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Motorcycle Wave

Updated on December 3, 2015
Biker Wave
Biker Wave | Source

The Biker Wave

What is the Motorcycle Wave? What does it mean? Why do Bikers do it?

What's Motorcycle Wave etiquette? Who should I wave at? What if I don't want to wave?

It strikes me as odd that there are so many questions surrounding the not-so-mysterious "Motorcycle/Biker Wave."

If you have a better image that you'd like for me to use, send it to me through my contact button.

What is the Biker Wave?: It's just when bikers wave as they pass each other.

What does it mean?: It means "Hello."

Why do they do it?: This really is not some secret code used by a clandestine community to keep out the uninitiated. It's just a greeting - a simple acknowledgement - a momentary bonding - a friendly gesture. It's kind of like waving to a neighbor that you don't know well - maybe you'll get to know them some day but, not today.

What is Biker Wave Etiquette?: There is none; they're Bikers.

Who should I wave to?: Whomever you want to wave to.

  • Some motorcyclists wave at all other motorcyclist. This gets old quickly; imagine driving a Chevy and waving at every other Chevy that you see.
  • Some don't wave at any. They're either afraid to take their hands of the handlebars or they're just too bad a$$ to be bothered.
  • Some only wave at Bikers on certain types of motorcycles. They're just too cool to be associated with the rest of us.
  • Some even wave at scooters. That's slumming it a bit, I think.
  • Nearly all will wave at a pretty young thing, whether she on a Bike or not.

What if I don't want to wave?: Then don't... but beware the Biker Karma.

How To Do the Biker Wave

and not look like a Biker Noob

Universal Wave: Extend the left arm down at a 45 degree angle for one to two seconds as you pass another rider. The elbow should not be too straight or rigid as this indicates a willingness to readily conform to "the system" - an attitude not supported by the greater Biker Community. The hand can be open or loosely closed. Extending the pointer finger is acceptable.

Passenger Wave: It is acceptable for the passenger to wave instead of the driver. This allows the driver (the man) to be hard and cool while the passenger (female) shows friendly courtesy, thereby avoiding a great deal of inter-relational conflict.

Head Nod: Used in countries where motorists drive on the right side of the road since the right hand is needed for throttle control; the head nod goes largely unnoticed in other countries.

Middle Finger Wave: To some Bikers, this is a favorite way of communicating affection to car drivers and police. The British equivalent is to form a "V" shape with the pointer and second fingers.

Queen's Wave: Reserved for parades.

Whatever Wave: Half-heartedly raising the hand straight up off the handlebar. Better than nothing, I guess; on second thought - why bother?

le Leg: I hear that the French prefer to... Raise a Leg?! I think someone must be pulling mine.

When someone pumps an open palm up-and-down,

or draws small circles above their head with a finger, it means:

"Slow Down - There's a speed trap (or road debris) ahead."

Dog Doing Motorcycle Wave

Yes - it's uncivilized to not.

Yes - it's uncivilized to not.

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    • anonymous 3 years ago

      I don't agree with scooter statement. They are on two wheels and taking on the road with less power, therefore more dangerous, taking on the many ignorant auto drivers just like the bigger bikes. There is a camaraderie among bikers and the wave is to acknowledge that we are on this road together and facing the same odds. I wave at most every other bike and don't really care if they acknowledge it or not. I ride a Wing and some folks don't think that's manly That's ok by me, it suits me just fine.

    • anonymous 4 years ago

      Le Leg is the standard form in and around Paris. It is safer than taking your hands off the handlebars. Come and ride in Ile de France and see for yourself.

    • anonymous 5 years ago

      The French motorcycle leg wave is known as "Le Leg". Not to be performed inside the Périphérique

    Do You Biker Wave?

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      No comments yet.

      Some Car Drivers Do It, Too.

      Many specialty cars have "the Wave," too:

      British Roadsters: When I owned my TR6 (the car), I was waved to by the driver of nearly every British car that I passed (well, except for Jaguar owners - they're a little stuck up I guess).

      Jeep Wranglers: Especially when it's top-down weather.

      Karmann Ghias: Acknowledged by the entire Air-Cooled VW community.

      Antiques: While driving my '57 Chevy, I was waved to by everyone that had ever owned or wished that they had owned an American car from the 1920s-1950s.

      Volkswagen Beetle: Air-Cooled Beetles are unique. The drivers don't wave at each other but, every boy between the ages of 8 and 18 starts punching his friends in the arm at the site of a Punch Buggy. Do kids still do this?

      Easy Solution

      Smart? or Lazy?

      What Do You Wave At?

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        • rehtul profile image

          Luther Cline 5 years ago from 21269 Fire Tower Rd. Elkins, Arkansas

          Appreciate this lens. Thanks.

          Question. Other "motorcyclist" (bikers) wave at me on any of my bikes.

          But if I ride my wife's scooter they cannot even see me.

          What is the reason?