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Group Riding Tips

There are a number of factors that come into play when planning or participating in a group ride. Here are some suggestions for making your rides safe and successful.

Planning the Ride:

  • It's always a good idea to prepare a map of the route with all the stops indicated. If some bikes become separated from the group, they can "catch up" at the next stop.
  • If you're not out for a scenic ride, plan the most direct route to an event or activity. Interstate highways offer the following advantages:
    • All traffic is moving in one direction.
    • No cross-traffic or traffic lights to split up your group.
  • When there are three lanes, it is wise to travel in the middle lane. This allows faster traffic to pass and will also allow vehicles to enter/exit the highway more easily.
  • If you're out for a scenic ride, be sure traffic conditions will allow it. For example, is there a county fair or car show in the area that day to complicate the rider?
  • Plan stops to avoid gravel lots and left-hand turns. No one likes gravel, and in a group, it's even less fun. Right-hand turns in and out of stops will help the group stay together.
  • Plan gas stops at least every 90 miles, so folks with smaller tanks can fill up and stay with the group.
  • If you have a large group stopping at a restaurant, call the restaurant far enough in advance to allow them to prepare for a large group.
  • If you expect a particularly large group and it's possible to get a police escort or traffic control at the start/end of a ride or along the route, great! Otherwise, It is a good idea to at least inform the police department of your plans and perhaps drop off a map. Never block traffic yourself; it may be against the law!
Leading the Ride:
  • Choose and maintain a comfortable pace within the speed limit. Keep in mind that people at the end of the group may have to drive a little faster to keep up if there are gaps in the group. Remember, it also may cause a problem to drive too slowly. Drivers in vehicles behind the group may become impatient and try to get around the group.
  • Know the route well enough so that you can give the group plenty of notice that you are approaching a turn. Always signal your intention to turn or change lanes. If you find yourself at an intersection too quickly for the entire group to make the turn safely, continue until you locate a place where the entire group can execute the turn safely.
Participating in a Ride:
  • Drinking and driving never mix. This is especially true when participating in a group ride.
  • Always ride in staggered formation; it gives you an extra margin for safety.
  • Make sure your vehicle is in good operating condition. For example, a bad tire could cause an accident on a group ride.
  • Being too hot or too cold can also affect how alert you are as a driver. Be sure to pack appropriate protective clothing, such as a long-sleeve cotton shirt (for protection from the sun), helmet, eye protection, leather jacket, gloves, etc.
  • Always ride with your headlight on; it's a law in most states. Cars have enough trouble "noticing" motorcycles; riders should do everything possible to help them out.
  • A group of motorcycles is not considered a single vehicle. Be courteous and allow cars to enter and exit the highway and change lanes. Generally speaking, a car will not want to ride in the middle of a group of motorcycles and will get out of the group as quickly as possible.
  • Familiarize yourself with the route and scheduled stops.
  • Arrive to participate in a group ride with a full tank of gas.
Safe Riding Tips:
(Reprinted with copyright permission of the MSF)

Motorcycling is a fun, exciting and practical way to get around. But, like any other activity, it has risks. The reality is that you are exposed and vulnerable; it is up to you to avoid accidents and injury. Risk - and how you treat it - is what safe cycling is all about. To help you reduce and manage risk, use the following tips as a guide:
  1. Know your skills. Take a beginning or experienced RiderCourse from a Motorcycle Safety Foundation recognized training center. Call 1-80D446-9227 for the RiderCourse nearest you. The more you know, the better rider you become!
  2. Know the rules of the road and respect other road users. Don't forget, riding is a privilege. Get yourself and your motorcycle properly licensed; Get insurance if required. Know the limits of your skills, your motorcycle, and the road conditions so you don't ride over your head.
  3. Ride with the right gear. A helmet, eye protection, sturdy jacket, pants boots, and gloves are your best defense against accident injury. It can happen to you!
  4. Ride aware. A car turning left across your path is the most frequent accident. Three-fourths of motorcycle accidents involve collisions with other vehicles, the majority caused by the other driver. Intersections can be bad spots, so slow down and be prepared to react. We repeat: It can happen to you!
  5. Ride to survive. Be seen and not hit. You aren't as big as a Mack truck, but you can attract attention. Wear bright clothing, use your headlight and bright colored fairings, select a lane and a position within a lane to be seen, avoid rapid lane changes, and keep looking around - you don't need surprises!
  6. Ride straight. Alcohol and other drinks do not let you think clearly or make sound judgments. Up to 45% of all fatal motorcycle accidents involve alcohol.
  7. Keep a safe bike. Know your owners manual, follow recommended service schedules, and have repairs made by an authorized dealer. Always check your bike's tires, suspension and controls before riding.
  8. Share a safe ride. Company is nice. Some company weighs 100 pounds; other company weighs more. All weight affects handling. Having someone on the back is a big responsibility. Instruct them on proper riding technique and protective gear.
Other Tips for Touring:
  • Always carry your H.O.G.® Touring Handbook.
  • When in a tight curve, the rider on the outside of the curve should give room to the rider on the inside. This prevents excessive crowding if the curve is too tight.
  • Use the buddy system when riding. If your buddy has trouble and must pull out of the group, pull off the road with him or her and offer any assistance you can.
  • Keep a safe distance behind the bike in front of you. Know the stopping distance of your motorcycle.
  • Try to maintain a constant speed. Don't "rubber band," or speed up and slow down.
  • Be aware of openings as you ride so that you will have some place to maneuver in case of an emergency. Also, be aware of the riders around you, especially the one to your side, and give each other as much room as possible.
  • Always try to keep the pack tight without crowding each other. Stay close through intersections and traffic lights so that the group doesn't become separated. Remember that some riders in the group may not know where they are going and could end up "leading" the remainder of the pack with no idea how to reach their destination.
  • If there is a vehicle that needs to get onto the freeway, let that vehicle through and close the gap.
  • Never ride in someone's blind spot.
  • Remember, you're not safe from lightning on your bike.
Now, take responsibility for your riding, learn more ... and go enjoy yourself.

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