Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Secret Motorcycle Hand Greetings: Revealed!

Those of you who ride motorcycles will know exactly what I'm talking about here. Those of you who don't - will hopefully learn something.

I'm referring to that secret "wave" that oncoming bikers may or may not flash each other as they pass on the highway. Oh sure, it seems customary enough - two fellow riders politely saying "hi" to each other as they approach... but is it? Is it really that simple? Actually it's not.

I've been riding a motorcycle my entire adult life and I've been paying attention. And if you think you're going to get a salutation from just any biker coming your way, then you're wrong. Believe it or not, there are some very subliminal and undocumented rules regarding this situation - and I'm going to share them with you now.

Here's how it works:

First of all, we'll need to establish some terminology to make this tutorial easier to follow.

The person initiating the wave will herefor be referred to as the "initiator". The other person will then automatically be known as the "receiver," and if he responds to the wave, will also be known as the "replier." Note that any reference to said replier assumes he is also the receiver and therefore will not also be referred to as the receiver because otherwise he would have to be known as the receiver and the replier - which just doesn't make any sense.

Next, to avoid any unnecessary political or grammar faux pas, all motorcyclists from this point on will be referred to as "riders" and all persons shall be referred to in the male context, just to make it easier.

Ok, now on to the tutorial...

Equity and the Odds of Engagement

The odds of receiving a wave from an oncoming biker are first and foremost governed by the "laws of equity." This means that the more things you have in common with him the better chance he will engage as either the initiator or the replier.

There are basically three categories in the laws of equity:


1. Brand equity. This means that if you both are riding the same brand of bike, the odds of a wave transaction are increased.
2. Style equity. If you both are riding the same "type" of bike, such as chopper, rocket or touring motorcycle, then your odds are increased as well.
3. Helmet equity. If you both are either wearing or not wearing helmets - odds increased again.

To further illustrate this concept:
IF you both are riding hardtail Harleys and not wearing helmets, the odds of a hand gesture between the two of you are VERY high. Conversely, the odds of a nonhelmeted hardtail rider waving to a helmeted Suzuki rocket rider are almost next to none.

The Big Five
When a fellow biker is approaching, his left arm and hand will tell the story. Whether he is the initiator or the replier, the signals are the same. Following are the five main hand gestures you may encounter:

1. The Nothing - This is the "default" hand position of most cross-encounters. Simply leaving his left hand on the handle bar can mean anything from "not paying attention to the fact you're approaching" to "I see you but I'm not interested in exchanging a greeting" - to the harsher, "I see you but since we don't enjoy any 'equity,' I'm not going to acknowledge your existence." Of course since no words are ever exchanged to clarify, all the rider can do is simply speculate.

2. The Two-finger Flip - The most casual AND most common acknowledgement. Left hand still on the handgrip, but the index and middle fingers raised briefly. This one simply says "dude, how's it going?" Most of the time the receiver will respond just out of courtesy. Of course the whole issue of who goes first really boils down to nothing more than a game of greeting chicken - or whoever's in the better mood at time.

3. The Big One - This is the granddaddy of all greetings. Left hand down off of the handlebar and out to the side. Fingers may either show a "peace" sign or be spread open palm side out. Here, the initiator is sending a clear signal that he acknowledges you. Not replying to this blatant plea for hospitality may be considered rude - and could possibly be interpreted as a strong message of inequity.

4. The Dis - Left hand down and resting on the thigh. This could be viewed as a request to treat the opposing party as a hostile witness - ESPECIALLY if it is moved there while you are approaching. Dating back to the days when rival motorcycle gangs roamed the streets, this signal indicated disrespect to the other rider(s) and was clearly meant as negative and often times led to confrontation. Today, however, the old cultural significance has been lost, and could simply just mean your arm is tired and resting on your leg.

5. The Geek - Left hand raised high in the air as if to say, "Hi mom!" This one is specifically reserved for the new rider, who is "SO excited to be one of the gang!" Also may be seen being used by Moped or scooter riders. Recommendation: Just don't.



So there they are. All the secrets behind those mysterious motorcycle hand greetings revealed (not to be confused with the standard hand "turn" signals). So the next time you approach an oncoming rider, take note. He could be sending you a very intentional message!

Or not.

215 comments:

1 – 200 of 215   Newer›   Newest»
Mooselet said...

I would think it's easier to give a greeting on touring style bike, such as a Harley, when the body is upright as opposed to a crotch rocket style of bike when the body is slightly hunched over.

Must ask the Hermit if there are any specific Ducati greetings.

Dad said...

Your mother has arthritis in her hands that have bent her fingers to the side. I refuse to let her dangle a hand out the car window for fear of inciting road rage!

EmmaSometimes said...

But do the same rules apply when it's a motorcycle cop?

I had a motorcyclist cut me off and then he did the official two finger flip, except he did it totally wrong. Only one finger. (LAME!!) I wanted to tell him he was doing it wrong but maybe he was just telling me he was #1.

Dave2 said...

My two waves aren't listed.

I usually use the four-finger lift whereas my thumb is still securely planted. This is pretty common nowadays, as there are so many motorcycles on the road that constantly removing your hand is tiring.

If the motorcycle is a BMW, or I'm feeling frisky, I give the "low wave." This is much like your "Big One"... but instead of flashing a peace sign, I just extend my hand palm-down and let the wind roll it up slightly before returning to my grip.

Most crotch-rocket types that "wave" to me just lift a single finger off the grip which is sublimely arrogant, but so much cooler than "ordinary" waves.

Waya said...

Are you serious Jeff? There are actually secret motorcycle hand greetings?! Who would have thunk it! Are you sure we, the non-biker public, are allowed to know this?

I can't wait to get on the road like right now to check these hand greetings out!!

Rick said...

I just nod.

Heather said...

Bwahhaaaahhhaaa! This is hilarious.

Reminds me of the PT Cruiser waves that occurred before there were 400,000,563,236 cruisers on the road. I admit I played the chicken game...will they wave first or will I?

Thanks for the tutorial.

Bugwit Homilies said...

There is also the corollary 'Minnesota Neighbor wave' protocol betwenn auto drivers:


Can't stand you: One finger lifted off of steering wheel in response to neighbor's wave.

Never seen you before: You probably don't live here: Four fingers off the steering wheel.

Seen you before, but don't know you: Full wave.

Really like you: Stop car and talk until someone honks at us to get the heck out of the road.

Jenny said...

Wow. See this is why I can never get a motorcycle. I didn't take enough algebra classes to make these complicated calculations.

Kal said...

Here in Mass. we're an angry people... Most of our waves are of the one fingered variety.

Henri Banks said...

we in germany shake our head !!!

Onetallmomma said...

Who knew? Thank you for that bit of biker lore. If I ever get on a motorcycle I will resist the urge to wave at everyone.

yellojkt said...

I had a lady Harley rider explain in grim detail to never, ever, use wave number 5. Just don't.

Jess Riley said...

I love it. "The Geek." Ha!

This weekend I exchanged a "neighbor wave" with a fellow auto driver. This only happens in the country, where everyone knows everyone. In the city, forget it.

Blog-o-licious said...

A coule that we hang out with (both women) went to motorcycle classes to learn to ride and then bough new Dyna low riders...they are nice bikes and the girls are nice too. They taught me wave # 3...who knew. Me on a bike? Not so much, I usually lean the wrong way, not a good practice.

Blog-o-licious said...

That would be a "couple" and "bought", I really shouldn't try to type before fully functional. sheesh!

Gale said...

Hello harmonica man!! I too am a rider. I wave because it freaks my husband out. You see I ride an antique Harley and the handlebars shimmy. I am use to it. At 15 or 50 miles an hour, you wave I wave back. When my husband rides he just hangs on and nods not trusting the bike to decide to leave the road of its own accord.
http://rocky-thisisme.blogspot.com/

Harmonica Man said...

gale - Thanks for stopping by! I have an old bike too - complete with its own "personality" as well!

Lucky said...

This is a good introduction, but when are you going to get into the advanced moto sign language?

For example, tapping the top or side of one's helmet means "There's a cop behind me."

As a reply to Mooselet: we crotch-rocketeers do not put our weight on our wrists, so it's very easy to wave.

Personally, I wave to everybody, including scooterists. If you're up on two, you're good with me.

Ralph Couey said...

The "Geek Wave" only lasts for one attempt, because then you find out that the induced gale-force wind has a tendancy to bend that arm back and dislocate the elbow.

The other "secret wave" is actually done with the helmet, raising your chin high and to the side towards the approaching fellow rider. I use this in very heavy traffic when I'm reluctant to let go of the handlebar for any reason.

justin said...

one thing that i noticed about the secret wave is that in the winter, rider equity approaches 1... a helmetless hardtail rider in the middle of a blizzard is effectively equal to a kid on a bright orange vespa.

(disclaimer: while i ride a scooter, i don't do "the geek". i usually opt for the classic two fingers or palm :-) )

Anonymous said...

Wow, I never realized I'm a geek. I learned something today.

I'll try to do better in the future.

Anonymous said...

In Oz we ride on the left so a left hand wave wouldn't be seen.

A nod is the done thing but but the pecking order is pretty much the same.

When I rode an old BMW boxer I would get a nod from all except the Harley riders. Now I ride a Suzuki SV about the only nods I get are from other Suzuki sports bike riders

Brett

Harmonica Man said...

lucky - I'm probably not the right guy for advanced hand signals - since I don't even know what they are myself! But feel free to drop me a note that explains them and I'll be happy to make a part II!

ralph - The raised chin is always a good universal way to say "hi". The lack of a gale-force effect on a scooter is one of the reasons that the "geek" wave usually ends up being left to scooter riders.

justin - Up here in MN our cycle "season" is pretty short. No one is crazy enough to try to drive in the winter here but I think your equity principle applies to early spring and late fall, which is like winter in other parts of the country.

anon - Good job. The first step in recovery is admitting you have a problem.

anon - I ride a Suzuki too, although it's such an old one I'm not sure that other riders know what it is until after they've already nodded and it's too late to take it back.

