Wave, the greeting between motorcyclists. It is about to turn 120: how was it born?

Home Road Motorcycles Tips Wave, the greeting between motorcyclists. It is about to turn 120: how was it born?

The "Biker Wave", the greeting between motorcyclists, is well known to us: it is a gesture of recognition, of friendship, which we do because we are part of a community, accomplices even without knowing each other.  The basic concept is "Hello two-wheeled brother. Stay safe on the road." But there is something more behind it, starting with the history. How was the wave born? Once again, when it comes to the early days of motorcycling, information mixes with legend.

How did the biker greeting come about?

It seems that the gesture was born in 1904, when Arthur Davidson and William Harley, the fathers of Harley-Davidson, met on the street on their motorbikes, recognized each other and - simply - greeted each other. It was therefore a very normal gesture between friends, but since it was noticed by other people it was believed that it was a custom among motorcyclists.   Although in the early twentieth century there were not many motorcycles around, the word spread in the environment - precisely due to the fact that the first greeting was made by Arthur and William - and so, from that time, it became very popular among all motorcyclists, whether riding Harley-Davidsons or the rivals Indian. And since then, it has come down to the present day. 

What does it mean

The greeting is a simple way to recognize someone who has the same passion as us, which is beautiful because it makes you feel very strong emotions, but it is also dangerous, demanding, and it is precisely for this reason that it creates a strong bond between us. The gesture that we make when we meet another motorcyclist and therefore more than a simple greeting, is a sign of respect, of solidarity: you know that if there's a need, I'm with you, I will always help you and I know that you will help me.

How do you greet

The classic Biker Wave is very simple. Release the left hand from the handlebar and open the arm downwards, with the index and middle fingers open in a V. It is not the symbol of victory (the one made famous in particular by Winston Churchill), and it is towards the low because it means keeping two tires on the ground, and so each motorcyclist tells the other to ride safely on the road. 

We can do it in other ways, for example by flashing briefly, some raise a hand, show a clenched fist with thumb up, others stick out a leg, simply nod while moving their helmet. It depends on the habit and also on the situation.

How not to greet

The first thing to consider is which hand to hold, whether right or left, which varies according to the country.  In the first case, the classic greeting is easier, since the clutch side is in the middle of the road; harder is, instead, saying goodbye by releasing the accelerator, a manoeuvre which is always not recommended. In this case (driving on the left) a brief nod with the fingers of the right hand is enough, keeping the hand on the handlebar, avoiding blatant gestures with the left hand and arm, which could be misunderstood, or even mistaken for a tease.

When not to greet

It is not always possible for us to greet, for logical reasons but above all for safety. So let's avoid greeting in difficult moments of driving, for example when cornering or braking. Let's also avoid it on the highway, as the other motorcyclist will not see the greeting and could be misinterpreted by a motorist, let's also avoid it when it's raining or at night, in addition to being dangerous even in these conditions they will not see us. Better to forget it even at rallies, there are too many friends to say hello to, and we'd always be driving with one hand.

If they don't greet us

In most cases the greeting is reciprocated, but if not, we shouldn't take it badly, there are more reasons for this to happen, some of which we have just listed. The thing we always have to keep in mind is that we don't know what the other rider is doing. He simply didn't return the greeting because he didn't see us, perhaps he was looking in the mirrors, or he was changing or was about to brake because there was a slowdown on his road. Or they just don't care about greetings. A rude? A rebel? Maybe yes, but this shouldn't make us change our minds, a greeting is always a nice thing, and among other things it's very rare to find it in other areas, especially with the meaning we attribute to it: sincere friendship.