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Motorcyclists are a very charitable group of people, with
as poker runs, throughout the country all year long.  If
you participate in group rides on charity runs or on a road
trip with several riding friends, learn useful tips to ride
safe right here.

The MSF has published a Guide to Group Riding for motorcyclists who
like to participate in organized events or perhaps just your own group of
friends riding on the weekend or traveling around the country.

The following is an adaptation from the MSF A Guide to Group Riding

Arrive prepared.  Arrive on time with a full gas tank.  

Hold a riders’ meeting.  Review hand signals with the group, such as
slow down, stop, etc...(see hand signals on this page).  Assign a lead
(road captain) and sweep (tail) rider. Both should be experienced riders
who are well-versed in group riding procedures. The leader should
assess everyone’s riding skills and the group’s riding style.  Keep the
group to a manageable size, ideally five to seven riders. If necessary,
break the group into smaller sub-groups, each with a lead and sweep

Ride prepared. At least one rider in each group should pack a cell
phone, first-aid kit, and full tool kit, so the group is prepared for any
problem that they might encounter.  Check our tool kits recommendation.

Ride in formation. The staggered riding formation (see diagram
below) allows a proper space cushion between motorcycles so that each
rider has enough time and space to maneuver and to react to hazards.

The leader rides in the left third of the lane, while the next rider stays at
least one second behind in the right third of the lane; the rest of the
group follows the same pattern.

A single-file formation is preferred on a curvy road, under conditions of
poor visibility or poor road surfaces, entering/leaving highways, or other
situations where an increased space cushion or maneuvering room is

Avoid side-by-side formations, as they reduce the space cushion. If
you suddenly needed to swerve to avoid a hazard, you would not have
room to do so. You don’t want handlebars to get entangled.

Periodically check the riders following in your rear view mirror. If
you see a rider falling behind, slow down so they may catch up. If all the
riders in the group use this technique, the group should be able to
maintain a fairly steady speed without pressure to ride too fast to catch

If you’re separated from the group, don’t panic. Your group should
have a pre-planned procedure in place to regroup. Don’t break the law
or ride beyond your skills to catch up.

For mechanical or medical problems, use a cell phone to call for
assistance as the situation warrants.

Road Captains:  Unfortunately some road captains believe the pack will
stay up or catch up with them.   If you see your group falling behind, do
not expect that they can keep up.  The speed required to catch up will
most likely be too fast for that rider.  REDUCE your speed and allow
everyone to get back into formation.   

MSF’s Guide to Group Riding: Hand Signals 4/05


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