Anonymous said...

I have noticed that more Harley riders than any other bike will snub you {if your not on "the Same Brand Bike"}
The way I see it is
If your "knees are in the breeze"
then your good to go
however in NC the scooter riders get ZERO respect
scooters & mopeds are called "licker sickles"
'cause you don't need a license or registeration to ride them
& alot of ppl that ride them have lost there license do to drunk driving
I myself use a varation of
"the geek" {hols head low}
arm not fully extended about 1/3 of the way up & use the Vulcan/Romulan wave {like Star Trek} Live Long & Prosper {{not a MAJOR TREKKIE}} {just a slight trekkie} & the fact that I'm from Romulus Mi.is the main reason
so if your ever riding in NC & get the Romulan Left handed wave
then remember
"Live Long & Prosper"

krukabman

Harmonica Man said...

anonymous Romulan - I have to say I've never seen a Vulcan hand wave - but I think I would laugh my ass off if I ever did. I very much hope to see that become a trend in the future. Maybe you can start something!

Scott said...

Jeff, thanks for your comment on Scott's Case Files on The Motorcycle Wave!

Myself, I generally do the "Big One." I figure if I'm going to wave, might as well make it official. :P

Great guide!

Anonymous said...

If you want to ride on this side of the pond, then you need to adjust accordingly.

Here you have:

1. Nothing (asleep or don't care)
2. The nod (too scared to take a hand off the bars)
3. The full wave (the US "geek", but used by many of us older riders, who remember the days of chivalry and fixing broken magnetos by the roadside on a wet night)

and many new variants, especially the waving of a leg (no, not cramp!)

Truzen said...

Yeah, I was wondering how bikers communicated with each and all. I had a friend's dad who was a heavy biker and was taking us into town on day in the jeep. He saw a rider, saluted, and said "Oh wait, I'm not riding my bike". That and I've been riding the back country roads here and noticing all the bikers doing a salute (mostly the flip).
Cool to learn that there is some etiquette to it too. ~Truzen

Anonymous said...

Actually, there are even more intricacies that some use. The V salute ("peace sign") is actually for V-Twin riders (e.g., Harley Touring) vs. closed 2 fingers for Boxer engines (e.g., BMW RT types.)Four closed fingers are used for the in-line 4-cylinder sport bikes (e.g., Honda CBR100RR) and - if you're up to it - you can do a V-4 salute4 too!

Triumph3 said...

I shouldn't reveal this to the world yet, but there is a sixth wave - a "new wave" so to speak. It is performed with the (helmeted) rider's left hand lifted from the grip, moved outward to the end of said grip and tightly balled into a (gloved) fist. This is the "hammer". It is reserved for sport riders and acknowledges their common addiction to high horsepower. Apparently this started on the canyon road around Tortilla Flat, Arizona and spread west...

Jeff said...

scott - No problem. Glad to see you are out there promoting the great sport of riding!

anon - Hey, I know all about broken magnetos and wet points. I still ride a '74, which in fact is in dire need of a timing job as we speak. Oy.

truzen - I've had to restrain myself from waving at a biker when I'm driving my car too. Just old habits I guess. My wife and I went for a real nice ride today and must have waved at 50 riders. I'm still smiling.

triumph3 - Sweet. Thanks for the update. I'll definitely be watching for that one!

elliferg said...

I ride a scooter and do the big one. I've noticed that the "scarier looking" Harley riders are the most likely to wave to me. They also talk to me in parking lots and seem pretty amused with it.
One guy who lost his left leg in an accident was very excited to learn that he could get back on 2 wheels since you don't have to shift.
Since it's a 250cc, I had to get a motorcycle license and can go on the interstate.
The "doctor looking" riders and large groups of bikers tend to dis or miss me.

Jeep Wrangler drivers wave at each other as well. It's a Jeep thing.

Anonymous said...

>harmonica man wrote: I have to say I've never seen a Vulcan hand wave<


I guess your not a VROC member then huh? Not to worry. We have a totally secret wave. It is so secrect that none the members even know it.

Jeff said...

elliferg - I can't believe how popular scooters have become over the last few years with the gas prices being so high. They sure are making some nice ones too.

anon - Maybe your group should use the Vulcan wave from Star Trek. I think that would be awesome.

Anonymous said...

A wave is intended to greet a another rider, no matter what the brand, who understands why we ride.

Anonymous said...

Hi all, I'm in Washington State and the majority of us acknowledge each other regardless of type of bike. I see a variety of waves but not the geek unless it's a kid riding behind mom or dad. As for me, I just finished MSF so I will just be nodding for awhile. :-)

ExonicJay said...

My daily ride is a Vespa scooter and I love to waving to Harley riders. They don't seem to know exactly what to do. Some catch themselves starting a wave but then try to retract it. Others try to chase me down and I have to out maneuver them in a tight parking lot or do a fast u turn that they can't make. So, is the retracted wave number seven on the list? All in all, I do have fun with the HD bunch.

Anonymous said...

ExonicJay, I just got a 2008 Vespa 250 for my daily ride, and I got a kick out of your post. This is entire topic is a scream! It's amazing how many people who fancy themselves as strong, independent types (motorcyclists) still engage in these kind of clique-ish, middle school-type pecking orders. Hilarious! And kind of sad, too, now that I think about it.

Jeff said...

anon - I agree. I always wave when I can.

anon - WA is one state I have yet to visit, but is right at the top of my list!

exonicjay - Hmmm, messing with the HD crowd eh? Pretty brave! ;-)

anon - I agree. Exonicjay's comment was a riot. :-)

Keith said...

I've been riding a long, long, time. My ride choice is now a 250cc scooter. I wear a full face helmet so nobody can tell that I'm always smiling. I used to wave to everyone. But, I'm a sensitive guy, so a few rejections here and there have turned me into a replier. As a replier, I return what's offered. I would like to provide a piece of advice. Once when I was waving proudly, a car behind me thought I was signalling a left turn, so it started to pass me on the right. Nothing happened, but beware of those around you and the effect a hand signal might have. Cheers everyone!

Annie Ross said...

I loved the greetings, explained quite bit, but will have to say, the "two finger' greeting off the left hand for me, was due to being a new rider. While I used to ride 32 yrs ago, back in the day, hand waves were not popular. Today, it is noted and recognized. I began riding my own bike5 yrs ago, and at first, would not take my left hand off my bars. Hated that I was insecure with the waves, did the two finger waves because of my status of a newbie rider. Now, I am a very well renewed rider, and love the passing of riders and having the hands down, open palm with the occasional 'peace' sign and loving it. Since then, I have noted new riders that don't acknowledge the wave, and I respect that. Often, crotch rocket riders wave, but most don't. Thanks for the clarification.

Jeff said...

keith - That's good advice, and maybe the reason the low wave became so popular.

annie ross - I like the two-finger flip because it's pretty non committal. If the other rider doesn't return a reply, then you haven't made a big scene out of dropping your left arm for nothing.

Ryan said...

Back in the early sixties, Volkswagen owners would do the whole-car-I-can't-believe-it's-another-Bug wave. Everyone in both cars would wave like idiots, make illegal u-turns (We were such rebels!), exchange numbers, and get together for BBQs the next weekend. Simpler days, I guess.

Jeff said...

ryan - That's funny. I actually remember that trend! For those of us who didn't own VWs, all we got were sore arms from our brothers smacking us and yelling "SLUG BUG!" every time they saw one.

Anonymous said...

I've been riding for a week and have had 3 riders , that I noticed anyway, give me the low 2 finger wave and I nodded to the first 2 and returned the wave to the latest guy today. All were cruisers and I have a sport touring vfr so I guess people are friendly here. I had to google it since I didn't know if it was a greeting or they were trying to say something since I like to ride with my hi beams on to be more visable. Thanks to this blog I now know.

Jeff said...

Anon - Glad I could help!

Anonymous said...

In Canada... on my '73 Beemer... with cruise control on... occasionally....I wave like hell with my right hand and let them figure out why my throttle doesn't shut off.

Lono'ae'a said...

I'm buying a cruise control just for that!

I'd like to add that waves aren't just about the status of your bike, and because they aren't discussed often, there's few set rules.

I personally think the low wave might be more cop-friendly. I had a friend pulled over for "wreckless driving" when he waved at me going speed limit.

Other reasons why people might not wave at you is shifting. I've had to miss a few waves because I was accelerating and needed to squeeze the clutch.

I tend to think of waving as more of an acknowledgment of a shared experience (all those times you've been caught in a rainstorm miles from home, the frozen weather, slippery white arrows on on-ramps, etc.) than as a bond based on make, model, and fashion sense.

When I ride around my island (in Hawai'i), everyone on the weekend tour, from huge cruisers, to Hayabusas will wave back at my 250cc Nighthawk. But in town traffic and around the University here, many daily commuters don't wave. I think it's because they don't ride for the joy of riding, but that mopeds/scooters/motorcycles are the affordable means of transportation on a student budget.

Anyway, if you're riding in Hawai'i and see a red Nighthawk with a dorky black basket. Feel free to wave. You're guaranteed a wave back.

Leurnid Hand said...

I never bothered to break down my waving style. I have used most of the mentioned, and a few others too.

If I am in town, stopped, or cruising at a casual clip on a straight stretch, I usually throw a big friendly wave, and usually get one back.

On curves or while shifting, I keep the thumb/palm planted, and wave the digits.

When I am burning open road, I often lift my hand from the bar, fingers together, thumb extended, and let the air catch my cupped hand and lift it slightly, before I return it to the bar.

When open facing, I always toss a nod and a smile, if I am wearing the all-weather bucket, I try to give a nod if speed and weather gear allow.

Anonymous said...

Great thread.

