Riding in groups can be fun providing you know the rules, these can vary between riding clubs. Before a ride, always ensure you know some simple basic rules before you set off. 

Road Captain & Tail End Charlie

Every club will appoint a Road Captain, this is usually the guy who will lead the ride and knows where the club is riding too and which route to take. Every club will also appoint a Tail End Charlie who will also know the route and if possible be in contact with the Road Captain. The Tail Gunner will run at the rear of the group making sure everyone in the ride is OK, also that if anyone drops out he will try to give assistance and notify the Ride Captain.

Ride Instructions

Before the ride sets off, the Road Captain will group everyone together for a talk on

·         Where we will be going

·         What route we will take

·         Where we will make stops

·         Whether we will use corner markers

·         Ride Formation type

·         Communication, and meshing together intercoms

Ride Safety and Speeds

The Road Captain has a major job is setting the pace of the ride, he will keep the group at a good speed and pace so as not to build up traffic behind the group. Too slow a speed or pace can cause driver frustration and can lead to other road users taking un-necessary risks trying to pass the group.

While the captain keeps up a good pace, it is up to the riders in the group to keep up with the formation. The Road Captain will maintain a good speed which is usually at the road speed limit, the other riders must keep up with the group and not leave spaces, leaving a large space in the middle of the group will lead to other road users trying to pass to get in that space and can ultimately lead to an accident.

Whether the group rides in single formation or staggered, the riders must keep up with the rest of the group and not cause the Road Captain to have to keep slowing down resulting in even more frustration in the group and with other road users.

Large Group Rides

While group rides may come in many numbers of motorcycles, there may be so many bikes that two groups may need to be created, this will be discussed before the ride sets off as to how the ride will be done.

Ride Formation

This topic has so many people with so many different ideas on how formation riding is done. However, the rules are pretty simple.

·         The Road Captain will lead and usually rides to the right of the lane which indicates a staggered formation.

·         The riders behind will follow in staggered formation, this closes the group and makes it safer

·         Main roads and Freeways are idea for staggered formation riding

·         When the road narrows the Road Captain will move from the right of the lane to around the middle, he/she may indicate to the rider behind that we are moving in to single formation due to road conditions.

·         When the Road Captain and other in the lead move to single formation, the rest of the group will follow suit.

·         As the road conditions permit, the Road Captain may move back to the right side of the lane and gesture that the ride is back to staggered formation, everyone should follow suite.


Corner Marking

While riding in groups, it may be decided that the group needs corner marking, It will be discussed before the ride takes off, this is done as follows

·         As the Road Captain makes a left or right turn at a junction, the next rider should stop at that junction to indicate to the rest of the group where to go.

·         This is done by pulling into a safe place so as he/she is visible to the other riders and gesturing which way to go.

·         As the group passes the marker rider, he/she will pull back into formation just in front of the Tail End Charlie

·         The next rider behind the Road Captain will then be the next corner marker, again he/she will remain there until the Tail End Charlie appears and pull away in front of them.

What If I Can’t Keep Up

If for whatever reason you cant keep up with the group, you may need to decide if you want to pull out of the ride. If you are feeling unwell then pull back and let Tail End Charlie know.

It may sound crazy, but I have known people to be really nervous riding in groups and have had to pull out, there is no shame in this, it could happen to any one of us at any time. But rather than slowing down the ride or creating large gaps in the group, it is better and safer to pull out and go along at your own pace.