The Secret Motorcycle Signal
There have already been many articles written about motorcycle hand signals and what they mean. So of course I’ll have to add my version and hopefully it’ll make it all clear as mud. To be clear I’m not talking about the mechanical hand signals that they teach you on the motorcycle safety class. Those are still useful and by the way are still used especially when group riding. What I am talking about is at the highest level is simply the greeting that one rider pays to another when passing on the road. At other levels, there is apparently much deeper meanings in what seems to be but a simple hand motion.
Historically, waving at a fellow trike motorcycle for sale traveler as you meet him on the road goes back to the beginning of time. Even now, at least out in the country, it’s still customary to wave at the people you meet even if you don’t know them. It should also be noted that motorcycle riders aren’t the only ones that have a history of doing this. Jeep owners will attest that they will also wave at other Jeep owners as they pass them on the road.
Although in the Jeep’s case I think it’s more of a sign of a relief. Basically, I’m still running and you’re still running lets celebrate for a second. When a Jeep owner waves it’s basically a lift of the fingers off the steering wheel in kind of a subtle acknowledgment that hey I was brave enough to buy one of these clunkers to. They all seemed to do it the same way, I didn’t see very much variation in how they did it. I think they’re just afraid to take their hands off of the steering wheel.
Motorcycle riders seem to have a lot of variation in how they wave from the cool peace sign down low to the newby all out thrashing of the arm. There also seem to be some kind of message that’s getting passed. The main thing is that riders expect to get a sign when they meet a fellow rider on the road. The only pass given is when you or the other guy is in traffic and you need to clutch. When you don’t get anything, it’s a sign of disrespect, and I’m told that if your left hand happened to stay on your left thigh as you passed the other guy those are fightin’ words because you basically are saying that you saw the other guy, could have signed him, but chose not to acknowledge him.
There also seems to be a hierarchy within the motorcycle community as a whole. Guys riding without helmets won’t look at guys with, guys on crotch rockets won’t acknowledge guys on anything else same as Harley riders. Although with the crotch rocket guys I think they’re just to busy hanging on. The way I look at it there’s no real reason to wave, or sign the other guy except to share in the joy of being out and about on my scooter. I don’t actually look down on folks that don’t ride Harley Davidson bikes, well not much anyway. I figure that it’s not their fault that they chose something else and that they probably understand where they went wrong so I’ll give them a wave and a not kind of in sympathy. Except for those poor misguided guys on GoldWings, they need more help than what just a wave can give.