I ride a 400cc maxi scoot as my daily ride, and a HD softail for fun and some longer rides.

Scoots definitely get fewer waves. However, a lot of this seems to be because there are so many new motorcycle riders that are all of a sudden have become too cool to wave at a scoot....OR they are still hanging on for dear life.

Mostly, 2 wheelers wave witht the shared bond other posters mentioned...and freedom from the cages we drive to get groceries.

Jeff said...

anon in Canada - That cruise control would come in handy in Europe where they ride on the left side.

lono - I agree with you on the concept of waving because of a shared experience. I don't wave nearly as often during a busy commute as I do when I'm cruising the countryside on a beautiful day and "sharing the experience" with a fellow rider.

leurnid - I also vary my wave depending on the circumstance. Mostly in the city limits where waves are more frequent I do the two-finger flip, but in the countryside I'm more likely to throw out the Big One.

anon - Thanks. I'm really enjoying the interaction on this post. I never knew it would be such a hot topic when I wrote it!

bruceberquist said...

I understand that there is a need to conform to the extreme shallowness of coolness. But I have seen many a fellow motorcyclist wave with the "cool" downwardness of the hand with the forefinger extended.

This is actually a sign indicating "road hazard ahead".

Perhaps they are the road hazard.

I have been a biker for over 35 years, and a human being for over 50 years. The #5 greeting is the original all-time greeting.

So whoever is giving in to the determination of the "a-holes" of "coolness" are generally nothing much more than "lemmings" and "posers".

I can understand that if you are riding in the sit back position (cruiser) or the forward position (crotch rocket) that the downward motion is much more natural. But for the upright (standard) rider it is natural to give an upright greeting. That is absolutely not being a "nerd".

Jeff said...

bruceberquist - I also hope you're understanding that this entire blog post was written in fun, as a tongue-in-cheek humor piece. And I'm happy to say that so far that's exactly how it's been received :-)

bruceberquist said...

I am sorry if people took my comment to be as serious as it sounded, but I do realize the humor in this blog.

However, some of my reaction is due to the fact that there are some fellow riders out here who actually are serious about their uncompromising stance on the signals of comraderie that they give to other fellow riders.

They actually are un-accepting of other comrads, because they don't ride their particular brand or style of motorcycle, ie...a Harley vs. a Yamaha, or a Sportbike vs. a Cruiser, or a Scooter vs. a Motorcycle.

We are all fellow enthusiasts of 2 wheeled motorized vehicles. So why the intolerance?

Jeff said...

bruce - You're exactly right... and the whole reason I wrote this post in the first place. I thought it was so silly that some riders discriminated from waving hello to other riders based on bike brand or style (hence the whole "brand equity" and no-wave sign thing) that I thought it would be fun to write a spoof of the whole concept. If you read it again, you'll notice that between the lines I'm really saying the same thing you are. However, my humor is pretty dry so the sarcasm isn't that obvious. Thanks for stopping by!

IndianaDynaGlideHawg said...

I personally do an upside down vulcan sign, splitting the fingers between middle and ring finger palm forward.

Jeff said...

indiana - That's pretty cool. I would probably start doing that myself... but I can only split my fingers that way on my right hand! FUNNY! ;b

Phil said...

I'll bet we've all been caught off guard a time or two by a late waver and returned a number five by accident.

Jeff said...

phil - I always seem to get caught off guard by late wavers... but I guess that's what happens when you're not always the initiator.

Strangedaze said...

Thanks for the blog, very informational and well put together. Around here in IL, the signals you mentioned all have the same meaning. Or are all just different ways of saying hi (doesn't matter how many fingers) except for the "diss" signal.

We also use the helmet tap or left hand up and down motion for signaling cops/danger/speed trap.

I would say pretty much everyone waves, except once and a while you'll get a aragant person with more money then class that will look away or ignore you when you know he's already spotted you waving.
*Peace*

Craig said...

You have this almost entirely wrong, as well as the most common wave gesture, which is low and partially extended from the side of the leg. Try paying more attention to the road, at any rate!

Jeff said...

strangedaze - Thanks. And *Peace* to you too! :-)

craig - Thanks for the comment. I'm not sure what you're referring to when you say I have it "entirely wrong."

It seems to me that I've described pretty much the same thing you're talking about in my definition of picture #3 "Left hand down off of the handlebar and out to the side. Fingers may either show a "peace" sign or be spread open palm side out.

This sounds similar to what you said: "...which is low and partially extended from the side of the leg."

Am I missing something?

Anonymous said...

What a great post, laughing my a$$ off. I'm a complete newby to riding, and loving every minute of it. Took my first extended ride today, and "received" during the entire trip. Didn't know if it was a greeting, or they were pointing out some issue with my new bike (800cc Boulevard M50). Relieved to see it was acknowledgement, but a little bummed I didn't responde. Will do better in the future, though feeling a need to keep hands on the bars.

Anonymous said...

Took my first ride today and received several peace signs to the side. I knew it was a gesture - just not what it meant. Now I know - thanks! I think I tried to reply with a couple fingers off the handle, but was more concerned with keeping my (wife's) new bike on the road on my first ride. Now I've got something else to work on during my practice rides! Hey, if I'm riding an inline twin (Vulcan 500) should it be a "closed" peace sign to the side?

Jeff said...

anon - Congrats on the new bike! It sounds like a beauty. I'm glad this post provided some insight as to why everyone was pointing at you. LOL! :-)

anon - I say Vulcan riders should flash that split-finger Vulcan greeting thing they did on Star Trek. I would do that for sure if I had one.

Kumari said...

I'm sorry , but I think it's ridiculous to say that there are certain hand waves that mean something or not. And, whether we have the same brand of bike? Who can tell when you're crossing at 50mph?! There's no official wave or acceptable wave, and who ever thinks so. IMO, needs to get a life.

Jeff said...

kumari - No need to vent... if you read between the lines you'll notice that I agree with you 100%. I wrote this entirely tongue-in-cheek as a way to poke fun at the idea that these "signals" contain some "secret" meanings other than just saying "hi" to a fellow biker. Go ahead and read it again - and hopefully you'll get a chuckle of it instead.

Anonymous said...

As an former motorcycle rider and current scooterist, I enjoy the wave game. It is great when a traditionalist Harley rider gives you the special "Big One." The wave so low that he reaches almost to the ground to perform it. Mucho respect!

But my favorite wave is the guy coming toward me that is a semi-responder. I'll give the low "V" (for Vespa, of course!) and he'll start to wave back, realize it is a scooter, and jerk his hand back in so fast he almost gives himself whiplash. I also get this a lot on my Suzuki Burgman scooter, because it looks like a sport bike from the front, but is obviously a scooter once you get up beside it.

Thanks for the fun article and the great comments!
Steve

cash said...

Great article and analysis...important subject...I personally use a variation of number three...I close the fingers...two extended...down and somewhat at the receiver...kinda like the thing the pope or one of his lower eschelon lackey's does to bless ...a way of saying "I see and recognize you...we are of the same group...watch out for these big vehicles and buttheads...should you die out here I respect you for your call..."
There are probably a few more things I say in there with my wave but can't think of them now...I probably don't even realize the scope of all I am saying myself...but it IS there...I do know I have a very cool wave and have even had others tell me that from that the back perch..."you're wave is so much cooler than some of the others....but I don't know why" type of comments... then again, you never really know do you? One can never be too sure of oneself these days...but I try.

Jeff said...

steve - Thank YOU for the great comment! I've engaged in a few scooter waves myself, but I always follow through. I respect the fact that people are turning to more green forms of transportation and those guys deserve acknowledgment for making a wise transportation choice.

cash - The "wave" is a powerful force. Use it wisely! ;b

Mr. Badger said...

I'm a nerd and proud of it! #5 is me, to scoots, kids, dogs and all the bigger bikes.

In South Africa we ride on the correct side of the road ;-), so a bigger wave is necessary.

jpheiser said...

As a new scooter rider, I started out doing The Geek (as listed in the post and for the stated reasons). Then I noticed the subtleties of the waves offered by Real Riders (those on motorcycles) and decided to search the internet for The Code. Thanks for clarifying the various waves. Now I'll be sure not to Geek someone.

jeff said...

then there is the guilt wave... if i don't wave back i'm an ***hole and everyone else will start to be ***holes and then armageddon is just around the corner.

i think i like that vulcan wave.

tanya said...

I love this! I ride an '07 Suzuki GS500, and almost every rider waves to me. Even Harley dudes. Every once in a while a cruiser won't wave, but who knows why? I assume they're hardcore cruiser fans and refuse to acknowledge me. The equity thing, I know. I started out with the cool "nod" because I didn't want to take my hands off the bars. Then I went straight to the "hand to the left" wave, no peace sign or whatever. And NEVER the Geek! LOL I've only had my bike for a year, and I gotta say, it does feel great when a fellow rider initiates the wave. I've started initiating now, because it sucks when someone waves at the last second and it's too late to reply. I feel like such a jerk! Oh, and when someone on a 100 lb scooter in the bicycle lane waves at me, I wave right back. If you're on two wheels, you're fine by me as well :)

Jeff said...

mr. badger - The "correct" side of the road huh? I like that! :-) I suppose it's tough for someone coming at you to see your left hand if you put it down low. You'll have to invent a cool new right hand wave that doesn't require you to take your hand off the throttle.

jpheiser - I wouldn't worry about being labeled a geek. A friendly greeting is a friendly greeting, no matter how you show it.

jeff - Yes, you certainly don't want to be responsible for starting Armageddon!

tanya - Hey, thanks for the great comment. I know what you mean about the late response thing. Now I always have my left hand ready to at least flip a few fingers out whenever I see a bike approaching.

Anonymous said...

hi,
My 1st time on and a somewhat new rider. Loved the "wave"info. I tend to do the "v" down low and am wishing safe riding to the receiver. Love how other riders ALWAYS respond in my southern state of NC.
Mamaw

Annette said...

