Motorcycle Etiquette: How Not to Wave Like a Dork

Updated on March 8, 2018

How to Wave While Riding a Motorcycle

Left-handed low and and left-handed high biker waves.
Left-handed low and and left-handed high biker waves.

If you drive a motorcycle, you know about “the wave”. The wave is your rolling connection to your biker brother and sisterhood, but is there a special secret to this wave? When you started riding did you seek out a wave master and perhaps copy theirs, or did you develop one of your own? Have you ever wondered if your wave is appropriate? Unfortunately, wave training is not covered in the basic or advanced motorcycle safety classes.

Well, here I present the five basic motorcycle waves. Your worries about not knowing proper biker etiquette are over.

Five Motorcycle Waves

Left-Handed Low
Aimed down towards street with the extension of one, two, three, or five fingers.
Left-handed Straight Out
Arm fully or partially extended higher or lower than shoulder.
Left-Handed High
Elbow should be bent with slight forward angling of the forearm.
Typically employed by Ultra Classic and Goldwing riders.
Left-Handed Forward
Almost imperceptible due to the speed of the wave and the bike.

Origins of the Motorcycle Wave

Many riders believe there that was once a secret wave society, similar to the Priere de Sion fraternal order, founded back in 1903 when the first Harley Davidson rolled out of the shed. There wasn't. It all started one day in 1904 when Arthur Davidson passed by William Harley and, since they knew each other, they waved. Another biker saw the two "Kings of Motorcycles" doing this and thought this was a biker necessity. A tradition was born.

The waving tradition continued on through the years but was always haphazard. There were bikers doing the “Bye Grandma Wave,” others doing the "Howdy Wave," and still others doing the extremely feminine “Princess Wave."

In 1946, after several years of these image-destroying gestures, a group of crusty old bikers decided to put some proper waving rules in place. They formed the Wave Hard And True Biker Society. Abbreviation: WHAT-BS.

Fast Wave When Passing

To Wave or Not to Wave?

To wave or not to wave, that is the question. We’ve all faced that moment when we felt obligated to wave but then become unsure. The worrying starts and then there’s that overwhelming feeling of guilt. Well, worry no more. Here are some general waving rules to help guide you:

  • On the interstate; unnecessary
  • On a curve; unnecessary
  • In the rain or at night; unnecessary
  • On a mellow two-lane; proper
  • On a highway with little traffic; proper
  • At a rally, unnecessary
  • In traffic, unnecessary.

There are, however, times when not waving is just down-right rude. So if you’re not a jackass, you should, if at all possible, reciprocate when another biker waves to you.

If it’s the proper place and time and you receive no reciprocal wave, don’t get your panties in a bunch and think you’ve just passed a jackass, because there are some acceptable reasons. These reasons are as follows:

