Ascertain the distance of the ride, the type of roads you will
be travelling and the type of restaurants you may stop off at.
This will also ensure that you take sufficient money with you.
There could be a thousand reasons why you may get separated from
the group. This could be a problem if you do not know the area
and therefore take a road map along with you.
Arrive at the rendezvous point with a full tank of petrol, oil
and tyres checked (or simply meet at a petrol station)
Introduce yourself to the captain and find out where and when
he intends stopping for fuel along the route. This is important
if your bike has a smaller tank which is information he needs
During the ride:
Do not fiddle with your helmet, gloves, mirrors etc until the
group is moving smoothly through straight unobstructed roadside.
Accidents happen during the first few minutes before all the riders
Make sure that you are no further than three bikes from the front
of the group. If the captain himself is inexperienced there could
be a lot of ’concertina-type’ action at the end of the group which
you do not want to be part of.
In a country that rides on the left hand side of the road the
group should ride in the following formation in towns and when
travelling under 100kph. This keeps the group together but maintains
safe following distances. The captain (point) naturally rides
up front while the last biker probably has special duties that
vary from ride to ride, club to club.
a Group Ride
Leading a ride of five other bikes is not easy and should only
be undertaken when you are an experience rider. Here are some
guide lines . . . and Yes, just one other motorbike and the points
below apply, although to a lesser extent
Know your route. The bigger the group, the more critical this
becomes. This includes distances between petrol stations, places
to eat, turn offs, intersections, road signs, road works etc
Start the ride outside the town’s limits i.e. no robots! A petrol
station with an ATM and a fast food outlet is an excellent venue
The group joining the ride must be fully informed of the route,
distances, duration, type of roads, petrol stops and restaurant
stops. Ascertain that everybody is in agreement with the planned
The most important element of leading a ride pertains to the first
three minutes after you pull away and the last three before you
pull off the road. This period must be done smoothly and slowly
to avoid a ’concertina-type ripple-action’ running down to line
Only pull away when everybody in the group is kitted up, pillion
passengers are seated and bikes running. Find a big gap in the
traffic and smoothly pull away. Remain under 80kph until everybody
has their positions. Slowly and smoothly gas it until you reach
cruising speed. You have to think like a train driver with a string
of clumsy and unresponsive carriages.
Minutes before you approach a rest or gas stop, begin to ease
off the gas. Do not pass any other vehicles. If there is a vehicle
in front of you, tuck in behind it. Allow the gaps between the
riders to compact. Slow down a little more. The riders begin to
catch-on that a stop is imminent. Indicate your intention to turn
off early but by this time our flashing indicator light should
be a mere formality.
Never do anything quickly, unexpectantly or that is unpredictable.
The riders do not share one brain and communication ripples down
very slowely as each rider catches on that something is about
to happen. Example. If you miss a turn off, indicate that you
are pulling off, ease off the gas and begin to look for a long,
clear space where everybody can safely pull off and turn around
with ample view of the road in both directions.
There are hand signals that are used by biking clubs which can
make communication more instant
You have to collect all your riders together after you clear the
limits of a small town because some may have been delayed. Therefore
you have to travel slowely until the group is compacted again
before beginning to gas it for cruising speed once more.
Watch your following distance especially at intersections. Do
not go through an intersection until you are sure that the rider
in front of you is not going to stop. If you have a crazy rider
behind you consider going through the (almost) red robot rather
than have him slam into the back of you when you try to stop.
Accelerate through and beyond a slow moving vehicle (or red robot)
- do not ease off the gas once through as the guy behind you may
still be gassing it and needs the space your speed is creating.
If the ride becomes more stressful than fun, gracefully drop out.
These are your bones that are at stake!
As the leader, passing a slow moving vehicle is very different
because you have to continue to gas it for at least three hundred
meters beyond the vehicle. This allows enough space for all the
other bikers to use once they clear the vehicle themselves.
Many groups use the system of ’keep up with the rider in front
of you’. This is potentially fatal as the entire ride is dictated
by the fastest and most talented motorcyclist. A better system
is ’keep the rider behind you in your rear view mirror’. This
way the entire convoy of motorcycles keeps together at a speed
dictated by riders of average ability. Should a motorcycle break
down, the group with quickly know that something is amiss.
If you have any ’wonnabe Rossis’ in your group tell them to ride
ahead . . . on their own. Your intimate knowledge of the route
will allow you to agree on a common meeting place up ahead.