Taking rides with friends and even strangers can be an extremely fun and rewarding experience, but it's not something that should be done carelessly. One of the most excellent things about motorcycling for pleasure is that you meet and spot so many others who obviously share your love for the pastime. You'll find that you can instantly make friends with just about any biker you chat with because of your shared interest. Rides with others can develop out of nowhere and it's good to have some sort of etiquette in mind when enjoying the road with a friend as a new rider. Here are a few things to remember when considering a group ride:
Riding Ability and Pace As a general rule, don't try to keep up with someone who is a faster rider than you. When you start trying to out-ride your abilities in an uncontrolled situation things can get messy. As a beginner stick to cruising. This is not the time or place to show how fast you can go. Work on polishing up your shifting technique or throttle control to challenge yourself and keep things interesting on a slower-paced ride.
Give Room to React Keep a healthy space buffer between each other when moving. You will be tempted to follow the leader perfectly in-line with their path, but this is not a good practice. Staggering the bikes will allow for more room in front of and behind each rider.
Communicate While you won't be able to speak to your riding buddy without special equipment you can still use your body and your bike to communicate. A couple of quick horn presses can help get another rider's attention. Use your arms to point out the location of upcoming debris like tree branches in the road to other riders, especially if you are in the lead. A simple extra flash of your brake light or headlight can be used to notify others of upcoming hazards or problems. Signalling turns early is a great way to make sure those behind you have plenty of time to prepare.
Bring Supplies Having extra tools, oil, water, snacks, a tire plug kit, or other items can really make a difference on a long group ride. You may not need everything you bring, but you never know when a fellow motorcyclist might!
Keep these guidelines in mind and you'll be more likely to have a great experience exploring the open road with friends. Trust your instincts and use your head and you'll be sure to have a great time!