  • You weren’t seen
  • Clutch manipulation
  • A head nod was substituted

The Five Basic Motorcycle Waves

  1. Left-Handed Low Sometimes this wave is called the Harley or cruiser wave. These are typically used by cruiser-style or custom-chopped motorcycle riders. The arm is fully extended and aimed down towards the street in a 45 or lesser degree angle, with one, two, three, or five fingers extended. The direction of the palm is also critical to the look and feel of this wave. The palm must either face the other rider or face the road. A classic variation of the finger positioning is to throw a peace sign (duce) or a thumbs up. A low wave with an angle greater than 45 degrees and/or with the palm facing up or back and/or with the use of four fingers is telling the biker community at large that you are either new or inept. If you have a cruiser and can’t get this wave to work for you, then consider the Left-Handed Straight Out or trading in your bike.
  2. Left-Handed Straight Out This is an all-around general wave. They're typically used by crotch rockets, cruisers, customs, and bagger riders. The arm can be either fully or partially extended with no more than a 10 degree angle higher or lower than the shoulder. The palm must be facing the oncoming rider in either a horizontal or vertical position and a full palm must be shown. It is suggested that you present the hand in a relaxed state, as flattening it will make you look like a dork. The classic variations of the peace sign (duce) or thumbs up are also acceptable. If practiced, this is one of the easiest waves to master and will work with all bikes. If for some reason you can’t get this wave to work, you will probably have serious problems with the kickstand dynamic and should immediately sell your motorcycle before you cause yourself anymore embarrassment.
  3. Left-Handed High This is a variation of the typical wave seen made by kings and kids alike. It's used mostly by upright riders of crotch rockets and baggers. The elbow is kept even or slightly lower than shoulder height. The elbow should be bent at about a 75 – 85 degree angle with a slight forward angling of the forearm. The palm must be facing the oncoming rider and the hand can either remain still, though the use of a side to side motion is acceptable. This wave has been proven very useful when you have a loose watchband. It is suggested you present the hand in a relaxed state, as, once again, flattening it will make you appear to be a dork. The classic variations of the peace sign (duce) or thumbs up are frowned upon when using this type of wave. It’s a bit too over-the-top. Important: Should you be riding a crotch rocket, it is extremely important to maintain the crotch rocket image by using this wave only if the left hand is coming from the left hip or thigh. This should never, ever be used when coming from the handlebars. Warning of possible injury: Do not use this type of wave on a cruiser. You will appear aloof, snobbish, and everyone will hate you. If you have a medical condition or feel you must use this type of wave, get a bagger or ride a crotch rocket only in the upright position and don’t be a dick about it. There are rules.
  4. Right-Handed This is also known as the "Ha, ha. I have cruise control" wave. It is occasionally used by bagger riders but more typically by Ultra Classic and Goldwing riders. They’re riding on rolling living room sofas. These big, comfy, and not really cool bikes are great for touring. This lack of coolness can cause a temporary condition known as “dickishness,” which can be instantly healed by passing a cruiser and giving the right hand wave. The general message being sent is "You might be on a cool bike but damn it, I’m comfy.” If the rider of the touring bike is a smoker, he will typically light up a cigarette or a cigar, just to drive the point home.
  5. Left-Handed Forward This wave is used solely by crotch rocket riders because, let’s face it, what the hell else can they do in that position? A flashed wave, it is almost imperceptible due to the speed of the wave and the bike. To execute this wave one must slightly raise the left hand from the grip, no more than three or four inches, show the palm, and return to the grip. This entire motion must be fluid and executed in under three seconds. You must learn all the intricacies of this wave before you take your first ride. If you don’t, they will know you’re a newbie and you’ll instantly become pink-slip bait. The only way to avoid this lame wave stigma is by doing something crazy like riding a wheelie while naked. If you don’t fall off, that’s a big plus.

Maintain the Rule of the Wave

When approaching another biker always remember to maintain the rule of "The Wave." You never know who's watching!

What Do You Think?

If you ride a motorcycle, do you wave at other bikers?

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      Cut Wearer 3 weeks ago

      I don’t wave. Stupid bullshit that today’s motorcycle enthusiasts do. Owning a bike, going to runs & political support doesn’t make you a biker

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      Gillett 6 weeks ago

      I ride a sportbike which many riders aren't as fond of so I look and wave ONLY if I've been waved at first, every time.

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      jeremiah 2 months ago

      i ride a honda grom and i live in so cal. there is kind of a lot of riders in my city weekly and even more on the weekends. but ya everyone does the wave to me harley and sportsbikes. the few who dont prob dont see me. and if they did and dont then who cares. ride or die.

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      Akshay - ''JACK SPARROW'' 3 months ago

      Well...we ride on the left side of the road...! A left handed low would be pointless....have seen most people do the Left hand-Straight out or Left handed high combined with a peace sign or just a relaxed palm....and sometimes even a right handed wave when either of the riders or both are at low speeds....

