The Wave – a gesture of brotherhood among motorcyclists

Diana Pillion Princess

The very first time I ever hopped on the back of a Harley, I was introduced to the waveAt first I thought it was a wave hello to an acquaintance, but I quickly discovered that it meant much more than that.  The wave was a sign of approbation to another member of arguably the largest fraternity in the world.  And I was welcomed as a part of that brotherhood…simply because I was riding on two wheels. 

The whole motorcycle culture was new to me at that point, and it was fun discovering all of the different ways that people would wave.  (Check out Dave’s post on this topic over at Road Grits Café.)  It was a huge part of what made me fall in love with motorcycling–that sense of camaraderie on the road.  But as I rode, I felt guilty because sometimes I did not reciprocate the waves.  As a novice rider I had so much to concentrate on–shifting, braking, traffic, curves, obstacles in the roadway…  Since I know from personal experience many reasons why one might with no ill intention refrain from waving, I bear no ill will towards others when they do not reciprocate my waves.

There are many alternatives to the traditional wave (sometimes referred to as “the secret Harley wave” by riders of other brands of bike).  You can raise a few fingers without actually letting go of the clutch with your entire hand, or you can offer a simple nod.  Some of these alternatives are not easily visible, particularly if you are concentrating on riding safely instead of stressing over whether or not another rider is waving at you!

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