Category: Motorcycle Education


May 28th 2013

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By Vicki Sanfelipo

Vicki Sanfelipo, RN – Director of ASMI (Accident Scene Management, Inc.)

Vicki Sanfelipo

I have been coordinating group rides for 15 years. As the Head Road Captain for a group of 25 female Road Guardians called Women In Motion, I hope that this article can give you some good advice whether you are the person who is coordinating or participating.

Group riding can be great fun when done safely. This topic has several different facets, including planning, executing and participating in a group ride. I will address each facet separately.

Planning a Group Ride:

Whether you’re planning a short or a long ride, there are a number of things that you, as the coordinator, should consider.

  1. Plan a ride that will address the skill level of your riders. While choosing a route with curves and hills is good, choosing a route with hairpin curves and significant uphill right-hand turns can challenge even experienced riders.
  2. Try to plan your route so that it maximizes right turns and minimizes the number of intersections you need to go through.
  3. Plan to stop every hour or so in order to give riders a chance to eat, drink, stretch their legs and use restroom facilities.
  4. Be sure to plan a gas stop every 90-100 miles.
  5. Try to keep your groups small enough that they can get through intersections with minimal problems. This will require you to have enough experienced riders to help at both the front and the back of each group.

Executing a Group Ride:

Communication is the key.

  1. Communicate with your riders by giving them maps of the planned route, times you will be at each location, planned gas stops and your phone number.
  2. Ask your riders to arrive with a full tank of gas and an empty bladder.
  3. Instruct your group on group riding hand signals and staggered riding. For an excellent group riding instructional paper (complete with hand signals) that can be handed out to riders and/or sent to them ahead of time, see the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Guide to Group Riding. Also check out The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s 10-minute video on group riding, available here.
  4. Designate someone as the group leader. Your group leader should be the person who gives pre-ride instructions. You should also have at least one person, but preferably two, assigned at the rear of the group, often called the “sweep.”

    Those at the rear should be familiar with the route and should carry tools for minor breakdown assistance, a cell phone to call for help if needed, and Accident Scene Management (ASMI) training and supplies in the event someone needs medical assistance.

    The reason that having two people at the back is better than one is so one person can help while the other continues with the group or, if something more serious is happening, one person can help while the other goes for help.

  5. If you have a “chase vehicle,” be sure to stock it with water, medical supplies and tools. Instruct the rider of the chase vehicle to maintain a safe distance from the back of the riders. This person may need to stop for more traffic signals than the rest of the group but will come upon anyone who has pulled over needing assistance.
  6. Inform riders that if they have a medical condition, they should let the sweep know. The sweep should be prepared to record the person’s name, emergency contact, bike model, license plate number and medical condition. This can be done at registration to save time at the rendezvous site.
  7. CB communication can be very helpful between the front and back of the pack. Test your communication devices before you get out on the road.
  8. New riders often want to ride in the back and maintain an excessive distance between themselves and the person in front of them. While this creates an issue with traffic wanting to cut through or into the pack, pushing the new rider to ride beyond their comfort zone is not typically a good idea either, so be patient! Make sure the sweep is behind everyone and help this person have a good and a safe experience.

Participating in a Group Ride

Hand signals and staggered riding are crucial.

Make sure everyone in the group is using the same information and hand signals, and you will enjoy a wonderful experience. For more information, see the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Guide to Group Riding.

Please feel free to contact Vicki Sanfelipo with more questions at:

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There’s nothing like being out on the open road with the throttle in your hand and the wind at your back. But the most experienced motorcycle riders know that an accident can happen in the blink of an eye.

May is motorcycle safety month and GEICO is raising awareness among riders and non-riders alike with a multitude of safety tips, educational resources, and a safety video from AMA Daytona Sportbike Champion Martin Cardenas to ensure that everyone has a safe time this motorcycle season.

