Motorcycle Hand Signals You Should Know

Jun 8, 2024


group of motorcycle riders on a road at sunset Motorcycle Hand Signals You Should Know

Understanding and using the correct motorcycle hand signals is essential for safe riding, especially when communicating with fellow riders during group travels. Here’s an in-depth look at some key hand signals every motorcyclist should know.

Common Hand Signals for Motorcycle Riding

Biker Wave

biker wave Motorcycle Hand Signals You Should Know

A low, relaxed wave with one or two fingers extended toward the ground (almost like a peace sign) often serves as a sign of greeting or mutual respect among riders. This traditional gesture promotes camaraderie within the biking community.

Turning and Stopping

  • Left Turn: Extend the left arm horizontally with the palm facing down.
  • Right Turn: Raise the left arm to a 90-degree angle with the hand forming a fist.
  • Stop: Extend the left arm downward at a 90-degree angle, palm facing backward, signaling the riders behind to stop immediately.

left turn_right turn_stop Motorcycle Hand Signals You Should Know

Speed Adjustments

  • Speed Up: Arm extended straight out with the palm facing up, often accompanied by an upward motion to signal increasing speed.
  • Slow Down: Arm is extended straight out with the palm facing down, moving the arm up and down to signal deceleration.

speed up_slow down Motorcycle Hand Signals You Should Know

Road Formation Changes

  • Single File: Raise the left arm with the index finger extended upward, indicating that riders should align in a single file, which is useful in narrow or busy roads.
  • Double File: This signal is similar to the single file signal but with the index and middle fingers extended, suggesting that it is safe to ride side-by-side as the road conditions allow​.

single file_double file Motorcycle Hand Signals You Should Know

Stops for Fuel and Refreshment

  • Fuel Stop: Point to the fuel tank using the left index finger to signal the need to refuel.
  • Comfort or Refreshment Stop: A thumbs-up gesture towards the mouth indicates a need for a refreshment stop, while a closed fist with a thumb sticking out signifies a more general stop for rest.

fuel stop_comfort stop_refreshment stop Motorcycle Hand Signals You Should Know

Hazard Warning

  • Left-Side Hazard: Extend the left arm downward and point towards the hazard. It is essential to notify following riders of potential dangers like potholes or debris on the left side of the road.
  • Right-Side Hazard: Indicate hazards on the right side by pointing with the right foot. Since the right hand should remain on the throttle, this method ensures continuous control while signaling.

road hazards Motorcycle Hand Signals You Should Know

Group Management Signals

  • Follow Me: To signal that you are assuming the lead or to follow the path you choose, extend your left arm upward from the shoulder, palm facing forward. This is great to use when the lead changes or the route is unclear.
  • You Lead / Come to Front: When you want someone else to take the lead, extend your left arm downward, pointing forward, then sweep it in a leading motion. This helps in redistributing the responsibility among the group during long rides.

follow me_lead_come Motorcycle Hand Signals You Should Know

Pull-Off and Comfort Signals

  • Pull Off: To communicate the intent to exit the road or pull off into a rest area, lift your arm outward and upward from the elbow, waving slightly. This is particularly useful on long trips where breaks are planned.
  • Comfort Stop: A fist with a thumb sticking out or a short up-and-down waving motion with a closed fist can indicate the need for a comfort stop. This signal is beneficial during long rides, allowing riders to stretch and prevent fatigue.

pull off_comfort stop Motorcycle Hand Signals You Should Know

Frequently Asked Hand Signal Questions

What does it mean when bikers point two fingers down?

This gesture, commonly called the "biker wave," signifies peace and acknowledgment among bikers. It's performed by extending the left arm and pointing two fingers towards the ground, symbolizing "keep two wheels on the ground." Riders use this gesture to express mutual respect for each other's safety​.

What does it mean when a biker puts his fist up?

This signal alerts fellow riders to slow down. A raised fist with the palm facing the following riders indicates the need to reduce speed, and it is often used when approaching hazards or tighter traffic situations.

What does it mean when a motorcyclist taps his helmet at you?

Tapping on the top of the helmet is a signal among bikers to indicate police presence ahead. It's a warning to other riders to be cautious of their speed and aware of law enforcement in the vicinity.

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Bottom Line

Motorcycle hand signals are a critical component of rider communication. They enhance safety by providing visual cues universally understood among motorcyclists. By mastering these gestures, riders can ensure smoother and safer journeys, solo or as part of a group.