      Well...ride hard...ride safe...cheers

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      Frreak 4 months ago

      I've been riding 44 years. I do the two fingers down. Something that maybe shouldn't bother me, but does, is seeing "bikers" wearing tennis shoes or sandals. It just looks rookie or out of sync. Ok...I've got a problem. I admit it. I'm Frreak... and...I'm...I'm...I'm... a boot head.

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      CC 6 months ago

      Wave at this!!

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      Bounce 7 months ago

      WTF? As many different views are here as there are individuals who ride. To each his own way.

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      BIKERMICK 8 months ago

      The wave... mutual respect

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      Gary f 9 months ago

      In the late 60s, you didn't wave. It was a closed fist at 90 degrees up

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      Hoku 10 months ago

      Being from Hawaii, we use the low wave, but have a "shaka" sign.

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      Colin John mcgiff 10 months ago

      When I ride and give the wave normally 2 fingers extended

      Most riders return it, but I find that a lot of harley riders do not, I guess they think they are better than us Mears Jap bike riders, but my bike don't leak oil. And that's were in am going to leave it.

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      Dan Tomes 10 months ago

      I wave when ever possible to greet a fellow rider......

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      Dimples 10 months ago

      If I am riding aback of my old man I can tell if he is in a position to reciprocate or not. If not then I return the wave, typically we both wave and we've always used hand down with 2 fingers out. Both of us have been raised in the biker world and we're in our 50s now, well I'm fixing to be. It is something only true biker's know and respect.

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      Greg 10 months ago

      I Ride Harley and when I'm riding I wave at everything on two wheels and some three wheels except for scooters scooters and mopeds don't deserve a wave and I find it absolutely hilarious to the point of Tears when they wave at me

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      Mariellen Pence (Tinyfeet) 10 months ago

      I don't like when the Harley drivers only wave to other Harley drivers, we are all out to have a great ride

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      Billius 13 months ago

      I've been riding for 30 years and pretty much heard it all about the waves. I do two fingers down to the pavement.Never heard some of the other fables about it but everybody has their own take and the same subject. I'm a motorcycle rider coach and I usually just take the two fingers to the ground because it's the quickest and that's what everybody seems to be doing to me;)

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      Jeff 14 months ago

      Video appears to be removed by uploader

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      Speedy Pete's Delivery Catoosa OK 14 months ago

      before looking it up, to me it is a sign of love towards the fellow rider! and telling a fellow rider to be safe without words... which is why i am here actually..... i came here because i was talking about it with a buddy just now telling him that its gotta be them telling you to have a safe ride and sure enough after reading through many comments i read a few cat's/cat'etts comments talking about "two fingers down means keep your two wheels on the ground" i mostly just noticed the way low wave and yes from time to time the fingers out but some do finger and thumb and others do the peace sign so it made me wonder if it was a gang thing or if it was my way of thinking but when cruising by i ether wave low or i reciprocate safely when i am cruising by back to them.... However thinking its silly to look it up, i am glad now i did look it up!, and found the reason in my heart was right because you can just tell when you get the wave they are kinda going out of their way (in a safe environment when cruising by) to get their hand low for you to express to you to stay safe and enjoy the ride.... and now i know the ones that do the two fingers down means "keep both wheels on the ground"..... no matter how "bad ass" of a biker.... thats real love.... and ill be sure to use it every time now for sure! i love all of you guys/gals! stay safe out there its another new year for that priceless feeling of freedom and fun enjoy the rides and by all means keep your two wheels on the ground!

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      Ligthweht 17 months ago

      Laughed my as off. Good writing.

      I just love to ride. Waving at others doing the same is just more fun. Reciprocated or not.

      The best I remember was early one morning on Route 66 going from Oatman AZ to Topock. And saw a lone Cyclist going the other direction. Bet your ass we waved. Was a good day riding.

      Remember to reread the section titled above “To Wave or Not to Wave?” Be safe you assholes.

