Group Riding Guidelines   

(Note: Anyone who wants is free to use this content for their own benefit - except for selling same)

(last modified 05/03/06 --  dgs)

To all Readers / Users:

These hints / tips / guidelines have been accumulated, edited, and prepared by me and are offered in the spirit of the motorcycling fellowship -- for the use of any and all riders - but all readers / users / riders need to recognize that they, themselves, and only themselves can take the responsibility for their safety and the safety of others around themselves.  You are advised to use your own judgment and experience to guide your riding - as these guidelines cannot be held responsible for your actions or lack of judgment - including the use of these guidelines in a manner that might cause harm to you or those around you.

All of these tips and guidelines are offered in the spirit of the motorcycling fellowship, but also "as is" meaning this site and the contributor(s) cannot be held liable, etc, etc, etc.

  • Group Riding Guidelines (NOT a Rulebook)

The purpose of riding in an organized group instead of an undisciplined pack is to provide the additional safety that a well-organized group inherently generates. This comes from within the group and from the outside. When a group rides in an orderly fashion, people donít get in each otherís way, and the organization of the formation itself discourages cars from attempting to cut in

EVERYONE riding with the group is expected to follow the Guidelines, once they have been adopted by a group, . Anyone violating the rules, and compromising everyone else's safety, will be warned, and if their actions continue, will no longer be welcome to ride with the group. 

The intent of these guidelines is to give everyone information required to ride together safely. Please keep in mind that these guidelines are not intended to restrict your freedom, but instead, to help ensure that we all return home safely.

These guidelines cannot encompass every possible set of circumstances, and they are intended to serve as a basic guide for most situations. Each person is therefore expected to read, understand, and apply these guidelines, using their best judgment.

Please remember that YOU have the ultimate responsibility for YOUR safety, and should always ride within your capabilities and that of your machine.

(Note: Ride Leader may be substituted with Road Captain)    

( Yes, as you read through this, there are many things repeated, for emphasis)


  • Table of Contents (Click to Go to Topic):




    • Will observe the objectives and guidelines in order to assure the safety and the welfare of every individual within the group, and any surrounding motorists or pedestrians.

    • Will follow the instructions of the Road Captain in all situations, unless those instructions place the rider or any other individual in an unsafe situation.

    • Will maintain their motorcycle and other equipment in a safe riding condition.

    • Will ride with headlights on.

    • Will ride with a "safety first" attitude. The safety of all individuals, whether or not they are a part of the group, is of paramount importance.

    • Will ride with a helmet where the state law requires a helmet (note: wise to Always wear helmet).

    • Will consider the use of other safety equipment: over-the-ankle boots, gloves, protective clothing & helmets.

    • Will not ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs that may impair their riding ability. 

    • Will always use good judgment.

    • Will assess their ability to ride in a group environment - according to these guidelines.





    • The standard formation will be a double row, staggered, in one traffic lane, under good conditions of road, traffic, and weather
    • The interval will be no less than one second between staggered riders, which will automatically make a 2 second interval between you and the bike directly in front of you.
      • Watch for the back of the bike ahead to pass any marker and count off the time until the front of your bike passes that marker. 
      • Count "One Thousand" for 1 second and "One Thousand, Two Thousand" for 2 seconds.
      • Read the following Article - will make you believe, and may save your life:
    • Many factors contribute to a successful group riding formation:

      • Having & following a good set of guidelines - for everyone
      • Paying attention & Anticipation!!(perhaps the most important)
        • Road Captain
          • Anticipating & signaling reactions to changes in road & traffic conditions
          • Positioning the group  well in advance of the need to exit/turn
          • Giving advanced notice of action via timely signals to the group
        • Group members
          • Watching ahead -  what the two bikes immediately ahead are about to do
          • Watching ahead -  what might be coming that will cause group reaction
          • Passing back all signals - so everyone can anticipate!
      • Consistency!!!
        • Even, steady  speeds
        • Controlled, smooth acceleration & deceleration (no "jack rabbit" starts, hard stops)
        • Thinking & acting like the group is a single "vehicle"
      • Trust!!!
        • We ride close, trusting that we all will obey the guidelines and not move "rashly"
        • We are safest when we ride close, and trust our fellow group members.
    • The Road Captain will be at the head of the group, and typically will ride just to the left of lane center. 

    • The Tail Gunner will ride at the rear of the formation, in either lane position of his/her choice.
    • New members, guests, and any riders with little experience in group riding will be positioned at the front of the group, just behind the Road Captain.
    • Each rider should maintain his or her starting line up position in the group until arrival at the destination. This allows each rider to become more familiar with the riding style and habits of those nearest him or her in the group, and is particularly important for the new or inexperienced riders.
    • The Road Captain may signal the group to form a single file formation. The signal is the left arm held overhead with one finger extended. Drop back to a safe following distance from the rider in front of you and move into a single file. Maintain 2 second interval during single file.
    • It may be necessary to form smaller groups for safety due to surrounding conditions or local ordinances. 
      • Generally. 30 is the maximum number of riders for a single group.
      • Generally, there should be a 5-10 minute gap between "split" groups - to prevent reformation into a single group.
      • There should be a temporary Road Captain to lead and a Tail Gunner to control the second part of the group.
      • This may mean that the last rider of each group would become the Tail Gunner for that group. If possible, this rider should be another experienced Road Captain or Tail Gunner. If another Road Captain / Tail Gunner is not available, this rider should be briefed prior to the run as to his or her responsibilities in the event this situation should occur.
    • It is recommended that trikes and bikes with sidecars be to the rear of the formation and ride single file at all times ahead of the Tail Gunner.




