( courtesy of the AMA)






           this was sent to me in an email and i thought everyone would like to see this.........marty miller





A picture is worth a thousand words.

The Honda rider was traveling at such a "very high speed", his reaction time was not sufficient enough to avoid this accident. Swedish Police estimate a speed of ~250 KM/h (155mph) before the bike hit the slow moving car side-on at an intersection. At that speed, they predicted that the rider's reaction time (once the vehicle came into view) wasn't sufficient enough for him to even apply the brakes. The car had two passengers and the bike rider was found INSIDE the car with them.. The Volkswagen actually flipped over from the force of impact and landed 10 feet from where the collision took place.

All three involved (two in car and rider) were killed instantly. This graphic demonstration was placed at the Stockholm Motorcycle Fair by the Swedish Police and Road Safety Department. The sign above the display also noted that the rider had only recently obtained his license.

At 250 KM (155 mph) the operator is traveling at 227 feet per second. With normal reaction time to SEE-DECIDE-REACT of 1.6 seconds the above operator would have traveled over 363 feet while making a decision on what actions to take. In this incident the Swedish police indicate that no actions were taken.

As another riding season starts up...Please be careful! I don't want to lose any riding friends! Pass this on to any riders you know.

























Group Riding: Why?

   There are several advantages for motorcyclists who ride street bikes in a group:

1.       A Group is usually more visible to other drivers than a solo rider.

2.       Other vehicles can predict what a rider in a group will do because all members generally maintain fixed positions and fixed intervals between riders.

3.       In case of a mechanical problem or an accident, help is available immediately to the rider.  A member of the group may carry a cell phone.  Usually some riders in a group are trained in First Aid and CPR.  They are often aware of safety information and accident management procedures that non-riders may not know.  For example, not to remove the helmet of a downed rider; how to manage an accident scene to prevent complications, etc.

4.       Riding can be a lot more FUN.

   In addition, motorcyclists tend to learn a great deal from each other about their sport.  Planning stops along the way offers a fine opportunity to socalize and to share valuable tips and techniques.

Group Riding: Why Not?

   Group riding is not for everyone. It requires a certain level of skill and self-discipline.  It restricts an individual rider’s options as to speed, changes in route and lane positioning.  To attempt to ride in a group without having good basic riding skills and a good sense of what others in the group are likely to do—and what they expect you to do—is an invitation to an accident, one that may involve damage and injuries to more than one bike and one rider.  It is a matter of personality, in that group riding requires good communication, courtesy among riders and a willingness to look out for the safety of others while riding your own ride.  Those who don’t wish to ride in a group but who wish to arrive at the same destination as their friends may serve as a scout if they have a CB radio, or they may just prefer to travel solo and meet up with their friends at the day’s end.



Rules: Who Needs Them?

   The following guidelines for riders in a group are not gospel.  There are situations in which they don’t apply.  Some organizations may have different terms for these concepts.  These guidelines have been tested for many miles.

   At a group ride, a riders’ meeting should be held prior to departure.  This meeting is to clarify what is expected of all riders who are participating.  If you find yourself uncomfortable with the riding style of a group at any time, DROP OUT.  Your safe arrival at your destination is far more important than conforming to rules you don’t like or don’t understand.

   People who ride in a group usually appreciate knowing what they are expected to do, and what to expect from others who are taking part in a hazardous sport in close proximity to them.  Road Captains and those who frequently ride lead or drag are particularly urged to become familiar with these terms and guidelines in order to explain them to other riders who may show up for a scheduled ride without having any group riding experience.

Some Common Group Riding Terms:

   Pack: a number of motorcyclists who ride together, generally without maintaining fixed positions or distances between bikes.  Packs are occasionally seen with 20-50 motorcyclists in a single formation.

   Group: a small number of motorcyclists who ride together maintaining a generally fixed distance between bikes and maintaining fixed positions within the formation (usually no more than six to eight per group).  On rides in which participation by a large number of motorcyclists occur, it is common to have riders divided into several  groups and to name them Group 1, Group 2, etc. This facilitates radio communication when several groups are listening to the same broadcasts and traffic coordination on the same CB channel.