Always wear a helmet – In many states, wearing a helmet is now the law. A motorcycle rider not wearing a helmet is five times more likely to sustain a critical head injury. Make sure your helmet includes a face shield or protective eyewear.
Wear protective clothing – Leather clothes, gloves and boots with nonskid soles can protect you and minimize severe injuries in case of an accident. Reflective clothing will also make it easier for other drivers to see you.
Take a safety course – There is no such thing as too much training when it comes to riding a motorcycle. Play it safe and take a motorcycle safety course. Safety courses such as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s (MSF), will sharpen your riding skills. Experienced riders can also benefit from refresher training. Some insurance companies offer participants and instructors a discount in most states for completion of a course.
Follow the rules – Know the rules of the road, obey the speed limit and local traffic laws. Remember to always pass vehicles and other bikes on the passing lane and give yourself enough time to break.
Ride defensively – Nearly two-thirds of all motorcycle accidents are caused by a driver violating a rider’s right of way. Ride with your headlights on and signal well in advance of any change in direction. Always watch for turning vehicles and be extra careful in inclement weather.
Don’t drink and ride – It’s illegal to operate a motorcycle while under the influence of alcohol. Alcohol affects judgment, vision and decreases your ability to ride and react defensively.
Check your bike – Make sure your motorcycle is ready for the road by inspecting the tires for proper air and making sure the lights are in good working condition. In addition, test the clutch and throttle, adjust the mirrors and check the brake controls

The GEICO military bike tour will roll into the Marine Corps Historic Half Marathon in Fredericksburg, Va., May 18 – 19; Charlotte Speed Street Festival, Charlotte, N.C., May 23 – 26 and the Patriot Festival and Air Show, Virginia Beach, Va., May 31 – June 2.

GEICO Insurance Agency offers protection against risks such as natural disasters, personal injury, theft, accidents, property damage, vandalism and liability, featuring competitive rates, online quoting, multi-policy discounts and multiple pay plan options. For more information, please…

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Some bikers put their motorcycles away after Labor Day weekend, but many look forward to what can be some of the best riding weather. If you’re planning on riding during autumn, make sure your bike is safe and ready to handle the change of the season.

Maybe you are planning on signing up for one of the many organized rallies that take place year round in the motorcycling community or maybe you are just going to start her up and go for a nice long solitary spin around the neighborhood. Either way – and no matter how boring this may sound – it is really important to think about safety and to take the time necessary to assure you and your bike are ready to take that next adventure and to ride safe.

Check the Mechanics

After the summer riding season, your bike may need a tune-up. Check that all parts are functioning correctly and that you have good tread and air pressure in your tires. Make sure your fluid levels are good and that all controls are working properly.


Wear Proper Clothing


Autumn has many temperature changes. It can be quite chilly in the morning and still reach the mid-70s or 80s in the afternoon, depending on where you are. The best thing you can do to adjust to the changes is to dress in layers. You should never wear cotton as a base layer. Use thermal underwear or something with a synthetic blend as your base layer.


On top of the base layer, wear comfortable riding attire. Don’t wear a hoodie, but rather a zip-up sweatshirt or shirt.

Make sure you have the proper riding gear for all road and weather conditions. Nothing worse than freezing fingers or icy sharp rain pounding down on exposed skin. Be ready for harsh conditions as our summer fades to fall.


Beat the Wind With Leather

It might be too hot to wear leather during the summer, but it’s perfect for fall. Leather motorcycle jackets or chaps can protect you from the wind and keep you more comfortable while riding. They usually also have removable liners.

You can wear riding boots with synthetic liners and wool socks. This combination will let your feet breathe in case they get warm.

Finally, it’s a good idea to wear a pair of synthetic glove liners underneath your leather biker gloves and pack fingerless leather gloves in a storage compartment. You’ll be able to switch in the afternoon when you get too warm.


Switch to a Half- or Full-Visor Helmet


Cold air can be harsh on your eyes, so switch to a Department of Transportation-approved helmet with a half- or full-visor.


Bring Your Rain Gear


A raw, chilling rain can cause hypothermia quickly, especially if you’re not wearing the best riding attire. Always pack your rain gear, just in case.


Watch for Riding Hazards


Fallen leaves can be very slippery and cause accidents, and many deer are more active during autumn – especially during dawn and dusk. Keep your eyes out for any riding hazard so you have time to react. Take road conditions into consideration every single time you hop on that bike. In the fall wet leaves and strong winds are hazards we don’t always think about. Those leaves can be damn slippery (and not in a good way) and taking those turns will demand more of your attention.

