Is group motorcycle riding safe?

Most Wisconsin motorcycle riding is done impulsively; the weather is nice, you hop on your bike and off you go. Others use their bikes to commute to work and do not feel the urge of riding during the weekend. Once in a while, however, motorcyclists love to get together for group riding. The group can be large or small, and the riding could be for half a day or an entire week. It is generally a lot of fun.

What is group riding?

To start with, we need to make a distinction: a group of motorcycles is not a pack. A pack is a huge rally of motorcyclists who get together but do not want to ride in formation. The giant Memorial Day "Rolling Thunder" rally in DC is a pack, even if a bit extreme in size. In a pack, motorcycles ride relatively slowly and take over the roadway by their number.

Groups should be of manageable size, not to exceed, say, 15 riders. Larger groups can be split. It is essential that all participants know the rules, understand how to ride in formation, and accept the role of the Group Captain, the Lead Bike and the Drag Bike.

How do you organize group motorcycle riding?

The organizer or leader (or Captain) makes sure the following topics have been addressed, understood and accepted by all members:

  • Briefing: During the briefing the trip is detailed to all - including timing, mileage, directions, refueling, stops - as well as the formation, the hand signals, positions and responsibilities.
  • Formation: In a staggered formation, riders ride alternating on the left and right side of a lane. This is the preferred formation in a group. Other formations could be parade (two abreast) or single file.
  • Inspection: Before hitting the road, all motorcycles and riders are inspected as to their "road readiness": fuel, lights, protective gear, helmets, insurance, licenses, mechanics, tools, etc.
  • Maneuvers: The various traffic situations are discussed, explaining how the group should react to them: changing lanes, passing, starting and stopping, spacing out, merging traffic, danger warnings, etc.

If a group is well organized, it has many safety advantages over riding solo. Other vehicles see the group far better, and tend to make room for them. Apart from the Lead Bike, all the riders have to do is follow, not having to worry about directions, stops and re-fueling. For novice riders, group riding gives them a gradual approach to long-distance riding and a sense of security. They get a lot of tips from experienced riders on how to ride and maintain their bikes.

Hupy & Abraham, S.C. has offices in Milwaukee, Madison, Appleton in Wisconsin, and Des Moines, Cedar Rapids, and Quad Cities in Iowa, and Gurnee and Bloomington in Illinois. If you or someone you love has been hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle accident, contact Hupy & Abraham today at 800-800-5676 (toll-free) or 414-223-4800 (local) for a free evaluation of your case, or send us an e-mail with your questions.