Rules for Group Riding 


The purpose 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 other's way, and the organization of the formation itself discourages cars from attempting to cut in. The following rules are compiled from a number of sources and are considered standard rules-of thumb. Most clubs that ride in orderly formations follow similar rules.

Ride Captain

The Ride Captain is responsible for the safety of the entire formation. He/She 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/She must make sure that he/she leaves enough time/space for the formation to get into the appropriate lanes before exits, etc. All directions come from the Ride Captain. Coordinating with the Tailgunner by hand signals, the Ride Captain makes all decisions regarding initiating lane changes, stopping for breaks and fuel, closing of gaps, turning off at exits, any concerns of what lies ahead, and so on. NO individual will assert himself independently without direction from the Ride Captain to do so.


The Tailgunner serves as the eyes of the Ride Captain in the rear of the group. He/she watches the formation and informs the Ride Captain of any potential problems within the group. He/she 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. When the Ride Captain requests it, the Tailgunner makes the decision if it is safe for the group to change lanes. If he/she determines that it is, then they move into the lane to secure it so the formation can move over.


At staging the Tailgunner will take into consideration their perceived knowledge of the riding abilities of all riders and place them in the formation. At each stop, the Tailgunner may move riders around in the formation for the safety of all riders.   If a rider who has been asked to ride in the back of the group for any reason asks the Tailgunner or Ride Captain to move up, it is the decision of the Ride Captain after consulting with the Tailgunner if the rider can move up.



If the Ride Captain determines that there is a good possibility of the group being separated during the ride, especially with a larger group, he/she may ask another Member to act as a secondary Ride Captain and ride in the middle of the formation and be ready to lead the riders that get separated from the group. The Ride Captain may also determine that the number of riders is too great to ride as one group and will break the riders up into smaller riding groups. He/she will ask other Members to serve as additional Ride and/or Tailgunners.



Group riding will follow Idaho State Law. Riding will be in a staggered formation unless the Ride Captain calls for single file. In staggered formation, the bikes form two columns, with the Ride Captain riding in the front of the formation being able to ride on either side of the lane at any time he/she needs to in order to lead effectively. He/She will have their high beam lights on. The second rider will be the President or a Director and will be the first bike on the left side of the lane approximately two seconds behind the Ride Captain. He/She will also have their high beam lights on. The third rider will take the position approximately three seconds behind the Ride Captain, and approximately one second behind the second rider and will be the first bike on the right side of the lane. He/She will have their high beam lights on as well. The rest of the group will maintain a formation of approximately two seconds behind the bike directly in front of them and approximately one second behind the bike in front but to the left or right of them. The only exception will be a rider on a larger vehicle like a trike, spyder, etc. These bikes will ride in the center of the lane and the next bike in the formation will be approximately two seconds behind them on the left side of the lane. The rest of the group forms following the instructions mentioned earlier. This formation keeps the group close and permits each rider a safe distance from the others ahead, behind, and to the sides. It also discourages traffic from breaking into the formation. A close group takes up less space on the road, is easier to see and is less likely to be separated. The last rider in the group, or Tailgunner, brings up the rear and may ride on whichever side of the lane he/she prefers, helping the Ride Captain discourage traffic from cutting into the formation and keeping the group together. All Members should be ready to serve as a Ride Captain or Tailgunner if the group gets separated.


All riders will do their best to stay within their half of the lane except when the group encounters curving road situations.


Curving Roads 

When the group encounters curving road situations the rules for formation are altered. On curves, each rider does not need to attempt to stay within their half of the lane. They may utilize the entire lane to maneuver curves. Space between the riders may be increased as riders deem necessary for their safety, but should be limited as much as possible. When the curving portion of the road has ended, all riders return into the standard formation. 



In the unlikely event of an emergency condition, the Ride Captain 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 Tailgunner will stop with the problem bike. The Ride Captain will lead the group to a safe stopping location.


Passing in the Formation


There may be instances where a rider in the formation is not comfortable following a particular rider due to safety concerns (the rider does not maintain speed, wanders in and out of their side of the lane, crosses the middle of the road or fog line, etc.). The preferred method in these instances is to talk with the Ride Captain or Tailgunner about the safety concern at the next stop and make a change to their own position in the formation. During the Ride, if a rider determines a position change is necessary for their safety, they may pass in a designated passing area. He/she should activate the appropriate turn signal, use the correct hand turn signal and consider the safety of the riders behind them and only move out of their position in the formation after they are confident the riders behind them have had proper time to understand their intention to pass. After the pass is completed, they should activate the appropriate turn signal, use the correct hand turn signal and move into the appropriate side of the lane for the formation. All riders behind may need to adjust their position in the lane as well. 


New and Slower Riders 

The position of new and or slow riders or riders inexperienced with group riding is very important. New, slow or inexperienced group riders should be positioned towards the back of the formation and follow those that are able to maintain the riding formation and are experienced in group riding. This allows the Tailgunner to watch them in order to provide constructive feedback to them to help increase their riding abilities.


Hand Signals 

Each rider and passenger should duplicate all hand signals given by the rider in front of him/her, so that the signals get passed all the way to the back of the formation. The following signals are used:

  • Right Turn

Left arm out, bent at the elbow at 90° with a closed fist. 

  • Left Turn

Left arm extended, palm down. 

  • Stop

Left arm extended down, palm facing back.

  • Slow Down

Left arm extended, palm down, downward motion.

  • Lane Change

The Ride Captain provides the correct hand signal for a lane change. This signal is repeated by all riders back to the Tailgunner. When appropriate, the Tailgunner signals and moves over and takes thelane. After having the Tailgunner secure the lane and putting on his/her directional signal (which is repeated by each rider), the Ride Captain gives the appropriate hand signal and moves into the new lane. Each rider in turn moves into the space behind the riders in front of them.

  • Single Up

When conditions warrant single file (narrow road, anticipated wind-blast from trucks, obstruction, pedestrians, etc.) the Ride Captain will raise his/her left hand straight up, holding up just his/her index finger. All other riders will repeat this, and the two columns will merge into one following the Ride Captain in whichever side of the lane he/she is in.

  • Staggered Formation

After singling up, when single file is no longer necessary, the Ride Captain will raise his/her left hand with only the thumb and pinky finger out and rotate his/her wrist back and forth (indicating left, right, left, right).  All other riders will repeat this and resume a staggered formation. 

  • Tighten Formation

When the Ride Captain feels that the formation should be tighter (bikes closer together), he/she raises his/her 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 formation.

  • Road Hazard 

This is the one signal that can be initiated by ANYONE. Anyone seeing a hazardous condition on the road surface (roadkill, oil, gravel, significant pot hole, etc.) will point at it. All following riders will repeat this, and all riders will avoid the hazard.


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