Riding Through Special Situations : Group Riding !

Motorcyclists tend to be social creatures, and as such, tend to ride in groups. For many people, riding with friends is the most enjoyable aspect of motorcycling. Sometimes it’s fun to ride in a large group of bikes just to see the looks on people’s faces as you ride by. You may be accountants or lawyers or paramedics, but when you pull into a gas station with a large group of motorcycles, some people act like the Hell’s Angels just came to town, which in a twisted way, is kind of fun.

Going out for a ride with your friends can be a blast, but it will require extra effort on your part to do it safely. You’ll be riding with people whose riding skills vary, along with their temperaments.

Group Riding Techniques

When riding in a group, you can ride in one of three formations :

1. Staggered formation. In this formation, the motorcycles line up on both sides of the lane, with one bike on the left side, the next bike on the right side, the following bike back on the left side, and so on, with each bike maintaining a two second interval between the next bike. This formation keeps the group close together while maintaining the maximum amount of safe space around each bike.

2. Single-file formation. When you are out riding with your friends on a winding road, you will all need to use your entire lane to safely negotiate each corner. On such roads, ride in a single-file formation. Remember not to follow each other too closely, or if one person goes down, he or she might take down other riders, too.

3. Side-by-side formation. When bikes ride side-by-side, they reduce the amount of safe space between each bike, so this type of formation should be discouraged. Sometimes, an escort may require you to ride in such a formation to make the group as compact as possible, but otherwise, avoid riding two-motorcycles abreast.

Sure, They’re Your Buddies, but Can You Trust Them with Your Life ?

When riding with your friends, watch out for group mentality taking over. This is when everyone tries to out ride everyone else. Many otherwise sane riders crash when group mentality takes over.

When riding with other people, let your ability determine your speed - not theirs. I’ve got a friend, a motorcycle-safety instructor, who can ride circles around me, regardless of what kind of bike either of us is riding. When we go out, I just let him go and catch up with him later. If I try to keep up, I’ll go down. I’ve seen it happen to other riders.

When riding in a group, ride for yourself and no one else. Be aware of who you’re riding with, where they are, and how fast they’re going. Above all, don’t ride above your own ability. It’s a lot more embarrassing to go down in front of your friends than it is to arrive a few seconds later than they do.