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      Muffdyver 19 months ago

      Waving is gay, I just give the finger to everyone

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      Simon 19 months ago

      So what's the etiquette when encountering a bicyclist? When I ride my bicycle I always nod or wave to others who are out and about bicycling, walking, jogging, or motorcycling. But the motorcyclists never respond. I'm a member of the two-wheel-invisible-to-cars club and we have to stick together, but I always get snubbed. What's up with that?

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      Howie 21 months ago

      Oh good grief, you make it sound like it's biblical. I usually do the 45 degree downward wave with the finger pointing down, but I am not offended by the goldwing waves. I'm just glad that they enjoy the same sport that I do. If you get your panties in a knot over such things, maybe you should take up bull fighting.

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      nice monet 21 months ago

      funniest one I've seen, a rally bike rider took both feet off pegs and spread eagled... needless to say I didn't wave, too busy laughing....

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      Lonwel 22 months ago

      Not sure I like the comment about Goldwing inner child is weeping. Even if I have the cruise control on, I always wave with my left hand high. Most Goldwing riders do this wave due to necessity and aerodynamics. I did the cool low wave my first ride and was not prepared for the following wind blas on my arm which caused quite a pain in my shoulder. Since installing my baker air wings, I can now do the cool two finger down wave. Great article.

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      CC 22 months ago

      I have been riding for 47 years. And in all those years waves are head bow if you will has always worked. But for the most part I see cruisers and touring or full dresser stay within there own group. as do most sport bikes unless they have hard bags attached. No matter what you ride always ride safe and sane. As the cages could care less about you.

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      Jeff Cranston 22 months ago

      Things sure have changed. In the 70's, it was the left arm raised with a fist facing fingers forward. Now it's the hand down like you are slapping hands as you go by. LOL. I felt like it was a generational shift. I do it only if it's safe and I'm not shifting. In the case where I'm shifting or something, I might nod back if someone else waves.

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      Bryan Ryder 22 months ago

      Like the truckers wave, it's becoming a dieing art. On the bike & in the truck, I wave a lot but don't always get one in return.

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      Webb 22 months ago

      I dont wave at rice rockets....

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      ann 22 months ago

      i drive a Corvet, i give the wave as well. i think anyone driving a Muscle car should give anyone riding a HD the acknowledge wave.

      stay safe.

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      roadbum 22 months ago

      you know, the one thing that most people really get tired of are people taking a simple thing and complicating the crap out of it."you don't know the secret wave, or handshake, or you didn't hold your fingers right so you ain't cool."what a load of crap.

      look, it 's as simple as this. wave anyway you want. if you don't feel comfortable letting go of the bars, nod. just acknowledge the other rider. if they don't wave back, big freakin' hairy deal!just enjoy your ride and don't worry about what everybody else is doing.that is what this is about. there isn't any secret handshake or decoder ring you have to use. nor is there a secret conspiracy against anybody.and the rest of you wannabes,stop making this something it ain't.

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      wowiecowie 22 months ago

      Yes, I wave if it's safe to do so, I think it's just a thing that bikers have been doing for years, we are a different breed, just a friendly Hello....

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      HH 22 months ago

      Frist off we don't "drive" a motorcycle. to be honest, after riding for over 45 years, there is really no "Right" way to wave. silly article that I hope was written tongue in cheek. You acknowledge other riders with a wave of any type that you are comfortable with. There is no "bagger" wave, or crotch rocket wave, and by the way, my ultra limited is a very cool ride.

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      cuervokate 22 months ago

      Just started riding and I've already dumped my bike once so for now no wave until I get this riding down pat.

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      Rhesus 22 months ago

      C'mon, it's not about tradition nor being cool. It's about aerodynamics.

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      Okie 22 months ago

      and then there's the classic ZZ Top wave index finger pointed down Armstrong to the forward position indicating your direction of travel reference the ZZ Top videos from the 80s

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      Saferide 22 months ago

      If you pass us, I always wave using two fingers, peace sign. I say a quick prayer to keep the other rider safe and keep his or her rubber side down.