Additional General Tips


Keep alert when participating in a group ride. If you plan on riding in a group be mindful to avoid mimicking the moves of the rider ahead of you. Following a lead rider who happens to make a mistake can lead to an otherwise preventable accident. If you are new to group rides – keep alert at all times – stay closer to the middle/ back of the pack and keep a safe distance from the rider in front of you.


Develop smooth riding techniques. As with all riding, in racing, the motorcycle rider who employs the smoothest input will enjoy the most rewarding experience and success. Motorcycles are almost always very responsive to subtle control input..


Take road conditions into consideration. Tire pressure, suspension settings and rider positioning are all influencing factors that may be affected by changing road conditions – an important reason why bike set-up is a critical component of a winning racing strategy. Before you hit the road or the track, take your time in planning how best to prepare for existing surface conditions.


Don’t be tempted to ride “over your head” in terms of riding ability and experience. Taking a refresher-riding course on a regular basis is always an excellent idea.

Know your bike – the ins and outs – the hiccups and coughs – the rough and unexpected are better handled when you have intimate knowledge of that machine you are straddling.

Test your brakes baby – make sure you use your front and back breaks in harmony – too many riders are heavy on one or the other – and with 70% of your stopping power located up front – it is important to use a combination of both to maximize control in an emergency situation.

Focus and think ahead – not a particular target – but the big picture. 

Even the most cautious of riding enthusiasts need to make sure that their vehicles are covered in the event of a collision or riding mishap. Motorcycle and powersports insurance policies may be taken out to cover theft, collision, vandalism, as well as damage caused by uninsured or underinsured drivers. For coverage that best suits your needs, it’s a good idea to check with several reputable companies who specialize in these policies and have a proven track record in settling motorcycle claims.

MSF Calls Attention to Distracted Drivers

Courtesy of Motorcycle Safety Foundation
Friday, April 08, 2011
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation is strongly urging all motorists to stop driving while distracted and fully backs April’s national awareness month to combat this deadly highway hazard.

“Distracted driving is of great concern for motorcyclists as we simply have more at stake,” said MSF President Tim Buche. “Riders are obviously more vulnerable than car or truck drivers, the ones with far more access to a variety of distractions. Most motorcyclists are focused on one thing: riding. Other motorists should be focused on driving.”

The U. S. Department of Transportation’s website,, reports a variety of sobering statistics:

- In 2009, 5,474 people were killed in crashes involving driver distraction (16 percent of the total fatalities).
– The proportion of fatalities reportedly associated with driver distraction increased from 10 percent in 2005 to 16 percent in 2009.
– 20 percent of injury crashes in 2009 involved reports of distracted driving.
– 18 percent of fatalities in distraction-related crashes involved reports of a cell phone as a distraction.

Motorcycle Safety Foundation

“With these alarming, increasing reports of driver distraction and resulting injuries and deaths, we support every effective effort, including legislation, to fight this growing hazard,” Buche said. “We’re very pleased that Oprah Winfrey, an influential TV personality with huge national reach, has come out so strongly against distracted driving.”

Introduced by former U.S. Representative Betsy Markey, the resolution to create a National Distracted Driving Awareness Month was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives on March 23, 2010.

Most states currently have laws regulating distracted driving. The DOT reports that 30 states, the District of Columbia, and Guam ban text messaging for all drivers. Last year alone, 12 of these laws were enacted.

To increase driver awareness, the MSF presents key facts about motorcycles and their riders and has created a website with valuable resources for drivers called

10 Things All Car and Truck Drivers Should Know About Motorcycles and Motorcyclists:

1. There are many more cars and trucks than motorcycles on the road and some drivers don’t “recognize” motorcyclists. They ignore them, usually unintentionally. Look for motorcycles, especially when checking traffic at an intersection.

2. A motorcyclist may look farther away than he or she is in actuality. It may also be difficult to judge a motorcycle’s speed. When checking traffic to turn at an intersection or into (or out of) a driveway, estimate that a motorcycle is closer than it looks.

3. A motorcycle can be easily hidden in a car’s blind spots or masked by objects or backgrounds outside the car. Thoroughly check traffic, whether you’re changing lanes or turning at intersections.

