Group Riding Tips



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Organizing, leading, or participating in a group ride is an activity that a lot of riders would like to undertake.  However, many riders are somewhat intimidated and reluctant to participate because they are not really sure how it is actually done.  There is a good chance you have participated in a group ride and have become aware that there is a lot more going on than meets the eye.  There is also a chance that you have been on a group ride that was conducted by riders that were long on enthusiasm but short on experience.  We follow the MSF guidelines for group riding.  They are tried and tested techniques that help to ensure the ride is safe, structured, and enjoyable.  Our ride captains have received advanced training, and have many years experience in this type of activity.



A group normally travels in a staggered formation within a given car lane with the lead Road Captain taking the position next to the center stripe.  The next group member positions him or herself on the opposite side of the same car lane, one second behind the Leader.  This staggered formation is repeated back to the last group member, which gives each rider in the same column a two second safety zone.  You are ultimately responsible to maintain a minimum, but safe riding distance from the bike in front of you.  Do not ride beside one another.  This allows you room to swerve in case of an emergency or road hazard.  It may be necessary at times to form a single file line.  The Road Captain will signal for this by raising his left arm and pointing his index finger straight up.  This signal, as with all hand signals, should be passed back and acted upon.



The entire width of the lane belongs to you.  When a rider leaves the group you simply change your position in the lane.  If you're riding near the center stripe move to the right.  If you're riding the curb side move to the left.  Always make a head check before initiating any maneuver.  Your mirror, is no substitute for your own eyes and good judgment!  Both HOG and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation agree that crossing over, rather than moving straight forward, is the safest way to fill the gap.  FYI, it is illegal in all but 2 states to pass another vehicle (motorcycle) in the same lane.  The only 2 states that allow motorcycles to pass one another in the same lane are Massachusetts and California.  Gaps in the group not only make the bikes stretch out longer on the roadways, but invites motorists traveling at higher speeds to cut into the formation.  When a large gap develops in the stagger, each group member should work together to protect the other.  The Road Captain will signal with the left arm, fist closed, pumping up and down, to close the gap.  This signal, as with all hand signals, should be passed back and acted upon.  Please do so for the safety of the entire group.



Communication is an important tool in group riding.  Learning and using hand signals is a must for overall group safety.  If you have a passenger, it is completely acceptable to have them pass the hand signals back as well.  Open the attachment below to view an example of the stagger, and to see illustrations of the hand signals we use.


MSF Group Riding Tips.pdf526.56 KB
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