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      David 22 months ago

      Two fingers pointing down says keep both tires on the pavement...

      Author totally missed that...

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      rider 22 months ago

      what a load of crap !!!!

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      Al 22 months ago

      I live in Alabama...We wave at everybody..LOL

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      Magilla 22 months ago

      I wave when the other bike is paying attention except once you get to Sturgis, everyone realizes that there are so many other bikes on the road, you would be riding around waving like a fool the whole time and everyone just sort of stops waving.

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      Colin 22 months ago

      Another wave not mentioned is the left hand down but with thumb and pinky extended like the hawaii wave which sends the signal to oncoming bikes that the road is clear of police for a couple of miles. A nice message to get from a fellow biker. Love this article.

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      Dude 22 months ago

      What does it matter? I wave at times and other times I don't. If I don't why does it matter and how does that make someone not understand what riding means. Riding to me has nothing to do with waving or any of that trivial crap, to me riding is getting to my destination unscathed and enjoying every moment I am on my bike. I don't get pissed if someone don't wave and someone shouldn't get pissed if I don't wave. People get their feelings hurt over dumb shit that don't matter anyway.

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      Blue 22 months ago

      There's also the thumbs down which indicates a cop up ahead,

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      midlagednkrazee 22 months ago

      2 fingers in a peace sign low and left

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      Linda Robinson 23 months ago

      Wow Time Rider what an excellent hub, very interesting and so much essential information for every one that rides a motorcycle. Such detail, tons of important and life saving appropriate content. Fantastic job. Hope that you will be writing many more displaying your expertise on the subject. Talk to you again. Linda

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      Pir8life 23 months ago

      I almost never initiate a wave. I will return them but not really initiate. I also don't really get the whole brotherhood/sisterhood thing on motorcycles. I would never disrespect another rider and if I came across one in need of assistance I would certainly help but I just don't get the whole ride free ride hard brother sister stuff. I'm an adventure rider and ride way harder physically by default that people that cruise. on their shiny bikes. Duel sports and motocrossers ride harder than me but what is ride hard and ride free to a cruiser or tourer?

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      tt 2 years ago

      This article missed the purpose of the wave. The purpose is to point directly down at the road in honor of all downed bikers.

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      BOB RITCH 2 years ago

      Been riding since 13, now 66, haven't been without a bike more than a year. Needless to say, I've owned several bikes...I have waved at mopeds, peddle pushers, anyone that is a avid rider is a biker to me. Growing up pushing peddles, that where it got started for me. Having said that I really find it funny and immature when someone won't return a wave from another biker because of the type bike they are on, or the ones that have their nose in the air with a proud mean look on their face. As far as all bikers having your back, I've know bikers you turn your back on them they will steal your bike..I don't think being a biker makes us any better than anyone else. And for the ones who think they will get a bike, some leathers and it changes you into some kinda bad-ass or special being you have missed the whole point of the ride!........Ride Easy

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      RageAgainstTheMachine 2 years ago

      Harley was crapping his diapers in the 1880's. His mama probably called them 'baggers', not 'diapers'.

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      buddy 2 years ago

      Yes indeed,you do not drive a motorcycle, you RIDE a motorcycle!

      Wave, Shmave. You wave ,you get a wave....

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      Tramp 2 years ago

      I LOVE my couch. Comfort beats cool hands down. Especially when you've been riding for over 40 years.

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      Ardvarkious 2 years ago

      Just for the record since this painting ends up all over the net....Painting by K Dawne Holmes a well known custom bike painter and artist. Painting is from a road just outside Prescott, AZ heading up to Jerome. And yeah, if safety permits, I wave.

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      Mab Max 2 years ago

      Forgot one... same as left handed low, except palm down, move arm & hand with up & down motion several times. Usually signifies a speed trap to oncoming.