4. A motorcycle may seem to be moving faster than it really is. Again, don’t immediately rely on your perceptions.

5. Motorcyclists sometimes slow down by downshifting or merely rolling off the throttle, thus not activating the brake light. Don’t tailgate motorcyclists. At intersections, anticipate that motorcyclists may slow down without any visual warning.

6. Turn signals on a motorcycle are not often automatically self-canceling. Some riders, (especially beginners) sometimes forget to turn them off. Try to determine whether a motorcycle’s turn signal is for real. And if you’re driving a car, remember to use your turn signals too. They’re a great communication tool for riders and drivers when used properly.

7. Motorcyclists often adjust position within a lane to be seen more easily, to avoid road debris, and deal with passing vehicles and wind. Understand that motorcyclists often adjust lane position for a purpose, and it’s not an invitation for a car to share the lane with them.

8. Maneuverability can be one advantage for a motorcycle, but don’t expect that motorcyclist can always steer or swerve out of harm’s way. Please leave motorcyclists room on the road, wherever they are around you.

9. Stopping distance for motorcycles can be nearly the same or better than that of cars. But wet or slippery pavement can put motorcyclists at a disadvantage. Don’t violate a motorcyclist’s right of way, especially in bad conditions.

10. Don’t think of it as a motorcycle, a machine: Think of the rider; the person on board is someone’s son, daughter, spouse or parent. Unlike other motorists, protected by doors, roofs and airbags, motorcyclists have only their safety gear and are at greater risk from distracted drivers.

“While the solution to ending distracted driving is clear – better, smarter, safer decisions – upcoming research will shed more light on the nature of the problem,” Buche said.

In the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s 100-Car Naturalistic Driving Study, distracted driving contributed to more than 22 percent of all the crashes and near-crashes that were recorded. This research gathered its data from video recorders and instrumentation installed on the vehicles before they were placed back, for months, into everyday traffic.

The MSF 100 Motorcyclists Naturalistic Study will soon do the same with motorcycles, for six to 18 months, and will combine unobtrusive, continuous data collection with post-incident interviews. The study will create a comprehensive picture of many factors, possibly including distracted driving, that contribute to both crashes and near-crashes.

The MSF, its members, and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) are now engaged in this study, likely the world’s first large-scale, naturalistic research on motorcycle riding.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation promotes safety through rider training and education, operator licensing tests and public information programs. The MSF works with the federal government, state agencies, the military and others to offer training for all skill levels so riders can enjoy a lifetime of safe, responsible motorcycling. Standards established by the MSF have been recognized worldwide since 1973.

The Hub Schedule for Chicago International Motorcycle Show


4:30pm – Erik Stephens – Long Distance Touring Tips
5:00pm – Joanne Donn – Gear for Your Ride
6:00pm – Interview with Custom Builder Dave Perewitz   
6:30pm – Lee Parks – Advanced Riding Techniques

10:30am –  Trooper Liz Diaz – Illegal Motorcycle Modification and Theft Prevention
11:30am – Interview with Custom Builder Dave Perewitz   
12:00pm – Lee Parks – Advanced Riding Techniques
12:30pm – Jeremy LeBreton – Offroad Adventure Riding
1:00pm – Paul Gomez – Anatomy of a Windshield
1:30pm – Mike Capizzi – Getting the Most Out of Your Tires
2:30pm – Teresa McClelland – First Responder: Accident Scene Mgmt
3:00pm – Erik Stephens – Installation Tips and Tricks
3:30pm – Jeremy LeBreton – Offroad Adventure Riding
4:30pm – Lee Parks – Advanced Riding Techniques
5:00pm – Gin Shear – Used Bike Shopping
5:30pm – Bob Kay – Catching the Kustom Bike Fever
6:00pm – Sue Slate – Dual Sport Riding 101

10:30am – Teresa McClelland – First Responder: Accident Scene Mgmt
11:30am – Jeremy LeBreton – Offroad Adventure Riding
12:00pm – Lee Parks – Advanced Riding Techniques
12:30pm – Erik Stephens – Installation Tips and Tricks
1:30pm – Trooper Liz Diaz – Illegal Motorcycle Modification and Theft Prevention
2:00pm – Paul Gomez – Anatomy of a Windshield
2:30pm – Lee Parks – Advanced Riding Techniques
3:30pm – Ultimate Builder Competition Awards Ceremony   


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