Motorcycle Hand Signals You Should Know and the Biker Wave History.

To wave or not to wave that is the question, now isn’t it. The biker wave has been around for a long time. Some Bikers do it and some don’t, is it part of motorcycle hand signals that everyone should know? My husband and I do the motorcycle wave and we believe it is a courtesy to any biker no matter what they are riding including a moped, or e-bike, or brand. AMERiders gives you the History on the Biker Wave and lets you know the Motorcycle Hand Signals you should know. I think after 2020 we all should be showing each other some biker wave love.

motorcycle hand signals

To wave or not to wave at other riders when riding your bike: that is the (very modern) question. Some riders like to wave at each other, while others prefer to nod. Additional riders may choose to keep on going and never acknowledging you at all. Ask any number of riders what they think, and you’ll probably get just as many answers as the total number of riders you ask.  

I don’t think my husband and I have not ever done the biker wave unless it’s has been unsafe to do so. IE, he’s been too busy clutching, for example, he’ll simply offer a nod instead, I however throwout the wave for us unless he needs me to be a bit still. I like acknowledging other riders out on the road, no matter what they’re riding. That’s my personal preference, and you may feel differently, and you’re also more than welcome to your own opinions on the matter. But where did the wave come from in the first place? 

Ride for any amount of time, and you’re extremely likely to hear the misty Harley-Davidson origin story for all motorcycle waving habits everywhere. That’s one possible origin story, as Gastro Racing explores in this video.

However, the video also acknowledges that as two-wheeled, motorized conveyances began to pop up all over the planet, they also did so in a variety of cultures. Did a wave of Honda-induced friendliness really kickstart the moto-wave later on? 

The thing is, while some cultures were major participants in World War II, others weren’t. Also important is the fact that while some drive on the right-hand side of the road, others drive on the left. Thus, road behavior among motorcyclists and car users evolved differently, as well.

That’s why our own Jacob Black wrote about his preference to nod, rather than wave—after all, he grew up riding in Australia. Riding is a bit different there it is in the U.S. or Canada. That’s not necessarily good or bad, but it is a factor. 

This video leans heavily on U.S. cultural touchstones and motorcycle culture to make the argument that the bike wave became such a major thing due to ‘60s and ‘70s hippie influences. While America definitely has had and continues to have its own bike culture and various sub-cultures, there are also many more riders and bike cultures in the world outside American borders.  

Places with big commuter bike cultures, for example, are far less likely to also have waving as an ingrained bike reflex. I mean, would you want to basically stand around waving at every single person throughout your entire commute in stop-and-go traffic? Probably not. 

Basic Motorcycle Hand Signals

There are also some Basic Motorcycle hand signals that every biker should know even before they hit the road for their first ride we have culminated them below for you.

motorcycle hand signals

Motorcycle Hand signals, do you know them? They’re an important part of what every biker should learn before riding, but very few riders remember what they are and what they’re for. In many places, motorcycle hand signals are part of the learner rider course but even those who’ve taken and passed the required courses and quickly forgot exactly what arm goes where when they’re out on the road.

But why are they important? Why do we as riders need to know this stuff?

Since modern motorcycles are equipped with tons of modern technology it seems like learning how to use your arms to signal your intent is a bit of an outdated skill. Even though technology has come on leaps and bounds over the past 100 years, and the build-quality of all road-legal motorcycles can be heavily relied upon, technology can fail, things do break down. Your signals could become damaged and if you’re unable to signal your intent to other road users you could cause an accident. Even if your signals work, signaling your intent with your arms can be a better indicator of your plans, particularly when you’re being followed or are leading a riding group. Knowing how to correctly employ motorcycle hand signals helps keep everyone on the road safe.

We’d just like to mention that all of these signals are performed with the left arm and left hand. The reason for this should be fairly obvious but just in case here’s why. The right hand is responsible for front braking and throttle control, it’s very important that riders keep this hand firmly in place. By removing your hand from the throttle without a throttle-stop of cruise control, your motorcycle will begin to engine-brake, which isn’t ideal in this situation, and it’s also nice to have a hand spare to cover the front brake in case of an emergency. 

I hope that the video and the Biker hand signals image we found have helped you understand what motorcycle hand signals we use out on the road and why.

~And as always…

~Live Free Ride Hard~




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