Riding is oftentimes about solitude...being alone on the road with your thoughts. Other times it's also about community and sharing this amazing experience that we all love. When we wave or nod to a fellow rider, in a way we're saying, "I see you and I get it. We may be different in many ways, but in THIS way we have something in common." It's about coming together. It's about finding common ground. Symbolically, it's a way of saying, "I've been where you're headed and it's going to be ok." It's about US.
Is there a right or wrong way to salute your fellow rider? The answer depends on who you ask. In our opinion, it's about acknowledging them more so than how good you look doing it. That said, we want to share a handful of salutes for you to choose from unless you want to get really creative and make up your own. Just keep in mind that, if you do, the rest of us might not know what you're up to.
Without further ado, here are 7 ways to acknowledge your fellow motorcyclists on the road.
Straight Left Hand - This wave is popular among riders and is considered to be universally accepted among touring, sportster, cruisers and custom riders alike. Simply extend your left arm out with your hand barely above the shoulder, palm forward, and throw out a peace sign or open palm with fingers extended.
Peace On The Road - A variation on the Harley Wave, extend your left arm out and flash the oncoming rider a peace sign. You can angle your arm down toward the road with your palm facing the rider, out toward the rider or bend at the elbow to form a ninety-degree angle. It's really up to you, but either way the message is the same...Ride Safe.
I'm Ok, You're Ok - Another variation on the Harley Wave, either signifying "all is good" or inquiring if the other rider is ok. I could see how this sign can get confusing. Typically the first rider who gives the sign is asking, "Everything ok?" and the second rider will respond with the same sign as if to say, "Yep, it's all good." To do it, form a circle with your thumb and index finger with your other three fingers extended.
The Low Five - The final variation on the Harley Wave, extend all five fingers outward with your palm facing forward, like you're giving the other rider a low five from afar.
The Quick Wave - With this one, the left hand only comes an inch or two off of the handlebar, briefly exposing your palm to the oncoming rider and quickly returning to your grip. Blink and you might miss it. This is typically used by sport bike riders or when you are in traffic, just to be safe. As an alternative, some riders will extend a finger or two while still holding their grip.
The Goldwinger Salute (Cruise Control Wave) - Instead of using the left hand, we Goldwingers and many cruisers will often opt to use our right hand and wave however we feel like it because we have cruise control! To really go the extra mile, you can also light up a cigar like Memphis Mike ;)
The Nod - For countries where drivers are on the left hand side of the road, the nod is much more common. This is because, when two bikers approach each other from the opposite direction, they will be on the right hand side of each other where their throttles are. Unless they have cruise control, it's not a good idea to take their hand off of the throttle. It's inconvenient and, more importantly, dangerous. They could use their left hands instead but it's likely the other rider won't see it, so what's the point? As a result, they give a simple nod to one another.
Hi Mom! (Vigorous Wave)
Acknowledging each other on the road is a courtesy. It's signifying our connectedness through a shared passion we love and enjoy. It's extending care and consideration for your fellow riders. So the next time you're out on the road and see another motorcyclist headed your way, give them a wave, nod or a peace sign. After all, at the end of the day, we're all doing this thing called life together.
The Salute - where
A fascinating aspect of the salute is where you salute. Here in indianapolis, riders consistently salute on the Highway, and on all smaller roads. But we have a 4-6 lane highway that circles around Indy - 465. While salutes are consistent everywhere else, no one salutes on 465. Never. I’ve been riding for 45 years and never encountered a phenomenon like it…
I wonder if has to do with safety. Maybe, because there are so many more cars on a 4-6 lane highway compared to smaller roads, riders are more focused on their immediate surroundings. Still, you would think some of them would give a salute. Thanks for commenting!
Close to Indy
I would agree with the Indy 465 comment about no wave. I live just north of Indy and when drive through on 465 I will attempt a wave and sometimes I will catch on back. The main thing is that if the wave is not reciprocated then that's cool. I say in my head - will get'em next time.
I've heard that a salute with the two fingers pointing down to the road means ... keep both tires on the road.
Yes, I've heard that as well...thanks for pointing that out!
The disappearance of the wave in OZ
I remember way back when I first started to ride in the 80s and when it was a proud tradition to give a fellow motorcyclists a wave as you past by. You felt like you knew that person even if you had never met them. You were joined in a bond a special something that not everyone could do. But over the years that has changed and you're really hard up to have someone wave back. I keep on waving but I guess 1 out of 10 may wave back. It's a sad state of affairs here in Australia. I don't know if it's because bikes are like a dime a dozen and everyone seems to have one these days so that 'special' thing we use to have has gone. Maybe it's because the riders are all younger now and with social media they don't feel like they have to acknowledge someone face to face anymore. My amazing partner asks me why I keep waving and it's because when someone does wave its a great feeling so Anyway we love riding and I will always give another rider a wave as we go in our separate directions. Bring back the wave in OZ. Stay safe stay upright have fun.
That's too bad
That's too bad to hear. Let's all do our part to keep the friendly salute alive! In part, that's what this article is about...giving some love to motorcycle salutes and encouraging fellow riders to employ them. Feel free to share this blog post with other riders as a way to "bring back the salute." Thanks for sharing your thoughts!
Been riding since 1972 and while waves were common in the old days it is a real hit or miss today. In PA about half will wave and half not so I have just about given up on the practice. Now I believe just because someone is on a bike does not mean we share anything else in common. Worst case scenario is that the other rider may be on the opposite side of me in everything else that makes me an American. Kinda like seeing the Hell's Angles waving to the Pagan's while passing each other - not going to happen.
Enjoy acknowledging others
I always acknowledge riders with the “Peace on the Road” sign. Most sign back which is very cool. I wonder if cagers seeing us think we really know each other!?
Encouraging to hear!
Yes, "Peace on the Road" is such a great, positive salute. And that's great to hear others are responding back to you.
Salute on Trips
I too have seen a decline in the salute. Riding since '72 with many 100k's. I salute everyone when I'm touring, but find it is the rare rider that waves in the city.
Don't give up!
Yes we've seen a decline as well, which is partly why we decided to put this blog post together. Feel free to share it with your fellow riders and encourage them to keep it going. Thanks for your comment!
The camaraderie is another value of the ride.
As a rider and a pilot, it's great to feel that camaraderie that riders share. Don't feel that just because a rider fails to acknowledge you that he or she is being 'stuck up', sometimes with all of what is going on when riding, I don't always see another rider until they have passed. I'm sure others suffer from the same, I typically acknowledge all I see, but I'm sure I miss a few. Lucky enough, my co-rider typically acknowledges as well, so maybe I don't miss as many as I think. This same camaraderie exist among pilots, we don't typically get close enough to wave, but when you land at an airport, you quickly realize you are among friends. I've even had complete strangers at a small airport loan me their vehicles to go get a bite to eat. One even offered to give me money for gas in his new truck, I was like No Way, I brought it back on full.
When to salute
I salute most of the time on rides, when i pay attention. However, I dont always salute when the highway is a split highway with middle. if there is very little median, I will salute, but if the meidan is large enough I dont wave. Not sure what the common practice is there.
Thanks for RIDER ETIQUETTE
I wish all rider learn and have good education on the street also the drivers on roads
Respect the Brotherhood
I always try to salute my fellow riders whenever possible, and try to ride together whenever possible. Very few people show respect toward riders on the road, we have to stick together to stay safe and live our lives. Stay safe everyone!
Peace & Nod
I prefer to do the peace sign to oncoming riders and a head nod to those next to me.