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Are there standard hand signals from one rider to another?


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#21 Soylent Grin

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Posted 14 January 2008 - 09:18 AM

C'mon guys! Lots of people jumped on the poster for not Googling for the answer to begin with, then proceeded to give him the wrong answer anyway!

He wasn't asking for Group Riding signals.

"I see motorcyclists wave to each other on a regular basis, so I am wondering if there are some standard hand signals which can be used."

Waving at each other head on, not giving signals to riders behind you.


I don't think there's much time in a head on wave to impart much information. "Hello!", "Cop ahead!" and "Moose!" are pretty much it. I always try to do the vulcan "Live long and prosper" thing, but I doubt anyone can tell it from a wave in riding gloves.

#22 Sherman

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Posted 09 May 2008 - 05:02 AM

When I see a bike on the side of the road I signal the question "are you OK?" by point at the rider, flash the OK sign, then left hand open palm skywards w/ shrug shoulders.
Usually they are just making a phone call and they waive me on.

The traditional sign for a cop is the left hand index finger extended overhead swirling in a rotational manner (from the days of cherry tops.) Probably gone forever.

#23 Tenchi

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Posted 11 May 2008 - 03:45 PM

Nicked from someone else on the PSB forum:
  • head tap - cops, whether its a car, hair dryer or what. Some of the older riders use pointed finger skyward and twirl finger
  • nod - "hey another rider, kewl"
  • wave - as above (i usually keep this for ppl I know, if Im comfortable or have time to lift a hand from the bars)
  • stick your foot out to the apropriate side to indicate changing from one side of a lane to another (I disagree with this - I use my indicators. That's what they're there for).
  • if there is road debris or a car reversing pointing to it is also common (in group riding anyway) to make sure other riders are aware of the danger (disagree with this for RHS debris)
  • opening and closing your hand in a flashing type sign is used to indicate that an indicator has been left on.
  • Hand extended left/right, open palm facing foward - left/right turn

In addition to these, other ones that we use which are not really universal wherever you go:
  • Closed hand to the side moved up and down vertically (as if sliding it up and down a pole) - speed up (origins: military)
  • Pointing skyward and moving arm vertically - as above (water skiing)
  • Open hand, palm down, in a "patting" motion - slow down (military)
  • Pointed finger down, twirl finger around - turn around (military).
  • Palm facing forward, swing arm from behind downwards and forward in sweeping motion - It's ok to pass me in my lane (standard rider training signal).

I ride with a bunch of ex-military and ex-cadets over here so most times, standard military signals do the trick just nicely and they're all pretty universal.

Unfortunately people are a bit divided on what I consider to be one of the most important signals, the hazard signal. Some think that pointing is ok - I don't like releasing my right hand from my front brake near an obstacle if I have to. Using the foot may indicate that you're switching lanes as opposed to saying, "hey, there's something here, be careful". And even worse, some people think it's the "overtake me on this side" signal. Other than that, the rest seem pretty much universal.

I think it's important to ask what standard hand signals are used on any group ride. There's no ambiguity if you're all using the same hand signals.

EDIT: Rider pulled over to the side of the road, typically if the helmet is on the ground next to the bike rear wheel I take it as "rider is f*cked" signal.
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#24 nashville_bill

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Posted 29 June 2008 - 04:29 AM

A fist held high means a stop ahead
An open hand held to the side means that the rider is slowing
Alternating between a fist and spread fingers means that someone has left their blinker on
A leg held out to the side means a road hazard on that side of the bike

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#25 uctofeej

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Posted 30 June 2008 - 10:20 AM

My favorite



All mankind is divided into three classes:
those that are immovable,
those that are movable,
and those that move.

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#26 Tim Wetter

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 06:15 AM

Three short flashes of the headlight usually means Police ahead around here, I refuse to take my hands off the bars to rub the top of my helmet as i always catch the wind blast (i'm 6'3)

#27 Draggon Rider

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Posted 20 October 2008 - 08:19 PM

I was going to ask if there was one for "Hey Moron, your turnsignal is on", but I see it's already been answered. laugh.gif

I've seen the pat on the head and the hand swirling over the helmet to indicate Cops ahead.
The most common one here is the peace sign pointing down to say "Hello" to a on coming rider.
What scared the hell out of me was on the first group ride when 15 bikes in front of me all waved at an on coming rider at the same time.
It was "OMG!" What are they doing? I started hitting the brakes. biggrin.gif

I may be wrong and I'm sure we have some truckers on this board, and they can correct me, but I thought 3 short flashes for truckers meant danger or help.
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#28 TwoWheeledManiac

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 08:42 AM

nothing is worse than when you don't understand what a signal/flash means... and then like there is no cop, no accident, no debris, nothing... so then you sit there wondering if there is sumthing wrong with you... or your bike... maybe it's just me to think that... paranoid! ;-)
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#29 Foxhuntr

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 03:56 PM

Some less common signals (developed by my wife and I):

Pointing to tank and raising and lowering the elbow = stop for gas.
Pointing to crotch and pointing to the ground = stop to pee.
Thumb to mouth and tipping head back = stop for a drink/snack.
Pointing ahead and holding up a number of fingers = x miles to destination.