   Road Captain: a person who devises group riding rules and guidelines for a chapter of a motorcycling organization, who communicates these guidelines to the chapter, and who generally plans and lays out group rides.  The Road Captain may or may not ride lead for a particular ride.



   Lead Bike: a person who rides in the most forward position in a group and who relays information to all other riders in the group via hand signals and/or CB communication.  The Lead Bike determines the group’s direction, speed, choice of lane and formation.  He/She often must make quick navigation decisions in the face of road hazards, changes in road surface conditions, poor signage, construction and other obstacles while maintaining control of his/her bike and communicating to those following.   It is the responsibility of the Lead Bike to select a Drag Bike with whom communication will be coordinated during the ride.  If there are three groups on a ride, there will be three Lead Bikes.  The Lead Bike should be equipped with a CB when possible.

   Drag Bike: a person who rides in the last position in a group and who relays information to the Lead Bike regarding the other riders in the group, traffic patterns, equipment problems, etc.  The Drag Bike must secure the lane for the rest of the group during lane changes into faster traffic (move first to block oncoming traffic) and to close the door (move to block traffic) when a lane is lost in a merging lane situation.  Usually this is the most experienced rider in the group, for the Drag Bike is the rider who stops to assist a rider who has mechanical trouble, loses control or drops out of a ride for some other reason.  The Drag Bike should be prepared to render aid to a downed or disabled rider in a group while communicating the problem to the Lead Bike and the others in the group.  If at all possible, the Drag Bike should be equipped with a CB and, preferably, will have a co-rider who can assist with communications or traffic control if a serious problem arises. If there are three groups on a ride, there will be three Drag Bikes. The rider in this position is sometimes called the tailgunner.

   Cage: any vehicle that is not a motorcycle, but particularly an automobile.

   Four-wheeler: any vehicle that is not a motorcycle except an 18-wheeler, a hack or a trike.

   Group Parking : a formation in which all bikes in a group follow the Lead Bike in a single file into a parking lot, making a U-turn such that they can all line up next to each other in the space available with the rear of their bikes against the curb or edge of the lot, the front tires pointing outward.

   Parade formation: a formation in which all the motorcycles in a group ride two abreast.

   Single File: a formation in which all the motorcyclists in a group ride in one track of a lane.

   Slot: any position within a group of riders in the right track of a lane, farthest from oncoming traffic.

   Staggered formation: a formation of motorcyclists in a group in which the Lead Bike rides in the left track of a lane, the next bike in the right track or slot, and the next bike in the left track, and so on.  Bikes in the group generally maintain a minimum interval of four seconds travel time between bikes in the same track, and two seconds travel time between each bike in the group.  In a staggered formation, a rider still commands and may ride in the entire width of his lane as needed.  Group riders may also ride single file or two abreast.  The Drag Bike may ride in the left or right track depending on the number of the bikes in the group.  It is preferable for the Drag Bike to ride in the left track, so as to have the same visibility line as the Lead Bike.

   Station keeper: maintaining a fixed position and interval within a group of riders as Lead Bike and Drag Bike.  Riders without a CB usually ride as station keepers in the middle of a group.  Positions within a group are initially assigned by the Lead Bike based on the experience level of the rider, particularly his/her group riding experience.

   Track: the zone of a lane in which a rider maintains his position in a group.  A lane of traffic is divided into five zones: the left track is the second zone from the left, the middle of the lane is the third zone, and the right track is the fourth zone from the left.  Two zones on the sides of a lane serve as margins.  A rider may vary his or her path of travel from the normal track as is required by a road hazard or by an incursion into the group’s lane by other vehicles.

   Two abreast: a formation in which the members of a group ride adjacent to each other in pairs, used when riding in parade formation.  Used after stopping at signs and traffic signals so that riders can get through an intersection quickly and together if possible.  When departing from a stop, the rider in the left track normally pulls out before the rider in the right, returning to a staggered formation.

   Check back here and the “Rider Education” page for more to follow.  






