Motorcycle Group Riding Tips
- by Chinmay Chaudhary
- May 1, 2017
- Views : 14045
The ifs and buts of group riding that you should know to make your next ride a takeaway experience
“If you want to be happy for a day, drink,
if you want to be happy for a year, marry,
if you want to be happy for a lifetime, ride a motorcycle.” – Anonymous
A slightly different take on life isn’t it? Travelling frees our mind, enlightens our soul, connects us with new people, teaches a bunch load of things and, most importantly, it gives us countless lifetime experiences. I am yet to see a person who rides regularly and isn’t happy about it. In my opinion, it is one of the best things to do. Someone once accurately said, “Normal travellers see the stamps on a passport but motorcycle travellers see the soul.”
Everyone rides - alone, in groups, small distances or big distances! The best part about riding is that you are free from all the momentary worries and step into a new world. Riding long distances with your bike and fellow riders can be a very enriching experience. I had recently been on a ride from Pune to Mahabaleshwar and back, a single day’s ride, with my rider friends and would like to write down a few factors the group considered important before the ride and while on it that made it a better experience for all of us.
Pre-ride scrutiny –
If you fail to plan you plan to fail. It is very important for anyone going on bike rides, irrespective of the distance, to plan beforehand as this helps avoid confusion on the day of the ride and also make riders more informed which in turns makes them confident. We planned the ride a week before and decided the best possible routes we could take to reach our destination, the amount of time we would require to reach there and the expenses for the whole trip (it is always better to carry some extra cash).
Meet before the ride (if possible)
Meeting a day before the ride should be made a routine activity. If that is not possible, a video or a conference call could also work. This will help everyone have a clear picture of the ‘what, ifs and buts’ regarding the ride. Discussing every rider’s responsibility and position in the grid are important as well. A group ride is not a race. You are not riding to show everyone how fast you are. It’s better to ride in the adjacent riding grid formation so that everyone gets a fair time to respond to any emergency situation.
Preliminary check –
One of the most vital things to do before a ride like this is a thorough inspection of your bike. Make sure your engine oil level is at the ideal mark and also check the surroundings for any oil leaks from the engine. Make sure you top up the coolant for the radiator as this will help your engine dissipate heat much faster and function smoothly. Check your tyres for tread depth (the more, the better) and set the right air pressure. Also, check for any cuts or puncture marks on the tyres. Make sure the electrical system is functioning properly and that the wires are not meddling with any moving bike parts. Tank up at night as the atmosphere temperatures are low. Tank up at night as the atmospheric temperatures are generally low which makes the fuel denser. This way you quite literally get more bang for your buck.
Riding with complete riding gear makes the ride a very different experience altogether. Apart from the safety it provides, you also end up feeling less tired at the end of the ride. Last but not the least, Keep a First Aid Kit ready for emergencies. Read more on riding accessories here: riding accessories
Ride Day –
Yes, it’s ride day and there is a lot of excitement on everyone’s mind. But don’t get carried away. Make sure that every rider gets proper sleep the night before the ride to avoid fatigue and dizziness during the ride. Using earplugs or cotton stubs for ears will dampen unnecessary loud noises around and will help in riding longer without getting tired and irritated.
Ride cautious –
It is important that the person who is leading the pack be the most experienced rider of the lot. It’s his responsibility to lead the group and needs to be extra attentive towards changing road terrains, lane patterns, highway structure, maintaining a good average speed and conveying instructions to the rest of the group through signals. From your part, it is important that you maintain a safe distance from the bike in front of you.
Road signals, cruising speed and lane discipline –
Signals are the guideways to the road and it is important to pay close attention to them and other road signage and markings to ensure a smooth ride. Keep an eye out for the quotes you find on the side of the road that encourage you to drive safe. Some of them are, in fact, witty and will have you smiling for the rest of your journey. Maintain speeds as discussed with your group earlier so that everyone is riding at a comfortable pace. Keep a safe distance behind the lead rider and maintain pace with him. Motorcycles are supposed to be ridden on the outermost lane of the road leaving the fast lane for four-wheelers. In case you want to overtake a vehicle, you can hop onto the fast lane, complete your overtake and then move back to outermost lane again. Also, it is important to make sure that you never overtake a vehicle from the left.
