Group Riding Guidelines
The Danbury Chapter hopes all members will have an
opportunity to participate in planned rides. In preparation, you should attend
the Chapter's Rider Orientation to learn how we ride as a group. These
activities are held on an as needed basis, see one of the
Chapter Officers to schedule a
If you have any special requirements,
questions, or concerns about a ride, you should talk with a
Captain prior to departure. All efforts
will be made to accommodate your requests, and ensure your comfort and safety.
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 don't get in each others way, and the organization of
the formation itself discourages cars from attempting to cut in. Riders have
even seen trucks move to the far side of their lane to minimize wind blast when
they see a well-ordered formation "single up" and move as far away from the
truck as their lane allows. Once riding rules have been adopted by a club,
EVERYONE Riding with the Danbury Chapter is expected to follow them. 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 club.
The following rules are compiled from a number of sources. Most clubs that ride
in orderly formations follow similar rules. Details may vary from one club to
another, sometimes because of the style of riding they do, or sometimes because
there are a number of reasonable options, so they chose the one they prefer.
- Familiarize yourself
with the basic
Group Riding Hand Signals.
- Make sure your vehicle
is in good operating condition.
- Arrive to participate
in a group ride with a full tank of gas.
- Familiarize yourself
with the route and scheduled stops.
- Keep a safe distance
behind the bike in front of you.
- Try and maintain a
constant speed. Don't "rubber band," or speed up and slow down.
- Always ride in
staggered formation; it gives you and extra margin for safety. In staggered
formation, the bikes form two columns, with the leader at the head of the left
column, so he will be able to view all bikes in the formation in his/her
rearview mirrors, and be able to see around vehicles the group approaches. The
second bike will head the right column, and will ride approximately 1 second
behind the leader (and in the opposite side of the lane). The other riders
will position their bikes 2 seconds behind the bike directly in front of them,
which puts them 1 second behind the diagonal bike. This formation allows each
rider sufficient safety space, and discourages other vehicles from cutting
into the line. The last rider, or Sweep, may ride on whichever side of
the lane he prefers. He will have to change sides during the ride, based on
the situation at the moment.
- The Ride Leader must be
aware of the length of the columns, and must gauge the passing of merges,
highway entrances and exits, etc., to allow for maximum safety and keeping the
group together. He must make sure that he leaves enough time/space for the
formation to get into the appropriate lanes before exits, etc. All directions
come from the Ride Leader. The Ride Leader makes all decisions regarding lane
changes, stopping for breaks and fuel, closing of gaps, turning off at exits,
any concerns of what lies ahead, accepting/rejecting radioed messages from
other individuals, and so on. No individual will assert himself independently
without direction from the Ride Leader to do so.
- When the Ride Leader
feels that the formation should be tighter (bikes closer together), he raises
his left hand with fingers spread wide and repeatedly closes them into a fist.
All other riders repeat this and close up all unnecessary space in the
- The Sweep serves
as the eyes of the Ride Leader. He watches the formation, and informs the Ride
Leader of any potential problems within the group. He watches other vehicles,
and informs the Ride Leader (and anyone else with radios) of hazardous
conditions approaching from the rear, such as vehicles trying to cut into the
formation and trucks passing with potentially dangerous wind blasts. He will
watch for merging lanes, and will move into a merging lane (or stay in a
merging lane just vacated by the group) in order to "close the door" on other
vehicles that may otherwise find themselves trying to merge into the
formation. At the Ride Leaders request, the Sweep changes lanes before
the formation, to secure the lane so the formation can move into it.
- Lane Changes:
All lane changing starts with a radio request from the Ride Leader to the Tail
Gunner. The Sweep will (when it is safe to do so) move into the
requested lane and will inform the Ride Leader when the lane is clear.
At this point, the Ride Leader has three options:
- Simple Lane Change:
This is an ordinary lane change, and can be used in most situations. After the
Sweep has secured the new lane, the Ride Leader will put on his
directional signal as an indication that he is about to order a lane change.