I love this! I am a scooterist. I ride a 150cc & am loving being out of a cage. I understand that many motorcyclists don't have the same respect for us on scoots, but I'll tell you what.... I sure appreciate any & all of the 'waves' from all other 2-wheelers! Because.... it's all about the ride!

Anonymous said...

ijust got a gsx-r 600, (suzuki) and being tyhat its been absolutely gorgeous past fwe days (with the exception of hurricane hanna on saturday) ive been absolutely stoked about the diffrent bikes giving waves- ive been snubbed by a few harleys, btu a few gave me the 2-finger or ehad nod. a fellow sportbiker gave me the down low wave, which i think is the greatest in the world- i seriosuly felt specail. i am addicated to riding mine, and love it- thats why we should all wave to each other.

Anonymous said...

A variation on the theme...

TOP 10 REASONS WHY HARLEY RIDERS DON’T WAVE BACK:

10. Afraid it will invalidate warranty.
9. Leather and studs make it too heavy to raise arm.
8. Refuse to wave to anyone whose bike is already paid for.
7. Afraid to let go of handlebars because they might vibrate off.
6. Rushing wind would blow scabs off the new tattoos.
5. Angry because just took out second mortgage to pay luxury tax on new Harley.
4. Just discovered that fine print in owner’s manual and realized that H-D is partially owned by Honda.
3. Can’t tell if other riders are waving or just reaching to cover their ears like everyone else.
2. Remembers the last time a Harley rider waved back, he impaled his hand on helmet spike.
1. They’re too tired from spending hours polishing all that chrome to lift their arms.

TOP TEN REASONS WHY GOLDWING RIDERS DON’T WAVE BACK:

10. Wasn’t sure whether other riders was waving or making an obscene gesture.
9. Afraid might get frostbite if hand is removed from heated grip.
8. Has arthritis and the past 400 miles have made it difficult to raise arm.
7. Reflection from etched windshield momentarily blinded him.
6. The espresso machine just finished.
5. Was actually asleep when other rider waved.
4. Was in a three-way conference call with stockbroker and accessories dealer.
3. Was distracted by odd shaped blip on radar screen.
2. Was simultaneously adjusting the air suspension, seat height, programmable CD player, seat temperature, and satellite navigation system.
1. Couldn’t find the “auto wave back” button on dashboard.

TOP 10 REASONS CROTCHROCKETS DON’T WAVE BACK:

10. They have not been riding long enough to know they’re supposed to.
9. They’re going too fast to have enough time to register the movement and respond.
8. You weren’t wearing bright enough gear.
7. If they stick their arm out going that fast, they’ll rip it out of the socket.
6. They’re too occupied with trying to get rid of chicken strips.
5. They look way too cool with both hands on the bars or they don’t want to unbalance themselves while standing on the tank.
4. Their skin tight-kevlar-ballistic-nylon-kangaroo-leather suits prevent any position other than fetal.
3. Raising an arm allows bugs into the armholes of their tank tops.
2. It’s too hard to do one-handed stoppies.
1. They were too busy slipping their flip-flops back on.

TOP 10 REASONS WHY BMW RIDERS DON’T WAVE BACK:

10. New Aerostitch suit too stiff to raise arm.
9. Removing a hand from the bars is considered “bad form”.
8. Your bike isn’t weird enough looking to justify acknowledgement.
7. Too sore from an 800-mile day ride on a stock “comfort” seat.
6. Too busy programming the GPS, monitoring radar, listening to Ipod, XM, or talking on the cell phone.
5. He’s an Iron Butt rider and you’re not!
4. Wires from Gerbings are too short.
3. You’re not riding the “right kind” of BMW.
2. You haven’t been properly introduced.
1. Afraid it will be misinterpreted as a friendly gesture.

Regards,

Mark

Jamie said...

The "Dis" you speak of, I have seen it a time or two. It stings. Usually from people riding Harleys who obviously having been riding long (yuppies). They have no sense of the rider community.

Jeff said...

mamaw - Congrats on becoming a new rider! I think you'll find it was a good decision. Glad to hear NC is so friendly :-)

annette - When I wrote this, there were much fewer scooters out there than there are now. I'm with you... just glad to see people are up on 2. It's all about the ride indeed!

anon - Ain't it great?! And I agree... keep on wavin!

mark - Those are awesome. Thanks for sharing!

jamie - Fortunately that rarely happens. Keep on riding!

Dennis said...

The Geek is a great greeting! Doesn't get much response from cruiser riders, who respond much more often to an ultra-cool two fingers down low (palm towards the rider).
Since I ride a V-4 sport-touring bike, I guess I should be giving them a four fingers down.

Riders on any other motorized two-wheeler get a hearty Geek from me.

baddy said...

i always figured the 2 fingers was just a greeting, but how about when another rider is passing you? i recently heard 2 fingers from a harley rider implies that they are #1, you are #2. but hey, #2 aint that bad, hell i'd take 3 or 4! i wonder tho, what, actually, is harley davidson #1 in? racing? no. sales? no. preferred bike for middle age yuppies who cant get it up anymore? well....

Jamie said...

Number two is fine with me. I get the old I don't see you from Harley riders. Funny, when they want to crash the party its all good though.

Jeff said...

dennis - Excellent. That's the spirit!

baddy - It was my understanding that 2 fingers was referring to "2 on the ground" as in 2 wheels. I haven't heard of it referring to everyone else being #2, so that's probably not likely. Most of the Harley riders I know are great people!

jamie - I've noticed that the use of "greetings" is more common in some areas than others. Places with tons of motorcycles tend to use it less because it gets to be too much if you're flashing a greeting every 20 seconds. I tend to use it more when I'm out on a quiet country road and another bike is approaching and I'm acknowledging how great it is to be out riding at the time.

99 said...

I use the "Two Down" gesture. It is simply a casual V pointed down, as in "Two Wheels". Fingers relaxed and not fully straight out, held at knee height. Trikes get "Three Down". Unicycles would get "One Down". It would be the index finger, of course!

Anonymous said...

I'm on a moped myself, ragged big'ns about but with being in the UK i'm on the L/H side of the road, i use the ''throttle slip'' wave i've heard it called which is gripping the throttle with index finger & thumb just to hold revs really then raising the rest of my palm off before putting it down and winding back

Ann said...

Jeff, I happened upon this post thru a search of motorcycle hand signals. I am a motorcycle blogger, and would like to use part of this post on my blog with your permission. I found it funny as hell, and I know my fellow bloggers would, too. I would give proper credit and a link to this post, of course.

I wonder if getting comments on a post for 3 years is some kind of blogger record?

Please let me know via email if I have your permission to reuse The Big 5. My email addy is anelson7206@gmail.com

Thanks!

Mr. Motorcycle said...

Ten gazillion posts have been done about the wave in some sort or another. Hell, I've even done one or two myself that at least talked about the wave.

This is clearly by far the best I've ever read.

Good post man!

Jeff said...

99 - I'm sure the unicyclists appreciate your choice of finger usage. :-)

anon - Who knew waving could be so complicated?!

ann - Thanks! I'm always happy to share the love. Regarding these comments... this post has enjoyed a new surge of visits since gas prices have gone through the roof and more people are riding 2 wheels. I hope they keep coming!

Mr. Motorcycle - Thank you for the nice words. I've been riding for about 35 years on one form of bike or another, and I've always enjoyed the camaraderie we all share.

Anonymous said...

I offered 'the big one' to a moto cop today, he offered nothing in return. I'd always heard the two fingers down was meant to mean 'keep two wheels down'

Dave said...

Great post.

I get waves from harley riders and sport riders. The ones who never wave are the color-coordinated matching everything super sport tourer riders. You guys suck!

hsartteacher said...

I loved your article.

However, you left out the Hello Kitteh wave, popularized by Mordeth13 on Youtube. It will startle ANY oncoming rider, regardless of brand/style preference...it does require taking BOTH hands off the clip ons though and saying YEH YEH YEH YEH.

DProtz said...

After falling off my ride 22 years ago I've finally convinced my wife that I needed another. Having had a Jeep (in 1 form or another) since high school I was familiar with the "club wave". In searching for particulars concerning 2-wheelers I happened upon your post and spent the 10 minutes it took to read the entire posting...congratulations on sparking a VERY entertaining piece. My only real contribution is the suggestion that any greeting taking place between approaching drivers at speed has less to do with acceptance and more to do with the initiator's mood, outlook or character. It's more telling of one's demeanor rather than receipt of some secreted respect.

Anonymous said...

Buy a sidecar, everybody waves!

Top Ten Reasons Why Harley Riders Don't Wave Back

10. Afraid it will invalidate warranty.
9. Leather and studs make it too hard to raise arm.
8. Refuses to wave to anyone whose bike is already paid for.
7. Afraid to let go of handlebars because they might vibrate
off.
6. Rushing wind would blow scabs off the new tattoos.
5. Angry because just took out second mortgage to pay luxury tax
on new Harley.
4. Just discovered the fine print in owner's manual and realized
H-D is partially owned by Honda.
3. Can't tell if other riders are waving or just reaching to
cover their ears like everyone else.
2. Remembers the last time a Harley rider waved back, he impaled
his hand on spiked helmet.
1. They're jealous that after spending $30,000, they still don't
own a Gold Wing.


Top Ten Reasons Why Gold Wing Riders Don't Wave Back

10. Wasn't sure whether other rider was waving or making an
obscene gesture.
9. Afraid might get frostbite if hand is removed from heated
grip.
8. Has arthritis and the past 400 miles have made it difficult
to raise arm.
7. Reflection from etched windshield momentarily blinded him.
6. The espresso machine just finished.
5. Was actually asleep when other rider waved.
4. Was in a three-way conference call with stockbroker and
accessories dealer.
3. Was distracted by odd shaped blip on radar screen.
2. Was simultaneously adjusting the air suspension, seat height,
programmable CD player, seat temperature and satellite navigation
system.
1. Couldn't find the "auto wave back" button on dashboard.


