Group motorcycle rides are some of the most freeing and powerful experiences that you can share with your fellow riders. The feeling is truly intoxicating. You and your comrades cruise through the streets, bikes rumbling. Heads turn and jaws drop as you pass. But, group rides aren’t without their risks, and they can actually be more dangerous than riding alone if you don’t know what you’re doing. That’s what brings us here today. We’ve taken it upon ourselves to compile the most important tips for group motorcycle riding.
A group of riders in a staggered formation; you’ll hear more about that later.
Before You Start Riding…
What we’re about to say next might have us sounding like a self-help book or a therapist, but just bear with us. Before you start a ride of any sizable length, you should have a candid conversation with your fellow riders. It’s important for you and your fellow riders to be in sync. When you are one the same page, things will go smoother. We’ve covered a couple of great “conversation starters” for you and your friends.
“Where are we going?”
Knowing your route seems like a fairly obvious point, doesn’t it? Make sure everyone knows the route, in case you become split up. Designate any rest stops or breaks that you plan to take.
“What kind of formation should we ride in?”
Different riders will like different formations, but the safest and most manageable option is simply staggering yourselves across the lane. This formation is a great combination of safe distance, clear sight-lines, and compact riding. When you and your group are riding through turns, single file is a much better idea. But as soon as you straighten out, you can go back to a staggered formation. When riding, it’s a good idea to keep at least 2 seconds worth of space between you and the bike in front of you. Employing all of these rules of thumb will help ensure a fun and safe ride.
“Who should ride in front?”
This isn’t about having a head start. The front rider is your leader, and they have an important role. This should be one of your most experienced riders, someone with a good understanding of group riding procedures and their group’s skill level. As leader, your job is NOT to show the others your mad skills. Your job is to set a pace for the group. When setting the pace, ride at a pace that is suitable for the weakest group member. Stop slowly, and accelerate slowly. A line of traffic tends to operate with the effect of an accordion, and if you accelerate quickly, the people in the back of your group will have accelerate even faster just to keep up. The leader should keep this in mind as they start and stop.
“Who should ride in back?”
The back rider should be another experienced rider. Your role is less flashy, but just as important. Consider yourself a sheep herder. If one of your sheep runs out of gas or gets a flat, it’s your job to stop with them, help them, and get them back on the road. If you have a way to let the rest of the group know that you need to stop, great! If not, this person should have complete knowledge of the route, and should be able to meet up with the others at the next stop.
“Does everyone remember their hand signals?”
Just a formality, everyone will likely know these. If they don’t, fill them in! Being able to communicate while on the road is a valuable skill.
Now that you’re all on the same page…
Now that you’re all on the same page, it’s time to ride. We have five more pointers for you and your crew.
- In the event of an accident, do your best to avoid slamming on the brakes. It can cause a pile up, furthering the damage.
- If one of you has been pulled over by the police, all of you should stop with them, while staying on your motorcycle.
- Ride smart, and ride sober. Too many drinks and fancy tricks will put the whole group at risk. You owe it to your group to be responsible, just as they owe it to you.
- If someone becomes separated from the group, head to the predetermined rendezvous point and wait for them. They should do the same.
- Use your hand signals. Pointing out a pothole might feel like overkill, but you never know when you might be saving a fellow rider from a dangerous predicament. Don’t be too cool for hand signals.
Using these tips and conversation starters will have people convinced that you have done this before. You’ll sound so knowledgeable that they might even ask you to take the lead, and if you have absorbed everything we’ve written, you’ll be ready for the job. If you aren’t feeling quite that confident, you can leave any questions you might have in the comments section below. Thank you for reading, ride safe and have fun!