Motorcycling greetings

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A motorcycle passenger using a V sign.
A group ride

Motorcycling greetings can include several gestures made between motorcyclists on the road. Titles for this greeting include "Biker wave", "Motorcyclist wave", "Motorcycle wave" or just "The Wave."[1][2] The greeting made can include a number of gestures including a nod, a pointed finger, palm-out V sign,[3] or an actual raised-hand wave.[2][4]


Motorcyclists may use specialized hand signals to both greet and warn oncoming riders:

  • Circling raised finger — police ahead[5]
  • Patting helmet — check your lights[3][6] or police ahead[7][8]

Regional differences[edit]

The use of specific gestures may be culturally or regionally dependent. Some observers have commented that waving is common amongst riders in North America but uncommon in some European countries, like Germany.[9][notes 1] French riders will stick their foot out when overtaking another motorcycle, and while lane splitting when a car facilitates it.


  1. ^ Hough's More Proficient Motorcycling caveats the hand signals table with the comment "motorcyclists in North America will generally understand the following hand signals."


  1. ^ Pat Parziale (August 24, 2011), "Analyzing the Motorcycle Wave", Motorcycle Classics, retrieved 2013-07-23 
  2. ^ a b Basem Wasef. "Harley-Davidson Fat Boy Lo Long Term Update #2 — Did I Just Join a Secret Club?". Motorcycles. Retrieved 2013-07-23. "The Wave" is like a secret handshake among motorcyclists, a way of acknowledging like-minded two-wheeled travelers ... Most riders distinguish each other with a simple hand movement, a tip of the forefinger, or a nod of the head. 
  3. ^ a b Hough, David L. (2003), More Proficient Motorcycling: The Ultimate Guide to Riding Well (2nd ed.), Irvine, California: BowTie Press, page 41, "Hand signals—Hello, fellow motorcyclist", ISBN 1-931993-03-3 
  4. ^ Hahn, Pat; Brasfield, Evans (2005), How to ride a motorcycle: a rider's guide to strategy, safety, and skill development, MotorBooks/MBI Publishing Company, p. 132, ISBN 0-7603-2114-0, retrieved 2013-07-23, This is the motorbike wave. It comes in many forms ... gloved-palm flashback, gotcha-pointed finger, howdy-peace sign, rock-and-roll devil fingers, down-low wrist-flipper... 
  5. ^ Blaine Kamp (1990), Motorcycle Sign Language, p. 37, ISBN 1560020725 
  6. ^ Team riding manual (PDF), Gold Wing Road Riders Association, 1995, p. 14, retrieved 2013-07-23 
  7. ^ Group riding guidelines, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma: Downed Bikers Association, 2013, retrieved 2013-07-23 
  8. ^ Paul Thompson (October 10, 1993). "safe group riding". Usenet: 29a9tq$ Retrieved July 24, 2013. Tap top of helmet, or hand on helmet - cop nearby (This signal is designed to be both noticeable and undecipherable by the cop) 
  9. ^ Mike Seate (August 2009), "Biker Friendly Salute - Permanent Waves", Motorcyclist, retrieved 2013-07-23