The Motorcycle Wave

Ever since I can remember, from the very first time I sat on the back of my father’s motorcycle as a young child, one of my favorite things was waving at the other motorcycles. At first I had no idea why we were waving at random people driving by us.  My father always told me we “just do” and so we just did!

The first thing I noticed was that the “Harley” riders never waved back at us, or rarely waved back I should say. Since at the time we were a Honda family, we were met with waves from every other brand except the Harley.  As the years progressed this remained the same everywhere I went.  I however wave to everyone, even if they don’t wave back, I still throw out my wave.

Fast forward to 2002, when I purchased my first Harley.  Now I was accepted into the fraternity so to speak.  But one thing I have always remained true to myself was that I wave to everyone.  It seemed that magically over night, all of the bikes that used to never wave, now did, like my cloak of invisibility had worn off.  But I do wave to everyone, my motto is as long as it is on two wheels, then I will say hello.

Now I know that some car brands do the wave also like some secret society, yes I am talking to you Mr. Corvette driver and you Ms. BMW and I have heard that even the Jeep drivers do a wave.  That makes me chuckle some, because then every car brand should wave at each other or hell, lets just all wave at everyone and be a waving society! No, you cage drivers can not have a wave, you will never be as cool as us no matter how many “members only” jackets you have or even when you wear your “driving gloves” which make you look like a dork.  We wear gloves for totally different reasons.

Sorry to get of topic for a minute there.  Back to he biker wave…I came across many blogs and articles on this topic recently and I decided early on I was not going to tell you the “types of waves” or even the “wave etiquette” but what I don’t get are he rules for waving. If you read the above article, the following rules for waving were listed for NOT waving: 1)interstate; unnecessary, 2) in a curve; unnecessary 3) in the rain or at night; unnecessary 4) on a mellow two lane; proper. 5) a highway with little traffic; proper 6) A rally, unnecessary and 7) in traffic, unnecessary.

I have a problem with some of these and let me give you my thoughts:

1. Interstate: While I understand we are cruising at this point traveling anywhere from 70-80 MPH, this is actually the easiest wave to pull off a wave is it not? I mean you are just rolling down the road.  On many a trip across the country, I find it awesome to wave across the median at fellow road warriors. So I veto this and change it to a PROPER!  I further question the divided median.  I know this was not mentioned, but why is it okay to not wave just because there is a center divder? I mean you can still see the bike and it’s rider, it is not like there is a 10-ft wall you can’t see over.  So I also say PROPER to wave when you have a divided road.

2. Curve: If you read that article then you saw there were a ton of variations of the wave.  If you are that scared to take your hand off the grip or handle bar, then use the “left handed forward wave”or the crotch rocket wave, where you lift your fingers off the grip.  I have ridden in many switchback type roads in my time and I have never found it difficult to give a full on wave to some in mid corner or turn.  If you know how to ride at all, you can still follow the turn with one hand. I will not ignore my fellow brethren just because we are at 10,000 feet spiraling down the mountain! I veto this and make it PROPER, if you don’t wave it is just a little rude.

3. Rain/Night: Well, I really do not see what a little H2O has to do with anything.  Most of us if we are riding in the rain are prepared for it so we have our gear on. Unless you get caught in a terenchal  downpour and you are in shorts and a t-shirt with no helmet on, then you better wave at your fellow biker. PROPER! Now at night, that is somewhat tricky because you really can not see the other person. I don’t ride much at night, but if it is a well lite area, I would wave away if you can.

6. A Rally: while there are usually thousands of bikers everywhere at a rally, this seems to be the most accepted rule of thumb I do come across.  Sometimes you would be waving and just keep your arm up if you did.  I think that you need to be safe, but you should at least do your best.  I don’t know about you, but I like being waved at and acknowledged.

7. Traffic: Here I have to say, while yes sometimes you can not take your hand off the clutch, the head nod works just fine and is an acceptable substitute for a wave.  The other person can usually see you need that clutch hand, so PROPER in my book, I do it all the time at stop lights and what not.

So all in all, as you can see I wave at everyone and yes even though I own a Harley, I still get snubbed by my fellow American motorcycle owners for some of the “rules” above, but I don’t care.  Should you encounter me, I will wave and I will always wave to my fellow 2-wheel modern knights. Yes I did the research and from what I could find, the wave started with the knights on horseback when they greeted each other in passing. I wonder if they had rules on waving? (all the smart-ass thoughts I am thinking of writing about horse riding)

If you wonder why some people don’t wave back at you, here are some top 10 lists I found on both Harley and Goldwing riders, enjoy:

Top Ten Reasons Why Harley Riders Don’t Wave Back

  1. They’re afraid it will invalidate their factory warranty.
  2. Leather and studs make it too hard to raise their arm.
  3. They refuse to wave to anyone whose bike is already paid for.
  4. They won’t let go of handlebars because they might vibrate off.
  5. The rushing wind could blow the scabs off their new tattoos.
  6. They’re angry over the second mortgage needed to pay for the new Harley.
  7. They just discovered the fine print in their owner’s manual revealing that The Motor Company is partially owned by rice-burner manufacturers.
  8. They can’t tell if other riders are actually waving or just reaching up to cover their ears, like everyone else.
  9. If they wave back, they risk being impaled on their spiked helmet.
  10. They’re upset that after spending $30,000, they still don’t own a bike that’s as comfortable as a Goldwing.

To be totally fair, let it be noted that sometimes Goldwing riders don’t wave back, either. Again, to facilitate a better understanding….

Top Ten Reasons Why Goldwing Riders Don’t Wave Back

  1. They aren’t sure whether the other rider is waving or making an obscene gesture.
  2. They risk getting frostbite if they take their hand off the heated grip.
  3. They have arthritis and it is difficult to raise their arm.
  4. The reflection from the etched windshield was momentarily blinding.
  5. The on-board espresso machine had just finished.
  6. They were asleep when other rider waved.
  7. They were involved in a three-way conference call with their stock broker and accessories dealer.
  8. They were distracted by an oddly shaped blip on their radar screen.
  9. They were simultaneously adjusting the air suspension, seat height, programmable CD player, seat temperature and satellite navigation system.
  10. They couldn’t find the “auto wave-back” button on their dashboard.

Until next time, keep the rubber side down!

My name is Travis and I talk to Strangers!


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