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View Poll Results: What is your choice of riding format?
Solo ride 75 40.11%
Group ride with known people (2-7 riders) 108 57.75%
Group ride with known/unknown people (>7 riders) 4 2.14%
Voters: 187. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 26th January 2023, 22:30   #1
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Group rides v/s Solo rides

Motorcyclists are a different breed altogether. And I believe there is a caste system within us. This caste system is formed not just because of the type of motorcycle they own but their own use of it. For some, it is just the cheapest tool to commute while for some others, their motorcycle is a member of their family. On the latter spectrum, everyday, I come across enthusiasts with such infectious fervour about riding motorcycles that it instills me to do more rides and more difficult rides.

In my short (or relatively short) riding years so far, I have covered the length and breadth of Indian highways on my beloved CBR250R, Interceptor and Classic 500. My CBR recently even crossed the 1 lakh mark. In all these years of riding, I have done various forms of motorcycle trips, solo rides, small group rides, breakfast rides, large multi day group rides, etc. While each of these types have their own ups and downs, I have enjoyed solo rides the most.

Solo rides have taught me a lot about myself, made me tougher and appreciate life a little more. Group rides on the other hand introduced me to motorcycle brotherhood and the fun that an introvert like me can have when he meets like minded individuals. I am now part of more motorcycle groups than I can do justice to.

Here are my identifiers of riding formats and my thoughts on why going solo is my preference:
1. Solo ride
2. Group ride with known folks (2-7 riders)
3. Large group ride with known/unkown riders (>7)

Why do I prefer solo rides:
  • You are free, responsible and independent to take the decisions you want. You want to take the more difficult but scenic path, or you want to take the faster route, it is on you. You want to stop for a break or ride 600 km at a stretch, it is on you.
  • Solo rides are always faster. Unless you end up basking in the sights more than normal, you are always quicker. You can set your own comfortable pace.
  • In my opinion, riding solo in most cases is a safer option. You don't have to deal with newbies as part of your group. You can maintain your own comfortable distance and speed with traffic. You are not bound by the group rules (if any).
  • Flexibility of control over itinerary.
  • You are also on your own when it comes to unforeseen incidents like breakdowns and accidents.
  • Group rides are a nuisance as seen by general public. With riding gear, loud exhausts and fancy toys, that feeling becomes all the more pronounced.

Downsides of solo rides:
  • You are on your own during incidents like breakdowns, accidents or when you are a bit under the weather. While this maybe fine in most situations within India, given the population density you will find help, there will be a few cases you wished you had company.
  • Boredom. On longer rides, riding with company can possibly reduce fatigue during the ride and provide company after the ride.
  • There are smaller nuances like language, shared resources and local support you may end up getting from group rides.

I have done almost 2 lakh km of saddle time. And my preference is currently solo rides for 80% of the time and 20% of group rides. I see group rides more of a social gathering than actually enjoying motorcycles and enjoying the ride.

What would be your preference?
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Old 27th January 2023, 08:42   #2
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

As I started Solo, moved to Group & now back to Solo & Semi-Solo (will get to this later), my thought is simple:

If you're beginning - Start, start & start ONLY with a group which will accelerate getting to discover if you're a social animal loving to be in pack or a lone Wolf or even whether you love to ride or drive & all the nuances of being on open road

Choosing the group is very very, VERY important. I consider very lucky enough to start when the culture of motorcycle riding was picking pace & had made some awesome friends (both TBhp & xBhp across the country & best part being we're all still in touch more than a decade) & almost all of us have identical thoughts, shared similar interests with motorcycles; point being, the group was a RESPONSIBLE one from where I learnt much beyond motorcycling...FOR LIFE!!

