Riding in Groups

From Jocke Selin


A while ago we received an article submitted by a regular reader of MotorbikesToday. We looked at this article and decided to print it in it's unedited form as we thought it covered all the points of group riding in good detail. There are some suggestions which are new to us and I strongly recommend that all readers take a long look at this article, maybe we can all learn something from it?


Riding in groups

Ride in a zigzag pattern.

The first rider sticks to his side, and the second rider goes to the other side of the lane. The third rider stays behind the first rider, but with good distance. In other words, keep left-right-left-right within the lane. This allows the riders to see further and thus prepare for the unexpected. Don't change sides UNLESS you want to inform someone behind you of what's going on up ahead. A good example is when a car is turning in front of you and you want to move over to show the riders behind you the indicator of the car.

If one stops, everybody stops

If one bike needs petrol, all bikes need petrol. If one rider needs the loo, all riders needs the loo, etc, etc. This is to prevent that uneven riding - when we're going, we're going. We don't want to stop when every bike is running out of petrol. We don't want to be in a situation where one person is having a burger, then another one 30mins later, etc.



Pointing is good!

There are three general hand gestures that work on a bike. They are:

  • Wave past - with your right hand wave, from back to front, the rider behind past you. If you're the one getting the wave, DO RIDE PAST - there might be a reason for it that you don't know. For example your bike might be behaving strangely and the rider in front of you has noticed it and needs you to ride past to check it.
  • Come here - The rider in front of you points at the ground next to his bike. This usually means that the rider wants to communicate something to you. Ride up, next to the rider, be observant. Chuck it in a high gear. Open your helmet - the other rider might want to shout something to you. If two riders in front of you are doing the "come here"-thing, DO NOT OVERTAKE as the information conveyed might apply to you too - it might be your turn next!
  • My tank! After the "Come here" motion the rider might be pointing at his tank - this means that he needs to fill up with petrol. - My belly! After the "come here" motion the rider might be pointing at his stomach - this means "I'm hungry, can we stop for food".

Don't race, unless it's racing time. If a rider comes up from behind in high speeds, it probably means that he needs to inform you about something, don't race away from him. It might be that he's been sent by the last rider in the group, who's just about to run out of petrol, to inform the rest of the pack.

Always indicate

The first rider should always indicate, not only to inform the other riders to indicate, but also where we're going so that appropriate actions can be taken, for example moving to the correct lane.

Ride up next to the first rider in junctions

In junctions and such, always ride up to the junction as far as you can. Ride up next to the riders if possible. This gives you the same view as the first rider and thus you can pull away when the first rider does so, safely. Do notice that you wait for the first rider to pull away, never overtake in such situations. The Zigzag pattern should aid this positioning too.

Make an effort to stay together, BUT

When traveling in groups, it's often important that the group stays together, as a first rider your priority should be steady pace, don't make the riders behind you "caterpillar" like an accordion. If you're riding behind, make an effort to pull out of junctions at the same time as the the riders in front of you. If you lag behind, make an effort to catch up. BUT, again, steady pace does it. If riding on a steady road, don't accelerate and brake, try to keep the same speed, even if there is a 4 car gap in front of you.

Ride relaxed

The worst enemy on longer bike journeys is yourself. If you don't ride relaxed you will be draining yourself of energy and you will become an accident waiting to happen. There are several ways of ensuring that you're not riding stiff. One tip is to put your tongue between your teeth - if you tense up you'll bite yourself. Another one is to shift riding positions, ride with one hand, etc etc. The most important is that you learn to notice when you are stiff, and then you can take actions. If you're unaware of you being tense, then you can't do anything.

Your bike is serviced, but are you?

When you stop for petrol, you often check over your bike, add a bit of chain-lube, check the luggage, but have you checked yourself? Drink a bit of water, even if it's just a few mouthfuls, have a candy-bar to top up your sugar levels. A good option is to keep a bottle of water handy; under your seat, in your luggage, wherever. And when you stop, you automatically have a drink. If you are riding and you feel you need a stop - DO REQUEST one, don't let yourself or anyone else ride when tired, hungry or dehydrated

Watch out for your mates. When you are riding along, especially with luggage and such. Do keep an eye on your friends bike. Check the luggage, that it's not coming loose, check that the wheels are not wobbling, check that the tyres are not flat. Check that your friend is not riding tense or otherwise having a bad time.

Rain is good, for plants.

Every trip has got rain. Be prepared for it. There's no substitute for proper gear. When it's raining, make sure your gloves are inside of your jacket. Make sure your jacket is buttoned up. If you're riding in
leathers, STOP AS SOON AS POSSIBLE and put on your waterproof overall. Once you are wet, you'll never get dry. When buying your gear; think of the usage - Leathers and posh boots are seldom needed; only trackdays and serious fast riding require maximum protection. Day-to-day riding requires good protection from accidents, but extremely good protection from the elements. Gore-tex jacket/trousers and waterproof boots will keep you going wherever you are whenever you are.

A rider that's aware and prepared with the above can easily ride (any bike) for a very long time and distance - 20hr rides and near 1000mile distances are possible. If you get tired, it's probably you that's to blame, not the bike. Riding is supposed to be fun, let's all make it that.

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