Whether you are a member of a large motorcycle club or simply like to hit the road with a small group of fellow riders on the weekends, there are certain safety rules and etiquette guidelines that you, as a new rider, will be expected to follow when you join a group:
Do a safety check before any ride, particularly a group ride. Check your oil, tire pressure, headlights, taillights, turn signals, battery, and fluid levels. This ensures that you will be safe and that you won’t be the guy or gal who slows everyone else down.
Never ride under the influence. Many new riders may experience peer pressure to consume alcohol before and during a ride when in a large group. This is illegal and extremely dangerous.
New riders should be placed in the middle of the group. This placement will keep unfamiliar motorcyclists from being responsible for the pace of the group and from falling behind.
If your group or club implements hand signals, ensure that you are familiar with the system before beginning the ride.
Fill-up before you begin the route.
If the group will be riding for an extended period of time, meet beforehand to determine where you will stop for breaks.
Wear your helmet. Every if helmets are not mandated in the state in which you are riding, there is no lack of statistical proof that motorcycle helmets save lives every single day. Even if all the other riders are sporting only their bandanas, keep your DOT certified helmet securely strapped to your head. You won’t regret it.
Strive to maintain a constant speed, especially if your route is on an interstate or highway. This increases safety, keeps all riders together, and improves fuel efficiency.
Wear eye protection. Riding in the midst of several motorcycles increases the chance of flying debris.
Riding with a group means just that. Stay with the group. If you suddenly realize that the group has made a navigational error, do not take it upon yourself to turn around without informing the other riders, especially if you are a new rider. Wait until the leader realizes the mistake and guides the group in the right direction.
Position motorcycles with sidecars either at the front or rear of the group.
Stay in formation; a staggered pattern is common. It is safest for more experienced riders to stay to the left of the lane while novice riders maintain a position to the right.
Maintain a distance of two bike lengths between each member of the group.
New riders should not carry passengers when riding in a group.
Be considerate of cars and other vehicles. Never try to intimidate drivers of other vehicles.
If a car merges into the group, give it space and wait for to move on. If it does not leave the group, carefully pass the vehicle and restructure.
Check with local officials before blocking an intersection. If it is approved, make sure the blockers wear high-visibility gear and position their bikes to face oncoming traffic with their headlights on. Move the group through the intersection as quickly as possible.
Signal potholes to other members of the group by pointing as you pass.
If an accident occurs, do not panic and stop suddenly. This can cause a pile up. Pull to the side of the road in formation and call emergency services. Do not crowd the injured rider.
Take caution when parking a large number of vehicles at a restaurant or place of business. Keep all motorcycles in the designated parking area.
If one member of the group is pulled over by a police officer, the entire group should stop also. However, other riders should stay on or by their motorcycles unless confronted by the officer.
Most importantly, remember to have fun! Hitting the road with a group of fellow bikers is an amazing experience that many motorcyclists participate in. As long as you remember to keep safety as your top concern, joining a group of bikes is sure to be a great time!