These days I prefer solo or max with 2-3 riding buddies; some of the most important point to consider in group riding are:
  • No matter 3 or 30 people in the group, one should know the remaining 2 or 29 folks not just by their name, but also their abilities to ride
  • A common pattern being, everyone wants to be that lead rider after 2-3 group rides; needless to say the lead has to come from the experience of ride + skills to lead & not by the age or having the most powerful motor!!
  • Larger the group, better, shorter the distance unless everyone are equally skilled enough & determined, which ofcourse ages over time
  • Mixing motorcycles with different segment (like 250/400/650/800/liter) are most likely to result in dissatisfaction, which ofcourse can be mitigated by having subgroups according to their classes. But then, some 250 riders are too spirited & can keep up with some lethargic 400s or even 650s that might turn sour
  • If the entire group is not like minded, groupism (politics) plays a spoilt sport as well
  • Last but not the least, if one is picky in nature, group rides are to be avoided straight away!

On the downside of Solo rides, one can always mitigate the risks to an extent; for instance:
  • Breakdowns can be mitigated with reliable motorcycles; Weather can perhaps affect the travel time & change plans; accidents, ofcourse, are bad, can't help much; but health issues are the worst nightmare where one can't do anything much. Atleast in an accident people will rush to help (either to make you or themselves better), but when health rots, things get worst; especially the headaches, diarrhea, dysentery where the fatigue hits after a while forcing you think you can manage
  • Even if someone charts the route map, a solo rider has to do it; actions are much different GMap. Solo rides are tiresome both mentally & physically compared to some respite with group rides. In a solo ride one has to take decision on the stoppages, decision taking a route, decision on food, decision on accommodation, decision, decision, decision tiring mentally to ofcourse the riding which is both tiring mentally (in our Nation) & physically
  • Boredom yes, on a long stretch of highways (eg: Nelamangala - Tumkur - Belgaum; Manor - Vapi - Surat - Bharuch - Ahmedabad; Adilabad - Nagpur; Nagpur - Narasinghpur - Jhansi - Gwalior), where one has to have a strong endurance otherwise a group can be a blessing here
  • The speed of the group depends on the speed of slowest rider in the group; so if one is not comfortable riding in those speeds, better to ride solo

However, there's a intermediate & yet a little uncomfortable that very very few people undergo - Semi Solo/Riding Two-Up. If spouse (most of the cases) is comfortable taking back seat or taking turns to ride, then, nothing beats this approach. Few downsides being:
  • One has to have a very very, very good motorcycle offering as much comfort as possible
  • Spouse has be comfortable in being little uncomfortable with the attitude of swalpa adjust maadi

BTW, it seems we've 2 similar threads - Your best road trip (Solo or in a group) & Group Riding Dynamics and Safety issues

Last edited by Aditya : 27th January 2023 at 16:09. Reason: As requested
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Old 27th January 2023, 11:00   #3
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

Been on both spectrums, and have ridden solo as well in long and small groups quite a bit. Where in the larger groups looked fun earlier, the charm died very quickly and I stopped joining them and started going solo or with a friend or two at best.

One fine day I quit all the riding groups I was part of, and along with one another close rider we decided to form a small group of like minded people. We make it a point to add only people who align with each other and are a regular joiners. Now this group is my go to group, and more or less is again divided in sub groups where people ride in small groups and sometimes we all meet and ride together. Average size of a ride for this group is 2-4 riders on a given weekend.

We are only a group of 17 riders over a course of more then two years, and good thing is everyone gels with everyone and knows everyone both as rider and personally. This for me has worked the best, as I have grown in age I really am not upbeat about meeting new people regularly, and usually for this group also people are added based on referrals. This is my happy place where I would probably want to continue operating.

To quote an ongoing example few of them wanted to ride to Dhanushkodi for the long weekend, and others just wanted an overnighter. So few of them went to Dhanushkodi and some of us are going to Yercaud tomorrow, where they will join us on the way back and then we will all ride back together.

If not from some one from this group, then I prefer to go solo.

Last edited by AtheK : 27th January 2023 at 11:21.
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Old 27th January 2023, 11:16   #4
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

Not a rider, but I enjoy solo drives more . Just like a great workout at the gym, I really get "in the zone" with a great car and a great road. It's extremely therapeutic for me & I get some of my best ideas and thinking done when on solo drives.