Top Ten Reasons Why Dual Sport Riders Don't Wave Back


10. Vibration of knobby tires prevented the rider from taking
his hand off the bars.
9. MX style safety gear was too bright to see you wave.
8. His front fender prevents you seeing him wave back.
7. Was too busy configuring his GPS/Enduro Roll/FishFinder.
6. His rain/wind/thorn/bug/bird proof thousand-dollar jacket
won't allow it.
5. Was too busy re-arranging his 500 pounds of soft-sided
luggage.
4. Doesn't recognize a wave in any language other than German.
3. Too busy splitting lanes/filtering through traffic.
2. One handed wheelies are not easy.
1. On single-track trails you stop, not wave.


Top Ten Reasons Why Sport Bike Riders Don't Wave Back

10. They have not been riding long enough to know they are
supposed to.
9. If they took one hand off the bars they would break their
teeth.
8. They look way too cool with both hands on the bars.
7. It's hard to put their hand in the air doing 175.
6. Their skin tight-kevlar-balistic-nylon-goose-leather suits
prevent any position other than fetal.
5. One handed stoppies are ill advised.
4. They are waving, but you can't see it behind the neon green
speed screen.
3. They were slipping their flip-flop back on.
2. Raising an arm allows bugs into the armholes of their tank
tops.
1. They don't know how.
---------------------------------------------------------------------

Of course on a sidecar outfit everyone waves no matter what brand tug we have.

Anonymous said...

Bikers almost always acknowledge us with a hand signal when we are on our 50cc or 125cc scooters...ya know who the REAL snobs are?
Bicyclists...the ones that are all geared up...you come upon them on a nice country back road and we actually say HI..and they ignore any gestures, whether signal or vocal.
(won't even look at ya)

Jeff said...

anon @ 2:11 - It sounds like "two wheels down" was how it all got started. I'm not surprised the cop didn't return your greeting. I think they prefer to stay neutral in those situations.

dave - Funny. I think those color-coordinated guys have their own set of color-coordinated signals. Kind of like those signal flags that military ships use.

hsartteacher - I'm still waiting to see that one. But I'll keep my eyes open!

DProtz - That's very true. Crabby people rarely reply. ;-)

anon @ 8:32 - Thanks for sharing those lists. Good stuff!

anon @ 2:36 - Maybe they're not expecting a greeting from a motorcyclist and you're catching them off guard. I'll have to try that next time I see one and see what kind of response I get.

William Blade said...

I always thought that signals between bikers meant more than hi,but there was no proof er anything. All my friends,when I told them,said I was crazy. So now there is a justification to my thoughts or there's another crazy person!!!!!

Anonymous said...

I ride Harley's and I give the two fingers out or open hand out to all riders, regardless of cruiser types or sport types, even scooters. We are all in the same boat on a motorcycle really. Show respect.

Victoria said...

Wow! This is great. Four-year-old post and still getting comments! Kudos to you. Oh, and great post too! =D

My wave of choice is the "big one" but if I have the clutch engaged, then I'll just nod.

Victoria said...

With regard to my previous post ... Ooops, sorry, makes that *three-year-old post*. I need to replace my lenses ... thought the date said 2005. =\

lorak said...

all this time i thought they were just doing hand turn signals. i wish they taught me this in my motorcycle class 2 months ago.

-red 250 ninja

Jamie said...

Just remember. We're all in this together. Give a howdy, get one back.

Jeff said...

william blade - Oh yeah, these signals are real. But that doesn't mean you're still not crazy ;-)

anon @ 9:48 - Couldn't agree more. Thanks for the comment.

victoria - This post has taken on a life of its own. About once a month somebody will reference it in a post or forum, or Stumble or Digg it and suddenly it'll get 1000 hits in 2 days. Very funny.

lorak - That's true. They teach you about the signals that I've rarely ever seen anyone use, yet I see these waves all the time.

jamie - Excellent advice!

Anonymous said...

why cant we just be happy say hi were all on two wheels lets just be happy! :)

Jamie said...

I just wanted to share. I have been riding since I was twelve, I'm now 44. For the firstime in all that time...I just received a license to ride a motorcycle.

Rob said...

I have about 22K miles up on two and still consider myself a newb. I confess, from the beginning I've been intrigued by rider greeting etiquette. My first bike was a 2005 H-D Dyna Low Rider. I had wanted a Harley ever since my Dad took me to see "Easy Rider". But while out on the road, I've often been puzzled by the unreturned greetings I get, many times from fellow Harley riders. What's the deal? Can't they see and hear I'm on a Harley? Am I not in the club? A friend (also a Harley owner) told me my Low Rider was a "chick bike". Surely that was the reason I wasn't being acknowledged by other bikers. Not wanting to experiecne another moment of motorcycle "persona non grata", I traded my Dyna in on a 2008 Electra-Glide. I'm riding a "real" motorcycle now; can't I please play with the other boys and girls? Alas! Though my overall percentage of being greeted, many times by the oncoming biker has increased; there are still some riders from whom I can't get a wave. Maybe these people consider themselves "one-percenters". The hardcore type of biker for whom riding a motorcycle isn't just a passionate part of a full and enriching life; but it is life itself. You know, the whole "live to ride and ride to live" philosophy. Maybe to some, I'm just a "biker wanna-be", a "poser" who doesn't even belong on a motorcycle. These bikers must have some kind of "psychic biker radar", which kicks in at about 50 yards out and identifies me as "not bad enough". Or maybe, some riders consider greetings too mundane, routine and wearying; not worth the time and effort. For me, the greeting is more than a social convention or a courtesy; it is a show of respect. Motorcycling is a high-risk lifestyle. Any person who "does it on two" realizes they could possibly one day pay the ultimate price for doing what they love. I choose to acknowledge this when I meet another biker and I will continue to honor the oncoming rider, whether my greeting is returned or not. See you on the road!

Jeff said...

anon @ 7:16 - Good advice. How hard can it be?

jamie - Congrats! And don't worry, I won't tell if you don't. ;-)

rob - That indeed is the big mystery... why some people choose to "greet" and others don't. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on the matter.

Anonymous said...

All the waves are so, like TOTALLY lame. Is all you guys and gals do the missionary position? I have been attempting to get the riders here in Puget Sound to adopt a new wave: Rock, Scissors, Paper. Two quick fist pounds, and on the third go to one of the above. Instead of a lame hand gesture, we advance to a game of skill and chance. Ooh, ooh, ooh!
Savage Hiram.

New on Two said...

I have only been riding for ten days but I was more that surprised when I got my first wave on my first day out. I was on the outskirts of a huge suburb and a super sport rider gave me a low open palm wave. Im in Canada on a BMW 650GS and have noticed that i'll get a wave or a response from about 80-90% of riders. The only riders who diss me are doctor types on HD's.

As for the rock, paper, scissors wave. That is an awesome idea, I'm gonna try that one out for sure.

I even got a "geek" on a country dirt road. I will always "geek" right back at anyone. (sometimes with both arms)

Anonymous said...

I ride a harley cruiser and actualy got a sincere wave from a scooter... Needless to say I did not wave, but in addition I gave a loud Road Runner "Meep" "Meep" back to him. I think he got the point.

Jeff said...

Savage Hiram - I like it! But what do you get if you win? ;b

New on Two - A TWO-ARMED GEEK wave?!!! Now we're talkin!

anon @ 12:50 - Just watch out for those coyotes!

norteamericoyajr said...

I'm a 25 year rider, multiple bikes, many more miles than a typical rider (ie, I'm not a noob), and after trying a variety of waves over the years, I settled on The Geek many years ago. Of course it's thoroughly unhip and uncool, that's precisely why I think it is so cool. Downside, at speed it becomes The Heil,so I usually just close my hand and make a fist, and The Geek becomes the Biker Power.

Fun reading, thanks.

Coolguy said...

Thanks for the blog post. I'm a new rider (R6 sport bike road gear and helmet, IE not squid) and I wave to just about everybody.

The reason I came here is another sport biker gave me the head pat today and I had no idea what it was.

BTW, Big one all the way. I think I'm going to stop giving it to squids because they always return the retarded confused/stupid look.

Shadow said...

OMG This was so funny. New rider(less than a year, 7,000 miles) I put a lot of thought into my wave when I bought my bike. I watched others, asked friends, finally settled on the princess wave. (All 4 fingers together, thumb tucked in beside hand, hand cupped, arm bent at the elbow, top of fingers at chin level. All of this of course must be accompanied by a toothy smile) I adopted that wave because I'm a female working in a men's prison, and I'm known for using it there. It's actually kind of a hoot to watch the guys wave back that way, and smile their best pageant smile.
The princess wave was working out pretty well until I tried doing it on the interstate. That cupped hand catches a lot of wind. Then of course I realized nobody saw the smile since as a newbie I felt it prudent to wear a full face helmet. (and a friend of mine once lost most of her face in a motorcycle crash. Do you have any idea where they got her new lips from?)
Needless to say I only do the princess in town now. I still do a semi geek on the highway because it tells everyone I'm too cool to worry about trying to be cool...
I'm pretty certain though that I'll have to try the rock-paper-scissors at least twice.

Anonymous said...

I live is San Diego California, and most of the time everyone wave, except, sure, the old farts in big HD, (I ride a Honda Rebel), so I just Ignore them. But I use my own greeting signal. It is just like the Big One, but instead of the Peace signal I use the "Love" international sign signal for love upsidedown. That is the Little, index and tumb fingers pointing down. I certanly wouldnt do it in New York, or Detroit, couse some will think I am a Latin King Gang Member, but here in sunny Cali, is ok, I think, so far no one has giving me the finger in response.