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      Travis 2 years ago

      One thing you forgot is don't wave to someone out of your league Ok lol. So molike or enduro riders don't wave to Harley or crotch rocket guys ull just getta weird look lol

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      Peter 2 years ago from The Road with corners.

      Great article. The nod to the side seems to be the new biker wave. Much easier and do not have to let go the handle bars and be safer.

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      Michael 2 years ago

      I ride a sport bike and I always either wave or nod, unless it's a Harley because I know they won't wave back. A while ago I waved at a group of Harley riders while at a red light and they all shook their heads at me so that was the end of that.

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      Nomadd2029 2 years ago

      The only correct etiquette for waving or anything else bike related is to not give a shit how any self proclaimed expert, or anybody else in the universe, thinks you should do it.

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      Ryan 2 years ago

      I always wave, but most cruiser type bikes never wave back. (I ride a sports bike).

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      druid 2 years ago

      I talked about waving in my trans-Canada blog ( There was all kinds of talk on (remember them?) about "Squids Don't Wave" or "Harleys Don't Wave" (everyone riding a HD is named Harley, even the women). I wave. It's like a 2-wheel Namaste: The Coolness in Me Acknowledges the Coolness in You. I'm still unsure about the 3-wheelers, and the barges like the new HDs that look like "hell, add two wheels and call it a car!"

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      bill 2 years ago

      For the last time, you don't DRIVE a motorcycle!

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      Greg 2 years ago from Tulsa, Ok

      I wave most of the time. If I'm busy trying not to crash or traffic has my full attention (morons) and I don't notice another rider(s) sometimes not.

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      Bright 2 years ago

      I joke with my husband that you put your arm down so your arm fat doesn't flap in the wind.

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      Ozzy 2 years ago

      I don't care what you"re riding. If you're on two wheels, I'm waving.

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      Tobey McCool 2 years ago

      I see someone also mentioned this, I have always done the low left hand wave with two fingers. I don't mean it as a peace sign, I mean it as keep your two wheels safe on the ground. it is the wave I will always use, whether I know the riders or not. it is my way of wishing other riders a safe ride.

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      SHAIN GROW 2 years ago

      I was asked if there was any biker I would not wave response is yes, the GOLD ING takes them to long to roll their window down !!!

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      Dennis 2 years ago

      goddamn funny.

      how about the bagger that gets his passenger to do a wave.

      didn't SAMCRO wave?

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      Jimmy 2 years ago

      I started riding mopeds when I was 12. I've always preferred two wheels. I've owned 5 Harleys now. Been riding motorcycles since I was 21. The wave to me has always meant "ride safe". It means that we are part of a rider community and I got your back.

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      azlandman 2 years ago

      I don't wave to people wearing flip flops and shorts riding through town and waving while turning at a light.

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      your ass 2 years ago

      What a stupid article, I'll waive the way I fell like waving...

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      Boats 2 years ago

      As any Sailor worth his salt knows US Navy customs and regulations permits a left handed salute. So that is what I render rather than the limp armed wave.

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      Otter 2 years ago

      It's not a wave, it's a protest. It's an inverted peace symbol protesting our country's lack of interest in getting our POW'S back in Vietnam.

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      Jlo 2 years ago

      im sorry but I call a spade a spade, I ride 8 to 10 thousand miles a year and have ALWAYS waved if not in mid shift or in a turn. If at a stop light I give a nod, so if you are at all a respectful rider and TRUE Biker no matter what you ride you wave! Period!

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      Spiffy 2 years ago

      I always make sure my nails are properly clean and my hair is just right before i would ever consider waving! Oh guys don't forget to floss!!!

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      Me Myself & I 2 years ago people need someone to teach you how to wave!

      I like the two handed over the windshield "peace my brother" sign. I prefer to do it while cornering if possible but I don't pass bikes on corners that often.

