Group Riding

The following information is provided to help all chapter members to enjoy group rides in a SAFE manner.  If you have any questions or comments about these items, please contact the Sr. Road Captain and/or the Safety Officer.


  • Will observe the objectives and guidelines in order to assure the safety and welfare of every individual within the group, and any surrounding motorists or pedestrians.
  • Will follow the instructions of the Road Captains 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 part of the group, is of paramount importance.


  • Meeting place and departure times will be reviewed at the Member's Meeting preceding the scheduled event.  Remember to check Web Site for details.
  • Rider briefing will be held just prior to departure, to establish a schedule for gas and rest stops, inform the group of the intended route, provide other pertinent information, and review the group riding guidelines including formations and procedures.
  • Individuals should make every effort to arrive and be completely prepared for the scheduled departure time.  This includes a full tank of gas.


  • The standard formation, under good conditions of road, traffic and weather, will be a double row, staggered, in one traffic lane.  The interval will be no less than one second between staggered riders.
  • The lead Road Captain will be at the head of the group, and typically will ride just to the left of the lane center.  Other Road Captains, may be assigned positions within the group, which will be followed by the Rear Road Captain or "Sweep".
  • 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.
  • Under certain conditions the Lead Road Captain will signal the group to form a single line 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.
  • It may be necessary to form smaller groups for safety due to surrounding conditions or local ordinances.  The Middle Road Captains are authorized to slow down their part of the group, take the lead position of the new group, and proceed as the Lead Road Captain of that group.
  • This may mean the last rider of each group would become the Rear Road Captain for that group.  If possible, this rider should be another recognized Road Captain.  If another Road Captain 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.  The new Rear Road Captain is NOT to take on the responsibilities of the Sweep, unless authorized by the Lead Road Captain to do so.


  • The Lead Road Captain will attempt to establish and maintain a uniform speed, consistent with the ability of the least experienced rider, surrounding conditions, and safe riding practices.
  • The Road Captains may choose to separate the group of inexperienced riders into a group of their own, consistent with expected or actual conditions.
  • All riders will make an effort to maintain the same speed to minimize the effect of irregular speeds on riders at the rear of the group.
  • All riders will maintain a safe distance and lane position between themselves and the rider directly ahead; to be consistent with the existing road, traffic, and weather conditions.


  • Within the group, a safe distance is defined as a MINIMUM TWO SECOND DELAY between the rider, and the next rider directly ahead.  This means that there is a MINIMUM of a ONE SECOND DELAY between staggered riders.  Whenever a single file formation is employed, a safe distance remains defined as a MINIMUM of a TWO SECOND DELAY between the rider, and the rider directly ahead.
  • With respect to vehicles ahead of the group, a safe distance is defined as a MINIMUM of a THREE SECOND DELAY between the Lead Road Captain, and any vehicle directly ahead of the group.
NOTE: It is 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, NOT TO STOP.

  • In group riding, a one second interval between STAGGERED riders is a policy consistent with the recommendations of most traffic and safety agencies within the state of California.  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 lane.  This group riding technique requires all participants to be constantly ANTICIPATING AN EMERGENCY.
  • A safe lane position is defined as riding immediately to the right or left of the center lane.  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 protection (riders who regularly ride on the outside edge of a lane are often subject to our four wheeled friends sharing lanes at speed while passing).


  • The Lead Road Captain will attempt to lead the group in a single lane;  where the 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; and 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) allowing faster traffic to past left; except when passing slower traffic on the right.
  • On highways with three of more lanes in each direction, the group will normally travel in the number two lane, keeping the right lane open for other vehicles entering and exiting the highway, and the left lane(s) for faster traffic to pass.
NOTE: 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.


