One of the greatest aspects of motorcycling is its ability to bring people together of varying ages and from various walks of life. The challenge however is that group riding poses some unique challenges and risks that aren’t present in single or paired rides. In this Chance Moto article, we’ll look at ways to get the most out of group rides and provide safety tips to keep things from going sideways (literally).
1. Discuss on-bike communication
In most cases, not all riders in your group will have helmet communicators -which means you’ll need to agree on basic hand/leg signals for communication. Signs for pointing our road debris, law enforcement, stopping for fuel and the call of nature are a good base.
2. Buddy up
Much like in scuba diving, it’s a good idea to have a “buddy” when you’re on a long ride. The principle is quite simple: your job is to know where your buddy is at all times and his job is to know where you are. This simple system ensures no one gets left behind and can save a life in the event of an accident.
3. Determine groups (if required)
Unless you are riding a cruiser or touring bike and are into maintaining a leisurely pace, it’s likely that your expected pace is different than the person’s next to you. As such, forming groups by riding experience, riding style, bike style or intended speed of travel if a good idea. For spirited riding, limit groups to no more than 4 riders and make each group accountable for the safe passage of all its members.
4. Agree on pace or use the brake light rule
If everyone in your group rides at the same pace, then this may seem obvious but from our experience, that’s rarely the case. At the very least, slowing down on straights to get the group back together is generally a sound practice. A variation of this is to use a “no brake lights” rule which sends any rider who uses her brake lights to the back. This not only keeps speeds down but adds a level of focus that can make group rides more fun.
5. Discuss route, fuel and rest stops
Which way are you going, how long are you riding for on when are you stopping for fuel? The last part is simple -figure out who has the smallest tank or shortest range and make that the maximum travel distance between stops.
6. Discuss emergency procedures
It’s all fun and games until someone goes down. If that happens, what will you do? Call 9-1-1? What if you’re somewhere remote and out of cell range? Does the guy with the bagger have a first aid kit? Who has insurance and who doesn’t? These types of questions don’t seem important until they become critical so best to have this information ahead of time and hope to never act on it.
1. Ride staggered
Although we all learned this in riding school, many of us may need a reminder, particularly for those who do not riding in groups frequently. Following too closely or not riding in staggered formation is a recipe for disaster in group rides
2. Ride at your own pace/Don’t “keep up”
Perhaps the most important of all rules, especially when it comes to younger riders and/or spirited, sport-oriented riding. Anyone who wants to test their speed against others should do so on a race track. Period. We’ve witnessed too many crashes on public roads (due to riders trying to “keep up”) to not to make this public safety announcement.
3. Leave appropriate space
Related to #2 above, following too closely increases risk unnecessarily. A two second gap is usually appropriate. Increasing this based on pace and skill level is always a good idea.
Many group riding accidents are caused by simple miscommunications such as someone not signaling or someone not seeing another rider signal and slowly colliding in an unceremonious pileup. Sounds like a joke? We’ve seen it too many times. To avoid this, signal both with your bike’s flashers as well as a hand/foot signal.
5. Point out debris or obstructions
One of the leading causes of motorcycle accidents on public roads is debris (such as gravel, tar or pieces from othr vehicles that have fallen off). Pointing this out to the rider behind you and continuing the trend until the last person has seen the debris is a great way to minimize your risk.
At Rest/Gas Stops
1. Check pace
This is a great topic to discuss when you stop for fuel or for food. Perhaps there are a few riders who are preferring a faster pace and should break off ahead? Or maybe a few of the newer riders would prefer to stay together at the rear to work on their technique. Discussing pace and riding order is a great way to adjust on-the-fly and make sure everyone gets the most out of their ride, while keeping safe.
2. Review next leg of route
Where to from here? And how much longer does everyone feel comfortable riding for?Perhaps there’s someone in the group who knows a twistier road to get there? Whoever thee ride leader is should be briefing the other riders at every stop.
If you have any other group riding tips, leave them in the comments below and we’ll update our list with the best ones.