Leading a Group Ride Safely

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

  1. 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
  2. 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 to meet.
  3. 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 ride.
  4. 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 of bikes.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. There are hand signals that are used by biking clubs which can make communication more instant
  9. 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 slowly until the group is compacted again before beginning to gas it for cruising speed once more.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

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