Motorcycle Safety and Skills: Group Riding Tips for a Safe Experience
May 12, 2010
Filed under Motorcycle Features: Bikes, Blokes, Culture and Beyond
Summer is coming and with it, the rally and event season. Whether it’s Daytona, Laughlin, Myrtle Beach, Sturgis or a H.O.G. Chapter ride, if you attend these crowded events and go on these rides you’ll be doing some formation or group riding. Many rallies also include parades, which combine close-formation riding with the distraction of acknowledging the spectators. To better prepare you and your party, group riding tips to ensure your pack is all fun.
For normal street formation riding split into two lines of bikes per lane, but staggered so you’re not riding right beside the bike in the other wheel track. This formation allows riders more space should they need to meander from their wheel track to avoid an obstacle or pothole, or to take a better line in a turn. Increase following distance as speed increases, and if the ride heads out into the countryside where the roads are winding and curving, break formation and ride single file. The biggest issue with parades is stoplights. At larger events, the rally promoters arrange with local law enforcement to place officers at the lights to hold traffic and conduct the riders through. However, when you’re in a parade, never go through a red light unless you’re certain that traffic is being held. You will probably be riding side by side, so it’s important in this situation to remain in your wheel track and not veer into the bike next to you. You will need to be especially alert for the other riders around you. The staggered formation is the safest when on highway and Interstate group ride. Be sure to keep spacing appropriate depending on speed. Rather than riding in huge groups, large rides should be broken into smaller groups led by a ride leader. In this way, more compact groups of about 20 to 30 bikes can usually be led intact. In organized rides, each group has a leader and a sweep rider, connected by radio. When a small group is broken by a stoplight the sweep rider will alert the lead rider by radio, who will pull the group over so that it can reunite. If this isn’t practical, the sweep rider can ride to the head of the second-half group and conduct them until they join up with their front half. Formation riding puts more demands on every rider in the group; so don’t be tempted to fool with your stereo system or GPS unit. Eliminate distractions and pay attention to other riders in the group.