    • The Road Captain will establish and maintain a uniform speed
      • Consistent with the ability of the least experienced rider, surrounding conditions, the posted speed limit, the bikes at the ride, and safe riding practices. 
      • He/she should establish before the ride the abilities of the people and the bikes themselves prior to departure,  especially concentrating on new riders, new members and visitors to the ride.
      •  The Road Captain should continually check his mirrors to insure the formation is in good shape.
    • The Road Captains may choose to separate the group of inexperienced riders into a group of their own, consistent with expected or actual conditions. Making sure there is an acting, experienced Road Captain and Tail Gunner to guide them.
    • All riders will maintain the same speed to minimize the effect of irregular speeds on riders at the rear of the group.
    • When pulling out from a stop sign or stop light and after making a turn, 
      • An even, steady acceleration is highly recommended. Do NOT "goose" it up to speed limit!!
      • This will keep the formation together better than speeding up & having to slow back down. 
      • Do not slow to make sure the formation is following. This will cause a back up & may actually prevent the rear bikes from making it through the light. 
      • Keep the speed at 10-15 miles below the limit until all have cleared the intersection.
      • This will keep the formation together better than speeding up & having to slow back down. 
      • If the formation is broken up (light change, car interferes, etc), keep the speed  to 5-10 miles below the posted speed limit to allow the rest of the formation to catch up. 
      • You do not need to stop, if  the formation is broken up (this is a judgment call based on the road & the traffic flow).
    • All riders will maintain a safe distance and lane position between themselves and the rider directly ahead; to be consistent with existing road, traffic, and weather conditions.
    • See section on Tips, Experience for more information on related topics - Curves, etc



  •  Minimum Safe Following Distances:

    • Within the group, a safe distance is defined as a MINIMUM TWO SECOND DELAY between the rider, and the next rider directly ahead (see NOTE below). 
      • In staggered formation, use a MINIMUM of a ONE SECOND DELAY between staggered/off-set riders. 
      • In single file formation, use a MINIMUM of a TWO SECOND DELAY between the rider and the rider directly ahead. 
      • Riders should also realize that by creating a large gap in the formation, that cars will try to move in & split the formation, causing a dangerous situation
      • It also causes problems for the Road Captain when there are large gaps in the formation.
    • Too many people get hung up with "there must be only 2 seconds between bikes". 

      • This is a guideline and preferred interval for typical highway riding. The gap should be determined by the speed and road conditions. The gap should be established before the ride for the sections of road to be traveled. 
      • The faster the speed, the more distance gap there will be. (Use of seconds of gap, means the gap does increase with speed)
      • We need to accommodate new group riders by "allowing" a larger gap - until they become comfortable with the target gap - and the trust it means we have in our fellow riders.
      • With that said... we also do not want huge gaping gaps in the formation where other vehicles will attempt to break into the formation. 
      • The gap should be consistent throughout the formation.
    • With respect to vehicles ahead of the group, a safe distance is defined as an ABSOLUTE MINIMUM of a THREE SECOND DELAY between the Road Captain, and any vehicle directly ahead of the group (see NOTE below). If a car pulls in front of the formation, make adjustments to keep a good distance.


      It's important to keep in mind that a two second interval is a MINIMUM safe requirement in order to react in the event of a potentially hazardous condition.

      • In group riding, a one-second interval between STAGGERED riders is a policy consistent with the recommendations of most traffic and safety agencies.
      • Note: STAGGERED motorcycles are considered to be in a "virtual" lane of their own, that is that there is a two-second interval between motorcycles in a direct line. This group riding technique requires all participants to constantly ANTICIPATE an EMERGENCY.

      RIDING SAFETY IS EACH INDIVIDUAL'S RESPONSIBILITY           Top of Page           Home


  • Safe Lane Position:


    • A safe lane position is defined as riding immediately to the right or left of lane center. This will keep the riders just off the center oil stain, while maintaining the staggered formation, distance between riders and other obstacles, and providing necessary lane position
    • The Road Captain will attempt to lead the group in a single lane when:
      • Traffic flow appears to be most consistent with the speed of the group 
      • Using lane changes only when necessary to pass slower traffic or to avoid a hazardous condition
      • To avoid blocking faster surrounding traffic.
      • On highways with two lanes in each direction, the group will normally travel in the number two lane, also known as the "SLOW" lane, (See below) allowing faster traffic to pass to left; except when passing slower traffic on the right. Note: in Virginia, there is NO "keep right except to pass" law, and there are time it would be best to travle in the left, rather than curb, lnae - to keep out of on/off ramp activity, for instance.  The is left to the descretion of the RC.
      • On highways with three or more lanes in each direction, the group will normally travel in the number two lane (See below), keeping the right lane open for other vehicles entering and exiting the highway, and the left lane(s) for traffic to pass
    • Lanes are counted from left to right
      • The left lane is often referred to as the "FAST" or "PASSING" lane, and is counted as lane number one. 
      • Remaining traffic lanes are then counted up until the right most, or "SLOW" lane is counted




    • On a multi-lane highway, the double row staggered formation will normally be maintained.
    • The Road Captain will hold his or her position and signal for a lane change.
    • All riders will hold their positions and pass the signal to the rear. Do NOT move until directed to do so!
    • The Tail Gunner will change lanes at the first safe opportunity, protecting the lane for the group, and allowing the Road Captain to see that the lane is clear and protected (or will advise via radio). 
    • The Road Captain will be aware of when the Tail Gunner has changed lanes by using his mirrors (or will be advised by tailgunner) and make a head check to insure no cars are beside the formation.
    • The Road Captain will then change lanes.
    • The formation will change lanes using the "follow the leader" approach. The Road Captain will move first, followed by all other riders moving from the front to the rear of the group.
    • There will also be times when:
      • There is minimal traffic
      • The Road Captain may signal a lane change and move over immediately (after checking to make sure itís clear)
      • The formation will change lanes using the "follow the leader" approach, with all other riders moving over from the front to the rear of the group


      •  NOBODY, except the Tail Gunner, is to change lanes before the Road Captain. 
      • ALWAYS make a HEAD CHECK before you begin the lane change, and maintain safe distances. 


