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  • Roadies – am I overreacting?
  • timnwild

    Just saw two road cyclists (serious types) slipstreaming right behind a lorry on a busy A road – less than 2ft from the back of the vehicle. To me, it looked as if any sudden stop from the lorry might well make them slam into the back of it, the driver definitely wouldn’t know they were there, and anyone turning onto the road into the gap behind the lorry as it passed wouldn’t see the riders until they were squashing them into the lorry.

    It looked incredibly dangerous to me, but is this normal and perfectly safe and I don’t know what I’m talking about? I don’t ride much on the road for speed.

    This isn’t an attempt to bait the forum into a cul-de-sac of slagging – I’m genuinely curious.


    Premier Icon Kryton57

    its not normal and not safe and shouldnt be done.

    Elite cylists do it with Team cars sometimes during races – but the conditions of course are entirely different


    its not normal and not safe and shouldnt be done.


    Their choice to do it though, no even if it is very dangerous.

    Not only is it dangerous but surely its downright cheating? I used to slip stream vans on my old 125cc TZR as a kid. I would scream with excitement as I topped 100 mph + on it, only to have my balloon burst when the van pulled in and my speed dropped to a more humble speed.

    Premier Icon cynic-al

    Drafting buses is ace fun. I don’t do it much these days though.


    We do it a lot round here (loads of tractors locally, all doing 25-30mph are ideal for it). However, tractor drivers can see you better and as I rule I stay to one side, easier to go round than stop. Note also that not all trailers have the brake lights connected!
    Did Boston to Osbournby recently (25ish miles) tucked in behind a JCB, averaged about 28mph.
    Not sure I would be fit enough to get behind a lorry though!

    Premier Icon kilo

    Sometimes do it for short bit’s (1/4 mile or so) away from one set of lights on my commute on slow moving artcics, not particularly dangerous if you take care.

    anyone turning onto the road into the gap behind the lorry as it passed wouldn’t see the riders until they were squashing them into the lorry.

    not sure how anyone could do that if the riders “were less than two feet from the back of the vehicle”

    Premier Icon soundninjauk

    Some buses in London have yellow stickers warning against this. They’re small enough that you can only really read them if you’re too close.


    Jef Wachowchow – cheating or if training it’s called motorpacing. Usually done behind a moped and the moped rider should no you’re doing it (and it’s not some unsuspecting….). Not many amateurs do it.

    I’ve been known to sit behind a vehicle to get a bit of help on rare occasions, but pick the moment carefully, don’t do it for very long and always ease of when getting close to a junction.


    been a few triathletes / TT’ers go through the rear windows of people carriers in richmond park when they stop suddlenly to look at the deer. it’s just darwinism.

    i followed a girl on a TT bike physically shooing the back of a people carrier (doing the 20mph park limit) away with the back of her hand while riding inches away from the nearside rear wheel??!? it was obviously interfering with her strava time 😯

    Premier Icon zippykona

    Has anyone made fairings for road bikes, if so were they any use?


    Their leotards will protect them, as well as making them look super cool.


    BTW I wouldn’t do it in conditions like we have today. Too many other factors that would add to the risk.

    I also live in the middle of nowhere, wouldn’t do it in a city.

    Not really safe but it’s done a lot! i myself prefer tractors.

    It’s hardly cheating unless your doing a TT,

    normally done behind scooters(motor pacing) which is done alot and provides very specific workouts.

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon

    Not safe but you’re overeacting and exagerating, as others pointed out, they can’t be 2ft from the back of the lorry AND be in danger from cars pulling out behind the lorry unless you can accelerate into a gap that small that quickly!

    Premier Icon titusrider

    *Hand up*
    Done it behind a massive artic througha series of roundabouts in spain, it was a hoot!

    Of course its dangerous though!


    been a few triathletes / TT’ers go through the rear windows of people carriers in richmond park when they stop suddlenly to look at the deer.

    I see a lot of drivers do this, its a manoeuvre so look in your mirror and signal first please!


    Cheers. Daily Mail-style apoplexy fading…

    Premier Icon thisisnotaspoon

    In the drivers defence Tri’ers don’t exactly have a reputation for looking where they’re going!


    Done it a few times too, not likely to get T-boned if you’re tucked in.

    It’s the thought of pot holes that grates though, I usually start to back off when common sense restores itself.

    Premier Icon Rusty Spanner

    zippykona – Member

    Has anyone made fairings for road bikes, if so were they any use?

    Very much so, especially on trikes and recumbents.
    They, along with almost every other worthwhile cycling innovation have been banned because they’re far too much fun and may lead to to over-excitement.

    Btw, that sound you’ve just heard is ‘oldgit’ of this parish exploding. 😀


    Used to do it,but the tractors are too fast now. 😉

    Premier Icon iainc

    did it once years ago, about 10 feet off a truck – nearly got taken out by car coming the other way and turning right. Never again 😳


    Never do it ever.