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      Sprocket 2 years ago

      Yes I Wave and did as a Truck Driver too ! lots of them do the same to each other but sit to high for people to see . But I do because I am happy and Have meet many good friends on the Road ! Now I am waving GOOD BYE !See You on The Road Make sure you Wave !I ride a Street Glide !

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      Crazy bob 2 years ago

      I was told 30 + years ago the wave began after WW2. HARLEY RIDERS BACK then never waved to anyone on a Japanese bike. You can imagine why. Today, im.glad to see everyone waving at everyone, for the most part.

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      Drifter 2 years ago

      I don't wave to those 100 to 150 MPG scooters or dirt bikers, nor do I wave when it's not safe to do so. I'll nod my noggin at a traffic light when I'm gripping the clutch.

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      big johnson 2 years ago

      I always give the bird out the window of my Taurus station wagon when I pass by all the biker ferrys in leather

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      oleander 2 years ago

      Been riding 0ver 50 years. my generation it is a sign of respect, and the old addage of brotherhood and recognition. Never leave another behind. Lots of surgeries on my arms over the years, so the high waves don't go so well. Hand flys back with wind. On my electraglide, the right hand twp finger salute works well, otherwise, my ban hand flys backward with the wind. I love my cruise control. Friendly acknowledgement is good.

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      Adz 2 years ago

      What about England? I ride a Lexmoto (sorry) 125(Sorry!) and I ride on the left so how the heck can others see my wave if im waving left low?

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      Escotaon 2 years ago

      Jeep people do the same thing.

      I live near the Smokey Mountains/ the Dragon. There are just to many Jeeps and motorcycles to wave at everyone, just because they are on a bike or in a Jeep.

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      Sarah 3 years ago

      Just wanted to say that actually, my motorcycle course at MSP Groton Cycle (Groton, NY) did, in fact, cover this important information! So I guess my class was better than most.

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      shatnurface 3 years ago

      One more final thought on waving, why don't those posting your opinions on waving also post your annual milage on your bike or bikes. Mine is around 10k miles.

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      shatnurface 3 years ago

      I did have a foot in mouth moment about a week ago from waving. I gave a gsxr 1000 a wave on a 4 lane road only to realize when he got closer that he was an amputee as his sleeve flapped freely in the wind. He was still cool about it though and returned a nod

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      shatnurface 3 years ago

      I've noticed two phenomenon surrounding the wave though. 1 if riding say below 50 degrees or so, everyone will return a wave. The middle of summer is ckmpletely different. This does lead me to believe that those who don't wave back don't understand the "brotherhood" of riding. I often look out for other riders on the road in reference to cagers. Sometimes guys don't notice that car half a car length behind them going down the interstate. 2. I started riding in the virginia beach area while in the military. Heavy sports bike scene, big military area, with quite a few cruisers also. But even in the middle of summer, i would get waves back at least 3 out of four times. I moved back home to SC where the Harley scene is much bigger and the sport bike community still stays about the same, but the cruiser guys only wave back for maybe 1 out of 3 times... I ride a ninja 650r by the way. Another thing, a little off subject, is in talking to other riders, i get the impression that cruiser guys tend to be, not all of them, but more so than sports bikes or sport touring guys tend to be less enthusiastic. By less enthusiastuc i mean they have less knowledge of motorcycles overall and show horrible riding techniques in general. They choose crappy lines, they try to force the bars into the turns as opposed to countersteering, they ride without helmets, etc... just food for thought

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      labradog 3 years ago

      '77 R100S.

      Low speed cruise, low left peace sign.

      Slow enough speed to have faceshield flipped up, two left fingers salute at top of face opening.

      At speed, all four left fingers rise from the grip with a little palm showing, thumb stays on back of the grip.

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      trixie 3 years ago

      Oh yeah I don't wave at people wearing flip flops... Hahahahah

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      trixie 3 years ago

      "Only rule is there ain't no rules" someone gets it... Since when did riding become about other people? "Oh you're not a real rider you didn't wave right" Who cares? Riding is about individuality. I wave, by the way.