Road Captain’s Job:  Preparing for a Group Ride

   When a number of motorcyclists are invited for a group ride, the riders and their co-riders gather at the appointed time and place, often without knowing their specific destination or route from that point on.  The Road Captain for that ride will have a route in mind and will usually have pre-ridden the route within the past week in order to look for construction and road surface problems and other situations which might affect the safety of those who are to participate.  The Road Captain will appoint or volunteer experienced riders to serve as Lead Bike, depending on the total number of bikes and the number of groups required.  Each Lead Bike will then select a person to ride as Drag Bike for that group.  The other riders will determine which group they are going to ride in, and if there is an inexperienced rider along, will usually ask the Lead Bike to make suggestions on group positioning.  The Lead Bide should determine roughly the experience level of each rider in his or her group before departing, putting the rider with the least experience in group riding immediately in front of the Drag Bike in the slot position.  If the last open position before the Drag Bike is not a slot, the least experienced rider should be in the last slot position available, away from oncoming traffic.

   The Road Captain usually provides a Route Memo or will have copies of maps or directions to give the members of the group (this should be supplied to the Lead Bikes if not to all riders) and will have a rough idea of times and distances to be traveled, suggestions for rest stops, food and gas, etc.  The Road Captain will have out emergency medical information forms and release of liability forms for sponsored rides, to be filled in and signed.  He or she will then conduct a short riders’ meeting to establish that each group has a designated Lead and Drag Bike, to review group riding guidelines briefly, to alert the riders of potential hazards, to discuss communications within and between the groups, to review hand signals if there are riders without CBs, and to answer any questions about the ride.  The Road Captain may or may not lead a group himself, and in fact may not accompany the riders at all once the ride is underway.

   If there are several groups of riders, the Road Captain expects all Lead Bikes to follow the route which has been laid out and not to initiate changes in the route except in an emergency.  IN face of problems that require emergency personnel or re-tracing a route to find a disabled rider or part of group which has gotten lost, it is much easier to locate the person(s) sought if all groups follow the same path to their common destination.  It is not unusual for groups of riders to be separated by several miles and to find themselves out of CB range from other groups during a long trip or in heavy traffic.  It is also not unusual for groups to break up briefly in traffic, requiring a station-keeping rider to serve as Lead Bike or Drag Bike for a fragment of a group, for a short time.

Rider’s Job:  Preparing for a Group Ride

   Riders are expected to arrive on time at the departure point with a full tank of gas, in proper attire for the conditions, and physically ready to ride (potty stop made, medications packed if needed, sober and alert).  Motorcycle endorsements and insurance should be up to date, and the bike should be in street-legal condition.  The Road Captain may ask a rider not to join a group ride if these basis conditions are not met (for example, if a rider is drunk or a bike is mechanically unfit to ride).

   If a rider brings a co-rider (a passenger) for a group ride, he or she is expected to manage and attend to that passenger’s needs personally, before the riders’ meeting.  The following guidelines are suggested for preparing a co-rider for a group ride:

   Do not permit a co-rider to mount the motorcycle until all riding gear is on and fastened securely (beware of outside pockets!).  The co-rider should not mount until the rider is seated and holding the motorcycle, vertically, and then not until the rider nods that he or she is ready for the co-rider to get on.  The co-rider should avoid contact with the hot exhaust pipes, wiggling out of position once seated, and shouting or making sudden movements of the upper body during the ride.  The passenger’s feet should remain on the pegs or floorboards designed for them at all times, until disembarking.

   A co-rider needs to know generally what he or she should and should not expect in terms of comfort and safety considerations.  If the co-rider wishes to communicate with the rider, the rider should explain how to do this:  by thumping on the rider’s head?  Intercom?  Shouting in the rider’s ear?  Will the co-rider be responsible for copying hand signals given by the rider to others in the group?  Suggested jobs for the co-rider during the ride:  Watch out in traffic for anything that may detract from a safe ride:  two pairs of eyes are better than one.  Do not assist the rider by leaning in turns, but look over the rider’s inside shoulder on curves.  Wave at all other bikers, children, anyone who shows interest in the riders, and law enforcement officers on their feet.  And – smile!

   In group riding, if the rider (with or without a co-rider) wishes to slow down or stop during the ride, for any reason whatsoever, he or she may drop out of the ride.  If at any time a co-rider becomes uncomfortable during the ride and wants the rider to slow down or stop, for any reason whatsoever, the rider should be prepared to do so as quickly and as safely as possible.  It is courteous to notify or signal to the other riders in the group before doing this unless it is not convenient or possible to do so.  Unless the Drag Bike clearly understands the reason for a rider’s decision to drop out, normally the Drag Bike will notify the Lead Bike of a problem and will stop with the rider who is stopping, to render aid if needed, or to determine his intentions about rejoining the group ride.

