For many riders, one of the best parts of summer is going to motorcycle events! This year in particular, with the Harley-Davidson 115th Anniversary, there are bound to be plenty of group rides in the Milwaukee area. Check out these eight essential tips to ensure your group has fun WHILE staying safe!
- T-CLOCKS/Self-Assessment: Interestingly, a group ride starts with just YOU! Make sure both you and your bike are in good shape to be riding with others. Your safety, and everyone else’s, depend on it.
- Learn Signals: Every group ride will have ride leaders, sometimes dispersed throughout or changing locations within the group. Be sure you’re familiar with the more common group riding signals and any that might be different for this particular group. Some signals may include “speed up,” “slow down,” “turn around,” “single file,” “pull off,” “fuel needed,” and “hazard.” Every group ride should have a “riders meeting” before setting off to go over these signals and any other questions riders may have.
- Map it: Every rider should have a rough idea of where the group is going. Momentary confusion can cause chaos in a group ride, especially if one rider begins to go in an incorrect direction and the rest follow.
- Stage Appropriately: In a group ride, the riders that are farther back will have the most challenging task of the day, mainly keeping up and maintaining good throttle control and spacing with the rest of the group. Inexperienced riders should try to place themselves just behind the leaders of the group ride, which will also help set the ride pace at a speed that everyone can manage.
- Maintain Form: Riding staggered not only looks cool, but also serves a very important safety purpose. By staggering yourself with your riding partners, you create a time and space safety margin between you and the rider in front of you. The faster you’re going, the larger this cushion should be (without breaking up the group). That said, some situations do call for riding single file, including narrow roads, bridges, particularly challenging or curvy roads and some construction areas. Be sure you and your riding companions are familiar with the protocol for these situations.
- Work with Locals: For larger group rides, be sure you know how traffic signals are going to be navigated. It is NOT safe to assume cars will stop for you just because you’re in a large group. Consider contacting local police for assistance with blocking roads or suggestions for safe routes.
- Don’t Panic: If you get separated, or happen to check your mirror and not see the rest of your riding group with you, don’t panic! A meetup location or separation procedure should be something covered within the riders meeting. A gap is another situation that can spook riders new to group riding. If for some reason a gap occurs within your staggered formation, just simply (safely!) swerve to fill it. This will cause the group to readjust their position in the formation (which is common), but ultimately is more safe than trying to speed up or slow down to switch positions.
- Ride Your Own Ride: One of the most important tips a biker can keep in mind throughout their time on two wheels! Don’t feel pressured to stay if you’re uncomfortable for any reason during the ride. Feel free to leave the ride when it is safe to do so. If possible, let other riders know you are choosing to leave.
Riding can undoubtedly be one of the most rewarding experiences of a lifetime, and not many things compare to being able to share those with friends! It’s important though to stay educated on proper protocol to help minimize the risk of any mishaps while on the road.
At the law firm of Hupy and Abraham, we’ve been spreading the “Watch for Motorcycles” awareness message and promoting biker safety for over 40 years. For more fantastic information written by our team of motorcycle riders, check out our “Current News for Riders” page here!
Written by M.J. Ball