Jeff said...

norteamericoyajr - Hey, I kinda like the "Biker Power" idea. I'll have to try that one.

coolguy - Glad you found it. In case you didn't get your answer yet, usually the head pat means that there's a cop ahead and you should slow down.

shadow - That's awesome! I've never seen anyone do a princess wave before. I'd love to see that one catch on. Thanks for the comment!

anon @ 8:08 - I like it. This forum is great because I never knew there were so many variations on the wave. One of these days I may have to write a followup and include all these new ones!

Lugh said...

Back when I first started riding, (In the 70's) I was only aware of 2 waves: 1) The Geek, which was just considered "The Wave" and 2)Biker Power, which my dad told me to be careful about doing to "One percent-er types" because they wanted to keep it to themselves and might challenge anyone else who used it.

Nowadays, I usually do a low peace sign.

I now tend to ride big scooters, though I still love the big cruisers. I gotta share that I was riding a 250 scooter one day and pulled up next to a noob on a shiny new HD. I nodded, smiled and gave him an abbreviated wave. He dissed me, so, when the light changed, I left him in the dust, madly shifting. When he caught up at the next light, I gave him a big smile and he turned away, trying to deny my existence. I was amused!

Foxy said...

What I want to know is how you're supposed to wave if you're at a stop, red light, or slowing to one. You'd look pretty silly taking your hand off the clutch to wave and stalling your engine out. Do you just use the two finger wave? One thing I found out is that is awful to hold in the clutch and wave with your right...

Jeff said...

Lugh - Too funny. Way to taunt the big guy!

Foxy - I believe you're excused from waving during the slow-down and stopping process. I usually try to give an exaggerated head nod during that time. But you're right... I think it's illegal or something to wave with your right hand. ;b

Avi said...

While this article accurately describes the five most common (and seemingly endless variant) hand signals, it has missed the most important reason why riders (at least in the sport bike world) wave.

The camaraderie of "we're all in this together" is spectacular, but my reason for waiving is far more self centered. I am an initiator, and do so to everyone including hardcore Harley's and scooters (but especially to speeding, helmeted, leather clad, sport bike riders). I do this because I am offering up a "blue meanie" report for the road passed and simultaneously requesting one for the road ahead.

If the road is Five-0 free for a good ways back, all Non-squid riders get a low "OK" gesture or a low "Big One."

If there is a cop, everyone except squids get the one finger helmet tap as if to say "Think."

Squids usually get nothing and anyone wearing flip flops get the "OK" even if there is a cop right around the corner (I do this in the hopes that they will loose their licence before doing a yard sale on the road right in front of me).

I have been religious about this since day one on a bike and have gotten enough "helmet tap" responses to avoid getting a ticket in the canyons. So lets all band together and point out where all the cops are whilst simultaneously giving each other props for being out of the cage and riding on two.

Jamie said...

I agree with Avi, A heads up would be much appreciated. I ride a cruiser but I have , on occasion been known to blast the throttle awhile.

Hawk said...

Someone told me that there was a line across the shoulders. Below was fine but above was gay.

Ever since I've been scraping my fingernails on the pavement ....

OldYeller said...

Here in the Great White North we learned a very cool wave from someone south of the 49th. Thumb to the side of the head, fingers clenched except pinky - extended (similar to "hang Loose") - We all thought he was wanting cel phone reception. Now we know the "ONE" true wave.

Anonymous said...

I was riding (HD FXST) over Jordan Lake in NC the other day and got 2 down from a scooter. I returned it, but laughed for the next mile or so. Next time I laughed that hard was when I read this string! Seriously, though, I'll wave back at anybody. There's not much room on the road for snobbery.
By the way, the top 10 lists are hysterically funny, and I'll work in the Vulcan wave. I can't believe I didn't think of it before.
Y'all be careful out there!

Anonymous said...

I'm a new rider and have my little Honda Nighthawk 250cc starter bike. I follow my dad sometimes when we go out for a ride and he has a huge orange custom Harley FXR. I get nods sometimes when I'm out on my own, but always get the #3 then I'm following my dad. I think they assume a big loud (and I mean LOUD) Harley wouldnt be going with my little Honda, haha.

But yeah, I normally offer a nod or a #2 to everyone when I'm out.

Jeff said...

Avi - You are a noble watchman my friend. I was just recently spared a ticket by a fellow rider giving me a helmet tap. I always return the favor when I can.

Jamie - It's pretty easy. Bikes are so fast and powerful, it's easy to be going 60 (in a 30) without even realizing it!

Hawk - LOL... haven't heard that one before. You learn something new here everyday.

OldYeller - And yet ANOTHER one I haven't seen yet. But that's what so great about these waves... there's a version for everyone!

anon @ 2:28 - I love the Vulcan wave and would it all the time, but for some stupid reason I am only able to do it with my right hand!

anon @ 4:50 - Sounds like you're off to a great start, and a great hobby. Enjoy your bike - and ride safe!

Anonymous said...

Got the "geek" from a Harley today, haha. Not sure if he was making fun of my Honda or just being silly, lol. He looked at me opened his mouth in this big gaping smile (hope he didnt catch any bugs) and waved hello very enthusiastically at me. His buddy seemed a little embarrassed, haha. It was funny though either way.

gorgor said...

I'm a big fan of the Hearty Big Ass Wave, kind of like the geek, but more like flaggin your mom down across the airport. I've been riding for 20 years, I don't have anything to prove. I'm just really happy to have another day in the saddle and hope that a big ass wave will be nice.

p.s. Only BMW riders respond funny to the HBAW, like they are scared to take their hands off. lol

Chris said...

I don't think there is a secret code, but I do know that the moped guys deserve to wave. Especially the smaller ones. Most of y'all with the harleys and big expensive bikes (over 4000 bucks) have never really riden a true moped. My roomie got a 50cc chinaped recently and I told him to do the wave, and I know another ped owner who does the wave. Why do I say that deserve it? They're on the most dangerous bike out there. I rode my roomie's once and it scared the crap outta me. It's so little I felt like I'd die whenever I took a hand off the handlebars. Thing is, my roomie wanted a bike, but we're all so poor that's all he could afford to buy. He had no vehicle before. He and a lot of moped riders are out there on them because they have no other way of getting around and need something reliable for little money and little gas. He risks his butt everyday just to make it to work, so to me that makes hime tougher than those big leathered up HD guys. I get crap as well for riding a 250, but it too is all I could afford and I'm glad to be on a bike and I don't want bigger (I like jumping curbs and maneuvering outta tight spots). If you're on two wheels, you're part of the group, cause it's just skin and t-shirts protecting us from the two metal boxes tryin to kill us everyday. Ride on!

Jamie said...

When the mopeds throw them at me I throw them right back. He's on two and on the road we share the same story.

Anonymous said...

wow, i just started riding and i noticed it a few times and wasnt quite sure what it was, i feel kinda bad cause the last time i was about to do it back but instead put my hand on my leg.

Jeff said...

anon @ 7:58 - Hmmm... most likely he was goofing around with you. But that would make me laugh too!

gorgor - That's awesome! How come nobody ever gives me cool waves like that?

chris - I've had just about every sized bike there is. I started out with a Honda 65, then moved up to a Honda 250, then a Suzuki 750 and now I'm riding a 1980 Yamaha SX1100 Special. Bottom line is, I agree with you... ALL bikes are good no matter what kind or size.

jamie - I'm with ya my friend! :-)

anon @ 7:27 - No worries. I only get about a 75% return on my waves. No one will feel bad if you didn't wave back. BTW... welcome to the club!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I'm a new rider, going out on a Fat Boy rental for first time this friday. On my little rental Buell, which is mandatory to rent first before they let you rent a Harley at my dealer, somebody did that two finger thing and I basically did kind of a wavey, too high peace sign, back on instinct.

But now I've got the full background and feel empowered to do it right on the FB! :-)

Mr. M said...

Stumbled on the blog and it reminded me of the diss I got yesterday.

I rode mopeds as a kid before I got my license about 25 years ago. I commute with bike, rain or shine. I had all sorts of bikes, several makes and styles, but own/ride Harley anymore, flat black, no chrome. I'm not into polishing stuff, but riding. I'm about 250 lbs, my shoulders are wider than my behind, missing half my teeth and not because I don't brush and just cranky by default, you know, an ugly tattooed bastid in leather pants smelling of motor oil, old booze and cheap cigars, the kind you really don't want your daughter to date.

Still... I wave at everybody who waves at me, and if I see you first on two wheels, I'll wave at you. If you are sitting on a bike on the side of the road, you get a nod. I like bikes and pretty much everybody who enjoys the two wheeled lifestyle. Even if they do it only on Sundays if it's nice outside ;)

Yesterday I got dissed by some juppy looking gimp on a new road king (or something that looked like it, saw red so minor details might have escaped me), and took me almost half a second to get pissed. First time for me for a long long time. Not sure what happened, I just got pissed. Took me major effort to not go check the guy out. U-turn right then and there would have been just suicidal... Then I got cranky at myself for letting some random airhead piss me off like that.

So yeah, I think greetings are important. Always makes me smile when I get a hello, and seems to irritate me when I don't, and straight disses... yeah, don't do those if you are not prepared to follow it through ;]

If someone is grinning wide enough on a new bike or something (I don't care if it's a scooter either) they will get the full five finger geek wave in return, they deserved it. Lift and extend left hand a little left to feel the wind is my regular hello... and if I know you, you might get the "pick the baseball from the pavement" finger salute, and if you're hot (and female) I might stand up and wave with both hands, I really do not need anyones approval for that either!

Enjoy your bikes people, no matter what size or make and whatnot, and share the good feeling by saying hello to fellow bikers if you can, nod if you can not. Even if you are going to work and life sucks in general ;-)

Anonymous said...

I ride a retired Harley Police Road King modified for two-up riding as a traditional touring bike would be. I give the two finger wave to anyone out there on two wheels. Who cares what brand or type of ride you are on? Enjoy the ride and keep the shiny side up! Life is too short for snobbery!!

