As a motorcycle instructor, there is nothing that I enjoy more than seeing my students have fun and safe experiences on their motorcycles. Group rides can be especially enjoyable and can enhance camaraderie between riders in a way that nothing else can. Here are 10 tips for a great group ride.
1. Arrive prepared
Before you even show up for the ride, ensure you have a full tank a gas or get there early to fill up. Do a pre-ride check as well. You don’t want surprises nor do you want to cause unnecessary stops. The condition of your motorcycle is your responsibility; ignorance is no excuse.
2. Have a riding buddy
If you are joining a group you are unfamiliar with, have a riding buddy who can ride back with you and look out for you. It is also a good idea to exchange emergency contact info with your riding buddy.
3. Be social
If you are new to the group, don’t just hide in the back. At the very minimum introduce yourself to the ride leader/organizer and the sweeper (last rider in the group). If you have some anxiety about doing a group ride, rest assured that the nerves will soon pass once you get the introductions out the way.
4. Be honest about your skill level
If you’re a new rider, don’t hide it. Most rides are very accommodating and you’ll get more respect being honest about your skill level. If you are an experienced rider, consider volunteering to sweep or buddy up with a new rider.
5. Use motorcycle hand signals
Be familiar with the common motorcycle hand signals and use them to indicate direction changes, and also to warn other riders of road hazards or speed traps. A couple taps on your helmet with your left hand is all it takes to warn others to slow down and avoid a potential traffic ticket.
6. Ride in staggered formation
Staggered Formation is the world standard for motorcycle group rides. It increases the group’s visibility and is safer than riding single file because it allows for greater stopping distance. The lead rider is in lane position one, the second rider will be in lane position three, the third rider will be in lane position one, etc. At stops, line up two by two. Stops are excellent times to fist bump each other for more awesomeness.
7. Do the motorcycle wave
Motorcycling is about community. Initiate a wave to other motorcyclists, and you’ll likely get a wave back.
8. Pass with caution
Be incredibly careful passing other riders in your group. Catch their attention and get a wave. Showing them “tire” is only acceptable on the track. When passing a car, don’t ever follow a rider into a pass. Each pass should be done at your discretion, keeping in mind that you are in oncoming traffic with minimal reaction time.
9. Be patient
Patience is a virtue and everyone on the ride can benefit from a little extra tolerance. Group rides take longer than solo rides and things don’t always go as planned, so take it easy and keep your expectations low. Unnecessary stops and breaks can be frustrating, but adding drama into the mix doesn’t help. Find new people to ride with if the group’s riding style doesn’t match your own.
10. Ride your own ride
Do not try to keep up with riders who are more advanced and faster than you are. This becomes a high-risk situation for you and you’ll also risk the safety of other road users as well. Use the street to get comfortable and take it to the track to get smoother and faster.
Group riding can take some time and coordination, but as long you are easygoing it can be well worth the effort. We get to ride motorcycles for fun; most of the world rides motorcycles out of necessity. Embrace the moments, stay disciplined, and enjoy the gigantic new social circles you are a part of. You’ll have a great time and make memories that will last a lifetime.