Group Riding


Your Bakersfield HOG chapter holds at least three group rides each month.  We have the Fun Run, the Dinner (Breakfast) Ride, and the Ladies of Harley ride.  For all of these group rides the dynamics are the same.

Bakersfield HOG uses the dealership as the meeting point for most group rides.  We do this because of the large, long alley just east of the shop that allows us to line up before we leave.  HOG wants all general membership riders to utilize the right (south) side of the alley to line up 2 by 2.  The Ride Leader will line up in the front along with the Chapter Officer attending to the group.  Road Captains will use the left side of the alley (the north side) to position themselves within the group and to position the sweeps at the point of the group where the separation, if any, will occur.  ONCE THE GROUPS ARE SEPARATED, PLEASE DO NOT PASS THE ROAD CAPTAIN/OFFICER MAKING THE SEPARATION TO GET INTO THE FIRST GROUP. The group is separated for safety reasons and we need to keep the numbers about the same in each group.  In other words, we don’t want 30 riders in group 1 and 10 riders in group 2.

Unless otherwise stated in the Rider’s Meeting, all group rides will start our in the staggered formation.  The staggered formation is used for safety reasons.  By riding 2 seconds behind the rider directly in front of you and 1 second behind the rider just to your right/left, the group is readily seen by approaching vehicles from all directions.  This doesn’t guarantee that a driver will not turn into the group but it sure helps.  IF A MEMBER IS NOT COMFORTABLE WITH GROUP RIDING, INFORM A SENIOR/HEAD ROAD CAPTAIN OR CHAPTER OFFICER BEFORE THE RIDE.  HOG WILL MAKE ARRANGEMENTS TO HAVE THAT RIDER FOLLOW THE GROUP WITH A ROAD CAPTAIN TO ENSURE A SAFE ARRIVAL. Group rides must maintain their formation for the safety of the entire group.

Let’s say you’re riding along in a group and a member pulls out.  What do we do with that empty space???  Answer: NOTHING.  Continue riding in the same formation as long as the group is moving.  When the group stops at the next stop sign or traffic signal, line up 2 by 2 and fill the vacant position then.  IF A RIDER FILLS A VACANT POSITON WHILE THE GROUP IS MOVING, ALL RIDERS BEHIND HIM WILL BE MOVING ABOUT CREATING A VERY UNSAFE CONDITION.

Whenever a group leaves from a standing start, the lead rider on the left has the right of way to move first.  Anytime a group is being led, the lead rider should use the left side of the traffic lane to lead the group.  So, when you’re lined up 2 by 2, remember, the rider on the left leaves first to establish the staggered riding formation.

Another question recently asked was…How does a group enter a freeway via an on-ramp?  Remember, the on-ramp is designed to gain speed to enter the freeway AT THE SAME SPEED OF THE VEHICLE MOVING ON THE FREEWAY. We don’t want to be traveling 45mph when entering traffic traveling 65mph.  This will create a very unsafe situation.  Our bikes will accelerate up to freeway speed rather quickly so make sure we enter the freeway at a speed consistent with traffic.  Also, ANYTIME A GROUP RIDING IN STAGGERED FORMATION ENTERS A FREEWAY, THE GROUP SHOULD AUTOMATICALLY REVERT TO SINGLE FILE TO ENTER THE FREEWAY AND THEN RE-ESTABLISH THE STAGGERED FORMATION ONCE SAFELY ON THE FREEWAY. No hand signals are necessary…this should be done automatically.

What about lane changes on a freeway???  When a lane change is to be made on a freeway, the lead rider will notify his sweep and ask  the sweep to access the lane desired.  When safe, the sweep will move to the desired lane and notify the ride leader of the change and the vehicle description of the car currently using the lane.  As riders in the group see the lane change, they will begin moving into the desired lane ONLY AFTER CHECKING TO ENSURE THE LANE CHANGE IS SAFE. The group will make the lane change only when vehicles have passed their position and they are changing lanes in front of their trailing rider  to ensure group integrity.  Group riders should not make a lane change, unless necessary to avoid a collision or road hazard, during a group ride unless and until the lane change is directed by the group leader.  Although this sounds confusing, it’s much simpler when observed during a group ride.

These are a few of the questions that came up for discussion at the last Road Captain’s meeting.  If any member has a question concerning any aspect of riding with HOG, please e-mail it to  We’ll get your question answered and let you know what the correct answer is.

Remember, our HOG motto is to “RIDE AND HAVE FUN.”  These guidelines are so we can ride and have fun as a group.  There is nothing better than riding with your friends and ending up somewhere to have some fun and friendship.