Ride Rules

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 rider orientation.

If you have any special requirements, questions, or concerns about a ride, you should talk with a Road Captain prior to departure. All efforts will be made to accommodate your requests, and ensure your comfort and safety.

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 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 formation.
  • 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 doesn’t 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 gap.
  • Emergencies: 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 as possible.
  • 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; it’s 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.