Normal Group Riding Maneuvers

Entering Traffic

   When the Lead Bike for each group sees that all riders are helmeted, sitting on their bikes, motors running and ready to depart, he or she will check for traffic and enter the roadway.  Usually the Lead Bike will not attempt to exit a parking lot unless there is room for all or most of the group to follow immediately.  If the group is split, the Lead Bike will normally take the slow lane and keep the speed relatively low until the group can form up in the positions the riders will keep for the duration of the ride.  This may mean traveling slower than surrounding traffic, to encourage four-wheelers to pass and allow the group to form up.  Occasionally this cannot be accomplished until the group has made a lane change or entered a freeway, depending on where the entrance ramp may be.

Regardless of the Lead Bike’s signals, a rider is responsible for his or her own safety at all times.

Ride Your Own Ride!

   Once all members of the group are together, the group will take up a staggered formation and will stay in it most of the time during the ride, unless the Lead Bike signals for a change or the need for a change is obvious.  Reasons for changing out of a staggered formation could be a passing situation or poor road surface (single file), dog or other animal charging the group (split the group), or coming up to a traffic signal (two a breast while waiting for a light).

Changing Lanes

   When a group of motorcycles is changing lanes, many safety considerations come into play.  Should every rider move into the adjacent lane at the same time?  If not, should the Lead Bike go first, or should the Drag Bike move first to “secure the lane”?  When the Drag Bike radios to the group that the lane is secured, is it really?  What if another vehicle sees a gap in traffic and tries to cut into the group?  If part of the group gets separated from the other riders, should everyone change relative positions (tracks) so that the new Lead Bike is now riding in the left tract?  The recommended procedure for a group lane change maneuver depends on how the surrounding traffic is moving at the time.  The goal for the bike which moves first is to create a gap into which the other bikes can fit.

Regardless of what other riders in the group are doing, each rider must personally check to see that the new lane is clear of traffic before entering it.

Changing Lanes as a Group

   There is virtually no time (absent an emergency) when a group or riders should all move at the same time into a different lane, in regular traffic conditions.  The wide gap required for a whole group to move is difficult to find in heavy traffic, and if it exists, it will be an invitation for other drivers to jump into it, perhaps while the group might be moving.  Additionally, such a maneuver could be interpreted as “parading”, which may arguably not be covered under some insurance policies.

Changing Lanes into Slower-Moving Traffic

   In most jurisdictions traffic laws prescribe that, on a road in which there are two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction, the lane on the right will be the slower lane.  If a group of motorcyclists is going to move into the slower lane from the faster one, the first bike in a group which moves is responsible for creating a gap into which all the following bikes can fit.  This is accomplished by maintaining a constant speed in order to enlarge the gap after the first bike moves.  Each bike moving in succession should also be aware of this dynamic.  Thus, the group moves from first to last.  (An exception is the Drag Bike, which may move on its own for reasons explained later.)

   The first bike to move under these conditions will be the Lead Bike.  The maneuver is accomplished in this way:  the Lead Bike signals for the lane change and announces to the group via CB and/or hand signals that the group is moving to the right, front to back.  Then, after checking by actually turning the head to see that the new lane is cleared of traffic sufficient for one bike to safely enter it, the Lead Bike moves across the tracks of the current lane, taking up a position in the left track of the new lane where the Lead Bike usually rides.  By maintaining the maximum speed which the traffic in that lane will allow, the Lead Bike creates a gap into which the next bike in the group can insert, moving into the right track there.  Each succeeding bike follows this pattern: signal right, move right in your own lane, head-check, enter new lane, maintain speed to create gap, and take up regular position (left or right track) in the new lane.

   The Drag Bike in this pattern is normally the last to enter the new lane, unless “closing the door” was possible.  As the bikes move quickly and re-form their group, it is rare that a four-wheeler will move up into the gap in the new lane.  If a cage moves into the gap, the next bike to move must truck in behind it and wait for the group to slow up, encouraging the cage to pass.  When the cage passes the slower forward group, the whole group can re-form into a normal riding configuration.