Anonymous said...

I got the two-finger flip today from a guy on a chopper style Harley - definitely not because of "equality" though as I was on a chopper style scooter!

Anonymous said...

Since this is the #1 Google result on "biker wave". I think this site should be the OFFICIAL code of wavification!

BB - always looking for a bigger bike & coming up cash short when I find it.

Paul-Joseph said...

Something you might wish to add to "The Nothing". There are times for safety reasons (curve, traffic, stopped, etc) that I need to maintain clutch control. At these times I (and other bikers) will respond with a nod to indicate acknowledgment of another person's wave, or t initiate a wave.

Anonymous said...

I use the "geek" wave in tight traffic, when I pass other vehicles who pull to the sides to let me by - in the form of "thanks"

Mayhem said...

A wave reflects the mood of the rider kinda as simple as that.

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Anonymous said...

How embarrassing...I've been receiving The Big One and giving back the geek lol

Andrew said...

Thank you man, im riding a moped along with my friends in this town, there are several others, it's the typical town where we disobey the cops and ride around with cross.

There's still alot to learn and i look up to real motorbike people, thanks for the greeting tutorial, im mostly using geek wink.. I'll stop ;)

Peace sign and big one from now on!
I always want to wink to motorcycle people but im always afraid to get refused. Let's roll the dice next time.

bill1904 said...

The Colt .45 pistol was made with the barrel rifling reversed . This was because the pistol was designed for use by officers on horseback, most of whom were right handed, controlling the horse right handed.

For the more aggressive bike rider, the Colt .45 would be the weapon of choice for gang members, or individual riders with a wish to be incarcerated.

Josh said...

you forgot the "tipping your helmet when your about to leave a light and you have the clutch pulled, but someone already waved at you so you have to reply just to be courteous" wave

Tara said...

ok, so I'm new to the motorcycle thing. my boyfriend has a harley sportster. he isn't aware of the fact that I noticed his wave.my mom drove a Jeep Wrangler. left fist low to everyone on two wheels...except scooters. at least, thats what it is when I ride with him. what does that mean? and as a passenger should I do something in particular?

Anonymous said...

This is the stupidest "tutorial" I have ever seen. Are you all brain dead? Got to belong to something don't you? It's a frickin wave. That's all it is. Get a life people.

Anonymous said...

you wave to me I am your senior no doubt and deserving of a respectful wave and if I wave back then the geritol must be working.

sinnister03 said...

Just something to consider....Please don't think I'm rude if I nod instead of wave as I just might be holding in my clutch.

MujerPaligrosa said...

Here in Florida, where we ride all year, most riders employ a wave not listed in this article. Simply drop the left arm to your side and slightly out and away from the bike. Nothing special done with the fingers. It's a very lazy but widely used greeting. Most head nods are used when the driver cannot release the handlebar for some reason. As a female rider who wears club colors, some people do not wave to me. Perhaps they are intimidated by my stand in a club, or they are just old school and think women have no place on a bike except the bitch seat. I couldn't care less.

dick thomson said...

My 17 year old neice requested a ride on my Harley. When we passed a group of sportbike riders, I gave the wave. Most of them responded. My neice thought we were exchanging gang signs. LOL

ourbmw said...

Funny and informative. I always the the "peace sign" meant "I'm riding a v-twin." I have to link to this to share!

Anonymous said...

There is a Venture Rider wave as well. This would be bike specific though. First it is two fingers and then four. It is based on the engine as they are V4's.

Todd8080 said...

I've been riding since 1968 and have seen "the wave" lose all significance and meaning. Clue for the clueless: Being on two wheels doesn't automatically make us brothers, any more than being on four wheels makes all cagers your brothers. How about putting some of that enthusiasm into actually learning how to ride?

ladyleadfoot said...

i'm from the "old school" where everyone on two wheels (there weren't nearly as many of us in the old days as there are now) pretty much greeted another rider with a clenched fist in the air, how high depended on how excited to see another rider one was (OR how tired one was!). i've seen two of those this year, both from "older" riders; both startled me, but i replied in kind. felt kinda like the olden days.
as for now- i guess my greeting is a cross between the big one and the newbie. to me, the hand down is a bit of a dis, unless it's a warning of "Cop Ahead! Slow Down!!!", so i give a hand out, above the handlebar, two finger out (peace sign, i guess, though i never thought of it as that) wave. i'm pretty much always the initiator, too. guess it's because i watch everything on the road and am aware of most people and things before the rest of the world is.
i'm not a newbie, either, have been riding for over 44 years, so i feel i'm pretty much entitled to do as i will.
ride safe all y'all!!!
ladyleadfoot!!!! ;-D

sistermoon98 said...

The wave I have always used has been the "peace sign" held low. I had no idea it meant anything other than acknowledging a fellow biker. LOL! The "Geek" made me LMFAO! Thanks for the insight!

sistermoon98 said...

I have always used the "peace sign" held low. I never knew it meant anything other than acknowledging a fellow biker. Thanks for the insight! LMFAO at "the geek"!!!

BA said...

I use the Vulcan peace sign signifying the V4 engine on my bike, normal peace sign when riding my wife's V-twin, so how should I wave from my single cylinder bike (hehe)?

Ricky Y. said...

I have a 2008 kawasaki 1500 vulcan would love to use the vulcanbalkan greeting. I love my bike and greet everyone.

Alan said...

Enjoyed the article Jeff, thanks for posting it way back when.

I guess I normally use the Big One or some variation depending on where my mind's at; open palm more than two down. But I always return a wave regardless what kind of bike is waving at me; big/small, foreign or domestic. I probably initiate as much as I respond. If I'm shifting I do the head/chin raise.

I make a point to wave at the new riders (yes we see you and we can tell) as a sort of 'welcome to the club.' It's always amusing, because they don't know why this total stranger is waving at them; they either dont respond out of shock, or self-consciously wave back.

Out here in New Mexico, we're a friendly lot, so you'll get a wave 95% of the time, from weekend warriors to hard-core. Even car drivers wave at each other on the highway.

The ones that dont participate in this little cultural phenomenon are usually, like one commenter pointed out, the rich guys on their new Harley's that just don't get it. The college dudes on their crotch-rockets are hit-and-miss, too, about 50%, and if there's a girl on the back, forget it. I think age and bike-type is the biggest qualifier for these guys.

While reading the comments I noticed there were a handful of haters: cynical bikers who criticize us for thinking this was a fun blog (or not getting that it was meant to be fun), or for our enjoying some comraderie...thought it was kinda funny, though, they took the time to read all the comments!!

One form of wave needs to be included: The Extended Wave, or, Serial Waving. This occurs when you approach a group of riders. You can can either wave 10-15 times, or simply keep your arm out while you pass the entire group; depends on their spacing. And what would be the designation of the wave you get from a roadside rider? You know, when you pass a gas station, bar, or rest area and get waved at from the side of the road by a fellow rider or riders.

Jeff said...

Thanks Alan for the comment (and everyone who has been commenting here as well). I used to try to leave a brief reply to every comment but unfortunately I don't have the free time I used to have anymore.

I agree with you about the extended wave. A ride to any motorcycle rally (such as Sturgis) will get you plenty of those as you pass the hundreds of bikes going the other direction as they head to/from the event.

Also, thanks for the reminder to everyone that this was written as a tongue-in-cheek humor piece. I am no authority on biker waves in any stretch of the imagination. Just a guy who like to ride and have a little fun. :-)

Hal said...

jeff;
i thoroughly enjoyed your post, and enjoyed the comments just as much. i read each one.

not quite sure when i learned about "the wave," but have been waving at EVERY biker for years. i have missed a few chances to return a wave, and have missed a few chances to offer.

bit of a trekker here, and i ride a v4 87 magna - so the low vulcan salute will be the norm from now on.

i guess i've always interpreted the wave (ANY variation) as "i see ya buddy, we're both on 2 wheels, take it easy, be careful." never have made a decision to wave or not based on make or model. hell - i even wave at the scooters. make 'em feel like part of the group.

1985K20HD said...

Thanks for putting this up. Last night I got a #3 from an H-D rider and I knew it meant something but had no idea how to respond. Now at least I know it wasn't an automotive version of "The Shocker".

Maybe I would be more in tune if I actually rode a motorcycle instead of driving a Chevy Pickup. Hopefully he wasn't offended. Next time I'll know better.

Would you suggest I return the same #3? Would a thumb-and-pinky California "Hang Loose" from a guy with four ten-plys on the ground be appropriate? What is recommended?

No Name said...

shit I'm #5

Anonymous said...

Geek wave for the win! If imma say watup yo!! imma go all out. well just depends on how lazy or not lazy i am that day. i do em all. Even sometimes forget my right hand is throttle when somebody on the right of me bout to get on the street. Right hand is like WAZZUP and my bike goes rrrrrrrrr and i'm like oh shiz and such. Always a DOH moment, but good times indeed.

rt750 said...

Jeff
You nailed it. I used to wave to everyone, when there were less bikes around, and I was riding a Vulcan 750, probably seeking approval. Now I only wave in rural areas, too many bikes out there. Plus now I have a 100th anniversary Silver/Black Gold Key Package Harley Electraglide Ultra Classic. The most beautiful bike ever made. So I don't need anyone's approval anymore. Ha ha.

Judy in Lansdale said...

I've been riding a Yamaha Majesty 400cc scooter for 3 months now, and I've experienced all but the "Dis". From the first time another biker gestured at me I've been hooked, but never realized I was more or less doing "the geek". But your Odds of Engagement are definitely true--while I'm happy to be in the 2-wheeler club and wave at anyone, there are definitely some rude bikers out there who don't acknowledge me. Now I know why! Thanks.

Irene said...

I just ran across this post and, after my laughter subsided, I told hubby and it started again (between the post and the comments, it took a while). I just had to share it on my blog (primoworks-on2wheels.blogspot.com). I hope you don't mind. It was just too good to pass up!

