Best Tips For Group Riding On Motorcycles
Here at Motorcycle Riders Hub, we are often asked what are the 5 best tips for Group Riding on motorcycles. There isn’t a simple answer because the ride depends on so many factors, but what they all have in common is that once you have more than 2 riders, it is classed as a group.
The group size does matter, as it gets bigger you have far more problems to consider. An example is the length of the route and how everyone will get from A to B safely and without getting lost. The best tip for group riding on motorcycles is to keep it as simple as possible and to not complicate things..
Understand the fundamentals
Common sense plays a big part but education will help you to understand a few important fundamentals. Not everyone is cut out to lead a Group Ride, that may be because they don’t care about other people’s wishes or needs, or they want to show off and ride fast to show everyone behind them how good they are. In reality, the only people to see their motorcycle skills are those who are riding directly behind them. However, once they are out of sight, nobody can see them anyway!
I have heard it said before that it is more important for everyone to enjoy themselves rather than worry about the Group staying together. In my opinion and if this is the case, perhaps it should not have been a Group Ride but rather all the riders go their own way to a designated place and meet up at the end of the destination.
There is something special and inclusive about riding in a Group. If it is done properly there is pride and a sense of comradeship. Everyone in the Group has a role to play and a responsibility to everyone around them. You’ll find a list of considerations below for the 5 best tips for Group Riding when out on your motorcycle. It is not extensive and the only way to improve these skills is by partaking in a Group Ride.
1) Briefing prior to departure
Prior to going on a group ride, everyone should be aware of who is going and whereabouts in the group they will ride and what rules the group has in place.
The briefing should let everyone know the route, the destination, and the finish time. There should be a contingency plan in place for anyone who gets lost or separated from the group. This will happen when a group has new riders or the group is inexperienced and does not follow the rules (or doesn’t know the group rules before setting off).
Everyone has a responsibility for the safety of themselves and the riders around them. Sometimes a drop off system is used for larger groups, this must be communicated prior to departure as everyone must know what will happen at junctions and roundabouts when turning in a new direction.
The briefing may be a lengthy process, especially if there are new riders who haven’t ridden together before. If everyone knows what’s expected and has prior knowledge of riding with a particular group, it may just take a minute or so. In some cases, with long established groups, no briefings are needed at all.
The rules that a Group lays out will largely be based on their experience of what has gone wrong in the past and the briefing is to remind everyone what is expected of them. This is just one of the best 5 tips for group riding on a motorcycle.
2) Everyone has a responsibility
The second of my 5 best tips for group riding is that each rider must take responsibility for their own riding when riding in a group. They must be disciplined in their own riding performance, decisions and actions.
When riding in a group, you must conform to the group’s rules and not do your own thing, as people who do their own thing will disrupt the group’s dynamics. Your group riding position should be set and you should stay there throughout the ride.
Overtaking people in the group encourages everyone else to copy and before long the group ride becomes chaotic, which elevates risk for all riders in the group. If you want to do your own thing, the answer is – group riding isn’t for you!
Just randomly moving about within the group will cause problems and leave people unsure of what they should do. Others may copy poor discipline and that will almost certainly lead to problems or accidents. This will have a detrimental effect on the group’s safety.
3) The group leader should be experienced
Number three of the 5 best tips for group riding is that the group leader should have experience and know what is needed from the group ride. This should be communicated prior to departure.
They must take into account the standard of riding within the group, the types and sizes of motorcycles for performance, and the ability of the riders. The route should be created to take everything into account, there is no point in riding 350 miles when some of the riders lack the ability to ride that far in a day.
There may be smaller-sized motorbikes that would struggle to keep up or riders that are inexperienced and unable to maintain concentration for a long period of time.
A good group leader will be aware of how to control the speed from the front and to be able to keep everyone together. They may require help from some of the other experienced riders. Depending on the size of the group, determines how many helpers the Group Leader will need..
From my experience, you need to string out the helpers throughout a large group, they can then communicate back to the front (lead rider) what’s going on further back in the pack. This will allow the lead rider to make decisions on whether to slow the pace down, speed up the pace or even stop to regroup.
The group leader does not have to be the lead rider. It is not an easy job to do on your own, help is always required and this gives other riders experience and lifts their knowledge too. If the group ride does not go to plan it is because something has gone wrong. There is a saying though – If you think you can do a better job – have a go!
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4) Avoiding accidents
All riders in the group must stay switched on and alert, never assume what others in the group might do. Far too many accidents happen in group riding situations because of various reasons. The speed can be too fast and people try to keep up with the bike ahead of them, even if it means riding out of their own ability and comfort zone.
Riders become bored on long straight roads and their mind starts to wander as they switch off and stop concentrating. All of a sudden the group slows down but they don’t. A good way to prevent this is by everyone having radio communication, so that riders can communicate with one another.
Even losing concentration for a split second can have a damaging effect. An accident spoils the ride, it stops the group ride in its track and puts people off joining in on group rides in the future. Especially if it is a free for all with no discipline or rules.
This is why it is so important to take your time and do not expect everyone to know what they are doing without education to understand how it works.
Novice riders or new people to group riding should go near the front. The speed at the front of a group is always slower, this is because riders at the back have to play ‘catch up’ because of the concertina effect.
5) Avoid crashing into the motorcycle in front of you
The final and most important of the ‘5 best tips for group riding’ on motorcycles is; when accelerating from a stationary position, especially when turning. Don’t assume the rider in front will continue to accelerate just because their brake light went out and they started to move forward.
They could see something at the last second that causes them to stop suddenly while you are trying to keep up with them. If they suddenly stop and you are too close, you won’t have many options open to you.
You should take your time and not rush to keep up with the rider in front or ride too closely to them. It is all about building trust when you ride with other people. Getting to know how they think and ride is part of the learning process.
This is exactly the same situation as the car driver who runs into the back of the vehicle in front of them. They thought they had (or should have) gone. Just because your ability dictates that you could have easily gone into a gap, it doesn’t mean other riders have the same ability.
There are many ways to cope with riding in a group. You could use a marshalling system where you have some ‘out-riders’ who mark the junctions, or you could use the second man drop off system.
Whatever method you use, it must be right for the group and everyone must know what system you are going to use for the ride.
There are many aspects to riding safely and at the end of the day, everyone needs to go home after having an enjoyable day out with friends or like minded people. If people don’t enjoy it, they won’t return and may be put off for life by poor riding behaviour or an undisciplined group. Keep it well structured with easy rules to follow and everyone will enjoy it.
It can be rewarding and look professional
Remember though, Group Riding can be really satisfying or it can be very dangerous.
The leader or leaders need to be strict with rules they adopt and ensure everyone sings from the same hymn sheet. Safety is key and every group ride must be slower than if you were riding alone, it’s about the journey and experience, not how fast the group gets there.
The ‘5 best tips for group riding’ on a motorcycle is just the start of the process. There are many more tips and advice that you can research to become more familiar with group riding. Motorcycle Riders Hub specialise in Group Riding when giving advanced training both at home and abroad.
Ride Safe and Keep It On The Black Stuff #KIOTBS