GROUP RIDING TIPS & Etiquette
Group riding is a lot of fun, but can be hazardous for everyone in the group if not done correctly. Please, read through these tips and make sure you understand what is expected from everyone in the group. Understand your role in the group as well as the Ride Manager’s role. If you have any questions, please ask a Ride Manager or Officer.
SAFETY IS OUR FIRST PRIORITY!
Dress for the Slide, not the Ride!
Proper Riding Gear is Highly Recommended!!!
Take a few minutes to watch the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Group Riding video. It’s a bit older, but clearly explains the safe way to ride with a group. Continue reading below for additional group riding tips, including our group hand signals. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to an Officer, or send us an email.
Be Prepared Before Going to the Ride Meetup Location
Before leaving home, make sure you are performing your T-CLOCK safety inspection on your bike and all your gear. Click to read more about the T-CLOCK Safety Inspection. Check tire pressure and tire condition. Do an inspection of your entire bike. Make sure it is ready for the road before you head out.
Make sure your gear is ready to go, too. It should be in good working order. Remember to bring along the appropriate gear for current weather conditions. Depending on location and/or elevation gain/loss, weather conditions can change dramatically during a ride.
Stop and fuel up your bike before arriving at the meetup location. Be ready to head out when you arrive. We do not make a fuel stop before the ride starts.
Know the Hand Signals
All group riders should know and understand the hand signals. If the leader, or a rider ahead of you, gives a signal, all riders following should repeat the signal for the riders further back in the group.
If you need to communicate something to the group, give the appropriate hand signal and the rider in the sweep position will let the lead rider know.
Group Riding Formations
For safety reasons, if we have a large number of motorcycles attending an event, we may decide to split into smaller groups. If this happens, please, stay with your assigned group all day. Do not switch groups during fuel or other stops. We do our best to divide into equal size groups.
Our group rides will be in one of two formations: Staggered and Single File. The formation depends on the riding conditions at the time and can change back and forth during the ride.
Staggered Formation. This is the most common formation we will ride in. This will be our riding formation on freeways and straight or slightly curvy roads. You will ride in either the #1 or #3 position. Don’t ride side-by-side. Don’t attempt to pass another rider in formation unless they have signaled for you to pass.
Single File Formation. We will switch to the single file formation while in twisty, mountain roads where riders may decide to use the full width of the lane for turning maneuvers. Don’t tailgate the rider in front of you. Don’t attempt to pass another rider unless they have signaled for you to pass. Never attempt to pass another rider on a corner/curve.
The lead rider will give a hand signal when we are changing our formation. If you see the leader, or a rider in front of you, giving the signal for a different formation, repeat the hand signal for riders behind you. After the hand signal has been given, safely move into the new riding formation.
If a car, AKA “cage”, is attempting to merge into the group at a freeway on-ramp or off-ramp, allow them to merge. Make the decision to slow down to create an opening for the car. It doesn’t matter who has the right of way, the car always wins.
If the group gets split up enough that we lose visual on the lead group, a Road Manager will take lead of the trailing group and bring the groups back together.
Lane positions (aka tracks) are very important. Try and maintain your position whenever possible. If you need to move out of your position for an obstacle or any other reason, move back as soon as you can.
IMPORTANT THINGS TO KEEP IN MIND!
Try your best to maintain a proper distance between you and the rider in front of you, and the rider staggered ahead of you. Riding too close doesn’t give you enough time to react to things happening in front of you. Leaving too much space between riders allows other vehicles to change lanes into our group, spreading us out. Let’s try to stay together.
MAINTAIN THE SPEED OF THE GROUP
If you are not confortable with the speed the group is traveling, it is better to safely drop out of the formation and trail behind the group. If you do leave the group, give a thumbs up so others know you do not need assistance. DO NOT drop back and ride directly behind the sweeps (trailing ride managers). Drop back 100 yards or more and trail the group to the next stop. Let the group leader know your concerns about the speed of the group and we will take that into consideration and adjust our group speed if necessary.
Do not “Rubber Band” in the group. Rubber banding is when you allow the distance in front of you to vary during the ride. Creating larger, then smaller, then large gaps between the rider in front of you. This makes it very difficult for the riders behind you to maintain their speed and distance from the rider in front of them.
RIDE YOUR RIDE!
On twisty, curvy mountain roads, RIDE YOUR RIDE! Never ride above your comfort or skill level on these or any roads. If you prefer a slower pace, then by all means, ride at a slower pace. Twisty, curvy roads is one place we are ok with riders leaving larger gaps between bikes. Ride at your skill level! When the road straightens out, safely close the gab with the rider ahead of you. Safety is always our number one priority!
Whether riding staggered or single file, it is always best to look well ahead of the bikes in front of you for obstacles, road conditions or upcoming curves. Don’t fixate on the bike directly in front of you. In curves, always look deep into the curve, where you want to end up.
STAY AWARE OF YOUR GROUP’S RIDERS
Each rider should periodically check their mirrors to ensure no one is left behind, or having trouble on the road. Also, keep an eye on the leader so you don’t miss any hand signals.
If you pull out of formation, give the others riders around you a hand signal if you are having trouble, or are just leaving the group for the day. A thumbs up means everything is ok. Thumbs down means you are having trouble and need assistance. One of the ride managers will pull off with you and provide assistance. He/She will also communicate with the group lead and keep him/her advised.
If a rider leaves during the ride, the rest of the group should re-form the staggered formation by moving forward to fill the open space. Do not move forward unless the rider staggered in front of you motions for you to move forward. Do not attempt to pass another rider in formation unless they know your intentions. Do NOT leave your lane position (track), crossing into another bike’s path to fill an empty spot.
If you are not comfortable passing another motorcycle, do not feel pressured to do it. We will re-form our group at our next stop.
COMING TO A STOP
When the group is coming to a stop at a red light or stop sign, come to a stop in a side-by-side formation so our group takes up less space. When the signal turns to green the lead bike proceeds thru the intersection first, with the rest of the group falling back into staggered formation. Try and pull away quickly and safely, allowing more riders to make it thru the green phase of the signal. If you get caught at a yellow or red light, DO NOT RUN THE LIGHT. Come to a safe stop. The sweep rider will communicate with the lead rider and the group will slow down or pull over to allow the rest of the group to catch up. Do not speed trying to catch the lead group.
Stop signs are a little different. Traffic permitting, we may have road managers assist with traffic control and we will try and have the full group stay together as we proceed thru the intersection. Always watch for other traffic on the road. Don’t assume traffic will stop just because we have road managers assisting with traffic control. If cross traffic is an issue, come to a stop safely before proceeding thru the intersection. Safety is always our first priority!
We ride motorcycles for many reasons, but probably the most common reason is FUN!
The best way to have fun is to stay safe and enjoy the ride. I know it’s cliche, but here goes…
It’s about the Ride, not the Destination!
If you have any questions about group riding, please speak with one of our road managers, or use our contact form to send us a message. We are more than happy to respond and answer any questions you may have.