Today we are talking about biker etiquette, and do these still apply?
Whenever we think of etiquette, we think of the standard definition: the customary code of polite behavior in society or among members of a particular profession or group; however, what does this look like in the biker community?
I found these 10 etiquette rules on Pekin Insurance company’s blog site, and I have heard all or part of each of these, so I will read each rule, and we will provide our opinion. Please note, this is not an exhaustive list, so if you feel there are some that we are missing, please comment in the YouTube video for Episode 60 and let us know.
1. Obey the rules of the road
When you're on a bike, you are a representative of every other biker. Whether or not it's right, other drivers don't differentiate one biker from another. When you weave in and out of traffic, cut off a driver, or cut to the front of the line at a toll booth, you make every other biker look bad.
JB - I’m kind of in the middle with this one. On one hand I agree that if you’re going to ride stupid, do it somewhere where no one else is going to see/ possibly be affected. Don’t let your dumb decisions have the potential to ruin someone elses day. But on the other hand I think that you are always a representation of a whole group of people no matter what the situation. For example, if you have tattoos, or if your a certain race, etc. But at the same time, people are going to form opinions no matter what… so fuck em.
RB - I would say this bullshit. The same logic applies to all Jeep owners, or all people who drive trucks, or who shave their heads. Does every bald man represent skin heads? Hell no. So if the non-riding public decides because some chick on a bike is riding wheelies on the highway then all other riders must be the same hooligan, then they need to learn how to be more millennial. I sometimes feel that this type of rule is geared toward boomers, who are more likely to judge an entire group based on the individual. The whole guilty by association thing. For this, I feel millennial and younger people are a lot better about not associating 1 for the man. I don’t judge all Arabs based on the actions of the 9/11 attackers.
2. Obey the rules of the road with other bikers
Most traffic laws are intended to keep people safe, so when you pass another biker, use a separate lane. Passing in the same lane puts both you and the other biker in a potentially dangerous situation. (One caveat is that if you are on a busy road, and there is room for another biker to safely pass you within your lane, you can wave them through.)
JB - 100% yes. Never pass a bike in the same lane unless that other rider has acknowledged you and has waved you by.
RB - Yep, I agree with this one!
3. Obey the bikers' rules of the road
Beyond the general traffic rules, there are unwritten rules bikers follow with one another. One of the most important is to check on other riders if you see them stopped on the roadside. It could be they just need a break. It could also be that they are out of gas, had a flat, or they're having engine trouble. In any case, what goes around comes around, and you'll be glad to have the help when it's you stuck on the side of a lonely highway.
JB - I almost always check with a thumbs up. More times than not, they are completely fine and will wave you by. Also depends on if I have anything to help with. It’s very uncommon to come across someone without a cell phone and or cell service. I stole Ken’s saying when it comes to pulling up on broken down bikers that I’m sure he’s going to say in his segment.
RB - I am hesitant to say yes to this one. I am a full supporter of the 2nd amendment, and I utilize the rights afforded me by the constitution, so I am okay pulling over to help; however, I am more likely to pull over if I am in my truck than on my bike. With the truck, I could give them a lift to a gas station or somewhere they could make arrangements to be picked up. On the bike, it really depends on the situation. Again, since I utilize the 2nd amendment, my fear factor is somewhat lower than those that are not utilizers of the 2nd amendment
4. Don't skip the wave unless you have to
The "motorcycle wave" is synonymous with riding. It's an acknowledgment of the familial ties among riders. But it isn't always appropriate. Safety and control of your bike always come first, and other riders should understand if you aren't in a position to take a hand off the controls.
JB - I have to take Shadetree’s point on this one. Yes I get all pissy in my videos if someone doesn’t wave, but that’s purely for entertainment.
RB - Who actually cares? My attention is not always on the other side of a street, and I don’t feel required to wave at those riders. I do, when I think about it, but I feel the biker wave is more of an old school thing.
5. Be respectful
Not everyone can afford a custom Sportster. And not everyone wants a Kawasaki Ninja. The fact remains, whether you're on a Goldwing or a Yamaha V Star 250, you're on a bike, and so is your fellow rider. Respect that. Also, never ask if you can ride someone else's bike.
JB - Jabbing between friends is one thing. Being a cunt to strangers is another.
RB - A custom sportster? That is where the bar is set? I tend to agree with this rule, I am cool with anyone on two wheels, and those on trikes. Since I don’t consider the Slingshot a bike, I am good.
6. Pass courteously
When you’re cruising on the open highway and you approach another Harley-Davidson rider, you have to ride with them for a few hundred feet before going past them. This isn’t a law or anything; it is proper etiquette to show other riders your respect.
Although this is written with Harleys in mind, the same could be said for anytime you approach another biker.
JB - Lol wut…. No.
RB - This is the stupidest shit ever. Ride along with a group or another rider? Fuck that… Unless, we are both lone riders on a highway going the same speed… In this situation, I am not against this. It is more of a safety thing, two bikes equals more visible surface area. When it comes to passing, no!
7. Don't assume
Don't assume it's okay to join another rider or group of riders on the road.
JB - I’m always cautious of this one. Just because I know some people are kind of anal about who rides with them. For my groups, as long as you’re not putting my group in unnecessary danger, come on in.
RB - I would say this is more geared toward clubs. If you see a patch, don’t join up on the road.
8. Riding in groups
Each riding club or motorcycle club has its own personality, but there are some universal guidelines for riding in groups. Maintain your position in the group, although you can and should wave faster riders ahead. It's okay to fall behind as you can always catch up when the group stops for a break. Remember, it's not a race. Riding ahead, however, is rude.
JB - The basic group riding etiquette is crucial. Never pass your leader *cough cough* donnie.
RB - The road captains set the rules for the ride. If you don’t like the rules, don’t ride with the group.
9. Ride in formation
Along with keeping your place within the group, you also need to maintain your spot within your lane. A staggered formation gives you better visibility, and it also gives you more space and opportunity to react to road hazards or accidents.
JB - One of my biggest pet peeves in our group rides is those who don’t understand or follow basic group riding formation.
RB - Formation is one of the biggest safety protocols we have.
10. Don't ignore your skill level
This is perhaps the single most important piece of motorcycle etiquette. Whether you're on a solo ride, a quick trip to the store, or on a long-distance ride with a group, don't ignore your comfort level with your bike. You don't have to be the first one off the line at a stop light. You don't need to take that curve as fast as another rider, nor do you need to push your bike to top speeds on the highway. You know your skill level. Trust that. After all, you're already on a bike; you've got nothing to prove.
JB - I think this one is probably broken the most. I’m assuming this comes along with the “I’m on a bike i’m a badass” mentality. It’s also the number one factor that leads to unforced errors.
RB - When you are by yourself or with 1 or 2 buddies and your goal is to increase your skill level, fine, do that. If you are in a group setting where you don’t know all of the other riders, ALL of the other riders, then don’t push your own limits. You will put others’ life in danger. If you crash on your own, I am okay with that, you are accepting the risk. But as soon as you take out another rider because of your inability to ride at the skill level required, then you are a dick and deserve the lawsuit that follows… or you join forces with that ass hat and start a podcast!
Closing Argument: What is the one accessory on your bike that no matter what bike you ride, you will always have this on it?