Few bonds are stronger than the one that comes from riders who share the open road. It doesn’t matter if you’re amongst a small group of friends or taking part in a large organized group ride like the Buffalo Chip’s Legends Ride®, Biker Belles® Ride or Freedom Celebration Ride; the feeling of camaraderie shared with fellow riders is one you just have to experience to understand. If you’re planning to organize or participate in a group ride, make sure everyone in your group has the best experience possible by checking out these motorcycle riding tips from the American Motorcyclist Association’s article Group Riding: 17 Tips to Ensure Everybody has a Great Day.
1. Make sure both you and your bike are up to the task.
Before you even meet up with your ride group, make sure you’ve got plenty of fuel in the tank and that you’ve taken care of any maintenance issues. In addition, be sure you’ve gotten yourself ready by applying sunscreen, packing back-up rain gear and going to the bathroom before you leave. It may sound like a no brainer, but you wouldn’t want to get left behind and miss out on all the fun for something as silly as running out of fuel or having to take a potty break.
If you’re headed out on one of the Buffalo Chip’s group rides, Easy Eddies at the CrossRoads will put you at ease with their full range of mechanical services. Whether it’s checking your tire pressure and sparkplugs, changing your fluids or tightening up any loose bolts, Eddie’s got you covered. While at the CrossRoads, you can also have your bike tuned at Harmonious Dyno and Tuning and fuel up for free at the Renewable Fuels Association’s Free Fuel Happy Hours (Monday, Aug. 8 through Wednesday, Aug. 10 between 1 and 4 p.m.).
2. Position yourself based on your experience level.
When creating your formation, experienced riders should be at the lead and running sweep. Less-experienced riders should consider positioning themselves immediately behind the leader. The Buffalo Chip assigns highly experienced riders to act as road captains on its group rides so they can adjust the pace if necessary.
3. Don’t go any faster than you feel comfortable going.
Ride your own ride! Just because you’re riding in a group doesn’t mean you should surrender any decision-making when it comes to your safety. If the group is riding faster than you’re comfortable with, let the last rider in line (sweep rider) know you’re dropping out and ride at your own pace. So what if you reach your destination a few seconds behind the others? At least you’ll get there in one piece; that’s what’s important.
4. Don’t fixate on the motorcycle in front of you.
Look well though the turn to where you want to go. Just because it’s a group doesn’t mean you should disregard your basic training!
5. Create a cushion between you and other riders.
On the road, you should have at least a two-second cushion in front and behind you. If you want to keep the group tight, consider a staggered. Leave enough room per lane so each rider can maneuver side-to-side if need be. Avoid side-by-side formations as they shrink your space cushion.
6. Bigger bikes require a bigger cushion.
Trikes and sidecars should stay in the center of the lane, and should be given the same amount of cushion as if they were cars.
7. Know which situations call for single file.
It’s certain you’ll encounter two things when riding through the Black Hills: plenty of curves and unpredictable weather. As turns get sharper, or if your visibility decreases, move back to a single file formation. (You’ll also want to use single file when entering or exiting a highway or when roads have a rough or questionable surface.)
8. The bike on the left proceeds first through the intersection.
At intersections where you’ve come to a stop, tighten the formation to side-by-side to take up less space. As the light turns green, or when traffic opens up, the bike on the left proceeds through the intersection first.
Want to learn more group motorcycle riding tips? Check out the American Motorcyclist Association’s Group Riding: 17 Tips to Ensure Everybody has a Great Day.
For even more motorcycle riding tips, check out 12 Safety Tips Seasoned Riders Swear By from the Sturgis Rider® News!
About the American Motorcyclist Association
Founded in 1924, the AMA is a not-for-profit member-based association whose mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. As the world's largest motorcycling rights and event sanctioning organization, the AMA advocates for riders' interests at all levels of government and sanctions thousands of competition and recreational events every year. The AMA also provides money-saving discounts on products and services for its members. Through the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in Pickerington, Ohio, the AMA honors the heroes and heritage of motorcycling.
For more information about the benefits of AMA membership, including free roadside assistance to members who sign up for automatic renewal, see www.americanmotorcyclist.com.
Do you have any group motorcycle riding tips to share? Tell us in the comments below!