And I'm a "wave at any 2 wheels" rider. Just 'cause I can... ;)

Oh, and one of our bikes is a Vulcan. Guess what wave I'm gonna use when I ride that one? :D

DaluvsDi said...

oh Lord LMAO, everyone has such a great sense of humor ...
When I was a kid, at 15, riding my '76 Hodaka Road Toad enduro I got waves from all types of bikers ... I was a little confused, at first, until a group of about 20 - fully clad with denim cuts, chains, patches, and colors - all waved (open palm or peace sign) and I hesitantly waved back ... well, all their arms immediately went upward into a #5 but with the peace sign (it was the 70's). Later, I hesitantly approached a big burly bearded biker "gang" member at a gas station (I didn't even need gas) and got the nerve to ask him. "Excuse me sir, ... blah blah blah ... " He laughed loud and long but told me "we've got to look out for each other, we're all brothers on the road" He fired up his straight pipe Panhead and hit the road. I hoped on my 100cc and actually followed him for a couple minutes then he waved from ahead (#5 peace) and turned off ... I've ridden many brands and many miles and always TRY to acknowledge everyone on two (or three) wheels ever since ... including scooters - who seem to be as confused as I was on my little green machine.
thanks for the great laughs!!!

DaluvsDi said...

Oh man, I am definitely going to use the "live long and prosper" wave from now on ... ... ...
Dale

Anonymous said...

I drive a Yamaha Majesty. If you don't know what that is... It's a "scooter" that looks like a sport bike from the front, and a cruiser from the side and rear. It is large, and I mean, large enough to take up as much real estate as a typical HD.
I debadged my bike and re-branded it with custom logos from a UK one-off print shop. So unless you drive a Majesty, you probably have no idea what I am rolling. That having been said. Here is my experience in Kansas. Most HD drivers give either an index or two fingers pointed to the ground as we pass. The funny thing... the grittier the HD driver, the more likely they are to wave. BMW and drivers of other overpriced bikes, NO WAVE. Scooter Drivers... surprisingly, NO WAVE. They look, but they refuse to wave?? Goldwingers and their ilk... 100% wave. Bullet Bikers...some wave some don't.

Ernie said...

I ride a Triumph Rocket III trike, I wave to anyone with handlebars and an engine and I get a good response rate (around 80%). The only people who never wave back in my experience are cops. My preferred wave is three fingers pointed at the road (as I'm on a three-cylinder three-wheeler). If I'm shifting gear or passing another biker I nod. Have loved being part of the biking community since 1972. Ride safe.

Anonymous said...

what a great piece!

here in the philippines, the riding community is made up of two distinct groups: the big bikes and the little bikes.

those of us on "big" bikes tend to acknowlegde each other with a variety of waves (numbers 1 to 5). i normally get a receiving ratio of about 6 out of 10.

however, we don't really acknowledge the little bikes only because there are so many of them - as in so many, if you were to wave to them all, you'd be riding practically one-handed.

that being said, i'm usually an initiator and like to give the low open hand wave, except of course when i'm shifting or otherwise trying to hang onto the bike for dear life. :)

manila biker

Nightwing said...

Hello, I'm one of those boring Wing riders that pulls a trailer. I will wave at you no matter what you ride. I even wave at dirtbikes, really freaks em out.
I lived in Spokane when the BMWOA had their Nat'L rally there. I was riding home on the freeway at the beginning of the week. I met fifty bikes coming the other way(I counted), I waved at all of them. Not one of them waved back. I don't know what it is about the BMW riders, very few wave. I asked a long time beemer about that and he said he noticed the same thing, but didn't have an answer. I wondered if there was something in the BMWOA membership that told them not to. I have had a few wave and it shocked me.
So if you ever get to the Boise area and see a yellow Wing rider with a red helmet, it'll be me waving at you.

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MrMould said...

Will definitely be using the Vulcan. I'm big enough of a dork to pull it off. Didn't know about 'the wave' until two colleagues (the guys that got me wanting a bike,)were talking about giving some guy they happened upon on the main drag out front yesterday (was beautiful here in upstate NY,) 'a wave and got nothing in return.' Getting mine on the road tonight, beautiful week worth of weather coming up.

Anonymous said...

Here in Illinois the "Big One" is common. The use of the peace sign seems to break all of his equity rules. It is as if to say "We all ride, that's all that matters"

Joel said...

Yeah I noticed this when I first started riding and I was like "what are they doing" and then I did the geek wave the first few times. Then I realized that was wrong and now do the correct salute ever since.

Elijah said...

haha this is so cool! I am a new biker, literally todays ride home from work was my third ride ever. I ride a honda rebel 2005, its a really nice bike and perfect for my size. Anyway while going home another guy was riding opposite me and he gave me a hand gesture, i wasn't sure what it was but it seemed like a friendly acknowledgment, I looked it up, found this page and I am pretty sure it was "the big one" that he signaled to me. I am totally gonna do this next time I see a bike, just puts you in a good mood.

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txlibra5 said...

I knew there was something to it . . .Hey I was quick to catch it, I saw this guy and when I saw it I was thinking, I am wearing a full face helmet how could he recognize me.

The second one I saw I actually nodded my head. that got me thinking this might something with motorcycle riders. . .

So the third one I actually reciprocated with the big one (unknowingly)

And here I am looking it up on the web and actually learning something.

Arr MiHardies said...

I ryde a Can-Am Spyder (trike with two wheels in front). The Spyder is big on the "y" arrangement of its wheels and frame, so you may be seeing a new wave from folks like me. Its basically the Big one. Two fingers out, but also the thumb. Not only representing the "y" but also that we are on 3 wheels.

Personally though, I wave to all riders.

Tim1200 said...

Never wave Just nod it's the done thing in the UK

B-randyse said...

When I'm in Italy, I ride on the back of my boyfriend's "crotch rocket". Do "passengers" usually wave?? I don't want to be left out!!

~BackSeatRider

Jeff said...

BackSeatRider... I see passengers wave too. Just stay safe on that bike!

Gavin said...

I'm a member of both the vw scene and a rider. I started out on a 50cc scooter and got a few waves from motorcyclists. I've since moved up to a 125cc Honda and now a 500cc enfield. Personally I wave to everyone up on 2 when I can, two fingers low off the grip or a quick nod.

Eli Brennan said...

Got here through google. As a new rider from a family of bikers, I was surprised by the greetings. My dad didn't think to explain it (took me to Sturgis when I was like 7 or 8). So, as we do, I googled it!

Great post, great commenters. So much casual respect for one another. Thanks.

Will add to an overflowing rss feed.

Though, If i were a robot, and had a cool comment, I think it shouldl be posted.

dawnsta said...

What a relief!!! I thought maybe my tire was going flat?! I caught the bug & decided I'd be a late bloomer & learn to ride. I'm officially a grandma so I wanted to do something new. LOVING IT!! Wish I had started 25 years ago!!! I bought a Vulcan 900 a few months ago so will now be doing the 'live long & prosper'!! Be safe out there. If you see a Red Vulcan rider in North Texas giving you a trekkie wave its a crazy redhead nurse so look out!!

weewillie said...

Been out of riding for 12 years. Prior to that spent 15 years in north central PA in the middle of the mountains. Incidently some of the best riding period. Open hand wave was the norm. However when I first started street riding in late 70's early 80's there was the closed upright fist. Stumbled across the site, just trying to figure out what the 2 fingered low peace sign meant. I don't use it. Open hand off the bars good enough for me. Had a cop wave back the same on interstate while on my Trumpet.

Digital Crunch said...

So I asked another Sportrider buddy how come the Cruisers don't wave. He said they were afraid to take their hand off the grip.

I believed him until I read this!

dombike said...

If I'm having a nice countryside spin, I like to wave like the pope, two fingers straight up and moving my hand from left to right. If I'm on urban roads, and riding normally, I generally nod. I acknowledge everyone, including most scooter riders (apart from those riding stupidly with shorts and tee shirt for protective gear), however, here in the UK scooters rarely respond as I think they are too shocked to move! Very few people wave at the little hairdryers over here.....

Jamie said...

I wave at anyone that can see me, unless I'm clutching. I wave at scooters because they share the same dangerous roads that I ride. I wave at Harley's, sport bikes and all in between. Sometimes they don't wave back, but who cares, maybe I caught them off guard, maybe they were operating the vehicle, maybe they didn't even see. I'm just glad to be on the ground.

Rinni Agdhi said...

Yeah, that├žs a fast way to dump your bike and get caught underneath with your legs wrapped around at odd angles.

Anonymous said...

Ok, I ride a bike and I often tmes get a 1 finger pointed toward the ground wave. I try not to return a wave to these people and I consider it very rude. In fact, I will not return any wave that is pointed toward the ground.

Allie Knight said...

This basic guide should come with the bike. I kept getting "The Big One" so decided to check out hand signals. Hope people didn't think I was rude :o

Anonymous said...

Just got the wave twice today and I had no clue what it meant. I was thinking "what's he trying to signal? my bag didn't fall off or something did it?"

But now I know, and knowing's half the battle.

Iam Bikerliving said...

I've used #5 a few times as I was approaching a stop and needed to use my clutch hand but wanted to wave anyway... I usually use the two finger down wave though... depends... when in the middle of a curve sometimes I just do whatever I can, sometimes that means nothing, so I nod instead... I do remember the first time someone finally waved back at me though... I felt elated, like finally I am a real biker, finally accepted into this amazing world... lol... silly me... hahaha... that was two bikes and about 150,000 miles ago.

Travis said...

Awesome article/comment beast thing. I came here trying to figure out what that head pat meant. Been riding off and on for a few years but now my bike is my daily commuter.

I love trying to get responses from the CHiPs, they can be friendly sometimes. I'm definitely a geek from time to time, I like the raised closed fist, gonna have to try that on the next real biker group I pass...

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