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To Wave or Not to Wave? That is a question.

When “under helmet” lots of thoughts meander through ones mind.  Frequently, I find myself pondering why some bikers wave and others do not.  I also ponder why I care.

Biker Wave

First off, let me state that I am a “waver”. Not a jump-up-and-down-double-arm-flapper, but more of a subtle two finger waggle-waver, kind of a biker “nod”, if you will. I wave at cruisers, tourers, sport bikes and adventure tourers alike. Male, female, full face, open face, beanies and ball caps, makes no difference.  And I have two personas.  In touring regalia, I am a white goatee’d  open faced helmet with leather jacket, boots, and sometimes chaps, riding a larger touring cruiser (Royal Star). In sport bike mode (FZ1), I am a full faced, mirror visor-ed, leather clad ninja of indeterminate age.  Admittedly, I only do day trips on the sport bike whereas I am highway hauling on the Royal Star and the folks you pass along the way are different.

In sport bike mode, only other sport bikes acknowledge me but almost all of them do.  Very few other bikers will wave or nod to sport bikers.  (While nothing to do with waving and a bit off topic, I have to admit I get a lot more notice from age-inappropriate females in sport bike mode too, which is kind of fun).  For some unknown reason that isn’t happening in touring mode.

In touring mode, the wave thing is harder to quantify. I estimate about half of the bikes I pass will wave back or otherwise acknowledge the gesture. Which is what gets me to pondering. Why some and not all? Why does anyone wave at all?

Here is my sense of it. You may have your own. Or you may not care at all.

We are a community. We recognize something of ourselves in others who share our passion for riding. We are merely saying “Howdy” to “brothers-of-a-different-mother” kind of thing.  But it appears that who we include in our sense of “community” is different.  Me, I draw the line at mopeds. (To paraphrase Crocodile Dundee,  “That’s not a bike…….now THAT’s a bike!”) If I can lift it, it’s not really a motorcycle, is it?

Anyway, that is my conclusion. If you wave, it is because you feel a kinship or sense of community with the other rider(s). If you don’t, it’s because you don’t.  A riding buddy of mine seldom waves and does so selectively. We’ve had beer-infused discussions about my sense of community, which is all-things-two-wheeled (almost) and his, which is very brand-specific.  He argues that it (the brand) is a culture and that I don’t get it.  My rebuttal is that motorcycling itself is the culture and the brand is just a brand. Admittedly, the motorcycling “culture” has many sub-cultures within it and that brings us back to “What is your sense of community?”

Many of us have lived in smaller towns where you nodded, tipped your hat or said “Good morning” to everyone you passed along the way, whether you knew them or not. Everybody did and thought nothing of it.  A sense of community.  Now move to the big city and virtually no one does that.  Why?  The sense of community has been lost in the clutter.

So I try to retain my sense of community within the biker realm by waggling my fingers to other riders. And I always will.

Take our Rider Quiz. We’ll tabulate the results and let you know in a future rant;

  • A) I never wave because its dumb.
  • B) I never wave because that’s not the look I’m going for.
  • C) I never wave because I’m too busy hanging on.
  • D) I’ll wave only if I know you.
  • E) I’ll wave if you wave first.
  • F) I only wave to bikes like mine (HD to HD, Gold Wing to Gold Wing, etc.)
  • G) I only wave to others like me (sport bike to sport bike, cruiser to cruiser, trike to trike, etc.)
  • H) I always wave.
  • I) Other. Explain___________________

 And then there is this perspective

Alternative Theory

2 thoughts on “To Wave or Not to Wave? That is a question.

  1. I just read your post about waving. I have been riding for over 30 years now and have noticed a trend over the years. Back in the early 80’s you wouldn’t catch a Harley rider waving to anyone but another Harley rider, all other makes would wave to anyone. Now it seems that Harley riders will wave to anyone and other makes seem to ignore bikes of different make or purpose. I wave to anyone on two wheels as I feel we all share the same need to feel the wind as we move. Just my observations. Keep the shiny side up.

  2. I usually wave to all motorcycles and bigger scooters. (good friend on a Bergman; wouldn’t do not to wave to him!) They’re all part of the community regardless of brand or type.
    But I don’t wave if I’m busy: going through a busy intersection, merging etc.
    And I don’t wave to ‘un-riders’ on bikes in t-shirts, shorts, sandals, etc.
    I agree with ‘nythly2002’ , the Harley riders are waving a lot more these days.

    …and keep the rubber side down.

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