As each rider sees the directional signal, he also turns his on, so the riders
following him get the signal. The leader then initiates the change. All other
riders change lanes too. The important concept is that NO ONE moves until the
bike in front of him has started moving.
- Block Lane Change:
This can be used interchangeably with the Simple Lane Change. It requires a
little more work, but it is well worth the effort. Its quite impressive to
watch, and gives the riders a tremendous feeling of
"togetherness". This sounds a little complicated, but is actually very simple
to do. After the Sweep has secured the new lane, the Ride Leader will
put on his directional signal as an indication that he is about to order a
lane change. As each rider sees the directional signal, he also turns his on,
so the riders following him get the signal. The leader then raises his left
arm straight up. Each rider repeats this signal. Then, as the leader lowers
his arm to point to the lane into which he is moving, he actually initiates
the change. All other riders lower their arms at the same time and change
lanes too. This allows the entire formation to move from one lane to another
as a single block.
- Rear Fill-in: This is sometimes
necessary if a long enough gap cannot be maintained in the new lane, for
example when trying to move from the right lane to the center and vehicles
from the left lane keep cutting into the opening. After the Sweep has
secured the new lane, the leader (usually at the suggestion 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 bikes move into the space in
the new lane ahead of the Sweep, then the next-to-last bikes move in
ahead of those, and so on until the Ride Leader finally moves into the space
ahead of the entire formation.
- The position of new
(inexperienced with GROUP riding) riders within the group is significant. New
riders should be positioned as close to the front as possible.
- Try and keep the pack
tight without crowding each other. Stay close enough through intersections and
traffic lights so that the group doesnít become separated. Remember, some
riders may not know where they are going and could end up "leading" the
remainder of the pack with no idea how to reach their destination.
- If there is a vehicle
that needs to get onto the freeway, let that vehicle through and close the
In the unlikely event of an emergency condition, the Ride Leader will make
every attempt to move the formation to the shoulder in an orderly manner. If a
bike breaks down, let the rider move to the right. DO NOT STOP. The Tail
Gunner will stop with the problem bike. The Ride Leader will lead the group to
a safe stopping place.
- Each rider (and
passenger) should duplicate all hand signals given by the rider in front of
him, so that the signals get passed all the way to the back of the formation.
The following signals are used in addition to the standard (right turn, left
turn slow /stop) hand signals.
- When conditions warrant
single file (narrow road, anticipated wind-blast from trucks, obstruction,
pedestrians, etc.) the Ride Leader will raise his left hand straight up,
holding up just his index finger. All other riders will repeat this, and the
two columns will merge into one.
- After singling up, when
single file is no longer necessary, the Ride Leader will raise his left hand
with thumb and pinky out, other fingers closed, rotating his wrist back and
forth (indicating left, right, left, right). All other riders will repeat this
and resume staggered formation.
- A group of motorcycles
is not a single vehicle. Be courteous and allow cars to enter and exit the
highway and change lanes. Generally speaking, a car will not want to ride in
the middle of a group of motorcycles and will get out of the group as quickly
- Road Hazard:
This is the one signal that can be initiated by ANYONE. Anyone seeing a
hazardous condition on the road surface (road kill, oil, gravel, significant
pot hole, etc.) will point at it. All following riders will repeat the signal
to bikes following.
- Always ride with your
headlight on; itís a law in most states. Riders should do everything possible
to help other motorists "notice" their motorcycle.
- Protect yourself from
the elements. Being too hot, or too cold, can affect your alertness. Be sure
to pack protective clothing, such as a long-sleeve cotton shirt for protection
from the sun, helmet, eye protection, jackets, gloves, rain gear, etc.
- Danbury CT Chapter - H.O.G.
Zero Tolerance Alcohol/Drug Policy
For the safety and protection of all Danbury H.O.G. members and the general public, the use of alcohol or illegal drugs is not permitted prior to or during any Danbury H.O.G. Chapter-sponsored ride.