Second choice, driving in small groups. Even when it comes to offroading, I prefer just another 4x4 or two for company.
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Old 27th January 2023, 11:31   #5
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

After riding motorcycles across the length and breadth of Himalayas and Northern India, my two cents. it's always good to ride in a small group, if you are on long rides or going places you are unfamiliar with because of two main reasons:
a) Safety from mugging, road rage or even harassment by locals.
b) In case of an unfortunate incident, it's always good to have people who can take care of you, especially when you are far away from your home.

For small weekend rides around the city, I prefer going alone.
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Old 29th January 2023, 09:59   #6
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

I am a solo rider, mostly, as I just go for a ride whenever I feel like it - with just a direction in mind, on an unplanned route and come back whenever I want. I prefer open country roads and there are quite a few picturesque roads I have discovered this way. There are some beautiful hills and vineyards half an hour’s ride from my home and I just tank up and go, keeping in mind just a general direction, knowing that eventually I will hit one of the highways back to city. A quick fang on a Sunday morning could see me back three hours / 200 kms later.

I have a small riding group of five people for occasional planned, long / overnight rides. But, the main thing is we are all aware of / comfortable with / respect each others’ riding abilities and machines. Once on the open road, we each ride how we feel like. We get separated and agree to meet again at some town two hours later. So, the guy who wants a leisurely cruise enjoying the mountain scenery is not holding back the corner-carver in a sports bike. We three “mature” riders ride cruisers, one younger than us rides a sports tourer while the youngest rides an old classic bike - but, that is an absolutely manic howling two stroke 250cc Honda factory race replica. If you know how to ride, big cruisers can make fast progress even on mountain roads, but that little howling monster always brings a smile to my face!

I have gone on a couple of big group rides long back and will never repeat them - it’s not at all a comfortable feeling that you are riding closely at 100 km/h in a large group comprised mostly of people you know nothing about - not only their riding skills, but their mental state, alcohol / drug intoxication etc. and that a mistake by one drunk / inexperienced rider could set off a domino crash that could kill you!

Last edited by LTAutoMad : 29th January 2023 at 10:16. Reason: Update
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Old 29th January 2023, 11:27   #7
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

Came across this video that subtly puts across a merit of riding with a group of knowledgeable riders
Ofcourse such situations can be handled by a solo rider provided they're disciplined, determined, persistent & endured at heart

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Old 29th January 2023, 12:12   #8
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

It's good to ride in small groups as the camaraderie makes me feel protected from the harsh outdoors. And, in times of breakdown is pretty useful. Group members always come up with new destination plans which is good as well. Sometimes there is a lot of chatter over the Sena, but I just mute it. I alternate between riding solo and riding in groups, mostly.
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Old 29th January 2023, 12:50   #9
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

I have voted for solo, that is my choice if it comes to that. However I am not averse to riding with small group of known friends.
I absolutely hate those huge convoys.

I do not have a senna or equivalent equipment. Never tried, Conversing with friends while riding would be great I guess. That is not going to happen till I live in Jaipur, if and when I move back to Bangalore I would like to try this.
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Old 29th January 2023, 13:29   #10
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

A very good thread, indeed! My preference is usually Solo or if with a group, they have to absolute besties, who ride in a similar pattern, share similar values, and are compassionate in general.

Riding Solo gives you a lot of time to introspect. It's absolute Zen! Whenever I had some clarity missing from my life, I used to ride it out and almost 9 out of 10 times, I used to get a very clear answer. But of course, it comes with its own challenges, a breakdown on a ghostly highway, and you are left all alone to deal with, at best you are at the mercy of fellow travelers on the same route. The best is to learn the basics of motorcycle repair and ride alone.

We were 4 of us from the same college and later from the same office, had 4 dominars to us, were of a similar thought value chain, and we used to ride! Just the 4 of us! Lovely rides across South India, these rides just helped us bond stronger, build trust, and develop an unwavering brotherhood. Beyond this group, I have never looked for another group.

The choice has been pretty simple: -
1) Learn the basics of motorcycle repair for the usual situations [Tire Puncture, Battery dead, ABC (Accelerator, Brake & Clutch) Wire change, etc.]
2) Plan your ride, well not a very detailed one, but a generic rough plan to know where you are heading to and where you currently are. Solely relying on Google/Apple maps is not a good idea.
3) If riding in a group, it is best to team up with people who share a similar mindset and riding values.