    • When it is NOT possible for the entire group to change lanes as above,

      • The Road Captain will signal for a turn, and precede that signal with a signal with one finger extended into the air. 
      • This indicates that changing lanes as a group is not possible. 
      • The Road Captain will then change lanes when safe to do so
      • Everyone signals, head checks, and changes lanes front to back, as individuals, when safe to do so. 
      • Should the group become separated, regroup when it is safe to do so. 
      • Please use known good safety practices, INCLUDING HEAD CHECKS.


    • Other Lane change techniques exist, and may be used - once they have been reviewed and practiced by all the members of the group.:
      • Block Lane Change: This method can be utilized interchangeably with the Simple Lane Change. It requires a little more coordination, but it is well worth the effort. It is impressive to observe, and gives the riders a tremendous feeling of "togetherness".
        • After the Tail Gunner has secured the new lane, the Ride Captain will activate his Directional Indicator as a signal that he is about to order a lane change.
        • As each rider sees the directional signal, he/she also turns his on, so the riders following get the signal.
        • The Ride Captain then raises his/her left arm straight up.
        • Each rider repeats the signal.
        • Then, as the Ride Captain lowers his/her arm to point to the lane into which he/she is moving, he actually initiates the lane change.
        • All other riders lower their arms at the same time and change lanes also. This allows the entire formation to move from one lane to another as a single unit.
      • Rear Fill-in: This method is sometimes necessary when a long enough gap cannot be maintained in the new lane, e.g. when trying to move from the right lane to the center and vehicles from the left lane keep cutting into the opening.
        • After the Tail Gunner has secured the new lane, the Ride Captain (usually at the request of the Tail Gunner) will call for the group to fill in the space from the rear.
        • He signals this by raising his hand to shoulder height and "pushing" it towards the new lane.
        • All riders repeat the signal, and the last motorcycles move into the space ahead of the Tail Gunner, then the next-to-last motorcycles move in ahead of those, and so on until the Ride Captain finally moves into the space ahead of the entire formation.

      RIDING SAFETY IS EACH INDIVIDUAL'S RESPONSIBILITY           Top of Page           Home



    • Passing when there are multiple lanes in the same directions is really an lane change, handle accordingly.
    • Passing on a two-lane road with two way traffic (one lane each way)
      • A single file formation should be used when passing other vehicles. 
      • Passing should be generally treated as a lane change (with a "return" at its end.)
      • The Road Captain will maintain a steady speed after the slow moving vehicle has been passe
      • Allowing the individual riders room to move back into formation ahead of the passed vehicle.
      • If the group becomes separated, merge safely back into the formation
        • Returning to your original position, 
        • Using known good safety practices. 
        • Don't feel it's necessary to break the world land speed record in trying to catch up. 
        • The Road Captain will be aware and adjust accordingly once they are clear of the passed vehicle.


      • Be certain the road is clear
      • Always make a HEAD CHECK immediately prior to initiating any maneuver which may cause you to cross other road users. 
      • The Road Captain, your mirror, or what you saw just a second ago are NO substitutes for your own eyes and good judgment and common sense! 
      • When dealing with our four wheeled friends, you will never win a contest against them. 
      • It won't do any good to be "Dead Right".

      RIDING SAFETY IS EACH INDIVIDUAL'S RESPONSIBILITY           Top of Page           Home



    • Gas, food, and rest stops should be discussed and scheduled prior to departure, if necessary, based on the length of the trip, . 
      • These scheduled stops should be adhered to as much as possible, depending on varying conditions as the trip progresses.
      • Deviation from the scheduled stops may be required due to varying weather, traffic, and bladder conditions (availability of gas, rider fatigue, and other unforeseen circumstances).
    • Gas and rest stops should be limited to about ten to fifteen minutes, depending on the size of the group. Remember the last rider in the group waits the longest, therefore has the shortest rest period.
    • If toll stops are included, 
      • Toll money should be collected in advance. 
      • If available, a riding couple should be positioned in the number two slot, with the toll money in the back seater's hands. As the group approaches the tollbooth, the Road Captain will allow this bike to assume the lead position in order to exchange the toll. The Road Captain will reassume the lead as soon as it is safe to do so. 
      • If a riding couple is not available, it then becomes the Road Captain's responsibility to pay at the tollbooth.

      NOTE: Remember to avoid the center of the lane when nearing or passing through a tollbooth. They are usually extremely slick.

      NOTE: It usually is necessary to cross through the toll area single file and at slow speed, so the toll collector can trigger the red/green light and maintain a count - to match to the toll paid.

      RIDING SAFETY IS EACH INDIVIDUAL'S RESPONSIBILITY           Top of Page           Home


    • It is highly desirable to have radio communication between the Road Captain and the Tail Gunner
      • If both have radios & full face helmets - they can communicate whenever required

        • Communication should be limited to ride control matters - to avoid distraction
        • Preferred radios are CB radios - bike yo bike and bike to truckers etc - most versatile.
      • Small, inexpensive "hand-held" PRS radios can facilitate communication, within limits

        • PRS radios do NOT work well with mikes unless:
          • Used with full face helmets and voice activated mikes
          • And then only if "installed" into the helmet
          • And with relatively expensive mikes
        • PRS radios can be effectively as "BEEP" signaling devices
          • Hang PRS around your neck - readily accessible - volume on HIGH
          • Use left hand to operate the CALL button
          • Use Prearranged set of codes 
          • Very few codes for simple communication
            • 4 BEEPS - "Emergency"
            • 2 Beeps - "All Clear or Secured"
            • 1 Beep - "Attention" or "Roger"
        • "Need to Stop" - PRS BEEP Codes:

          • 4 BEEPS - Tail Gunner to Road Captain - "Need to Stop - Emergency"
          • Response - 1 BEEP - "Roger, will pull us over"
        • "Maneuver Coming" - PRS BEEP Codes - Especially handy with large group or curvy road - no direct sight

          • 1 Beep - Captain to Tail Gunner - "Going to Maneuver, watch for hand signal"
          • 1 Beep - Tail Gunner to Road Captain - Okay, I'm alerted"
        • "Lane Secured" - PRS BEEP Codes
          • In response to signal for lane change / pass
          • 2 Beeps - Tail Gunner to Road Captain - "Lane Secured"
        • "Intersection Cleared" - PRS Beep Codes
          • After turn or stop sign or traffic light
          • 2 Beeps - Tail Gunner to Road Captain - "Intersection Cleared"




    • Avoid them if at all possible
    • Unscheduled stops can lead to confusion in the group, and confusion can lead to accidents. 
    • The Road Captain should be informed that a stop is necessary in order to lead the group in an organized fashion to the next convenient and safe place to stop.  
      • Use radio voice 
      • Or PRS BEEP Code (See Radio Section)
      • Or use "Engine / Ride Cut" hand signal - passed forward accompanied by horn blowing - requires mirror monitoring by all
      • Any rider with an equipment problem should inform one of the Officers / Road Captain / or Tail Gunner as quickly, and as safely as possible.
        • If underway, 
          • carefully pull over or drop back to Tail Gunner 
          • use combination of "pass me" and "engine / ride cut" and "pulling over" hand signals
    • When the Road Captain is informed, he/ she will stop the group at the earliest possible moment, when and where, it is safe.
    • If a rider must pull over immediately, ONLY the Tail Gunner or assigned formation mechanic will also stop
      • If there is an assigned mechanic, they should be at the rear of the formation. 
      • The Road Captain should be informed if he or she is not aware of this situation. 
      • Once the Road Captain is informed, he or she will pull the group over as soon as it is safe to do so.
    • Any rider observing a problem with another rider's equipment should inform that rider as quickly and safely as possible. If it appears that a stop is necessary, the Road Captain should also be notified.
    • The Road Captain should use good judgment and common sense when choosing a spot to pull over. Try to avoid an area with hazards to motorcycles, such as broken glass, trash, loose sand, gravel, and fresh asphalt.



    • If the group comes upon the scene of an accident or if someone in the group is involved in an accident,
      • The Road Captain will stop the group at the earliest possible moment (keeping with known good safety practices). 
      • It may be necessary for the group to disperse and park separately to avoid creating additional hazardous conditions.
    • The Road Captain will maintain control and direct other members of the group to provide assistance:
    • Members of the group will provide assistance in any practical way possible, including, but not limited to:
      • Slow, divert, direct or stop traffic in a safe manner, using flares att he head and tail of the "situation" if available.
      • Aid and comfort those involved.
      • Call 911 to notify the Police, Ambulance, and or Fire service as the situation demands.
      • Maintain order and preserve the accident scene for Police investigation.
      • If possible, take photographs.
      • If possible, obtain license plate numbers and vehicle descriptions, including driver descriptions in the event of a hit and run violation.
      • Obtain names and addresses of witnesses if necessary.
      • If possible maintain overall control of the situation until relieved by the proper authorities.

      RIDING SAFETY IS EACH INDIVIDUAL'S RESPONSIBILITY         Top of Page           Home  



    • Standard hand signals will ALWAYS be used for: 
      • Changing the formation to a single row and back to double staggered, 
      • Turns, 
      • Lane changes, 
      • Slowing, 
      • Stopping. 
      • To point out road hazards to following riders by pointing.
    • Turn signal lights will also be used at all times.
    • All signals will be relayed to the rear of the group 
      • to allow all riders to take appropriate precautionary measures, 
      • to be aware of changes in speed and direction. 
      • once the hand signal is given and the person sees in their mirror that it is being passed on, they may return to gripping their handlebars with both hands.
    • The only one that needs to "hold" the hand signal is the Tail Gunner until he/she reaches the spot of the maneuver, based on following traffic.
    • Road Hazards:
      • This signal can be initiated by anyone spotting a hazard: gravel, road kill, walker beside the road, etc.
      • Point at the hazard with left hand or right foot - depending on the location of hazard
      • All riders will pass the signal back - and will avoid the hazard.
    • Hand signals and turn signals will always be used - even it radios are in use
      • Everyone needs to know what is happening (not just those with radios)
      • Radios can/ will fail (batteries die, interference, etc)

    HAND SIGNALS - PICTURES & EXPLANATIONS:  (Click here for printable chart)



    Ready (or Ready??)

    Thumb raised slightly 

    in front of your body

    Start Your Engines 

    Hand raised and 

    rotated in a circle


    Cut Your Engines / Pull Over!!

    Hand slicing across 

    your neck

    Right Turn

    Left Turn

    Hazard In Road

    In left side of lane

    Use right foot if to right


    Slow Down

    Palm down, push up & down

    Speed Up

    Palm up, pull up & down


    Staggered File

    Two fingers up

    (pinkie, index)

    Single File

    One finger up



    Tighten Up

    Open, close all fingers 

    hand held high


    Pull Along Side / Pass

    Scoop hand up & forward

    2-3 times



    Back Off / Stay Back

    Push hand down & back

    forcefully, 2-3 times


    Open Up The Gap

    Keep stagger as is

    Wave fully open hand

    Pit Stop -- Gas/Drink/Relief

    Repeatedly point to kidney



    Pulling Over

    Repeatedly wave arm

    Turn Off Signal

    Pinch thumb, index finger 

    together & apart



    • All riders will come to the ride with a well-maintained motorcycle.
    • All riders with appropriate riding apparel for the weather conditions.
    • All  riders are encouraged to bring a well-stocked tool kit to all club rides.
    • All riders are encouraged to bring a well-maintained first aid kit to all club rides.
    • The Road Captain should bring the following:
      • First aid kit.
      • Tool kit
      • Route maps.
      • Run information.
      • Cell phone (or designate another as 911 caller) 




    Nothing can replace Good Judgment and Common Sense !!!!!