  • The method to change lanes depends on whether you are going into a faster lane or a slower lane.
  • For changing to a SLOWER Lane: (Normally from left to right lane)
    • Lane changes into a lane that is moving slower than you are should be done just as you do when passing a car - one at a time, first bike to last.
    • The Sweep being the last bike to make the lane change. Observe that so long as the Lead Road Captain bike takes over the slower lane and maintains speed, the hole in the target lane gets larger and everybody can move over in sequence with minimal time consumed. Only after the Sweep has made the lane change should speeds for the group be changed (lowered) to insure that everyone can get into the new lane. However,  this assumes that there is sufficient opening ahead of the car being passed. If not, then a last-to-front maneuver is called for where the Lead Road Captain bike will slow the group down  when the Sweep has obtained the lane.
  • For changing to a FASTER Lane: (Normally from right to left lane)
    • Lane changes into a lane that is moving faster than you are should be done with a last-to-front maneuver
    • The Sweep obtains the lane, and the others come over only after the bike behind them has moved, and only if they individually confirm it is safe to do so. This is done because with the Sweep in position and maintaining his original speed, the space in the target lane gets larger in front of him and if you wait until everyone can move into it at once, that space becomes a target for impatient automobile drivers.

NOTE:  NOBODY, except the Sweep, is to change lanes before the Lead Road Captain.  ALWAYS make a HEAD CHECK before you begin the lane change, and maintain safe distances.

  • There are times it will not be possible for the entire group to change lanes as above.   When this situation arises, the Road Captain will signal for a turn, and signal the group 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.
  • On a two lane road with two way traffic (one lane each way), a single file formation should be used when passing other vehicles.  On occasion, the Lead Road Captain may continue in the passing lane, while safe to do so, allowing other riders to see that the way is clear for them to continue the group passing maneuver.
  • If for any reason the group becomes separated, merge safely back to a pack, returning to your original position, using known good practices.  Don't feel it's necessary to break the world land speed record in trying to catch up.  The Lead Road Captain will be aware and adjust accordingly
NOTE: Be certain the road is clear, and 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!  PLEASE remember that YOU, and ONLY YOU, are RESPONSIBLE for YOUR SAFETY.  Also, then when dealing with our four wheeled friends, you never win a contest against them.  It won't do any good to be "Dead Right".


  • If necessary, due to the length of the trip, gas, food, and rest stops should be discussed and scheduled prior to departure.  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 no more than 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.
  • Meal stops will vary in length with the size of the group, but should be held to a reasonable minimum.
  • If toll stops are included, money should be collected in advance.  If available, a riding couple should be positioned in the number two slot.  As the group approaches the toll booth, the Lead Road Captain will allow the bike to assume the lead position in order to exchange the toll.  The Lead Road Captain will assume the lead as soon as it is safe to do so.  If a riding couple is not available, it then becomes the Lead Road Captain's responsibility to pay at the toll booth.
NOTE:  Remember to avoid the center of the lane when nearing or passing through a toll booth.  THEY ARE USUALLY EXTREMELY SLICK.


  • Unscheduled stops for gas, restrooms, or rider fatigue can lead to confusion in the group, and confusion can lead to accidents.  The Lead 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.
  • Any rider with an equipment problem, should inform one of the Road Captains as quickly, and as safely as possible.
  • When the Lead Road Captain is informed, he or she will stop the group at the earliest possible moment, when and where, it is safe.
  • If the rider must pull over immediately, ONLY the Rear Road Captain will accompany the rider to a stop.  The Lead Road Captain should be informed if he or she is not aware of this situation.  Once the Lead 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, a Road Captain should also be notified.


  • In the event the group comes upon the scene of an accident, the Lead 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.
  • Members of the group will provide assistance in any practical way possible, including, but not limited to:
    • Slow, divert, or stop traffic in a safe manner, using flares if available.
    • Aid and comfort those involved.
    • Call 911 to notify police, ambulance, and/or fire services 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 description, including driver descriptions, in the event of a hit and run violation.  Remember, it will do no good, to attempt chasing someone down just to end up in an accident yourself.
    • Obtain names and addresses of witnesses if necessary.
    • If possible, maintain overall control of the situation until relieved by the proper authorities.


  • At all times, standard hand signals will be used for: changing the formation to a single row and back to double staggered, all turns, lane changes, slowing, and stopping.   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, and be aware of changes in speed and direction.
  • Hand signals will be used at all times, to point our road hazards to following riders by pointing.

Riding Signals Illustrations

Subpages (1): Riding Signals