- Had to sell my Dominar 2 years ago, and I absolutely miss riding.
- Now I drive a Rapid, and have already done so many solo rides, which are absolute fun; however, it can never truly satiate the feeling of riding solo on a motorcycle.
- Hate big groups, majority, not all, of them are just bunch of wannabes with no regard for fellow travelers, they go around littering all over the place they stop by, and are an absolute menace on the street. Of course, I am not putting a blanket statement, but a majority of them fall under this category.

Group Ride: Chennai to Ooty Ride
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Solo Ride: Chennai to Pune

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Solo Drive: Pune- Jaisalmer-Delhi
Group rides v/s Solo rides-rapid.jpg
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Old 29th January 2023, 14:16   #11
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

Nice thread. I mostly agree with everything that has been said about different type of rides.

I did vote for a group ride of 2-7 but that was because there was no option of 2-3. I enjoy the safety and company of having someone along but 7 is way too much. After 3 it gets unwieldy. If you have 1-2 good friends along with you, they sometime open your eyes to new things which you would not do it yourself - new routes, new restaurants on the road etc. I do solo for short rides and like a small group for longer ones.
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Old 29th January 2023, 15:03   #12
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

Id prefer solo rides any day!! Be it on saddle or behind the steering. It gives the freedom to make decisions on the go without thinking much. Can try a new route, camp wherever I feel like, change or add destination. Taking an adventurous and risky less traveled destination without much ifs and buts.

On the flip side the advantages turn into the biggest disadvantage when things go south which Im yet to learn despite several hard lessons
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Old 29th January 2023, 16:57   #13
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

Had only done a couple of group short rides before I up and left on a 4600 kms south India ride in Dec '22.. solo. First time. Zig-zagged through the Nilgiriis and went up till Rameshwaram, and back. 35 odd days. My first long trip on two wheels.

I set the pace. I set the route. I set the detours. I set the resting periods. And spending extra days at the night halts. Never missed company while riding. I was just engaged in leaning a little more at the next curve, braking little more smarter, just relearning & improving what I learnt at the last bend. Had enough company almost every time that I stopped for rest. Someone would always come and strike a short conversation, and I really enjoyed that. They would update about the condition of the roads, the places to visit at the next town that I was stopping at, the must-visit restaurants, the must-avoid ones too, how to be careful about where to park the vehicle, at times even suggested safe hotels to stay at, etc etc

Through with a very limited experience, I'd still pick solo, and not group.. or maybe a small group of similar skill-level riders.

(Getting back on the saddle after a decade biker)
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Old 29th January 2023, 18:36   #14
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

I love riding motorcycles. And I enjoy both solo rides as well as rides with a small known pack in equal measure.

Solo rides give us a lot of independence and we can decide absolutely everything for ourselves - right from the start time, the route, the pace, the rest stops - so that gives quite a lot of flexibility.

I also enjoy the Sunday morning group rides. Our connected during a huge Royal Enfield ride where there were a huge number of riders. But a select few riders connected and bonded from that ride and we now have a Whatsapp group to connect and plan for rides.

I also have a good friend John (a fellow BHP-ian) with whom I have done several weekend rides together. Those have been some of my most memorable rides!

Only the larget group rides with many unknown faces where some are zipping away, some are too slow to ctach-up to me are pointless.
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Old 29th January 2023, 19:22   #15
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Re: Group rides v/s Solo rides

I prefer solo rides.

Have done 700 km a day rides solo a decade back. Recent years, my rides have been limited to 300 km max a day. That too, only when I was in the mood to hit the ghats. Solo rides have the independence that group rides don't. I usually avoid group rides, specially with unknown riders.

Reason being, I lack the basic self control to stick with the group. Usually there is always one or two slow riders, who for some reason refuse to keep up the nominal pace.

I enjoy group rides when I ride with a select few close friends who have similar riding styles. There, the coordination gets magical!!

Last edited by PrasannaDhana : 29th January 2023 at 19:27.
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