) When parking, try to get the group off the roadway as quickly as possible. If you can, arrange in advance to have pull-through parking at your destination, or at the very least, make sure there is ample parking for your size group.


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