Skip to main content

What YOU can learn from the Police Special Escort Group

Bike Social contributor and video presenter who swapped police helicopters for something a little more exciting, and landed on a police bike



Queen police special escort group motorcycle_THUMB

Image from ITV news live coverage


In the week they were so prominently put into the headlines, the Metropolitan Police Special Escort Group, or SEG as they’re often called, showed the world how to ride a motorcycle.

The TV coverage that accompanied the Queen on her final journeys also showed us the three black-clad riders on the BMWs of the SEG, along with the outriders that accompany the lead bike. When they pulled over at the gates to Buckingham Palace and bowed their heads as Her Majesty the Queen’s cortege passed by, they received widespread acclaim.

Matt Twist, The Deputy Assistant Commissioner for the Metropolitan Police said “Feeling incredibly proud of our Special Escort Group (SEG) last night. In difficult weather and crowds they did, as they always do, absolutely brilliantly”

Queen police special escort group motorcycle_01


I was privileged enough to work alongside the SEG on a couple of occasions, and escorted the Queen once. You’ll have to believe me when I say that nothing sharpens the mind like the thought of the monarch watching you.

I did once get ever-so-slightly told off while assisting the SEG in London, for parking with my front wheel not at exactly the same angle as everybody else’s. A little point, but in truth it made the whole line look pants. I rectified the angle, put it behind me, moved on and didn’t let it burn into my mind, as you can clearly tell.

The Special Escort Group carry out escorts every day – if you spend time in London, you might not even notice them, or perceive them to be a hinderance, as they glide through the capital, but they can show all of us something about how to ride a motorcycle...


One wheel out of position can spoil the line-up!


What to learn from a Police Special Escort Group motorcycle rider

It really is all about the basics, and even though as civilian road riders we don’t get the chance to stop traffic like they do, we can transfer a lot of their riding into our everyday commutes and rides out.

Check your kit: If you witnessed the Special Escort Group riding from RAF Northolt to Buckingham Palace and you commute on a motorbike in the winter, then you’ll appreciate just how difficult it is to ride in the pouring rain, in the dark and with a myriad of lights dazzling you. Anything other than a perfect visor and pinlock is going to be an absolute nightmare. It really is the basics, just make sure your kit is in top order.

Know your route: The SEG keep a look out not only for the clearest path ahead, but also for threats to the convoy, which is probably what you already do on your ride (besides the convoy threat part of course), but you can still learn from these riders, who really are on another level. For instance, there’s no need to have to rely on dealing with immediate situations as a first resort; the SEG have an encyclopaedic knowledge of London and know where the traffic will flow, in the same way that you probably know where you’re going. So brush up on some alternative routes to work and how long they’ll take. Make sure you know which bus lanes you can and can’t use, and make sure you know where you can legally go.

Think ‘what if’: Did you notice the SEG motorcycles aren’t marked up with Hi-Vis like Roads Policing bikes? They’re just white with a Metropolitan Police sticker on the pannier. Granted, they do have flashing strobe lights, but if you ride regularly in a city you’ll know that some drivers don’t always have the best rearward observation. Or any observation for that matter. BikeSafe instructors will stress the importance of thinking ‘what if’; never assume another road user (or pedestrian) has seen you, even if they look straight at you. Always consider ‘what if they pull out’, ‘what if they suddenly stop’, ‘what if there’s a child running out in front of that stopped bus…’

Be smooth: You won’t hear a siren coming from an SEG bike – they don’t need to advertise their presence – but you will hear the riders blowing a good old-fashioned whistle. In a world where we hear lots of sirens and can become a little casual about it, there’s nothing like the piercing sound of an ‘Acme Thunderer; to catch the attention. I’m not suggesting you should use a whistle on your commute, but there’s no need to blat about everywhere as it’s rarely much, if any, quicker and it just gets you noticed for all the wrong reasons.

The Met are recruiting now, so if you fancy your chances and can do at least two years on probation (nowhere near a motorbike), then pass a motorcycle course (your DVSA one won’t cut it), then a motorcycle escort course (VIPEX), a public order course and a firearms course, alongside having a cabbie’s instinct for getting around London then you could be in with a chance.

If that sounds like an advert for the A-Team, that’s because they probably are.