Going on a group ride with your friends is great fun. Whether you are touring countries you have never been to before, or are going for a day’s ride through the countryside, riding in a group brings a sense of excitement that you don’t get from independent riding.
However, it is an entirely different experience from riding solo, and much more preparation is needed in order to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. We are often being asked for tips and guidance in group riding, and below we have answered some common questions.
How to prepare for group riding
One major advantage of riding in a group is that rather than everyone taking their own individual tools, only one of each tool needs to be taken and the load can be shared. For example, instead of everyone packing their Chain Monkey, only one member of the group needs to bring the chain tensioning tool, and allow the whole group to use it if and when required.
However, this could be disastrous if you don’t effectively plan! If you are going on a particularly long ride, such as touring, make sure that at least a week before you set off, the group has organised and assigned which riders are responsible for the maps, first-aid kit and so on. It is also helpful to discuss and confirm with the group other features of the ride, such as who is going to start off as the lead rider, the planned route, arranged stops, hand signals and any other important details.
What should the size of a group of riders be?
Ideally, the maximum number of riders in a single group should be 7. If you have more than 7 riders in your party, we recommend splitting into smaller groups and staggering the time you set off. All of the groups can meet for food or when refuelling, but having too many in one group can block the road for other road users, and cause mayhem within the group formation! It can sometimes be a good idea to split the riders into groups of similar riding habits. For instance, it might be best for the generally slower riders to be in one group, and the riders who are always needing the toilet to be in another!
When to adopt a staggered formation
Whenever you reach a long and straight road, it’s appropriate to form the staggered formation. This involves the lead rider riding on the right side of the lane, the rider behind on the left side and so on. It is also advised that there is a 1 second gap between each rider as being too close can cause distractions and collisions, and being too far apart increases the likelihood of the group becoming fragmented.
What speed should I travel when riding in a group?
When riding in a group, it’s common for people to feel like they are going much slower than the other riders. However, you shouldn’t feel pressured in to riding at a speed at you aren’t comfortable at and remember that you are responsible for your own riding action. Similarly, when you see the riders in front of you overtake, don’t assume that it is safe for you to also overtake – only overtake when you have checked that it is safe for you to do so.
What should the rider at the front of a group do?
The experienced rider who is leading the pack should frequently check their mirrors to confirm that all riders are still following. Maintaining a smooth and comfortable speed should help ensure this. The front rider needs to remember that whenever they brake hard, the following riders have to brake even harder to prevent an incident, so knowing the route is crucial.
When to check your mirrors on a motorbike
When you’re riding solo, you only have to worry about yourself, but when in a group, there are plenty of other riders you need to watch out for. Try to frequently glance at your mirrors to check the riders behind you are still there. If you notice you’ve left a rider, stop at the next safe place with the rest of the group, and wait for them to catch up. If they don’t appear to be returning, the lead rider should go back the same route as you have just ridden to try and find them, whilst the other riders wait at a safe location.
When to refuel in group riding
When agreeing the route your group will be riding, it would be a good idea to also decide on the locations where you will refuel. It can be extremely frustrating and time-consuming to have to stop for individual riders to refuel, so having this planned will save you time and give everyone the same opportunity to fill-up their tank.
Make sure you also have a full tank at the start of the ride – don’t be the person to slow the group down by having to stop off at the next gas station!
See more: How to ride with a pillion