Riding as part of a motorcycle convoy is always fun for us motorcyclists. The majority of automobile owners never get such a chance in their lifetimes.
However, a motorcycle convoy is only fun when everyone leaves and comes home safe. That is why a set of etiquettes must be adhered to in a convoy.
1. Buddy system
This comes first as it should be set before the ride begins.
The buddy system calls for riders to look out for one another, especially in “open” convoys without police escort. This is to ensure that no one gets left behind after stopping.
This system is also good for pairing up a new or lower skilled rider with a higher skilled one. This way, he could learn from the more experienced rider, provided that the latter maintains his discipline and not ride like the last lap of Moto3. The pairing can be changed as the ride goes on.
2. Follow the leader/marshals
Participants must always follow the lead marshal, unless he or she needs to leave the convoy for various reasons. However, he or she must inform the leader or marshals if they need to separate.
3. “The Pace”
“The Pace” is a set of recommendations written by renowned motojournalist Nick Ienatsch. The main tenet of riding in convoys is to differentiate from riding on the racetrack.
It calls for the leader to set the pace – not too fast where everyone goes bonkers to keep up, nor too slow where everyone gets bored. The leader should try out different paces at the beginning to gauge the levels of those behind him then settling on one throughout the ride.
The leader should slow down on the straights after corners and check behind for his flock. He could also place different riders behind him for everyone to ride through corners without being bogged down by other riders.
You can Google “The Pace” and read the full details. You will not regret it.
4. Repeat the leader’s signals
All riders in the convoy should repeat the leader’s light and hand signals. This is because the riders at the back of the row of bikes may not see the signals. Failure to do this is one of the main contributors to accidents in a ride. Imagine if the leader had pointed out a hazard on the road but the guys at the back did not see it.
5. Ride according to your own pace
The leader and most of the pack may be speeding up past your comfort level, but just relax and maintain a pace that is comfortable to you. There is (and should be) a sweeper (last man) to shepherd you. Riding past your comfort level will force you into making mistakes.
6. Leave room for your buddies
Always leave room for your buddies to “escape.” This is essential to avoid participants from crashing into one another.
If you ride side-by-side, it should not be next to one another but in staggered formation, with a bike further in front on one side while the other further back on the other side.
The other aspect is when overtaking other vehicles. Always ride ahead for a few seconds before switching back into your lane to allow those behind to overtake the other vehicle safely. Swinging in or slowing down immediately after overtaking will leave your friends behind exposed to danger.
7. Follow the leader’s lane
Following where the leader is heading to is one thing, but participants should always use the same lane as the leader, unless for overtaking. Do not swerve into another lane on twisty roads!
8. Escorted convoy
If your ride is escorted by the Traffic Police, just relax and let the officers handle the traffic. The traffic police may ask one or two of you to assist in holding up traffic, but they should perform the task first before handing the intersection over to you. Never, ever attempt to stop traffic on your own accord.
9. Non-escorted convoy
Unescorted convoys can be a lot more fun but that does not mean you can flout the law. First and foremost, do not stop traffic in any way, not even if you are one of the marshals in the ride.
Ideally, a non-escorted convoy should be “open” as in without formation and letting the participants ride at their own paces followed by one or two runners and a sweeper. But do brief everyone where the convoy is headed to next.
10. Leave room for the escorts/marshals
Always watch your mirrors if the convoy is escorted as the traffic police or marshals (runners) as they need to overtake the group to get into position at the next intersection, or to assist the lead marshal.