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I will have to take the middle road on this one. I think that both the lead and "tailgunner" should be experienced riders with a good knowledge of group riding. Both positions have a major responsibility to the group.billmeek said:The ride lead is the one that determines the road ahead is safe. The lead also signals the group for the formations they need to make (single file, staggered). The ride lead is alos watching the riders, but doing it from the front.
I agree with Bill that the lead rider does determine if the road ahead is safe. But I would also add that it is still the responsibility of each rider in the group to determine for his/her self if the road ahead is safe for them. I've ridden in groups where many riders blindly follow the lead rider or the bike ahead into turns, over rises in the road, through intersections, etc. with the attitude "if he/she made it, so can I". That's a gamble, at best.
I also agree that the lead rider watches the group but usually it's for a "headlight count" to make sure everyone is accounted for and to pace the ride to keep the group together. It's the sweep rider who is in the best position to observe the groups riding habits to see if anyone needs help or be reminded of the rules. In the groups I ride with, we try to make sure that the first and last bikes can communicate with each other via CB or communicator.
I've been with groups (more than 3 - 4 riders) where the sole qualification for the leader is that they know where we are going and the last bike is the one that gets off the parking lot last. I always drop to the rear quickly and keep a safe distance because they always result in a "cluster_ _ _ _"