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How to deal with motorcycle peer pressure

Motorcycle Clubs Ulysses peer

Negative peer pressure is alive and thriving in motorcycling as it always has and probably always will be. Do you have a coping strategy?

Some say peer pressure does not exist in motorcycling because riding is about not fitting in. It’s about being the wild loner. 

If that’s the case, why are there so many motorcycle groups where they ride the same type of bike or wear the same type of gear?

Despite the fact that we ride in a protective cocoon of leather and fibreglass helmets, motorcycling is still largely a social activity.

Anti-social motorcycle clubs

The problem is that some of these social motorcycle clubs and groups can become anti-social.

Every week we see new videos on social media of packs of riders performing wheelies, stoppies, burnouts and other illegal and anti-social behaviour on public roads.

Police seek riders in stunt groups peer

Thankfully it’s worse in the USA and Britain than in Australia, although we also have our problems.

Anyone who joins these known anti-social ride-out groups is conscientiously asking for danger and there is not much that can be done about that except to leave it to the police.

But riders can still suffer from negative peer pressure riding in social motorcycle groups.

Even in these groups, there can often be someone who will tease other riders about being slow, their inability to ride long distances, wide chicken strips, a lack of overtaking or a rider’s inability to perform a wheelie or burnout.

No one wants to look like the chicken in this situation, so riders tend to give in to this pressure – however jokingly applied – and that’s when accidents happen.

Professional advice

Having the guts to not bow to peer pressure can be difficult, even for some mature riders.

So we went to psychologist and rider Sharon Ledger for some general advice on coping with negative peer pressure.

“Peer pressure is a normal part of forming relationships,” she says, pointing out that there is both negative and positive peer pressure.

“We join groups for a sense of belonging but we can then experience pressure to conform with the group’s norms,” she says.

“That’s why it’s important to join a group that has the same values as you.”

Clubs Sharon Ledger peer
Sharon Ledger

Sharon suggests that if there is an element of bullying in the group, positive peer pressure can be used to change their behaviour.

“Don’t be a bystander to bullying behaviour. Take a stand and show that it is not acceptable. You can put pressure back on a bully by using positive peer pressure.”

Sharon agrees with these four basic tenets of dealing with ever pressure:

  1. Make your own decisions. Do things that make you happy and make those decisions on your own;
  2. Plan a response;
  3. Avoid places and situations that make you uncomfortable; and
  4. Choose positive friends.

We took that advice and applied it to motorcycling.

How to avoid rider peer pressureDangers of organised group rides peer

Here are our five tips for avoiding motorcycle peer pressure:

  1. Leave. If the group is full of this sort of peer pressure, simply leave and find another group. There are so many social riding groups, clubs and Facebook pages out there to choose from, surely you can find one that doesn’t have any peer pressure. Otherwise, ride solo. Click here for 10 great reasons to ride on your own.
  2. Throw out the bullies. If your social club has someone who bullies others about their riding, have a quiet word to them, suspend them, send them to the back of the pack or throw them out. Don’t let a bully ruin your social club.
  3. Go to a track day. If you are feeling too much pressure to ride fast, suggest to your friends that they do a track day instead. They let off steam, they are are fun and they can improve your riding skills. They will also help get rid of those “chicken strips” in a safe and legal way. But make sure you leave your racing behind at the track.
  4. Volunteer to be tail-end Charlie. If the pressure to keep up is too much, become the tail rider. Carry a tool kit and first-aid pack and learn to administer first-aid. That will lift your respect within the group.
  5. Own your individuality. Dress differently and/or ride a different bike to the rest of the group. Be proud to be an individual. People will respect you for that and leave you alone. If not, see tip number 1!
    1. Hi Geepers,
      No I didn’t.
      You obviously missed this: “Click here for 10 great reasons to ride on your own.”
      Please click on the link in the article and tell me what you think!

      1. Yeah, sorry Mark – as soon as I hit send I noticed that! And I loved the “Ten Reasons To Ride On Your Own” – summed up my personal choice perfectly 🙂

          1. Absolutely Fred. I reckon there’s a bunch of guys and gals that would be interested in meeting up at pre-determined venues but all riding there under their own steam. That way people can choose the route (and pace) they prefer. Of course if some still want to ride as a group there
            ‘s nothing stopping them from doing that either. After the catch up you put suggestions in a hat for the following week’s meet, pull one out and that’s it. Whoever turns up turns up. If no-one does but you, nothing lost. You’ve had a ride! It’s not a club, there’s no “rules” – just regular catch-ups with folks who love the bike life as much as you do. Maybe Mark could facilitate getting this off the ground if we talked to him nicely 🙂

  1. In my late 60’s i always reckoned i was too young for ullysses That really seems to be full of control
    freaks and lonely hearts. But i have never joined any form of social club .To me a group ride is 3 close friends
    Bigger the group the more dangerous it gets with novices, and worse people who ego’s far exceed their skills.
    Go by yourself, you can stop where/when you want change destinations at any time, Meet the locals. And not get stuck talking to someone you normally wouldnt give the time of day to.

  2. There are many networking benefits that being in a club can bring. Yes just get rid of the bullies. Unfortunately they are everywhere.

  3. Thanks Mark. I’m going to set up a website to get this idea going here in WA. I’ll send you the link once it’s up 🙂

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