Group Riding – Direction of Travel Systems

Birmingham Harley Owners Groups (HOG) Chapter utilises two main direction of travel systems, “Second Man Drop Off” and “The Buddy System”.


Group Riding - “Second Man Drop Off”

Birmingham Harley Owners Groups (HOG) Chapter primary system is known as second man drop off which can be employed to highlight the route. It is only used where the direction the ride is following is NOT straight on at a junction and is designed so a group of riders can make progress safely without getting split up, lost and most of all, without putting pressure on the less experienced riders in the group.

The Lead Road Captain, Tail Rider, Sweep Rider and any additional road crew shall be experienced to lead a large group and know the route.

During the ride these two riders do not change their position within the group.

Ideally the Lead Road Captain, Tail Rider, Sweep Rider and any additional road crew shall be highly visible (hi-vis vest and headlights on) and where possible benefit from some form of communication between them i.e. bike to bike radio. All other riders within the group will rotate the position accordingly as follows:

When the ride sets off it is advisable to fall into a staggered formation as this allows the ride to close up and dominate the road space as a group, especially on faster flowing roads such as by-passes, motorways etc. And always use the 2 second rule as this provides riders with a larger margin for error, i.e. the correct stopping distance.

When the group approaches a fixed hazard (junction, set of traffic lights and major or minor turnings) the Lead Road Captain will indicate to the second rider by raising his/her left arm in the air to signal “get ready” then indicate to pull over safely into the side and stop.

If the second man drop feels that it is safe to stop, indicate, pull in, cancel the indicator and indicate clearly with a raised arm the direction to take.

The rider then directs all the subsequent riders in the right direction.

If the second man drop feels that the location is unsafe, move on to a safe location and carry out the required signal for direction of travel, All riders are reminded that they are ultimately responsible for their own safety.

In the interest of road safety, riders are NOT to change position to fill the gap left by the drop off rider and remain in their current position.

It may take time, but once all riders have passed him/her they are to rejoin the group taking up position in front of the Tail Rider, if it is safe to do so. In the event where the second man cannot rejoin in front of the Tail Rider, they are to rejoin the carriage way and overtake when safe to do so in front of the Tail Rider.

At roundabouts the Second man will be dropped off at the exit only so as not to cause confusion and put riders at risk on the approach to the hazard.

To add confidence, the Lead Road Captain may also drop a rider off at the side of a road to let all the other riders know that they are on course if riding on a long A/B Road.

This routine is then repeated over and over without any of the group stopping. This system takes practice to work effectively and to gain confidence in as the group may be spread over a few miles but still be able to follow the Lead Road Captain with no problems.

The second man drop off system is used extensively by various motorcycle clubs and organisations and is very effective.

Please have confidence in the Second Man Drop off system, and under no circumstances must you rejoin the group before you see the last man as it will split the group as they won’t know what direction to take.

Group Riding - “Buddy System”

Never ride beyond your own riding capability and never ride in excess of the speed limits. The Lead Road Captain will ride within the speed limits. If you find yourself left behind due to traffic conditions, traffic lights, etc, do not panic nor use excessive speed to catch up.

Birmingham Harley Owners Groups (HOG) Chapter second system in use that helps prevent the ride-out group from fragmenting is known as the Buddy System. Each rider uses their mirrors on a regular interval and part of their observation is to make sure they can see the rider behind them.

Should a rider see the person behind fall back substantially, then he/she should slow down. This has the effect of slowing down the whole ride-out until the Lead Road Captain notices that the group has fallen back. The Lead Road Captain will then pull over where safe to do so and wait for the rest of the ride to re-group.

If you are in any doubt, or have any questions regarding our Group riding, Second Man drop off and the Buddy system techniques, please ask the Road Captains for further clarification. The aim of this guidance is to ensure that the organised rides are a safe and enjoyable experience.

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