The Biker Wave Explained – At Least My Take on Why Bikers Wave At Each Other

Is There Some Kind of Unwritten Rule?

What’s the deal with the “Biker Wave?”

One thing’s for certain, you rarely see bikers wave at cars, though I’m sometimes guilty of giving a thumbs up to a guy driving a particularly sweet Rat Rod or an old-school pickup truck. In general, it just isn’t good form to wave at cagers. They’re The Other, and no good can come of having any congress with them.

It probably started back when motorcyclists were rare outlaws on the road. The wave popped up as a way to communicate a sense of brotherhood – a sort of “You my boy, Blue” commonality to let the other guy know you’re a rebel and a free-thinking sort and you can see that wild-ass strain in his or her genetic code as well.

If you’ve been riding for any length of time, you’ll understand that there’s a social stigma associated with being a biker. You’ve surely heard all the “organ donor” and “Hell’s Angels” comments you’re likely to need in your lifetime. People who don’t ride motorcycles just plain don’t get the appeal of riding. They choke on the idea that they won’t live forever and seeing someone on a motorcycle reminds them that they’re living in a fantasy world of Nanny State “safety” as they tool along in their BMWs and mini-vans feeling detached from mortality.

The wave? It comes from an ‘us against the world’ place, but it might be more than that.

It’s an acknowledgement of solidarity with a group of people who are clearly not entirely in the conventional camp. The appeal of motorcycles extends far and wide these days, and you’ll see everyone from 1%er patched bad guys, lawyers, college kids, Harley Moms and vintage riders tooling down the highway. If you experience some adversity along the road, don’t expect a long string of cars to stop and offer you a hand, but you can expect that damn near any biker who sees you, no matter what he or she is riding, will pull over to give you some support.

It’s what we do, and it makes riders feel a sense of community, and it’s where “The Biker Wave” came from…

Why do some riders eschew “The Biker Wave?” It’s like asking why people who are generally decent and thoughtful suddenly feel it’s okay to loudly berate a waiter or shoot you the finger in traffic. It’s a mystery wrapped in an enigma. There’s no way to know who will and who won’t -  and it’s nothing to worry about.

Other riders have their reasons not to wave. Maybe they don’t like Japanese bikes. Maybe they don’t like “hippy looking” types. Maybe they just got done beating their spouse and their hands hurt. Some people have prosthetic limbs. Perhaps they’re too blind to see you pass by. They could be Republicans or hate people who look like Republicans.

What you do see is a fairly narrow range of possible techniques when someone does feel the urge to wave. You have the left arm downward at a forty-five degree angle open hand wave, a variant where the arm is in the same position but which features a styling “peace sign” thrown in for good measure and one where the palm of the hand stays on the grip but the fingers clearly give you a salute.

My personal favorite, and the one I find myself employing most often, is the arm at forty-five degree, a full fist and one finger pointing at the road.

What am I saying with that move? I’m saying,”Here’s to you, brother, you have no airbag,  you didn’t have to deal with an annoying seat belt, we’re on the road together right here, right now,  and I feel you.”

It’s that simple.

If I don’t wave? I’m either scratching my ass (which is required much  more often than I would like) or I think you look like a tool.

But that’s just me…

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