    • Road Captain should scout the route prior to conducting the ride.
    • Be aware of places you may have to stop
    • Watch for loose gravel or sand.
    • Caution - Arrows & Lines painted on roads become slick when wet.
    • Watch for oil slicks around stop lights, stop signs or around areas where cars may have to sit for a period of time.
    • Radio link between the Road Captain and Tail Gunner 
      • Two way voice Highly Recommended - CB preferred, PRS "okay".
      • PRS with simple Beep code is also OK - better than vision only
      • See section on Radio
    • If the formation is broken, and there is a turn in the route, 
      • formation does need to stop as close to the turn as possible, 
      • allowing the trailing group to see where you turned. 
      • also, the last person in line wait at the corner to guide the rest back up to the formation. This is the Road Captainís decision based on what they know of the route, the traffic, and safe riding practices and should be covered prior to the ride in the pre-ride brief
    • Summer, asphalt, & kick stands do not mix well, kick stands will sink in & the bike may fall over. Be aware of where you park.
    • All riders need to pay attention to the bikes and traffic around them !!!!! Nothing worse than a bike hitting another bike in formation because they were not paying attention.
    • If you need to speed to get to your destination... DON'T -- you should have made better plans & started earlier. Group rides are supposed to be enjoyable -- NOT racing events.
    • So what if the Road Captain makes a wrong turn, sometimes thatís how you find that hidden special road !!!!!!
    • If you "must" to burn a tank of gas before you stop, you are missing half the fun of riding with a group. The BS sessions at stops are all part of the experience.
    • If you know the trip will take 3 hours, plan on it taking 4. Something will always happen to cause a delay. The larger the group, the more time you should allow for rest stops, gas breaks, food breaks, etc.
    • One MSF class lesson  I think needs to be unlearned - to always stop with one foot on the ground. 
      • Fine, if it is a small bike, but . . .
      • A cruiser or touring bike should be stopped & held with both feet on the ground
        • Use both brakes to come to a stop
        • Put both feet on the ground
        • Hold your bike stopped with your front brakes
        • When ready to start up, you want to be vertical with both feet in place to help keep you that way
        • Obviously, you do not put feet down until the bike is fully stopped.
        • If you must make a fast departure (to get out of somebody's way, for example), it takes more time to do so with one foot down rather than two, because because you must take your foot off the rear brake and you must straighten the bike as you depart,  so you will have a more erratic start. 
        • There are always exceptions to the rule, of course. 
          • If you are stopped at a light on a severe incline, your right foot belongs on the brake pedal. 
          • Similarly, in a panic stop situation you want to stop with your foot still on the rear brake.]
    • When in the slow or second slowest lane and you approach an on-ramp, do a head check to the right
    • Equally as important, when approaching an off-ramp, do a head check to the LEFT (and catch that guy who is about to cut in front of you to make his exit).


    • SPACING: Too much following distance can be as bad as, and frequently WORSE than, too little following distance. 
      • If the formation lacks uniformity, then we don't "look" like we are "together" as group. 
      • And we are regarded as random individual vehicles, and not like a group or unit trying to function as one vehicle. 
      • Too much following distance INVITES cars into the formation, splitting it up in traffic. 
      • If we don't control our lane space the cars WILL take it away from us
      • Be prepared! Non-motorcycling car drivers really do NOT understand what we do when we ride as a group or why. 
      • If a car starts to blindly move into or through the group - LET THEM IN. We can always re-form the group a little later down the road.
    • NEW TO GROUPS: If you are new to group riding or are uncomfortable riding in a group, please let the Road Captain know
      • Excessive following distance defeats the purpose of maintaining an equally spaced stagger formation. 
      • It is much better for your safety and the safety of the group, that you ride individually 1/4 mile behind the group. 
      • We want to encourage you to be comfortable about making that choice.
    • DROPPING OUT: If you need to leave the ride early, notify the Road Captain AND the Tail Gunner where you plan on leaving. 
      • If possible be at the rear of the formation (ahead of the Tail Gunner) prior to leaving the group. 
      • Any bikes following should move up into the standard group riding positions.
    • BLOCKING... Remember, the cars on the road have the right of way and blocking is considered illegal. 
      • Blocking should only be done with prior arraignment with the local law enforcement officials. 
      • Blockers should ride at the rear of the column - in front of the tail gunner
      • The Road Captain should halt the column at all pre-arranged blocking locations
      • The Blockers should then ride up the column and assume their blocking positions
      • This will provide the extra moments needed for the traffic to clear. 
      • It will also increase safety for all - as the blockers will not have to rush through the formation to get to the
      • This will keep the formation together and Safer. 
      • If the formation does get split up ... refer to the section on rejoining the formation.
    • TUNNELS.... 
      • The Blue Ridge Parkway is a favorite place to ride for many local and out of state riders. Numerous tunnels exist on the parkway. Some are over 1/4 mile long. There is no lighting in Parkway tunnels. 
      • Cars are required to turn on lights, but some donít. 
      • On a cycle, the instant of going from Sunlight to Darkness is disorientating. Your eyes are not used to the dark
      • The first thing you do is instinctively brake a little. 
      • The eyes of car drivers as well do not adjust to darkness instantly
      • They may not even see the yellow line on the road in a tunnel. 
      • And, bicyclists may be encountered in tunnels as well.
      • You may encounter one tunnel after another so maintain this safe riding posture as long as you are in "Tunnel areas" of the parkway.
    • CURVES.... 
      • Many roads in the mountains are switch backs, with nonstop sharp curves
      • You are riding along at 40 mph, come into the curve and you are down to 15. 
      • With a tight curve, riders behind you cannot see that you braked, or have little room to brake and slow, so it is easy to get bunched up. 
      •  Many areas on the parkway and other mountain roads are like riding on the edge of a cliff. 
        • You miss your turn and you are airborne without a parachute! 
        • Itís not the fall, itís that sudden stop at the end thatíll get ya.
      • After rains on roads in the mountains, sand, gravel, and mud will be washed down onto the road & can make the curves & corners very dangerous.
      • There are many opinions on curves. A lot depends on how sharp the curves are.
        • If the curves are not too tight, you may ride in a good even staggered formation, with extra spacing if needed. 
          • This allows riders to be able to shift in the lane to take a curve better. 
          • Use the "Open Gaps"  signal (see Hand Signals) to spread out the gap well before going into curves to allow more freedom for the individual riders to have more space to work with. 
          • If the RC sees that the curve may be a little sharp for the group, he/she should anticipate by signaling to slow down before going into the curve.
        • If they are sharp curves, proceed single file spaced at least 3-4 seconds apart. 
          • This gives the rider the option to use as much of the road as they want 
          • Allows for people slowing down when going into sharp corners.
      • Road Captain must be aware of the riding experience of the people they are leading on a ride. 
        • A pre-ride of the route (when possible) is also recommended. 
        • It is also up to the individual rider to admit to his/her abilities relative to curves.
      • With varied curve skill sets in a group,
        • Ride to the lowest ability!!
        • Or, split into multiple sections --  split up by ability when encountering a long series of sharp curves like Deals Gap.

