Safety tips for group motorcycle rides
Riding the open road with your buddies is a great feeling, a true moment in time where unforgettable memories are formed. However, riding in a group poses some risks, so it makes sense to set some ground rules before heading out on your adventure. We’ve compiled some tips to guide your group along the way.
1. Know your route and destination.
It is important that every rider in the group understand where you are going and the roads you are taking to get there. Before the ride, map it out and make sure everyone is on board so you can stay together. It is wise to also check the route for construction or detours – two things that you will want to avoid.
2. Be prepared.
Make sure at least one rider in the group has a first-aid kit and a tool kit. Everyone should also carry a cell phone for emergencies and if a rider becomes separated from the group.
3. Designate a leader.
This should be a rider who understands the limitations of the riders in the group and can set the pace. This person is trustworthy and has good judgment, so as to not put others as risk. This rider makes quick decisions to avoid hazards in the road and is also a great communicator.
4. Assign a sweep rider.
A sweep rider is the last rider in the group. The role of this person is to keep a good eye on the riders in front. A sweep rider is experienced and knows what to do in case of an accident or mechanical failure.
5. Stay together.
The true fun of the ride is experiencing it together. This means those leading make good decisions in order to keep the group from separating. Traffic lights can cause riders to lose sight of each other. Leaders can slow down and stop at a light that is close to changing to red if there is enough time and space. Another good option is to stop in a safe area on the side of the road after passing through a light to wait for the other riders to catch up. It makes sense to set meeting places in case you do get separated.
6. Ride in staggered formation.
This is where the leader is in the front left part of the lane and then the motorcycle behind the leader is in the right portion, the next rider behind is in the left portion of the lane and this staggered formation continues for the riders behind. Riders should stick to their positions within the formation so as to avoid accidents.
7. Stay at a safe distance from other riders and vehicles.
Riding two seconds away from the bike or vehicle in front of you or to the side of you, gives you time to stop or avoid obstacles such as potholes or unexpected animals.
8. Use hand signals.
Verbal communication during a ride is difficult due to the noise level created by many factors including the motorcycle itself, other vehicles and wind. It is best to use hand signals that every rider in your group understands.
9. Take breaks.
Knowing the experience level of your fellow riders and how long the ride is will help you decide how many breaks to take. You can stop for fuel, a snack, use the restrooms and for lunch, among other stops.
10. Leave the group if you are uncomfortable.
You are still in control of your ride. If you feel like your safety is at risk or you decide you no longer want to ride with the group, signal the sweeper and pull safely out of formation. You can always meet up with the group later at a designated stop.
We hope this list gives you some great tips for your next group riding experience and it proves to be adventurous and safe. For your protection, Markel offers specialized motorcycle insurance with coverage for damage you cause to others, coverage for your bike, accessories and riding gear, and coverage for your injuries including medical payments. You can also purchase roadside assistance, which offers a 24-hour emergency road service program. For as little as $25 per year, you can get 24-hour motorcycle emergency towing and road service, tire and battery service, trip interruption reimbursement and more!