Motorcyclists wave to each other. Depending on where you live (and if you ride a motorcycle or not) you may not have noticed this. But I make it a point to wave to every rider I see, and they wave back.

It's a lovely gesture. I may not like Harleys, and Rich Urban Bikers get on my nerves; Squids annoy me and I don't much care for the Honda Goldwing style of riding, but I wave to 'em all, because they're out riding, too.

They get wet when it rains, and they get dirt and grit in their eyes and mouth when the wind shifts on a dusty New Mexico spring day; they dread snow just like I do, and they look forward to summer just like me.

It's a pretty cool club to be in, and all you gotta do is ride something with two wheels.

The idea of motorcyclists waving to each other as they pass on the road is something I only came across after I moved to the USA. Back in Britain, motorcyclists are more likely to nod their head as a means of acknowledgement.

The nod has an obvious advantage over the wave in that both of the rider's hands can remain on the handlebar. My father told me that the only time you'd see a British biker take a hand off the handlebar would be to flick the ash off the end of their cigarette. I often see Cruiser riders nervously waving their left hand in a quick, flicking motion to minimise the length of time they are single-handed.

As an aside, I've also noticed that the British biker's nod is predominantly a downward motion of the head, whereas the US equivalent is mostly upward.

There are a few different waves that will be seen on the roads, often related to the motorcyle which someone is riding.

  • Sport bike: Two fingers of the left hand are held out like a sideways peace sign, the fingers signifying, "Yeah, man you're cool, you chose two wheels just like I did." Alternately, they may lift their front wheel off the ground and wave with it, or wave left handed while doing a wheelie.
  • Cruiser: They uh, wave. Like normal people.
  • Goldwing: As soon as they see you coming, they put down their coffee cup, set their cruise control, and give a jaunty right handed wave.
  • Harley Davidson: Both hands remain fastened to the handlebars, the gaze is directed straight ahead, and a mean/tough expression is put in place.
Here is my experience as far as a motorcyclists who wave goes:

Sportbikes: They usually do the peace sign as doulos says, and they sometimes nod their head, even if you ride a scooter. However, I have never seen them wheelie. Probably since I live in a city that doesn't offer much space for wheelies due to heavy traffic.

Japanese Cruisers: They usually don't notice you unless you pull next to them in a lane.

Scooters: They usually wave, although I am uncertain if it is in fear or admiration.

Harleys: Harleys never wave if your riding something japanese. They will probably wave if you're on something American, like Buell, Victory, Polaris, or other Harleys. And possibly if you are on something European, such as BSA, Triumph, or even Ducati or Aprilia.

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