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Motorcycle Group Ride Leading

What Makes a Good Motorcycle Group Leader

What makes a good motorcycle group ride group leader? Is it the fastest, the most experienced, the rider with the loudest pipes, flashiest apparel or brightest headlight …or is it just the obsessive/compulsive motorcyclist?

This is a question motorcyclists often avoid.  It’s a little like the subject of actually teaching parenting classes in school.  No parent wants to admit that they are not the perfect parent by nature and teaching a course about it to their kids would probably show that most everyone has something to learn about parenting.

To begin with, a motorcycle group leader has to want to be leader because they will take complaints from some of the group riders for one thing or another during the course of virtually every ride.  It is definitely a thankless task and a leader is only as good as the group they are leading.  Having ridden with many good and bad leaders and keeping in mind that the leader is a guide, not a god, here are some group riding tips, a group riding 101 of sorts on…

A) what makes a good leader
B) a few tips for leaders to increase their effectiveness and
C) some thoughts on how a group rider can assist the leader.

About Jefe

Jefe Smith continues to ride across America, 140,000 miles in the past 12 years. His irreverent storytelling of road experiences, life experiences and the America he discovers can be accessed in his first book, LIFE, AMERICA and the ROAD A Biker's Perspective, which has been well received by the motorcycle community. The ebook is available in the Amazon Kindle Store and signed hard copies are available at www.jefestours.com. A second book, LIFE, AMERICA and the ROAD to KEY WEST A Biker's Perspective is due out in July of this year.


  1. Hey, Jefe! Lots of good tips here, thanks.

    I would only add one comment to your “4) Road hazard ID. A leader can’t cry wolf by identifying every paper scrap or leaf on the road…….”

    I find that, generally speaking, most leaders DO try to identify far too many hazards, resulting in an arm and leg-flailing group that resembles the “Bolshoi Ballet”.

    Proper (loose) spacing is the key to everyone being able to identify THEIR OWN hazards…the same as they would do if they were out riding solo. Being the leader doesn’t automatically transfer all responsibility for safe and observant bahaviour into your hands! Not to mention, trailing riders seeing the leader physically dodge a pothole or slow down for tractors and sand patches should telegraph the message just fine.

  2. Great list. One more point is a strong ride captain usually confides in a strong sweep. If you are lucky the Sweep and Ride Captain have headsets and can communicate back and forth.

    • You said it, Brian. A strong sweep can often “lead from behind.” When riding with friends, I would often lead while my ex-girlfriend swept. She knew all of the routes as we would talk through them together, and would often already be in blocking position in the lane I wanted the group to move to before I could hit my turn signals. And yup, we used a comm system as well!

What do you think?