Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association
Chapter 15-4

Ride SOP
Dated: 20 October 2015


1. Riding Formation and Individual Positions

a. Riding in a pack should be reflective of a March formation. Proper order is essential for safety.

b. The Order of March will be led by the Road Captain on the left and the senior most officer on the right. All trikes and motorcycles with sidecars shall ride in the rear, with the Tail Gunner taking up the rear.

c. All riders shall ride in a staggered formation. The staggered formation allows for increased safety by creating greater space between bikes so that riders have additional time to react and maneuver.

d. When riding in a staggered formation, the lead bike rides in the left third of the lane, while the next bike rides in the right third of the lane. The bike on the right side shall maintain a distance of “one bike length” behind the bike on the left side. The rest of the group follows the same pattern. In following this pattern, bikes should be a distance of “three bike lengths” behind the bike directly in front of them.

i. All riders shall maintain their lane position, unless momentarily avoiding a road hazard.

ii. Whenever road or weather conditions make it unsafe to ride in a staggered formation, the Road Captain shall signal to transition to a single file formation. The signal shall be the index finger on the left hand raised straight up. The Road Captain shall signal with two fingers (bull horns) raised straight into the air, when it is safe to return to staggered formation.

e. If a gap occurs in any formation, it shall be filled by moving forward, never by moving across.

f. All trikes and bikes with sidecars or trailers shall ride single file in the rear of the pack.

g. Do not break off from the formation unless it is prearranged during the ride brief. If there is a prearranged break off of one or more bikes, those bikes should be riding in the back of the pack.

h. For special events, the Road Captain may call for a side by side or parallel formation. Bikes in the side by side formation shall maintain a consistent distance of “one bike length” between rows.

i. Riding in a side by side formation requires constant attention and awareness of safety hazards more so than single or staggered formation.

ii. Whenever road or weather conditions make it unsafe to ride in a side by side formation, the Road Captain shall signal to transition to either a staggered or single file formation. When transitioning to either a staggered or single file formation, the bike on the right shall fall back.

iii. When riding in a side by side formation and a sudden change in the road or obstruction is encountered, the bike traveling on the right shall fall back to allow for maneuverability.

iv. Unless you are a VERY experienced DO NOT ride in a side by side formation; if the rider across from you is not a very experienced rider DO NOT ride in a side by side formation. Safety is paramount!

2. Changing Lanes and Passing

a. On multi-lane highways passing will normally be executed in formation if safe to do so.

i. The Road Captain will hold his or her position and give a hand signal for a lane change.

ii. All riders will hold their positions and pass the signal to the rear. All riders shall use both hand signals and turn signals.

iii. The Tail Gunner (or last bike in the pack) will change lanes at the first safe opportunity, protecting the lane for the group, and allowing the Road Captain to see that the lane is clear and protected. The Road Captain shall then change lanes followed by all other riders moving from front to the rear of the group.

b. If for any reason the group becomes separated, merge safely back into the formation, returning to your original position using good safety practices.

3. Responsibilities

a. Pre-ride Safety Inspection. All riders shall arrive promptly at the scheduled meeting time and be completely prepared for the scheduled departure time. This includes a full tank of gas and a completed safety check on their motorcycle. The procedure for a full pre-ride safety inspection is located in Attachment 1.

b. Emergency Safety Card. All riders should complete an emergency safety card; place your safety card in a Ziploc style bag and keep it in the right side saddle bag of your bike. It is best to actually tape the safety card to the right inside side of the saddle bag so that it can be easily found in the event of an emergency. The safety card should include all of the rider’s personal emergency information, insurance information and if the rider carries a concealed weapon the safety card should also include where that weapon is normally carried. A form that can be completed and used for an emergency safety card is located in Attachment 2.

c. Road Captain. Has full charge of the group until arrival at the destination. The Road Captain shall:

i. Conduct a ride brief prior to departure to establish a schedule for gas, rest stops, and intended route. In the ride brief, the Road Captain shall also: review the group riding SOP including formations and procedures; notify the group of any suspected hazards and establish whether Road Guards will be used.

ii. Instruct any rider to ride in a specific position within the group, or leave the group entirely, for reasons of misconduct, disorderly or unsafe riding, or faulty/unsafe equipment. Common sense and tact should be used.

iii. Establish and maintain a uniform speed consistent with road, traffic, and weather conditions to accommodate the abilities of the least experienced rider.

