Group Riding Guide
[Preparation][Basic Formation][Highway][City][Stop Signs/Lights][Hand Signals]
This guide is intended to promote safe riding skills and give general information to riders that are new to group riding. For more information, we suggest the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's Safe Rider course and DMV Motorcycle Handbook. We also encourage passengers to review the DMV handbook to increase their riding pleasure.
An important point to remember is rides are not races. We are not under a deadline to get to our destination. Keep your speed to the posted limits or no faster than general traffic flow.
Be sure you have a full tank of gas and have checked your oil, tires, lights, and chain/belt.
All volunteer "road captains" and the volunteer "ride leader' (or person riding in the front left hand side lane position) will have a pre-ride meeting to discuss the route, rest stops, riding positions and regrouping stops when traveling within city limits.
The volunteer "safety officer" or volunteer road captains may prohibit a rider from riding with the group, or move a rider to the rear of the group, if the rider's motorcycle is thought to be unsafe.
Ride in a close and safe staggered formation with the lead volunteer road captain in front and closest to the center-line of the lane. A minimum interval is 2 seconds, or 2-3 bike lengths, between riders. Riders that are not comfortable with this interval are encouraged to ride in the rear of the formation. Ride in a single file formation on winding or narrow roads.
New or less experienced group riders and slower riders are encouraged to ride at the rear of the formation. This will decrease the pressure to maintain a too-fast pace and increase their riding enjoyment. At least one experienced rider should be with less experienced riders to observe and insure they become confident in their abilities and do not become discouraged.
If a rider wishes to leave the ride before it is over, the volunteer road captains must be notified.
Use a staggered formation with 2 second intervals between riders at speeds up to 50 MPH. Increase intervals to 3-4 seconds at speeds greater than 50 MPH.
If there are a large number of riders, break the formation into smaller groups of riders. Each group should have a volunteer lead rider appointed from the available volunteer road captains before the ride begins.
When other vehicles wish to enter or exit the highway in mid-formation, riders should slow and provide an opening to allow the other vehicle safe entry/exit. After the vehicle is through, close the formation.
Identify locations that the formation may use to regroup if separations occur while riding through the city.
Curb or Parking Lanes - Use staggered formation to allow rapid direction changes if other traffic moves away from the curb.
Center lanes - A staggered formation is preferred, but lane sharing may be permitted to decrease the impact on other taffic. Lane sharing should be discussed before the ride begins. If you are not comfortable with lane sharing, you are encouraged to ride in the rear and maintain a staggered formation.
Stop Signs and Lights
Approach stops in pairs and make complete stops, with one foot down, then proceed through the intersection. Do not block an intersection to allow a full group to pass through without stopping. Do not make a turn on red while leading the group. Wait for the light to change to green so that the entire group may stay together.
For safety, we will use clear and deliberate left-hand/arm motions as signals to communicate while riding. We will use the standard hand signals, as defined in the DMV Motorcycle Drivers Handbook, for left and right turns and stop/slow. The Rider Ready, used by the MSF, and Move Beside Me signals will be the only right-hand/arm signals recognized by this chapter. Otherwise, use the following signals:
Rider Ready - RIGHT arm extended straight up withy open palm forward. This signal will be used ONLY when leaving at the beginning of a ride, or from a group stop.
Close up the group - LEFT arm extended straight up with a closed fist. Used to decrease the distance between riders when the formation is spread too long.
Form a single file - LEFT arm extended straight up, closed fist with first finger extended up.
Form a double file (lane share) - LEFT arm extended straight up, closed fist with your first and fourth fingers extended.
Form a double file (staggered) - LEFT arm extended stratight up, closed fist with your first and fourth fingers extended. Move arm left and right.
Increase speed - LEFT arm extended away from left shoulder with forearm pointed up and fist closed. Pump arm in short up-down motion. Looks like the old military double-time signal.
Move beside me - LEFT or RIGHT arm extended down at a 45 degree angle, open hand with palm forward, move arm from rear to front.
Rest stop - LEFT arm bent at elbow with open hand placed on back of helmet.
Pull off & regroup - LEFT arm positioned as for a right turn, bend elbow and tap left shoulder.
Problem with bike - LEFT arm extended straight up, open hand with palm forward. (Old racing signal)
Need gas - Point to gas tank with LEFT arm, keep arm extended enought to be visible.
This is not a rider from University of Texas saying "Hook'm horns"
Links below show hand signals with meanings for riding with a group:
- click here to view picture of all signals in .jpg format
- click here to view picture of all signals in .pdf format
- .pdf files require Adobe Acrobat Reader to view them, if you don't have it,
then get it by clicking on the button below:
Drop Off Riders
When there is a chance of some riders becoming seperated from the main group due to separations or problems, the use of a drop-off rider as a route guide is recommended.
Lead drop-off riders are the first rider behind and to the right of the lead road captain and the buddy rider.
The rear drop-off rider is the rear road captain and the rider just ahead of the ride captain.
If is the lead road captain signals for a drop-off, rider #2 and #3 leave the formation to act as route guides. Since a pair of riders are leaving the formation, no holes are created that night require riders to re-stagger the formation. Road captains remain in position.
Drop-off riders should rejoin the group at the rear of the formation, ahead of the rear road captain. When the group stops at the next planned rest, they should assume their original position in the formation.
Problems During The Ride
If a rider develops a problem, the rider should signal the problem and move to the side of the road. Following riders should open a space in the formation to allow the diabled rider to exit the group.
The rear volunteer road captain should assist the disabled rider. After looking at the problem, the rear volunteer road captain should ride ahead to signal the lead road volunteer captain a problem exists and the group should stop at the next safe parking area. At least one rider should stay with the disabled rider.
After correcting the problem, the rider should rejoin the formation at the rear. They should move to their original position at the next planned stop.
Suspend the ride and render aid or assistance. Usually there is not enough area for all riders to safely stop in one spot. The lead volunteer road captain should move all unnecessary riders ahead to a safe parking area and wait for the rear volunteer road captain.
If the lead riders are unaware of the accident, the rider should ride ahead and signal the lead volunteer road captain to pull off and regroup. The volunteer safety officer or volunteer rear road captain should record and report events at the next meeting to plan the next meeting.
All volunteer road captains should carry a small first-aid kit and water. We recommend that everyone should carry a first-aid kit if you have room.