Group Ride Etiquette

Just wondering what, if any group riding etiquette there is.

On the Clacton run, I was undertaken a few times by the same few people when there was nowhere for them to go in front of me. Is that ‘ok’ on a group ride?

Are there any things that should or shouldn’t be done?

Might be useful if somebody with more knowledge than me could make a list of do’s and don’ts that could be made sticky.

Staggered formation…

Undertaking is only allowed when the vehicles in the outer lanes are travelling slower than the limit (think that’s the law).

yeah move over and let them pass thats the answer

Thats a great idea, I was thinking something similar on Saturday evening. This is what my friend google has to say:

Rideout Etiquette Before you get there.
LET THE ORGANISER KNOW YOU ARE COMING. It means they can let YOU know if it’s off/postponded/moved.running late… If you are going to be late or not going to make it, please have the decency to phone the organiser and let them know so the ride isn’t held up waiting for people who aren’t coming. Bring a copy of the route if it is available to you, and a map (or at least familiarise yourself with the route/area, using a map beforehand) Make sure your bike is in good enough condition to make the distance. Try to arrive with a full tank, or fill up on arrival if possible.
On the road.

If you are second on the road, dont sit right up the leaders arse (or anyone elses for that matter). There is no need for it and it pisses them off! Give everyone some space.

The Marker System

This requires a leader, a tailender, and the riders(you!).
The leader - is familiar with the route, and follows it. He should carry a mobile in case of problems on route. He should point out to the first person behind him where to sit to be best positioned to mark each junction.
The tailender - is idealy familiar with the route also, but doesnt have to be. They will stay at the back for the entire ride and will be pointed out at the beginning of the ride. (They may wear a fluro vest to make them obvious). The tailender is exactly that, everyone else stays in front of them, so they should move the junction marker on once they arrive, this also ensures there is no confusion as to who is the rear bike.
They should carry a mobile with the leaders number in case of problems on route.
If anyone drops out of the group the tailender should stop with them and find out what is going on.
If there is a problem they should get in touch with the leader, or if they are just stopping for a pee wait with them so the marker stays in place at the next junction.
The riders - at any point the route deviates from the strip of tarmac in front, the first of the riders behind the leader will stop to mark the way at the junction in a place prominent to the rest of the following group.


If it seems like you have waited ages, wait some more. If they still havent arrived, phone the leader as he may have heard from them. Once the tailender has arrived, the junction marker can then work their way carefully back towards the front. Overtaking is ecouraged , but please be courteous!

If anyone sees someone making dangerous overtakes (repeateadly - we all make mistakes sometimes) point it out to the leader, who will have a quiet word. If they carry on they will be asked to leave.

Meanwhile the group all move forward one, so number two, becomes number one behind the leader so marks the next junction.

If riders are going to drop off the back of the group (behind the tail ender), they must inform the tailender what’s going on.
Next to your own personal safety, and arguably more important, should come consideration towards others in the group.

So Please follow these few simple points:

Do not ride above your ability/limits to try and keep up. There will be a bike waiting for you at the next junction. There will be regular stops for a breather/fag break during which you can catch up safely. (Just because we have pulled over for a couple of minutes it doesnt mean we are having a fag break tho! -if the leaders lid is still on, he aint planning on stopping)Do not get pushed along by a faster bike behind you. Move over and let them through. Only play hard with people you know and trust. Slower riders, beware you may be holding up a faster rider and move over, let them past.If you are the faster bike, dont make stupid manouvres to get past (especially passing them on the left! ). Wait till they let you through, or find a safe place to get past.
Faster riders, please give plenty of room when passing and only go for a safe clean pass.It doesnt matter whether you ride like a foggy or a fanny, just go at your own pace. Its not a race and you wont get left behind. Just cos you cant see the bike in front doesnt mean youve got to ride like a loon to catch it up again. Take it steady, someone will be waiting somewhere.

Hey Shewolf,

Agree with Dannyboys findings - well done that man, why invent a wheel when there are plenty of ideas others have already created and loaded on to the web!!

I think that anyone undertaking another is simply an accident waiting to happen bad enough cars try to do without us doing it each other and especially on a rideout - just hope they do not involve any of us!!

I saw a few questionable passing manovures on the Boxing Day rideout which one individual by his own admission says were “tight”.

Come on all; give each other room and respect!!


Got my X9 Owners Club hat on:

We conform quite strictly to Group-Riding Rules, mainly because most of us who ride regularly together enjoy doing so.

It avoids the uncertainties of undertaking, racing ahead and so on.

Our own formula has evolved from Police, H-D and other groups’ guidelines.

Because of the constant refinement, we’ve brought in variations; for example, route-planners sometimes include times/stretches of suitable roads where a fast group ride on ahead and wait for a more sedate group to catch up.

We know from experience that newer/less-confident riders usually find the Group Riding experience of benefit.

We’ve found also that around 25 riders is the absolute maximum for one group. More than this requires splitting into two, thus requiring two Leaders and two Tail-end Charlies.

PMR’s are a useful aid, too.

