The Way We Ride

Our Drop Off System

When on club ride-outs, it is common practice for NPR Club riders to use the “Drop Off” system of group riding. This ensures progress whilst allowing the group to stay together even though there may be quite some distance between the Ride Leader and the Tail End Charlie.

The whole idea behind the drop off system is to provide a series of moveable signposts for all the riders in the group to follow, irrespective of any gaps which have occurred on the ride, so that riders don’t have to “keep up” with the rider in front. It acknowledges the fact that the ride can get strung out over a long distance due to a variety of reasons – e.g. road works, traffic lights, give way junctions, roundabouts etc. Also, not all riders will have access to a map case on their bike and might be on unfamiliar roads. It allows the inexperienced rider to ride at their own pace without worrying about keeping up, getting lost, or which way to go.

How It Works

The group will have ‘Ride Leader’ and a ‘Tail End Charlie’ (or back marker) for the day. The positions of these two riders will not change throughout the ride. They will be introduced to all the riders in the group at the start of the run


Whenever or wherever there is a change of direction at junctions, and all roundabouts, the rider immediately behind the leader, (now referred to as “Marker”), will indicate the direction taken by the leader, and will stays as a marker for all the following bikes. To do this, the Marker should pull in at the side of the road, in a safe place where he/she will be visible to the rest of the riders, so the direction can be indicated to all the following riders. It is most important that the marker stops in a position where:-

1. It is safe to do so.
2. They do not put themselves at any risk.
3. The rest of the ride can see them clearly as they approach the direction change.
4. The marker should clearly indicate the direction taken by the leader, using, if necessary, indicators, hands and/or bike.
5. The marker should put themselves in a position which does not make it difficult for other riders of other vehicles to negotiate the turn – eg mark a left hand turn 10-20 metres before the actual junction if possible.

When the Tail End Charlie approaches the marker, the marker should take up position in front of the Tail-End-Charlie. The Tail End Charlie should leave enough space for this to happen. If it is not safe to pull out in front of the Tail End Charlie then the Marker should rejoin the traffic when possible and take up position in front of the Tail End Charlie as soon as it is safe to do so. This simple technique of riding allows the group of bikes to stay together, even though they may be spread out. It could happen that the number two rider (The Marker) forgets to mark a direction change – in which case the next rider (Number three) should take it upon themselves to be the marker, and mark the direction change to prevent the chain from breaking.

Whilst riding in a group, it is important for you to keep a lookout for the rider behind to ensure their safety and that they are not having problems keeping up with the group. Remember, they may be new to riding in a group and perhaps not as confident as you are. Do not overtake other bikes in the group unless it is essential; (BMF advice).

If possible, it is a good idea for you to stagger your positioning in the group, this allows the rider in front to have good vision of you and traffic behind in his mirror.

Riders unfamiliar with the drop off system should start towards the rear of the group so that they can observe the good practice of others before it is their turn to be a Marker.

The group may sometimes become very ‘strung out’, causing anxiety to some riders. The Leader may then decide to stop, in a safe place, to allow the group to re-form before continuing.

Urban Formation


When riding in towns or heavy traffic areas, it is good practice to ‘close up’ the line of riders in a ‘footstep’ formation, so that there is not a long string of bikes causing even greater congestion. Also a shorter line of bikes may get through a set of traffic light at the same ‘green’ phase, thereby keeping together.

If possible, it is a good idea for you to stagger your positioning in the group, this allows the rider in front to have good vision of you, and traffic behind in his mirror. This formation is achieved by road positioning. The first rider positions to the right side of the traffic lane, and the next rider positions to the left side of the traffic lane. Each subsequent rider positions to continue the pattern. This formation means that each rider (except the first two), will be following the line of the rider two places in front. The length of road required to accommodate all riders is now shorter, but each rider is not riding immediately behind the rider in front of them, thereby increasing the breaking distance and reducing the risk of running in to their rear end.

Safety and Legal Reminder

And finally, be sure to listen to your group leader before the start of the ride to ensure he has not made any changes to these procedures. Obeying these simple rules, laws & above advice will ensure that our ride outs will be safe and pleasurable.

Riders are reminded that they must obey all relevant UK road traffic laws and Road Traffic Act legislation, and, if and when appropriate, those of other nations. They are to observe the Highway Code and heed the warnings displayed on road signs and signals (e.g. Local and national speed limits).

All riders are legally responsible for their safety conduct while on public roads, and for ensuring they comply with existing road traffic laws and RTA legislation with regard to third party insurance, MOT certificates, vehicle excise licence and driving licence requirements. Members who invite guests are responsible for ensuring they are made aware of the content of “The Way We Ride”, the need to comply with the relevant road traffic laws and RTA legislation and are informed that, as non NPR members, they would only be covered for claims against them through the BMF liability insurance scheme if they are BMF individual members or members of a BMF affiliated club. No riding styles suggested below should be adhered to where conditions are unfavourable. You are responsible for your own safety, the safety of your pillion and the safety of other road users.