      Biggest thing to remember is use good judgment & common sense.

       RIDING SAFETY IS EACH INDIVIDUAL'S RESPONSIBILITY          Top of Page           Home




You have just volunteered for the most challenging and rewarding position within your group. Once you have been appointed or elected as a Road Captain, you will have joined a very special team that will help plan, organize, and execute your group rides. 

The following guidelines have been developed to give you a basic understanding of the responsibilities and recommended qualifications expected of our Road Captains and Tail Gunners, and the methods we employ to help ensure everyone's safe return home and have an enjoyable ride.


    • Must maintain a current and valid motorcycle driver's license.
    • Must maintain current and valid motorcycle insurance, with no less than the MINIMUM required by the state for street riding purposes.
    • Recommended maintaining a current First Aid/CPR certification.
    • Recommended to have successfully completed a MSF, Experienced Rider Course.
    • Must have tact & understanding of people -- should be a high priority.
    • Must display maturity & judgment.
    • Remember, you were once a new rider. Deal with problems & issues as you would want to be treated.
    • Training:
      • Each group should develop a training program as follows.
      • To maximize the effectiveness of our safe riding program, it is imperative that each individual entrusted with a responsibility of Road Captain, Tail gunner, or Ride Shepherd must receive comprehensive training in order to properly do their job. Each job has its own specially tailored training program, which includes both ride training and instruction in familiarity with the ride rules and hand signals.
      • Each training candidate will begin with the position of Tail gunner, unless time and conditions merit an exception. Once the candidate has certified as a Tail gunner, they then move into the queue for training as a Ride Captain.
      • Training for either Ride Captain or Tail gunner will consist of three rides in the position, with feedback from the training officer, an individual who has already completed the training for that position. The candidate will also receive a series of oral questions regarding the position. Once the individual qualifies for certification, he/she will be awarded the appropriate title and "patch".
      • Once a rider is certified for a particular ride position, they may then begin training other candidates for that position.




    • Has full charge of the group until arrival at the destination.
    • Lead the group in a manner consistent with the objectives and guidelines as stated herein
    • Exercise his/her best judgment in situations not specifically covered in these guidelines.
    • Brief other assigned Road Captains / Tail Gunners as to route, responsibilities, and other details pertinent to the ride prior to departure.
    • Conduct an inspection of all bikes prior to the ride:
      • Lights, turn signals, horns, brakes, tires, leaking fluids, dangling parts
    • Conduct a rider's briefing prior to departure:
      • Review ride rules, signals
      • Review route, likely hazards, stops
      • Ensure all are gassed up / topped off
      • Assign formation positions for riders, and "shepherds" for newbies
    • Has the final say with regard to ride termination due to inclement weather, hazardous conditions, or other difficult or unsafe conditions.
    • Has the final say on rider positioning and/or participation 
      • Will instruct any rider to ride in a specific position within the group, or leave the group entirely, for reasons of misconduct, disorderly or unsafe riding, or faulty/unsafe equipment. 
      • Common sense and tact should be used.
    • Responsible for having a well-maintained First Aid kit on the ride.
      • Will locate other First Aid kits
    • Responsible for having a well-stocked tool kit on the ride.
      • Will locate other tools kits
    • Responsible for having other emergency equipment:
      • Flares, Space blanket (weather protection, shock treatment)
    • Responsible for having a cell phone for 911 purposes.
      • If the Road Captain not possess a cell phone, if possible, designate a 911-notification caller within the group.
      • Will locate other cell phones and first aid kits.
    • Establish and maintain a uniform speed 
      • consistent with the ability of the least experienced rider, 
      • with consideration of safe road conditions, traffic, and weather conditions.
    • Initiate all maneuvers within traffic in a "safety first" manner.
    • Lead the standard formation of a staggered double row, in one traffic lane.
    • Will be at the head of the group, and will ride just to the left of lane center.
    • Will maintain a safe following distance 
      • Using the MINIMUM 3- second rule between the group and any vehicle ahead. 
      • This distance may be increased at the discretion of the Road Captain, but will NOT be decreased.
    • Will command the group to a single file formation when:
      • they cannot maintain visual control of the road conditions ahead over a MINIMUM of a 4 second distance, 
      • narrow roads 
      • mountain/curvy roads, 
      • traveling directly adjacent to parked vehicles, 
      • any other condition which may severely restrict the ability of individual group members to perform emergency avoidance maneuvers.