    In 2012 we came across a group drafting behind a farm vehicle, we stayed back which made all but one of the others realize how dumb it was. He kept drafting, then when the vehicle came to a fairly abrupt halt he swerved out to the right….into a car and then into the ambulance to take him to hospital.
    The snob in me won’t do it.


    ^^^ IainC – you weren’t close enough if the car could turn across you. Two inches off the back of it and you’ll be fine 😉

    Have done it a few times, got a great tow home from a bus commuting once, held 30+ mph on a stretch where I normally hit low 20s.

    Cars are better for me than the solid ones as you can see through the rear window and out the front.

    Of course it’s not safe but it’s one of life’s calculated risks that make it fun! A lot of that comment was tongue in cheek but when the legs are tired it is something I do that I know I really shouldn’t.

    An old guy I ride with tells me stories how his mates used to follow buses downhill and see who could get a rubber tyre mark highest up the back of the bus – absolutely mental if true!!

    Premier Icon scaredypants

    Btw, that sound you’ve just heard is ‘oldgit’ of this parish exploding.



    Is it safe? No. But then again neither is rattling down a black run on a full suss mountain bike….


    Was it on a strava segment?


    always do it behind my dad’s old van.countryside.
    my uncle always says he’ll let me draft but always goes ever so slightly faster,then when I catch up he does it again.and again.good training though.
    on rural roads those 3 wheeled vehicles are perfect.the smaller ones do 28-35kph.but consider roads are pretty curves and whatnot.

    did it pretty often spanish traffic.
    trucks are worse than buses.usually higher,so you get a bit of air between the wheels.staying right behind the wheel is better,but I’m a bit wary of a stone being flung up into my face.
    got a lift from an M-class once.gave me a pull for about 20km.He’d obviously done it before as speeding up/down was gradual and smooth,and he’d put on the mergency lights to indicate when he’s do either.
    top bloke.
    it’s dangerous,well.depends.depends on a lot of things.sidewinds and curvy narrow roads are pretty hairy.
    old vehicles usually brake far less,so if their brake lights work then you should be able to outbrake them.
    quite a few brown trouser moments come to mind.a few pretty long nosewheelies on a road bike.

    done properly it’s not dangerous at mtb,or commuting.or road riding.or even chopping onions.

    juniors do it all the time as part of their training back in tuscany.

    there was a youtube vid of a dutch? road cyclist drafting at 90kph,no helmet either.

    just consider that meiffret did 204 kmh back in 62.
    and the world record is 244kmH that’s 152Milesperhour.

    good advice steve.on cars/vans with rear can see what’s happening ahead.
    2 inches is a bit near.6-10 gives you quite a bit of margin.
    more than about a metre and you lose a lot of the draft.depends on the size of the vehicle though.
    2m behind a bus is fine.behind a 4×4,too far,behind a car,not much use.

    I just remembered I seemed to often coincide with a garbage truck on my commute.good draft,nice easy speed,good driving,but not really advisable.


    I do it when I can, however instead of looking at the light, I listen at the sound of the engine, if the engine note changes then I back off.

    TBH it’s great fun and even better training for speed work.

    Premier Icon MSP


    Did it all the time as a lad. Me and my brother used to rub the muck off the back of buses. Didn’t have to pedal for miles.

    Seriously though it’s obviously very dangerous.


    yeah,that’s it.I’ll bookmark it.thanks.
    Krabbe says something about Meiffret in the Rider,I seem to recall.

    Got close to 50mph behind a lorry in France this summer. Not big, not clever and VERY dangerous but really good fun… 😀

    Premier Icon funkrodent

    Do it behind buses sometimes to/from work. It’s ok as long as you don’t get too close, know the road (junctions, lights, bus stops etc), have your wits about you and cover your brakes at all times *Goes off to find some wood to touch*

    That said, I’d lambast my boy if I ever caught him doing it. But I guess that applies to a lot of the “fun” things in life 😀


    Risk assessment an individual choice unless it puts others at risk. A friend of mine did it on his motorbike. He got decapitated.


    you don’t have to be THAT close to a bus to get a drafting benefit. you even get a benefit tagging on the very corner edge where you can also look ahead for the bus stopping so that you can pull out and overtake.
    I’d rather run into the back of a bus than a lorry or a bloody tractor – they have too many pointy bits.


    I overcooked it big time last summer. 100km in, bottles empty, 35 degree heat. I had about 15km left and I was crawling. Would have taken me best part of an hour if I didn’t just collapse somewhere. Passing a slip road I spotted a big articulated water tanker joining, trundling along at 30km/h. Seeing my chance I gave it everything and tucked in. Pretty soon I was doing 60 km/h and I was home in 15 minutes and still alive! Reaching my roundabout the driver gave me a wave and the biggest cheesy grin you can imagine. To be fair to him, you don’t get many cyclists on the Saudi Arabian border.


    It’s about relative speed. Also, the stopping distance of a bus full of passengers or alorry fully laden is quite long. Plus, pro drivers are less likely to hoy on the anchors than erratic car commuters.


    ah yes, the joy of agricultural vehicles. not only do i still do this but, having that joyful triad of being fat, unfit and old, am doing it more now than ever

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