After 20,000 miles of riding together on two bikes with no intercom, you figure it out!

#30 kolonial72

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Posted 10 December 2008 - 06:31 PM

QUOTE (TwoWheeledManiac @ Dec 10 2008, 11:42 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
nothing is worse than when you don't understand what a signal/flash means... and then like there is no cop, no accident, no debris, nothing... so then you sit there wondering if there is sumthing wrong with you... or your bike... maybe it's just me to think that... paranoid! ;-)


Wow, smoke much? tongue.gif

What does the patting head while rubbing belly signal mean? I think it means, "You spend too much time in front of a computer reading people's interpretations of what hand signals mean." Either that, or it means, "I am very coordinated."
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#31 FJRGuy

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 10:14 AM

Around here, I'm happy to say most bikers, from harley guys to tourers to sports, and even scooters (biker wannabes,) wave to other oncoming bikers. Not sure if there is any reasoning behind it but the most common wave seems to be a 2 finger wave (lazy peace sign?)
Although there are always some who obviously think they are to cool or whatever to wave, I don't hold it against those who don't as they may be clutching or may just not be comfortable taking thier hand off the bars. I tell new riders not to feel compelled to wave until they are totally comfortable doing so.
Hand on the helmet seems to be universal cop signal. Although the finger twirl, although used for "start your engines" in group rides, works in context.
Something not mentioned, and maybe I'm the only one who does this but, when not readily obvious to the oncoming rider, I'll tug on my raingear to try and communicate that there is a shower (or snow as the case may be) ahead. This may sound stupid but in our neck of the woods, it can threaten all day but never get wet, or be sunny on one side of a mountain and raining on the other, or... you get the idea.

In group riding, I'll use foot signals to indicate changing tracks within the lane (I reserve signals for actual lane changes or turns.) Everything else is pretty well documented except...
Stand on your pegs and point at your a$$ to say you have to take a dump (i.e. - a tree won't cut it!) unsure.gif
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#32 mighty mouse

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 12:04 PM

Our group signals are similar to the early link - we use our feet rather than hands for indicating hazards and since one of our (only 4) rules is: "Be nice always", we don't usually use the last signal. Also, tapping your head usually means you are "tapping out of the ride". Ride safe
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#33 Fred W

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 12:17 PM

Nice. :huh:

This thread was only dead for 28 months... :rip_1:

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#34 squeezer

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 04:45 PM

Nice. :huh:

This thread was only dead for 28 months... :rip_1:


No poop. People have raised kids and retired since this one last popped up. :lol:

There's really only one rule if you're talking about group riding. Talk it over with everyone before you start so you're sure everyone knows.

I hope that helps the OP's grandkids.

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#35 juniorfjr

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 04:58 PM

But, it was kinda cool reading some of the posts by members long gone, but not forgotten.

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#36 wheatonFJR

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 05:16 PM

But, it was kinda cool reading some of the posts by members long gone, but not forgotten.

I agree...good to view a thread with these guys.

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#37 Brodie

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Posted 12 April 2011 - 09:39 PM

Ah yes...


A trip down memory lane.


Thanks Mighty Mouse

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#38 ShinyPartsUp

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Posted 13 April 2011 - 04:55 AM

The sad part is I remember reading this post years ago. I'm getting long in the tooth around here. Seeing TWN's post makes me want to


:fuck:
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#39 86fj1200

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 07:24 PM

Some less common signals (developed by my wife and I):

Pointing to tank and raising and lowering the elbow = stop for gas.
Pointing to crotch and pointing to the ground = stop to pee.
Thumb to mouth and tipping head back = stop for a drink/snack.
Pointing ahead and holding up a number of fingers = x miles to destination.

After 20,000 miles of riding together on two bikes with no intercom, you figure it out!



Pointing to crotch and pointing to the ground = stop to pee? Really...you and your wife came up with that? I would've thought it meant something else.

#40 extrememarine

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Posted 14 April 2011 - 07:45 PM

Somewhere I have a sheet from my MSF instructor pack; I'll see if I can dig it out.

**Edit - Here it is:
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