    • Will assist the Road Captain in the performance of his or her duties.
    • May be required to assume the duties of Road Captain in his or her absence.
    • Responsible for having a First Aid kit to the ride.
    • Responsible for having a well-stocked tool kit to the ride.
    • Will ride at the rear of the group 
      • Except when conditions dictate otherwise
      • Unless required to take on the responsibilities of the Road Captain.
    • Will be observant of any hazardous conditions or conduct
      • take immediate corrective action
      • inform the Road Captain at the earliest safe opportunity
      • the urgency to inform the Road Captain is left to the discretion of the Tail Gunner
    • Will normally ride where they can see the formation the best.
    • Lane protection is the Tail Gunnerís added responsibility. 
      • On the highway, as the group prepares to make a lane change, 
        • the Tail Gunner will make the lane change as soon as is safe to do so, 
        • followed by the Road Captain, 
        • then the remainder of the group. 
      • In this way, the Tail Gunner protects that lane keeping it clear for the entire group to move into this lane.




    • Welcome riders and introduce Road Captains, Tail Gunners
    • Define destination and outline route
    • Determine gas stop requirements
    • Outline itinerary for the day
    • Determine return plans
    • Review riding standards
      • Staggered position and safe distance
      • Entrance and exit
      • Lane changes
      • Single file procedures
      • Hand signals
      • Broken bike procedure
    • Locate cell phones and first aid kits and tool kits
    • Designate 911 notification
    • Determine riding group by size, skill level, & cruising speed
      • Decide it split is desirable
      • If so, designate split group Road Captains, Tail Gunners
    • Remind everyone to have fun, and to ride safely



  • Thanks & Acknowledgement:
    • The format, and much of the content, of the above Riding Guidelines was taken from a document with the same intention that was created by:

      Greg "Dragon" Love
      North Carolina State Officer
      Cape Fear Chapter
      Southern Cruisers Riding Club

      Thanks to you, Dragon

    • Using Dragon's guidelines as a starting framework, I incorporated information form 5 or 6 other sources, and from my own experience - directly and via conversations with other riders / leaders - to arrive at this version.

    • Please feel free to critique and to assist me in making this the best set of guidelines - the best that multiple riders and minds can devise.  Send your thoughts to: 

    • Note: Anyone who wants is free to use this content for their own benefit - except for selling same

      • You may print it off, or

      • Click on "File" menu, then select "Save As" and save it as a web page on your computer



  • 50 Ways To Save Your Life:  

    • If it saves ONE life it was worth posting.

      1. Assume you're invisible
      Because to a lot of drivers, you are. Never make a move based on the assumption that another driver sees you, even if you've just made eye contact. Bikes don't always register in the four-wheel mind.

      2. Be considerate
      The consequences of strafing the jerk du jour or cutting him off start out bad and get worse. Pretend it was your grandma and think again.

      3. Dress for the crash, not the pool or the prom
      Sure, Joaquin's Fish Tacos is a 5-minute trip, but nobody plans to eat pavement. Modern mesh gear means 100-degree heat is
      no excuse for a T-shirt and board shorts.

      4. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
      Assume that car across the intersection will turn across your bow when the light goes green, with or without a turn signal.

      5. Leave your ego at home
      The only people who really care if you were faster on the freeway will be the officer and the judge.

      6. Pay attention
      Yes, there is a half-naked girl on the billboard. That shock does feel squishy. Meanwhile, you could be drifting toward Big Trouble. Focus.

      7. Mirrors only show you part of the picture
      Never change direction without turning your head to make sure the coast is really clear.

      8. Be patient
      Always take another second or three before you pull out to pass, ride away from a curb or into freeway traffic from an on-ramp. It's what you don't see that gets you. That extra look could save your butt.

      9. Watch your closing speed
      Passing cars at twice their speed or changing lanes to shoot past a row of stopped cars is just asking for trouble.

      10. Beware the verge and the merge
      A lot of nasty surprises end up on the sides of the road: empty McDonald's bags, nails, TV antennas, ladders, you name it. Watch for potentially troublesome debris on both sides of the road.

      11. Left-turning cars remain a leading killer of motorcyclists
      Don't assume someone will wait for you to dart through the intersection. They're trying to beat the light, too.

      12. Beware of cars running traffic lights
      The first few seconds after a signal light changes are the most perilous. Look both ways before barging into an intersection.

      13. Check your mirrors
      Do it every time you change lanes, slow down or stop. Be ready to move if another vehicle is about to occupy the space you'd planned to use.

      14. Mind the gap
      Remember driver's ed? One second's worth of distance per 10mph is the old rule of thumb. Better still, scan the next 12 seconds ahead for potential trouble.

      15 Beware of tuner cars
      They're quick and their drivers tend to be aggressive. Don't assume you've beaten one away from a light or outpaced it in traffic and change lanes without looking. You could end up as a Nissan hood ornament.

      16. Excessive entrance speed hurts
      It's the leading cause of single-bike accidents on twisty roads and racetracks. In Slow, Out Fast is the old adage, and it still works. Dialing up corner speed is safer that scrubbing it off.

      17. Don't trust that deer whistle
      Ungulates and other feral beasts prowl at dawn and dusk, so heed those big yellow signs. If you're riding in a target-rich environment, slow down and watch the shoulders.

      18. Learn to use both brakes
      The front does most of your stopping, but a little rear brake on corner entry can calm a nervous chassis.

