There are mainly two ways that you can communicate with other riders on a motorcycle. The first being hand signals which require the riders to look at each other and only works if they are in line of sight. And the second is through headsets that are built into the helmets that require the riders to be connected through Bluetooth, cellular network or direct radio frequencies.
In this article, we discuss the two main ways of communicating with other riders on a motorcycle. We go through how these methods are used and what the best option would be for communicating on a motorcycle.
We will discuss the following:
- How to use hand signals to communicate with other riders
- How to use wireless headsets
- How to install a wireless headset into a helmet
- Which is the best way to communicate?
How to use hand signals to communicate with other riders
Hand signals have been around much longer than motorcycles and most probably longer than speech. But there is a unique set of hand signals used by motorcyclists to indicate in traffic and another unique set that is more casual and is used to have a sort of simple conversation with other riders.
These casual hand signals can differ depending on demographics. The reason for them being different is because in some counties people drive or ride on the lefthand side of the road while people in other countries drive or ride on the righthand side of the road.
Being on the lefthand side of the road makes it difficult for another rider coming from the opposite direction to see what sign you are showing with your left hand. And since most people don’t want to release the throttle with their right hand to show signals, they will show a different signal with their left hand that the other rider is able to see.
A good example of this is the two-down signal. Usually, a rider would show two fingers, just like a peace sign but point it towards the road. If you are on the lefthand side of the road, a rider coming from the opposite direction would not be able to see this.
In such a case, they would make use of another signal that means the same thing (at least in those countries). This signal is just a regular peace sign with their left hand below their helmet if they are leaning in or in front of their chest if they are sitting upright.
Below is a video in which DanDanTheFireman explains all the basic hand signals that you will need on a motorcycle.
- 1:17 – Left Turn
- 1:41 – Right Turn
- 2:12 – STOP
- 2:45 – Speed Up
- 3:18 – Slow Down
- 4:08 – Follow Me
- 4:39 – You Lead/Come
- 5:25 – Road Hazards
- 6:15 – Single File
- 6:35 – Double File
- 6:46 – Comfort Stop
- 7:20 – Refreshment Stop
- 7:53 – Turn Signal ON
- 8:18 – Pull Off
- 8:52 – Cops Ahead
- 9:25 – Fuel
How to use wireless headsets
Wireless headsets or com-systems are easy to use in small groups and even between the rider and a passenger. All you need to do is install the headset into your helmet and pair the devices. Once that is done, you should be able to connect automatically with paired devices that are in range.
The downfall is that everyone needs to have a system from that specific manufacturer. Also, if you follow FortNine on YouTube, you will know that the claimed operating range is way overestimated on most models.
How to install a wireless headset into a helmet
Below is a video explaining exactly what you need to do to install a Bluetooth com-system. But I would like to add that when I installed my headset, I used a soldering element to melt the inner shell away a bit so the speakers are flush with the shell.
When doing this, be very cautious because you don’t want to melt too much away. I did this by going over the parts I want to have removed and then using a flat screwdriver to break out the hardened pieces of melted shell. This is very easy to do, although, I would recommend testing and outlining the area where the speakers are supposed to be before starting.
Which is the best way to communicate?
In my opinion, you should be able to communicate both ways. By this I mean, having a com-system and knowing all the different hand signals. You should be able to do fine with just hand signals but I can’t say the same for having only a com-system.
The reason for this is that you will most likely not be able to pair with a rider you just saw at an intersection. You need to be able to communicate with hand signals in such a situation or in a situation where someone in the group is having trouble with their com-system.
Also, see my other article: Riding in a group – A helpful illustrative guide
I know there are many different com-systems out there and it would make sense to buy the ones that everyone else in your riding group is using. But I recommend asking them if they are planning to upgrade soon so your whole group can decide together on a single product that fits everyone’s budget. I hope this article was helpful to you.
Featured image by tigersharrk on Instagram.
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