We found in France that where designated ‘Road-blockers’ are used, the Number 2 rider in the group needs to hold back the rest so that they have space at the front to dive back into the group ready for the next blocking manoeuvre.

Jimc’s the man to explain the finer points.

Group Riding does require everyone on the Ride to want to do it, though, and some of our organisers insist on it as a requirement for attending the Ride.

I would never stop somebody over taking me. This tended to happen while I was out to the right waiting for a suitable time to overtake myself.

Being new to riding, and group riding especially, im not making any excuses that im ‘new’ but i think I cut some poor chap up on a roundabout, purely by accident. I sort of drifted accross, although I did speak to him when we got to Clacton and asked if i did. He couldn’t remember if I had or not but I appologised anyhow.

I too was undertaken yet I would never under take, as python says its an accident waiting to happen!

Good find DannyBoy.

Excellent topic! We should definitely get something written up and made sticky in here for reference. There’s not many ‘rules’ that need to be adhered to, as that’d be boring, but there’s ways to reduce uncertainty and ensure all abilities from novice to expert can ride together unhindered.

The Corner-Man system is the de facto navigation method for LB, this won’t change as it works so well, but we could do with some documentation for it.

The link may not work! Jim’s re-done it a few posts down.

I can’t sort out the ‘Edit’ feature - it’s deleted the original post, including the link.

I put a link to a thread on the X9 Owners Forum about Group Riding.

At least three of the posters have a wealth of riding experience (30+ years on all sorts of bikes) -chiefkeefe, BarryCello (of the white Suzuki Burgam seen Saturday mornings at the Ace) and JJ.

I thought the corner-man system worked like a dream this saturday. I’ll admit to being slightly surprised to see it everyone adhear to it so well!!

I avoided the middle of the back as much as possible, slightly mad in there !!


The cornerman system definitely works really well. Saturday just goes to show how well and I really enjoyed stopping at the corner then catching up to the front of the group again.

I didn’t get to sit on a corner… I kept letting folks bunny hop past me

The link didn’t work


Maybe a one pager like Danny Boy found…anything more is simply overboard as you say…his seems to match that we use on the GS Owners forum and similar to that on the CBR one too so must be pretty standard. Then just add a touch of common sense and you would be on to a winner!!

C U Soon


Just to add a little to the excellent bits above. Apart from the cornerman stuff, there are two basic riding styles, ‘staggered’ for dual carriageways and town, and ‘single line’ for the flowing twisties.

The staggered system allows every one their correct stopping distance from the person their side of the carriageway, but gets twice as many bikes in the same overall distance. It also stops cages from cutting in.

The best way of implementing the staggered system is that when the second man drops off as cornerman, the rest stay in their staggered positions, either left or right depending - and no shifting up and down the line (as some H-D groups do). Everyone should play the staggered game, it makes no sense for one person to decide they want to ride on the outside only, regardless of whether the person immediately in front is there already. Visibility is reduced, and when a junction is encountered it causes confusion when people need to get side-by-side to cross the junction at the same time.

After a junction the order may have changed, it’s good to see a group that immediately swings back into formation again.

The staggered system is particularly useful in rural France, where the front folk drop rapidly from 90kph+ to 50kph when a village is encountered, and the rest (who were in ‘single line’) catch up. Everyone passes through in a group that cagers cannot easily intermingle with.

If a cage does get inadvertently muddled up with the group, don’t intimidate them, they’re likely to be as anxious not to be surrounded by a horde of bikers as the bikers are anxious for them to get out of the way! If an overtaking opportunity comes up, the first bike to overtake should stay out on the opposite carriageway as long as is safe, so that those following can see that it’s still safe. When that first overtaker dives in again, the rest know there’s a hazard approaching. This can be especially useful on long lefthanders (in the UK).

Traffic lights. The best sight a leader can see is a light going red on them as they approach. This gives the rest time to bunch up and move smoothly off in one group. If anyone spots that the lights have changed for the rider behind them, they should stop past the lights and wait for the lights to change again. This works well if all riders ‘ride in their mirrors’ and always make sure when possible that the rider behind is still in view. Not so important when using the cornerman system, but it does prevent any new riders/less confident folk know they are not being ignored or forgotten.

There are two ways of implementing ‘cornermen’. One is that the second man is always the one to drop off, and having rejoined the group stays in that back position, moving up slowly as more folk come in behind after their stint. This is the safest method and gives everyone a chance to be in every part of the ‘crocodile’.

The other is for certain people to do the marking (or blocking where that is safe/tolerated) and to catch up to the front afterwards. This is inadvisable for any but smaller groups (20 or less, say) where all the riders know and trust each other, and those doing the marking/blocking have loads of experience and possibly recognised training.

If any rider gets that urge to sprint ahead for a while (it happens to all of us sometimes!) a nice touch is that when you stop for the others to catch up, you take photos of them riding past.

The link:

should work fine for guests now.

also a thread just 'ere… which was largely blagged from somewhere else…

The link should work fine for guests now.

Thanks, Jim.

Sorry about that, folks.