Breaking Up is Hard To Do

   If a lane change results in the group’s changing formation – the bike which was unable to move into the new lane slows down and becomes for a time the Lead Bike for the left lane, while the rest of the group moves ahead in the slower lane – or, the bike which was unable to move right is forced to PASS the slower group – should the new Lead Bike take the left forward track?

   Ordinarily, no.  Only if the group breaks into two obvious sub-groups and becomes separated for a substantial period of time should the “new Lead Bike” move into a new track to the left, if that has not been that rider’s normal position.  Otherwise, this will be only a temporary break in formation, and the riders will quickly enter the new lane and re-form as usual behind the Lead Bike, in the positions they had originally.

   Why doesn’t the “new Lead Bike” change tracks?  Because during the period in which the bikes are changing tracks, the spacing between them is cut in half, drastically reducing the reaction time and space available to the rider in case the bike directly ahead of him becomes a problem.  In a lane change, this period, is fairly short.  If the “new Lead Bike” shifts position and all the bikes following attempt to adapt to the new configuration by changing to a different track, they will then have to change back when the original group re-forms.  There is no real reason to put the riders in additional jeopardy this way in order to have the “correct” formation, just for short periods.

   Forcing all bikes in the rest of the group to change track position is especially hazardous in the case of a new group rider who has become accustomed to riding in the protected “slot” as opposed to facing oncoming traffic in the exposed left track position.  In most cases, anyone who is riding in a group will quickly adapt to this change of conditions and track positions, but there may be times when a new rider who is trying to learn this whole concept will be very uncomfortable changing tracks.  The Drag Bike should pay special attention to inexperienced riders under these conditions.

   This patter may occur not only during a lane change, but also during a passing maneuver or when a group gets separated in traffic because of signal lights and traffic flow.

   The Drag Bike will usually notify the Lead Bike and the Rest of the group after a brief separation by one or more riders that the group has re-formed by saying, “We’re family.”

Changing Lanes into Faster-Moving Traffic

   The same basic lane-changing principle for entering slow-moving lanes also applies when a group is entering faster-moving traffic where at least two lanes of traffic are moving in the same direction; that is, moving from the right lane to the left.  The first bike to move creates a gap for the remaining bikes.  Since traffic is pulling away from the group as each member enters the lane, this maneuver is done back to front.

   The maneuver is accomplished in this manner.  The Lead Bike signals for a lane change and announces to the group via CB and turn signals that the group will moving to the left, back to front.  Then the Lead Bike asks the Drag Bike to “secure the lane” to the left.  All station-keeping bikes maintain their position while this occurs, putting their own turn signals on to indicate the move to be made.  The Drag Bike then moves first when a space in the lane to the left opens up and radios to the Lead Bike and the group, “The lane is secured.”

   No one is to change lanes at this point, however!  First, each rider must make certain the lane is clear by actually turning his head to insure that there is no other vehicle still approaching the group in the left lane.  If a vehicle is still moving up beside the group, the Drag Bike will usually say, “After the red truck,” or “After the station wagon,” etc.  Whether or not a warning is given by the Drag Bike (who may have other concerns with the traffic to his rear), each rider must do a head-check before entering a faster-moving lane.

   The second bike to move will be the one in front of the Drag Bike.  That rider moves across the tracks of the current lane, does a head-check, changes lane and then takes up a position in the track of the new lane where he was originally riding.  By dropping to a speed slightly slower than the rate at which traffic in that lane has been traveling, each bike creates a gap into which the next bike forward can insert.  Each rider follows this pattern:  signal left, move left in your own lane, head-check, enter new lane, maintain (slower) speed to create gap, and take up regular position (left or right track) in the new lane.

   The Lead Bike in this pattern is normally the last to enter the new lane.  As the bikes move quickly and re-form their group, it is rare that a four-wheeler will move up into the gap in the new lane.  If a cage moves into the gap, the next bike to move must wait for the cage to pass, so that a gap appears again.  Then the maneuver can be completed and the group can re-form into a normal configuration.

Copyright 1996-2004 The Master Strategy Group


Have a good day,









[ Home ]