Riding With The Swarm. Part 2

The second article of 5. There are many important factors in riding with a group of Scooter and/or Motorcycles. I am Marbles Mahoney, Founder & President of The Hornets Scooter Club of Long Island. I have been leading rides on a weekly basis for over 20 years now, so I know a lot about the subject from cold hard experience.


When in a group of even 2, riding in formation is critical. Let’s talk about why, then how. Google says…

Why do bikers ride in formation?

Ride in formation.

The staggered riding formation allows a proper space cushion between motorcycles so that each rider has enough time and space to maneuver and to react to hazards.

When you are riding by yourself you probably tend to ride in the middle of the lane. You then have the option of going either way, left or right (in the lane) to avoid obstacles like Potholes, Dead Racoons and Pedestrians. However when you are in a group, it is a little different, but riding in correct formation leaves you with just as much room for everybody involved safety.

The formation of a group always starts with THE LEADER, in front of the entire group on the left. This is not my opinion, it is well known motorcycle safety group riding procedure. This allows THE LEADER to have an unobstructed view of the road ahead, especially when making a left turn. Most Riders are killed while making a left turn, so giving THE LEADER an advantage is what it is all about. Why do I keep capitalizing THE LEADER? LOL. Sometimes during a ride, the leader may change and it is important to change formation if and when this happens. Sometimes, a leader my drop back to ride sweep (that is what they call the last rider) or block an intersection and you may have to move up to fill in a gap. Pay attention and keep up!


DO NOT LEAVE ANY GAPS!!! Is there a problem with your throttle? No? Use it. When you leave gaps in the formation you are creating a hazard to everyone riding around you. Staying in formation means we do not have to stress out figuring out what the hell you are doing. Gaps are also VERY Dangerous because it invite CARS to cut in. I do not care what the circumstances are, do not ever, ever let a CAR into the formation. Courtesy ends when Safety begins. There are rare times when we may be able accommodate a CAR but as a rule, let them fall behind and figure out how to drive with someone else’s life as the cost…


THE LEADER (there are those damn caps again) rides in the left third of the lane, while the next rider stays at least one second behind in the right third of the lane; the rest of the group follows the same pattern. A single-file formation with a minimum 2-second following distance is preferred on a curvy road, under conditions of poor visibility or poor road surfaces, entering/leaving highways, or other situations where an increased space cushion or maneuvering room is needed.

This is how we do it. Note how these riders know their right from their left, unlike me, who is dyslexic. If I can do it, so can you!

Avoid side-by-side formations, as they reduce the space cushion. If you suddenly needed to swerve to avoid a hazard, you would not have room to do so. You don’t want handlebars to get entangled.

Periodically check the riders following using your rear view mirrors. If you see a rider
falling behind, slow down so they may catch up. If all the riders in the group use this procedure, the group should be able to maintain a fairly steady speed without pressure to ride too fast to catch up.

If you’re separated from the group, don’t panic. Your group should have a pre-planned procedure in place to regroup. Don’t break the law or ride beyond your skills to catch up. We do, you beep your horn, and we all pull over as soon as we can to wait for you. Sometimes we can not pull over immediately to wait and must pull ahead to avoid traffic. So just keep going and be rest assured that we heard you and are waiting for you. Please do not let us stop the whole group to go look for you. This makes everyone very cranky.

If a rider leaves during the ride, the rest of the group should re-form the staggered formation by criss-crossing into the next vacant position. Although it would seem more efficient for the column directly behind the missing rider to move up, we do not recommend it because passing another rider within a lane can be risky.


I hope this helps you have a safer easier ride. I also hope that this helps all THE LEADERS out there to have any easier time doing that leading stuff. On average we have about a dozen riders every Sunday. We ride in a Surburban area that allows us great rides, but they can be easily changed into a not so great ride by not knowing these basic rules of riding. Next up: “The Unwritten Rules of The Hornets!”

Scoot On… Marbles Mahoney
Founder & President
The Hornets Scooter Club of Long Island
Established 1999.

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