Motorcycle Group Riding

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While motorcycling is a fun activity when you’re riding solo, it can also be a great experience to ride with a group.

However, in order for a group ride to go well, there are some things that all motorcyclists riding together should no to ensure the trip goes safely.

You’ll get the most enjoyment when your motorcycle group is organized, prepared, and on the same page.

How to Prepare for a Group Ride

The first step in a group ride is organization.

Each group ride should start with a meeting. Decide on a location to meet where all the participants can discuss the trip. During the pre-ride meeting:

  • Discuss the full route including any planned stops.
  • Figure out everyone’s skill level and experience in the group.
  • Discuss communication and hand signals for the group.
  • Identify the group’s leaders – these motorcyclists will lead and tail the group.
  • If the group is large, consider splitting into smaller groups. Limiting riding groups to 5-7 motorcyclists is a good starting point.

Before you arrive to the pre-ride meeting:

  • Make sure you’ve inspected your bike.
  • Fill up your gas tank.
  • Confirm you’ve got everything you need.
  • Come with all your necessary riding equipment, including a helmet.
  • Bring a tool kit, first aid, cell phone, and water.

Group Riding Tips

When your motorcycle group is ready to depart, follow these tips to make sure the ride goes smoothly:

  • Stick together – don’t leave others behind and don’t go off on your own.
  • Ride to the pace of the less experienced members.
  • Maintain a constant speed.
  • Check on and communicate with your group members.
  • Ride in a staggered formation. See below.
  • Maintain a safe following distance and spacing.
  • Pass in formation – pass vehicles safely and return to formation once the pass is complete.

Motorcycle Group Riding Formation

A staggered formation is the recommended formation when riding with groups of motorcyclists.

A staggered formation works by using the right third and left third of the line, with riders on each side staggered between one another in a zig-zag pattern.

Try to keep a distance of 2 seconds between riders in the same third and 1 second between staggered riders.

If a rider needs to leave the formation, the formation should be filled in a zig-zag, rather than a straight line. This eliminates the need to ride side-by-side in the same lane.

If you encounter a narrow or curvy road, a single file formation is recommended.

Motorcycle Group Hand Signals

Hand signals are a great way to quickly communicate with a motorcycle group. Signals and their meanings should be discussed during the pre-ride meeting.

See MSF’s chart on the topics of group riding with their recommended hand signals here.

These motorcycle group hand signals include:

  • STOP: left arm straight down, palm back.
  • Slow down: left arm straight out with palm down and lowered to your side.
  • Speed up: left arm extended with palm up raised from your side.
  • Lead/pass me: arm bent with index finger pointing, swung towards front.
  • Follow: arm up with palm forward.
  • Single file formation: arm extended up with index finger pointing up.
  • Hazard in the road: point with left hand for hazards on the left, right foot for hazards on the right.
  • Gas stop: Point to gas tank.
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