iv. Exercise responsibility for initiating all maneuvers within traffic in a safe manner. Maintain a safe interval from traffic in front of the formation.

v. Adopt a single-file formation when conditions warrant. Conditions may include poor visibility, narrow road, mountain / curvy roads, traveling directly adjacent to parked vehicles, or any other condition which may severely restrict the ability of riders to perform emergency avoidance maneuvers.

d. Tail Gunner. The Tail Gunner will:

i. Ride at the rear of the group where he or she can best see the formation.

ii. Lane protection is the Tail Gunners added responsibility. On the highway, as the group prepares to make a lane change, the Tail Gunner will make the lane change as soon as is safe to do so, followed by the Road Captain, then the remainder of the group.

iii. In the event any bike makes an unscheduled stop due to a mechanical brake problem, accident or other issue; the Tail Gunner shall stop and assist. All other bikes shall continue with the pack.

e. Dash 2. This is the 2nd bike in the pack, which is just behind and to the right of the Road Captain. The Dash 2 sets the formation spacing. Normally the Chapter Commander will ride in this position.

f. Road Guards. If the situation dictates, the third (and fourth if required) rider in the formation will stage his motorcycle to block traffic in order to allow all members of the group to complete a maneuver (leaving parking lot, making turns…).

g. Trikes and Sidecars/trailers. Trikes and Bikes with Sidecars or trailers will travel in a single file position after the last motorcycle and before the Tail Gunner.

4. The Ride

a. Riding with a group can be fun and exciting, but only when everyone in the group observes the same rules. Everyone is expected to observe the following rules. The Lead/ Road Captain will leave first and is followed by all other bikes, which fall into a staggered formation as safely as possible. The Tail Gunner will follow the group.

b. Use Hand Signals. During the ride brief, the Road Captain will review hand and foot signals. The Road Captain will use hand or foot signals to indicate a change of course, hazards, or other information to the group. Each rider uses the same signal to pass the information back through the group. If you are new to group riding, only pass the signals back if you are comfortable with taking your hands off the controls.

c. Using Blockers. Blockers assist in getting the group or entire formation through intersections safely, quickly, and efficiently. While technically illegal, blocking also eases the effect of the passage on traffic in general. It also helps to avert any rider or riders from making a risky choice rather than chance being separated from the rest. Blockers, when directed to a position by the Road Captain, should activate their flashers just prior to pulling out of formation. The flashers should be shut off after rejoining just ahead of the Tail Gunner. While blocking it is wise to remain in gear and ready to move should another vehicle ignore the request to wait A “stop” hand signal is suggested while blocking and is most easily accomplished by the passenger if present. A “thank you” signal by blockers and Tail Gunner as well is a nice touch and usually appreciated. Since a blocker assumes the responsibility of holding up traffic, plus a remote possibility of a traffic violation, it is of course voluntary. Should you have no desire to block, position yourself toward the rear of the pack. In the event that you later anticipate being called upon, signal rearward riders ahead of you at an appropriate time. NEVER do what you are not comfortable doing. Blockers Reintegration in the group – The blockers fall back in to the formation in front of the Tail Gunner. When Trikes or Sidecars are in the formation, the blockers will fall in the formation behind the Trikes or Sidecars and in front of the Tail Gunner. When it safe to do so the Trikes or Sidecar will waive the blockers ahead to pass them and for the blockers to reestablish themselves with the staggered motorcycle formation.

d. Yellow lights. The greatest probability for accidents during a group ride is at a yellow light that is about to turn red. When a group of riders approached a solid yellow light, the Road Captain is responsible for clearly signaling whether he or she intends to stop at the yellow. If the Road Captain proceeds through the light, all bikes should follow as one vehicle, if it is safe to do so. If traffic conditions create an unsafe situation to where a rider cannot safely follow the Road Captain, if possible, that rider should clearly signal his or her intent to stop.

e. Parking. Riders should pull up to the left of each rider ahead, so that everyone can immediately back into the parking space without waiting. With a little experience, the whole group can get parked quickly, which helps move everyone off the road efficiently. When the group pulls into a parking lot, don’t try to be creative. Follow the parking drill with everyone else. Don’t ride up behind the next rider, but pull alongside to the left, and immediately roll your machine back into the parking space.

f. Drinking and Driving Never Mix. This is especially true when participating in a group ride.

