Group vs. Solo riding, which one do you prefer?

By | June 3, 2014

20140505_085424_HDR_1Is motorcycle riding an art? Or is it just a death wish? Is it the perfect orchestra of man and machine? Or is it just a pastime of dimwit whack-jobs? Is it a personal feeling? Or is it a group orgy session? I have been riding for well over 6 years now, with 60,000+ kms clocked and almost entire India seen. Most of my long rides have been solo, my Ladakh trip was with just one another guy, and the biggest group I have ever ridden with had 10 bikes in total.

I don’t understand the mentality behind group rides, especially those hordes of hundreds. I have seen a huge amount of bikes riding together, crashing into each other and sliding off the road, all in the name of Ride for Safety. Where’s the logic? Beats me. I also have been to rides with small groups that turned out to be awesome, much more fun than just twisting the throttle on your own. Here are my 2 cents about pros/cons of both solo and group rides.Β 

Advantages of Solo Riding/ Disadvantages of Group Riding

  1. No waiting: You never have to stand at some meeting point, check your watch a hundred times, wait for everyone to arrive to begin the trip. You are the boss, you make the schedule, it’s a very personal experience. I have never been on a group ride where I had to wait less than half-hour for other people to arrive.
  2. Long distances possible: My longest rides have always been solo, simply because groups are never as fast as a single rider. Keeping a group of 2 wheels together for 1000 kms is nearly impossible, and utterly slow. Your average speed will be much more solo than in a group.
  3. Absolute freedom: You can do whatever the hell you feel like doing. You can take whichever route pleases you, even if it a long cut. You can stop for food wherever you like. You can rest for as long as you feel. It’s all about you and your machine. In group rides, you mostly go with a plan, and it’s hard to do what your heart desires.
  4. Safer: This might be debatable, but in some ways solo riding is safer than group. I have heard so many instances of people within the same group ramming against each other. Logically speaking, so many bikes riding together increases the probability of a mishap exponentially, but this greatly depends on the type of people you are riding with.

Disadvantages of Solo Riding/ Advantages of Group riding

  1. Lonely: Solo rides are not for the feeble-minded, they involve a lot of self-introspection and the ability to amuse yourself! Imagine riding 15-17 hours a day, not speaking to anyone else, just you and your thoughts. It does teach you a thing or two about yourself, but can get very boring. Group rides, on the other hand, are easier on the mind, with more human interaction and less alone time.
  2. Costly:Β Solo rides with overnight stops tend to get costlier than group ones, simply because the cost of your hotel isn’t divided between people. It is nearly impossible to find dormitory style beds around India, so you end up staying alone in a room meant for 2/3 people. Finances are better managed when the cost is divided between people, be it room or food.
  3. Less safe: I know, I just said solo riding is safer. Well, in some ways it ain’t. You are alone, hundreds of kilometers away from friends and family. If, by bad luck, any mishap occurs, you are on your own. It’s good to have friends around when times aren’t in your favor. Like if you end up having a catastrophic failure in the middle of nowhere, your riding partners can go far and wide and come back with expert help. If you are alone, you are stranded.
  4. Very uneventful: Solo rides are like the ECG of a dead guy, one straight boring line. Nothing much happens, unless it is bad! In one of the group rides I went to recently, I witnessed not 1, but 2 major bike crashes, heard many interesting stories, and met many lovely people. My solo rides are just a blur of wind noise and fuel stops.

These are my thoughts about solo/group rides. I still prefer riding alone, but that can be attributed to the lack of similar-minded partners. I would strongly advise against riding in these huge groups that seem very common nowadays, simply because they are filled with inexperienced, show-off, and generally obnoxious people who will make your trip a living nightmare. It is also a good idea to ride with similar spec bikes, it is easier to stay together and enjoy the roads if all can keep up with each other. Always keep an open mind, do new things, and have fun!

  • Subash Sankar

    I usually prefer solo rides, On group rides I usually see people interested only on boasting on the social media that they love to travel and show off about their branded stuffs. Those guys forget to be an alive traveler, rather focus on covering distances and boasting to others that they are riders. Then people were more welcoming to me when I ride solo, some hosted me to the lesser known awesome places and some even invited me to their houses and got me introduced to their families. I ended up with more beautiful places and met some awesome people when I rode solo. When we talk about safety, it is as safe as riding on Indian roads. It is not cheap but it is definitely worth it. For a person like me who does not want to spoil the travel which is carried out by saving money after a lot of struggles and compromises to experience the pleasure of riding and traveling, solo riding is definitely a value for money stuff

  • Akhil, I’m a happy solo rider, previously I was solo due to lack of choice but now, with the advent of many forums and online groups when finding biking partner is not a tough task, I choose to be solo πŸ™‚
    If one has chosen to be a solo rider:
    – he’s never lonely as there’re too many faces to interact on the go and I tell you that’s one of the most interesting part of traveling (I’m sure you’d admit)
    – yes bit costly, but then again you can always inquire about a ‘sasta’ place πŸ˜›
    – yes, risk is all yours and there were occasions I felt I had another guy to drag a local mechanic… sigh… but again rarely such happened.
    – it never ever a flat ecg, you got to track the sinus rhythm of solo riding and I tell you the first point comes to play here πŸ˜‰
    Happy riding bro!

    • I’ve enjoyed solo for a long long time, and if you’ve done it once you can always do it again. Nowadays I’ve got some like-minded people to ride along with, and it is a completely different experience! I still feel solo is more adventurous, and the real way to ride a motorcycle, but it’s good to have company on a 20 hour ride for a change πŸ™‚

  • faraz

    both have their pros an cons dont they?? it would be better to atleast have that one biker friend beside you to keep pushing the throttle together !! i would say 2-3 bikes would be way better than those 10+ biker groups! should try something like wild hogs style sometime πŸ™‚ πŸ˜›

    • Remaking the wild hogs story would be a dream come true πŸ™‚

    • Christofer

      I ride with a group of riders having a similiar mindset. Of course there are some adjustments and compromises but it is much more safer and enjoyable with all the stories. πŸ™‚ .. Solo riding ain’t for the weak hearted.

      • I’ve also caught the group bug now, don’t feel like riding solo, at all πŸ™‚

        • Christofer

          Happy Riding Akhil.. πŸ™‚ .. If you do a south trip do pm me.

  • Sachin Nair

    I have done both – Solo and Group. Both have their own charm and personally I prefer riding in group. I love the whole experience of riding in a group. The pointΒ here is do you have the right company?

    If the answer to the above question is Yes then you will love group ride more than your solo ride. If you have riders who can gel with your style of riding, if bonding of butt breaks and food stop overs are also at par then fun of riding along with your buddy just becomes that much more pleasurable. Sharing precious moments, having biking talks and creating memories along the journey is a feeling out of this world.

    • True Sachin! Takes a long time of trial and error to find such company though, but once you get it, the experience is truly awesome.

  • Bibhas Singh

    Though haven’t gone solo for a long distance ride but still i will prefer to ride solo:)

    • Try it, you won’t regret Bibhas πŸ™‚