      19. Keep the front brake covered - always
      Save a single second of reaction time at 60mph and you can stop 88 feet shorter. Think about that.

      20. Look where you want to go
      Use the miracle of target fixation to your advantage. The motorcycle goes where you look, so focus on the solution instead of the problem.

      21. Keep your eyes moving
      Traffic is always shifting, so keep scanning for potential trouble. Don't lock your eyes on any one thing for too long unless you're actually dealing with trouble.

      22. Think before you act
      Careful whipping around that Camry going 7mph in a 25mph zone or you could end up with your head in the driver's side door when he turns into the driveway right in front of you.

      23. Raise your gaze
      It's too late to do anything about the 20 feet immediately in front of your fender, so scan the road far enough ahead to see trouble and change trajectory.

      24. Get your mind right in the driveway
      Most accidents happen during the first 15 minutes of a ride, below 40mph, near and intersection or driveway. Yes, that could be your driveway.

      25. Come to a full stop at that next stop sign
      Put a foot down. Look again. Anything less forces a snap decision with no time to stop potential trouble.

      26. Never dive into a gap in stalled traffic
      Cars may have stopped for a reason, and you may not be able to see why until it's too late to do anything about it.

      27. Don't saddle up more than you can handle
      If you weigh 95 pounds, avoid that 795-pound cruiser. If you're 5-foot-5, forget those towering adventure-touring bikes.

      28. Watch for car doors opening in traffic
      And smacking a car that's swerving around some goofball's open door is just as painful.

      29. Don't get in an intersection rut
      Watch for a two-way stop after a string of four-way intersections. If you expect cross-traffic to stop, there could be a painful surprise when it doesn't.

      30. Stay in your comfort zone when you're with a group
      Riding over your head is a good way to end up in the ditch. Any bunch worth riding with will have a rendezvous point where you'll be able to link up again.

      31. Give your eyes some time to adjust
      A minute or two of low light heading from a well-lighted garage onto dark streets is a good thing. Otherwise, you're essentially flying blind for the first mile or so.

      32. Master the slow U-turn
      Practice. Park your butt on the outside edge of the seat and lean the bike into the turn, using your body as a counterweight as you pivot around the rear wheel.

      33. Who put a stop sign at the top of this hill?
      Don't panic. Use the rear brake to keep from rolling back down. Use Mr. Throttle and Mr. Clutch normally - and smoothly - to pull away.

      34. If it looks slippery, assume it is
      A patch of suspicious pavement could be just about anything. Butter Flavor Crisco? Gravel? Mobil 1? Or maybe it's nothing. Better to slow down for nothing than go on your head.

      35. Bang! A blowout! Now what?
      No sudden moves. The motorcycle isn't happy, so be prepared to apply a little calming muscle to maintain course. Ease back the throttle, brake gingerly with the good wheel and pull over very smoothly to the shoulder. Big sigh.

      36. Drops on the face shield?
      It's raining. Lightly misted pavement can be slipperier than when it's been rinsed by a downpour, and you never know how much grip there is. Apply maximum-level concentration, caution and smoothness.

      37. Emotions in check?
      To paraphrase Mr. Ice Cube, chickity-check yourself before you wreck yourself. Emotions are as powerful as any drug, so take inventory every time you saddle up. If you're mad, sad, exhausted or anxious, stay put.

      38. Wear good gear
      Wear stuff that fits you and the weather. If you're too hot or too cold or fighting with a jacket that binds across the shoulders, you're dangerous. It's that simple.

      39. Leave the iPod at home
      You won't hear that cement truck with Spinal Tap cranked to 11, but they might like youíre headphones in intensive care.

      40. Learn to swerve
      Be able to do two tight turns in quick succession. Flick left around the bag of briquettes, then right back to your original trajectory. The bike will follow your eyes, so look at the way around, not the briquettes. Now practice till it's a reflex.

      41. Be smooth at low speeds
      Take some angst out, especially of slow-maneuvers. It adds a welcome bit of stability by minimizing unwelcome weight transfer and potentially bothersome driveline lash.

      42. Flashing is good for you
      Turn signals get your attention by flashing, right? So a few easy taps on the pedal or lever before stopping makes your brake light more eye-catching to trailing traffic.

      43. Intersections are scary, so hedge your bets
      Put another vehicle between your bike and the possibility of someone running the stop sign/red light on your right ad you cut your chances of getting nailed in half.

      44. Tune your peripheral vision
      Pick a point near the center of that wall over there. Now scan as far as you can by moving your attention, not your gaze. The more you can see without turning your head, the sooner you can react to trouble.

      45. All alone at a light that won't turn green?
      Put as much motorcycle as possible directly above the sensor wire - usually buried in the pavement beneath you and located by a round or square pattern behind the limit line. If the light still won't change, try putting your kickstand down, right on the wire. You should be on your way in seconds.

      46. Everything is harder to see after dark
      Adjust your headlights, carry a clear faceshield and have your game all the way on after dark, especially during commuter hours.

      47. Don't troll next to - or right behind - Mr. Peterbilt
      If one of those 18 retreads blows up - which they do with some regularity - it de-treads, and that can be ugly. Unless you like dodging huge chunks of flying rubber, keep your distance.

      48. Take the panic out of panic stops
      Develop an intimate relationship with your front brake. Seek out some safe, open pavement. Starting slowly, find that fine line between maximum braking and a locked wheel, and then do it again, and again.

      49. Make your tires right
      None of this stuff matters unless your skins are right. Don't take'em for granted. Make sure the pressure is spot-on every time you ride. Check for cuts, nails and other junk they might have picked up, as well as general wear.

      50. Take a deep breath
      Count to 10. Visualize whirled peas. Forgetting some clown's 80mph indiscretion beats the risk of ruining your life, or ending it.



  • Links To Other "Riding rules" Sites: (Courtesy of "Dragon")





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