Anyone on a motorcycle with two wheels and even trikes can use the two-finger wave. In other words, it’s not only for Harley owners. In countries where they ride and drive on the left side of the road, a similar sign is used with the same meaning so that oncoming traffic can see their hand signal. It’s often a misconception that only Harley-Davidson owners are allowed to use the two-finger wave.
In this short article, we discuss what the two-finger wave is and who is allowed to use it. We also discuss why people get the idea that only Harley-Davidson owners can use this wave and what hand signal motorcyclists in other countries use instead of the two-finger wave.
We will discuss the following:
- What is the two-finger wave that motorcyclists often use?
- What does the two-finger wave mean?
- Who can use the two-finger wave?
- Why do people think the wave is only for Harley-owners?
What is the two-finger wave that motorcyclists often use?
The two-finger wave is a hand signal that motorcycle riders use to acknowledge another rider when passing them in the opposite or same direction. This is used as a greeting when riders first see one another or when they part ways.
The two-finger wave is typically the index finger and middle finger on the left hand pointing at the ground away to the side of the motorcycle. The two fingers are held away from one another like a peace sign. But this version of the two-finger wave is mostly used in countries where they ride and drive on the right-hand side of the road.
In countries where they drive on the left, a rider coming from the opposite direction would not be able to see this hand signal if they are using their left hand to signal. In this case, the rider signalling would use a different version of the two-finger wave.
Instead of using their right hand which controls the throttle, they use the same wave with their left hand but they would hold it up in front of their chest if they are sitting upright or just beneath the helmets if they are leaning in on the bike.
What does the two-finger wave mean?
Good question. I don’t know either…
People have different opinions about what the two-finger wave means. It is certainly a greeting, yes, but if you needed to put the specific hand signal into words, people say different things.
Some say it means “respect”. Makes sense to me since a big part of the culture is all about respect. You know, the old school kind of respect, when it had more meaning. This could also explain why some people don’t wave back, not just on Harleys but on various brands of motorcycles (their way of saying “I don’t acknowledge you”).
The other thing I’ve heard a lot is that the two-finger wave means “keep both wheels on the ground” as if they are telling you to ride safe. It kinda makes sense but then you would be excluding trikes unless they wheelie every time you wave at them. I hear this version much less than the previous one.
I think I would have to agree with the first version… Or maybe both. Although, I like being on one wheel, so maybe not.
Who can use the two-finger wave?
Anyone on a motorcycle can use it. This includes all riders with any brand of motorcycle with two wheels or three if you ride a trike. Anyone saying it’s only for Harley riders either don’t know what they’re talking about, fake or hungover on something.
Why do people think the wave is only for Harley-owners?
This probably comes from the stereotype that Harley riders don’t wave back at non-Harley riders. But this is also not completely true. Yes, there are a bunch of riders that think they are better than everyone else and won’t acknowledge people on different brands of motorcycles but this is not limited to Harley riders.
With this said, a lot of them are Harley riders. These people are usually the rich guys (I have nothing against being rich) who buy a motorcycle for the image and often sell their bikes after six to nine months with 150 miles on the clock with all their live-to-ride T-shirts.
But it’s not that bad. I’m excited when I meet them as I can get a great deal on a practically new bike. Although, if they try to convince me that they are better than me because of what brand of motorcycle they ride…
(I want to keep ranking for safe search) …I’ll drop one of the two fingers when waving at them. You can guess which one it is.
So yeah, that’s my best guess of where this idea comes from. People just misunderstand what others are talking about when they talk about the Harley guys not waving back. And don’t get me wrong. I’m a huge Harley fan myself, but I wouldn’t make myself seem more important by ignoring other people.
I decided to write this article after watching a YouTube video on hand signals when I was searching for content for a previous article: What is the best way to communicate on a motorcycle? I didn’t agree with the statement they made (the two-finger wave is only for Harley owners) and decided to deliver my own insight.
Featured image by thereflexman on Instagram.
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