By Steve Smith
Motorcycling is mostly an activity between rider and machine, but it is enjoyable to ride with a group of like-minded individuals. Whether on tour or just out for a day ride, the camaraderie and the discussing of shared experiences on the road are what make for great memories.
Riding in a group seems simple enough. It’s only several motorcyclists heading out together. The harsh reality is that many riders are injured each year, some seriously, as a result of group riding. Each rider must assume responsibility for themselves as well as the group. Know where you are going and ride your own ride.
Here are some pointers to help with group rides:
- Be considerate to your riding buddies. Arrive on time with a full gas tank and empty bladder.
- Hold a riders’ meeting sometime before departing. Discuss things like the route, fuel stops, rest breaks and signals that may be used between riders. .
- Ride prepared. At least one rider in each group should pack a cell phone, first-aid kit and tools/ tire repair kit, so the group is prepared for minor problems they might encounter.
- Keep the group to a manageable, safe size. Ideally 3 – 6 riders maximum. If necessary, break larger numbers into smaller groups.
- Use experienced lead and sweep riders.
- Each rider should accurately assess their ability. Those capable and wanting to ride quicker should move up front.
- Ride your own ride and do not try to keep up by exceeding limitations of yourself or your bike.
- Ride in formation. A staggered riding formation or single file will provide a space cushion between motorcycles to allow enough time and space for riders to maneuver when reacting to hazards. Avoid riding side-by-side as this reduces the space cushion.
- Employ the principles of The Pace, a must read article written by world-renowned motorcycle journalist Nick Ienatsch. (See earlier Safe Riding column.)
- Don’t worry about getting separated by traffic. There will be opportunities to regroup periodically.
- If you’re separated from the group, don’t panic. Your group should have a procedure in place to regroup along the way or you should know the final destination and how to get there. Don’t break the law or ride beyond your skills to catch up.
Additional information can be found in this Motorcycle Safety Foundation Guide to Group Riding video:
This Motorcycle Safety Foundation Group Ride Quick Tips info sheet is a great handout for clubs.