QUICK TIPS: MSF’s Guide to Group Riding
Motorcycling is primarily a solo activity, but for many, riding as a group – whether with friends on a Sunday morning ride or with an organized motorcycle rally – is the epitome of the motorcycling experience. Here are some tips to help ensure a fun and safe group ride:
Arrive prepared. Arrive on time with a full gas tank.
Hold a riders’ meeting. Discuss things like the route, rest and fuel stops, and hand signals (see diagrams on page 3). Assign a lead and sweep (tail) rider. Both should be experienced riders who are well-versed in group riding procedures. The leader should be aware of each rider's skill level before the ride and monitor the riders during the ride.
Keep the group to a manageable size, ideally five to seven riders. If necessary, break the group into smaller sub-groups, separated by a few seconds, each with a lead and sweep rider.
Ride prepared. At least one rider in each group should a first-aid kit and full tool kit, and all riders should carry a cell phone, so the group is prepared for any problem that they might encounter.
Ride in formation. The staggered riding formation (see diagram below) 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 with a minimum 2-second following distance 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, as they reduce the 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 using your rear view mirrors. If you see a rider falling behind, slow down so they may catch up. If all the riders in the group use this procedure, 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.
For mechanical or medical problems, use a cell phone to call for assistance as the situation warrants.
If a rider leaves during the ride, the rest of the group should re-form the staggered formation by criss-crossing into the next vacant position. Although it would seem more efficient for the column directly behind the missing rider to move up, we do not recommend it because passing another rider within a lane can be risky.
MSF’s Guide to Group Riding: Hand Signals
Top 5 Things to Know About Driving in the
Hogs and Rags Procession
You will be driving in a large group. Speed may vary depending the flow.
You will need to stay close to the car in front of you in the procession – do not allow room for a vehicle not in the procession to cut in but allow enough room to slow or stop as needed.
Stay in line and with the procession at all times – even if means you are going through a red light at an intersection. This is a police escorted ride, you should have the right-of-way, and other motorists should yield until the procession has passed. Do not leave your place in the procession line unless there is an emergency.
The last car in the procession is the chase vehicle unless it stops for a breakdown. If so, the last two cars should have hazards lights flashing to signify to other motorists that the procession has ended and that traffic may resume.
Arriving SAFELY, is the most important thing we can do. Enjoy the Ride!