A little know fact by those who don’t ride a motorcycle, is that bikers consider themselves a community. Now I’m not talking about the clubs that they belong to, or the gangs they ride with or even the types of bikes they ride. I am talking about any person that hits the road on a two or three-wheeled vehicle with the wind in their hair.
It’s an automatic family. They acknowledge each other on the road, help each other when stuck or in need of help and will even buy each other a drink when saddled up to the bar. Nothing is more evident to this fact than the “Biker’s Wave/Salute”. You will almost always see two bikers acknowledge each other when they cross each other in different directions.
This stems from back in the days when a motorcycle was not such a common site on the road. So it really began as an acknowledgement of union for the free wheelers, but since the popularity of motorcycles has increased, the sense of community still remains. There are a lot of different acknowledgements that can occur between passing bikers.
Here are a few of the salutes:
The Low Wave – Extend the left arm downward at a forty-five degree angle (straight out is the signal for a left turn). I’ve seen this most often used by folks on cruisers, especially Harleys. There are variations of the low wave:
- A fist with index and middle fingers extended together – The low wave if you’re on a two cylinder bike.
- All four fingers extended – The low wave if you’re on a four cylinder bike.
- A fist with the index and middle fingers extended but spread apart – A peace sign meaning “peace on the road.”
- Thumb and index finger making a circle other three fingers extended – The “OK” sign saying, “I’m okay, you’re okay.” Can also be a question asking if the other rider is okay.
- All five fingers extended, palm facing forward – the “low five.”
The Two Finger Flip – Left hand remains on the grip, but the index and middle fingers come up. This is often used by crotch rocket types because the forward leaning position can make it a little awkward to take the left hand off the bar. Also used by bikes of all types in traffic when they don’t quite feel safe taking a hand off the bar.
The Four Finger Wiggle – Left hand remains on the grip, but all four fingers come up and are wiggled side to side a little. Used in the same situations as the Two Finger Flip.
The Mini-Wave – The left hand comes a couple inches off the grip to flash a wave before going back to the grip.
The Full Wave – the left hand comes up to shoulder height or higher to wave.
The Vigorous Full Wave – The left hand comes up to shoulder height or higher and is waved back and forth vigorously.
The Biker Salute – Left fist held up high. I’ve only ever heard of this or read of it, but never seen it. The references that I have heard or read indicate that it’s an old-time biker gang thing. I dunno how true that is or isn’t.
The Peace Sign – The left hand makes a fist with the index and middle fingers extended and spread.
Here is a bit of a comical video of all the different waves that can occur:
But this is my real favorite. Waving is not limited to human beings:
So learn the correct wave, and next time you’re on the road, acknowledge your fellow rider.