Group Ride Guide
Motorcycling is primarily a solo activity, but for many, riding as a group of motorcycles — whether with friends on a Sunday morning ride or with an organized motorcycle rally — is the epitome of the motorcycling experience. If you ride with friends or with a larger group, here are some motorcycle safety tips and a few key group signals (above) to help ensure a fun and safe group ride. Enjoy the ride.
Arrive prepared. Arrive on time with a full gas tank and with your motorcycle fully inspected before the ride (Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis and Stands).
Hold a riders’ meeting. Discuss things like the route, rest and fuel stops, and hand signals (see signal diagrams above).
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. Ideally five to seven motorcycle riders. 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 (see diagram) 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. Side-by-side motorcycles reduce your 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.