g. Break downs. In the event of an emergency requiring a stop, observe the following procedures so that the emergency may be resolved in the safest manner possible. We do not want a group of motorcycles on the side of the road in an unsafe manner under any circumstance. • Problem bike stops. All others continue, except for the Tail Gunner. If a bike or rider problem requires a stop, the rider should signal and stop in as safe a place as possible, preferably well off the road. All other bikes are to continue with the Road Captain to avoid having a group of bikes on the side of the road. • Only the Tail Gunner stops to help. It is the Tail Gunner’s responsibility to stop and render assistance to the problem bike. • The Road Captain leads the group to a safe location. If the Road Captain deems it necessary to check on the problem, he will stop the group at a safe place and call the Tail Gunner to determine what action needs to be taken or send someone back to check out the problem.

h. Accidents. In the event of an accident: Only the bikes necessary to render immediate aid shall stop and the remaining bikes shall travel to the first area to safely move their bikes off of the road. • Notify the authorities by calling 911. • Render aid to injured persons. Remember, DO NOT MOVE the injured person or remove their helmet, this should be done by trained emergency response personnel. • Maintain the accident scene which includes getting the names, telephone numbers and addresses of witnesses. Take pictures of the scene.

Enjoy the ride and remember: Safety is always paramount.


Pre-Ride Motorcycle Safety Inspection

SAFETY INSPECTION FOR YOUR MOTORCYCLE – All riders are also responsible for making sure their motorcycles are mechanically up to the task. Before you even meet up with the group, make sure you’ve got plenty of fuel in the tank, and that you’ve taken care of all those maintenance issues. Not sure what to check? Use T-CLOCS, which stands for Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis and Kickstand.

T – Tires and Wheels and Rims:

• Tires more than 1/16 inch tread. About the distance between Lincoln’s head and the top of a penny.
• Casings, beads, tread and fabrics will be free of breaks, bulges, cuts, cracks or exposed fabric which exhibit a weakened, unsafe tire condition.
• No loose, missing bolts, nuts or lugs.
• Tire Pressure.
•There will be no bent, loose, cracked or damaged wheels; defective rims or wheel flanges; or missing, broken, bent, loose, or damaged spokes.
• The wheels will be free of missing rivets, studs, nuts, and broken or out-of-adjustment bearings.
• Rims free of dings.

C – Controls and Cables:

• Operating levers and pedal shafts will be properly positioned and aligned.
• Mechanical parts will not be misaligned, badly worn, broken or missing.
• The brake system will be free of worn, missing, or defective pins, cables, cords, clevises or couplings; misaligned anchor pins; frozen or rusted inoperative connections; missing spring clips; improper wheel bearing adjustment; and defective grease retainers.
• Brake holds.

L – Lights:

• Lights will be mounted securely to prevent excessive vibration and will not have defective wiring, improper ground, or a defective switch. The power source must maintain lamps at required brightness for all conditions of operation.
• The dimmer switch.
• Brake Light works after applying the brake.
• Directional Signals. If installed must be operational. Directional signals will consist of amber or white front lamps and red or amber rear lamps which are visible from the front and rear.

Oil and Fuel:

• The fuel tank and piping will be securely installed, and the fuel line will be free from leaks.
• The fuel tank will be vented.
• The throttle will be aligned and not binding; linkage (including cables) will not be worn, bent, broken, corroded or missing.
• On models with a quick-release throttle, the throttle must return to “off” or “idle” position when released.
• Lubrication systems will be free of excessive oil leaks.


• Steering head bearing will not be loose, broken, or defective.
• Handle bars will not be loose, bent, broken, damaged or welded.
• Motorcycles will not have broken, excessively worn, missing, defective, disconnected, or malfunctioning shock absorbers; broken or excessively sagging springs; or other defective suspension components.
• Exhaust pipes will not be cut off nor have baffles removed.
• Exhaust systems and elements thereto, including exhaust guards, will be securely fastened
• There will be no defective or dislocated parts protruding from the motorcycle.
• The engine mounting frame or brackets will not be cracked or broken.
• Fenders and mud guards will not be broken, missing, or of inadequate design or modification.
• Foot rests will be securely mounted and properly located.
• Seats will be properly and securely fastened. The seat and its springs will not be broken or otherwise defective.
• Rear view mirrors will be securely attached to each side of the handlebars; and each mirror will be free of cracks and discoloration.
• Motorcycles equipped with seating for a passenger will also be equipped with foot rests specifically designed and located for the passenger’s use.

Kickstand and center stand:

• Not cracked or bent.
• Springs in place.

If everything’s in place and operating properly you’re done, and good to go.

Enjoy the ride.