Greetings from Eastern Deaf Bikers!

Membership Form
PDF Form

For Guests:
Guest Book

updated 4/25/2015

Strategic Group Riding Techniques

The Techniques have been compiled using several sources from the Internet and past experience leading group rides.
Remember this is a TECHNIQUE, not a RULE BOOK.

Table of Contents



All Group Riders' Responsibilities:
  • Observe the objectives and techniques in order to assure the safely and the welfare of every individual within the group and any surrounding motorists or pedestrians.

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

  • Ride with headlights on.

  • 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.

  • Don't ride while under the influence of alcohol or drugs that may impair their riding ability.

Back to Top

Riding Formation and Individual Positions:

  • 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 Second" for 1 second and "One Second, Two Second" for 2 seconds.

  • Many factors contribute to a successful group riding formation:

    • Having & following a good set of techniques - 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 use the techniques and not move "rashly".
        • We are safest when we ride close, and trust our fellow group members.

Back to Top

Speed, Intervals, and Distances:
  • 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.

  • 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.

Back to Top

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 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 technique for average 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.

    NOTE: 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.

Back to Top

Safe Lane Position:
Staggered Formation

  • 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 conditionTo 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.

      • 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.

Back to Top

Lane Changes and Passing:
  • 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.

  • The Road Captain will be aware of when the Tail Gunner has changed lanes by using his mirrors (or will be advised by Tail Gunner) 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 it's 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.

Back to Top

  • 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 passed.

    • 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.

      • 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".

Back to Top

Gas, Food, Rest Stops, and Tolls:
  • Gas, food, and rest stops should be discussed and scheduled prior to departure, if necessary, due to 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.

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

    • Usually it 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.

Back to Top

Unscheduled or Emergency Stops:
  • 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.

    • 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.

Back to Top

  • 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 at the head and tail of the "situation" if available.

      • Aid and comfort those involved.

      • Call pager 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.

Back to Top

  • When entering parking areas:

    • Go to single file and slowly follow the leader to the designated parking area.
    • Be alert! Don't just park anywhere!

  • If the leader does not feel that there is enough room for all bikes:

    • He/she will then tell you to find your own spot.
    • Do so carefully, especially on dirt.
    • Watch out for cars backing up.

  • Try to keep the group together in an orderly fashion.

  • It really looks good when a neat formation of motorcycles comes down the highway, exits in an orderly fashion, and parks all in a row.

  • If you lose control of your motorcycle while halted and it begins to fall over,

    • Don't attempt to hold it up when it goes past center.
    • It's better to hurt your bike than yourself.

  • The co-rider should keep their feet in while the bike is falling and not try to step off, which would take away any chance for the rider to save it.


Back to Top

Safety Equipment:
  • 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.
    • Pager

Back to Top

Tips & Experiences:

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.

  • 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.

    • The last person in line waits at the corner to guide the rest back up to the formation. This is the Road Captain's 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.

  • Avoid waving to other riders or pointing to things while riding in a group which may be misinterpreted as hand signals.

  • 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 that's how you find that hidden special road!!!

  • If you "must" burn a tank of gas before you stop, you are missing half the fun of riding with a group.

  • 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 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.

    • This will keep the formation together and Safer.

    • If the formation does get split up ... refer to the section on rejoining the formation.


    • 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 don't.

    • 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.


    • 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!
      • It's not the fall. It's that sudden stop at the end that'll get you.

    • 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 Road Captain 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.

Back to Top

This is some default tab content, embedded directly inside this space and not via Ajax. It can be shown when no tabs are automatically selected, or associated with a certain tab, in this case, the first tab.