Fuel and Food stops –
Except for the KTM RC390 you see in the pictures, all the other motorcycles have a range of 450-500km when filled up to the brim. While we were happy with the fact that we didn’t have to stop often to fuel up the bikes, our fellow mate was cribbing constantly for fuel stops as he only had an average full-tank range of 200km. This made us realise the importance of planning our fuel stops better for upcoming rides so that we wouldn’t lose time on unplanned fuel breaks and also maintain a good rhythm.
Like the bike, even the rider needs to be constantly fueled up. Make sure you keep yourself hydrated at all times. Riding long distances can zap the energy out of your body and drinking plenty of water goes a long way in keeping you energetic. While exploring new riding routes and destinations, you will also come across new tastes and smells. Interact with the locals and find out what their food habits. For all you know, you might end liking their cuisine more than your mother’s daal-chawal. On long rides, it is also important to eat light at regular intervals rather than overeat and feel dizzy or sleepy. Make sure you carry some energy bars so that you don’t go hungry in case you can’t find a bite to keep yourself charged up for the ride.
Photo stops –
Who doesn’t like taking photographs to preserve memories right? On special occasions, which also include riding with fellow bikers, one simply cannot miss taking photos of the journey and the people involved. Carrying a camera and taking photographs of your scenery, the bikes and your friends will surely give you some memories you can cherish forever. It goes without saying that one must not use a camera while riding one-handed as it is extremely unsafe for you and others around you. Always park the bike on the service lane or to the extreme left of the white line so that you are not obstructing anyone.
A simpler way is using an action camera which could be mounted on your motorcycle tank, handlebar, rear seat or even your helmet. Action cameras are good at taking photos and videos simultaneously and thereby reducing the number of times you need to stop to take a picture.
Help co-riders and other riders on roads –
On our ride, we witnessed a Kawasaki Z1000 slam into a commuter motorcycle. The latter was trying to cross the road cutting right from the extreme left lane without indicating his move and thereby veered into the path of the Z1000 which was over the speed limit by quite a margin. We can’t exactly pinpoint who is at fault here and both the riders were equally responsible for the mess they were in. It goes without saying that over-speeding on public roads is unsafe and against the law. Riding a bike without learning the importance of the turn signals and helmets (for God’s sake, please wear them) on the highway is the most dangerous thing ever. We offered the injured rider water and the medicines we were carryig before they were taken to a hospital. Always stop and help an injured motorist as that is your basic duty as a human being.
In case of a mishap, do not panic –
Things don’t always work out the way you had planned and this usually forces the group to find alternate ways to work them out. On longer rides, it’s crucial that you keep an alternate plan aside on the day before the ride in case the first plan somehow doesn’t pan out the way the group had hoped for.
You cannot avoid a fall, all you can do is prolong it as long as you can. And when you finally take a tumble, the basic First Aid Kit that you are carrying can help you with small injuries and burns caused on the ride. In fact, if other riders in the group need your help, you should help them out too. Another important thing to note on a long ride like this is to disable your phone’s lock. This way, if there is an emergency, a passer-by can access and contact your family and friends. You can also set the phone to display your name and emergency contact number on the lock screen of your phone. Some riders have stickers displaying their name and blood group on their helmets, while some prefer to wear a dog tag with details like blood group, allergies etc.
Motorcycle Accessories –
There are countless number of add-ons to your bike that can make your riding experience a whole lot better. If you ride regularly, here’s a look at 5 Motorcycle Accessories that can make your ride safer and a whole lot more fun. You can shop the accessories at accessories for bikes.
Post Ride –
In this day and age of social media, don’t you want all your friends to know about your trip? Sharing details about your trip will help other people get an insight about your ride and route chosen. It also becomes easier to get information on things required for the ride.