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      Irish B.O.B. Sister 3 years ago

      The kind of wave I give depends on who I'm waving to: Kids in cars, while in a parade, old folk sitting outside their "home" I give the "Left Handed High" wave. Biker to biker I give the "Left Hand Low" wave with a Peace sign.

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      Daryl 3 years ago

      the problem with waving in the uk is we ride on the left so your hand comes off the throttle lol , so you have to nod really

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      mono 3 years ago

      As a rider of over 40yrs and an owner of many cycles i reserve the right to wave anyway i choose depending on which ride im enjoying and consider each wave to be courtious and cool wether bbagger or bad boy or side car with rottwieler but here is what i consider to be my own adapted from sf black panther party 1960s aclenched fist arm at a 90° angle and say to my self ride on ride on i think its humourous to myself and often wonder if anybody ever gets it and what's up with my spyder no waves!so wave like a dork who cares? What really matters is when your pushin on the side of the road everybody else gfy

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      Cecil 3 years ago

      Meh, the type of wave is irrelevant and getting into hand position is ridiculous and inaccurate. Some articles say the low wave should be palm up, others say it should be down. Whatever. Nobody cares, and there is no wave that looks dorky. Some of the waves are better at higher speeds than others because of wind. But you're on a bike, you can't look dorky, even on an eighties Goldwing wearing a 30-year old stained blue Aerostitch suit. Do a single finger downward point, a two finger down point, a four or five finger wave at any height, a "I'm shooting you" gun point, a peace sign, a shaka, rock-on horns, whatever - it's all good. The point is you waved.

      For waving at Harley guys, I find I can guilt them into a wave by waving really early and wide and leaving it out there. If you're not confident when you do a wave it's easy for them to blow you off. If not a full wave or a head nod, I'll at least get like a pinky finger wave off the bar (real subtle), so that their buddies won't see it. Pretty funny actually. If they're a real douche-bag they'll do the look up and slightly the other way to completely ignore you, but that's pretty rare if you do it right. If they're riding in a pair I can almost always get the second guy to wave. The best is when the guy tries to ignore you but the girl on the back gives a really friendly wave.

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      Otter 3 years ago

      The inverted two fingers is the peace sign upside down. It's shown as a protest for all the MIA's. It began in the 60's. If a passing biker shows you this sign and you don't return it, it says that you do not support our troops.

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      Danno 3 years ago

      any acknowledgement of another rider is OK , and should be appreciated. Not returning a wave, however , makes you a total douche bag and pariah to motorcyclists everywhere.

      DD, 25 year HD rider

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      Mike 3 years ago

      You missed the biggest reason for the wave is from the military. After WWI and WWII a lot of military men started riding and seeing the country. The wave was a friendly jester between brother in arms. The same reason for the Jeep owners. Again AFN would proudly like to inform you that this was another thing developed by the military.

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      Yankee 3 years ago

      I was previously told that the wave was left hand 2 fingers pointing to the pavement symbolizing the two wheels to the road. I personally use the left hand flat palm hoping that the arm would turn into a wing and allow me to fly away.

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      BOFH 3 years ago from Perth, Western Australia

      Sports bike riders nod to everyone. Cruiser riders nod to other cruiser riders. Harley Riders are too cool to nod to anyone unless they are in the same MC.

      I nod to riders even when I'm in the car.

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      Charles 3 years ago

      Love it! I was rolling in the floor. Funny you mentioned the riders course. Our Rider Coach actually did mention the wave as he "didn't want us hitting the road out of HIS class, looking like dorks!" Great article!!

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      gadabout 3 years ago

      Who knew there were so many ways to wave from motorcycle. Being a member of the Red Hat Society, we don't even have that many waves.

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      Curt 3 years ago

      Very funny stuff, thanks!