“I even had a Harley rider wave at Jimmy Jam and Stinky on their Ultras and pulled his hand back when he saw me.”

A quote from a post on Gymi’s blog a while ago, mentioning the reaction he gets when riding his ZXR with his friends on Harleys. It made me reflect on the whole waving thing among motorcycle riders.

I’m not going to go berserk in a to-wave-or-not-to-wave-and-who-to-wave-when-you-wave discussion. But I’ll just share a bit of my own experience before I take a more scientific approach to the subject.

The Jekyll and Hyde of bikers
When I ride my Harley, a lot of sport bike riders tend not to wave unless I wave first. Maybe they don’t wave Harleys because they’ve gotten used to grumpy Harley riding bad asses that lack the brain capacity to interpret these strange gestures.

When I ride my Honda everybody wave, except the grumpy bad asses of course. I occasionally meet the youngster on a tuned up ’96 Fireblade who interprets the wave gesture as; “Hey! Let me see you wheelie across the red light at 100 mph (160km/t) in dense traffic”.

To me, the brand based wave seems a bit stupid and unnecessary. I bet you appreciate riding your bike just as much, whether you ride the latest crotch rocket or the largest hotdog stand Milwaukee has to offer. That’s why we greet each other, not because yours is red and mine’s blue.

The grand “wave” investigation
After a thorough search in various archives (5 min on Google) I produced two reports approaching the subject from different angles.

One is a message board discussion labelled “Stupid Motorcycle Wave” Concerning a SUV owner envying the motorcycle community their wave tradition. Which result in a series of smack-on-the-mouth replies like; -“Nobody waves at you because, well, nobody cares.”

The other, is a paper by John Cerilli called “The Wave“. He makes an interesting point, among others:

“in the United Kingdom, a nod is much more acceptable than a wave”

It’s a funny little observation, but of course. In UK they drive on the left side of the road and would have to let go of the throttle to wave.

Well, a big wave, a wish for a happy New Year, may the riding season of 2006 be your best yet.

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13 Responses to “Quick nod, big wave, easy greeting, or the middle finger”

  1. James  January 9th

    I will wave to you no matter what you are riding. I have a post about waving to motorcycles and cars. http://www.whybike.com/blog/index.php?p=55

  2. Gymi  January 9th

    Jesper,You know I’m going to continue my waving ways. I wave not because of the type of bike you ride. But because we are out sharing something we love to do. I beleive all riders share a sense of community that the non riding public doesn’t seem to get. It’s too bad that there still are a few in the riding community that don’t get it either.

    Later, Gymi

  3. unicorn  January 13th

    Ahhh waving!! Nice subject!
    As I learned to ride in France I had some troubel first waving at guys during my stay in Ireland! First no one sees it and then we I tried with the right hand the gixer just stopped LOL!

    Now back in France I noticed too that not all guys wave: if they don’t want to who cares! Different option:
    – they are blind or the helmet visor is too dark: in both cases they are too dangerous! Stay away
    – they are stupid: same problem
    – they don’t know you should wave: they will learn!
    I often complained alone when I wave to a guy who does not answer until I discoverd that the hand protections on my former r1150gs adventure did hide my fingers! Which a bit of the same with the mirors on the r1200rt!
    Now I noticed that some guys who I think don’t wave do it in fact…but behind hand protections 😉

    Some guys t is nice to wave to: the cops on motorcycles!! If you have never seen a happy biker: try it!!! So fex people wave at them that they nearly expand a flag to thanks you 😉

    The most important: two wheels and an engine, the road: you are a biker, who cares about the size, brand etc…?

    Stay safe! have alook at my blog

  4. unicornadventures  January 16th

    Thanks to Jesper kick starting that discussion I went on with my own thinking!
    If we do all agree then why do people still don’t wave back?

  5. Christine  March 2nd

    Hey, *I* ride a Harley and I take offense to being called a grumpy bad ass….

    Uhhhm, bad ass? Okay, I’ll accept. Grumpy? Never!!!!

    Of course, I wave to everyone. Then again, most are surprised to see me rolling down the road…..

  6. Jesper  March 2nd

    Well, Christine. I’m sorry to have offended you. That should of course have been “happy bad asses”. 😉

    Thank you for commenting.


  7. Christine  March 13th

    No worries…I’ll continue waving….I’m just that kind of girl *smile*.

  8. John J. Cerilli  May 5th

    WOW! It’s hard to believe that I wrote that article “The Wave” over 11 years ago! Even today, when I ride, I always wave to ALL motorcyclists!

    Since 1995, I have been free-lancing for Moto-Euro magazine (www.moto-euro.com). Check it out.

    I now live in northern California, and just returned from a 2-year assingment living / working in Aachen, Germany! Europe, in general, is a great place to ride, and the scenery and roads are fabulous!

    Ride Safe!

    JJ Cerilli
    93 Triumph Trident
    93 Moto Guzzi SP1000-III

  9. Anonymous  May 23rd

    I ride a 500CC Italian scooter and I have Harley guys, crotch rocket guys and the grey hairs on Goldwings wave to me. And of course I return the gesture. I think all riders share the same love of open air transport and the wave is to acknolwledge that mutual interest. we should all wave no matter what you ride.

  10. spike  February 12th

    I ride a road King and always wave or nod, i do not see many rice burners ignoring me and I have to totally agree with Gymis comments, at the end of the day we all ride and need to look after our sport regrdless of the bike you ride.

  11. claire  September 11th

    i have never done finger waving before is it hard -x-x-x

  12. claire  September 11th

    lol my m8 wrote dat i av a 125 nrg

  13. Mark41  October 23rd

    Well for one brief moment in the late 80s he decided to rap. ,

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