16 Motorcycle Hand Signals for Group Riding

July 25, 2022
By Michael Padway

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motorcycle hand signals

Importance of Motorcyclist Signals

Most motorcycle hand signals are fairly intuitive, especially when combined with appropriate body language; however, new riders without proper training may be confused upon first seeing them. When proper signaling is crucial to safety, like during large group rides or track days, important biker hand signals should be communicated during a pre-ride meeting.

Biker Hand Signs you Need to Know

Although motorcycle hand gestures are something that most riders learn as part of their motorcycle license exams, often they are forgotten and not used when actually needed. For example, if your signal lights are damaged, or if you’re riding in a large group, communication between riders via hand signals is just as critical for staying safe as gear like biker jackets and gloves are. Read below to learn about or refresh yourself on the various hand signs bikers give each other on the road.

moto hand signals - left turn

Left turn

For letting the group know you are turning left. The signal can be used to break from or to lead the group, depending on whether you are leading or following. Make the signal by extending your left arm straight out with your palm facing down.

moto hand signals - right turn

Right turn

Let the group know you are turning right. Use this signal to lead or to break from the group, depending on your status in the group (leading or following). Bend your elbow 90 degrees, then point your clenched fist at the sky to complete the signal.

moto hand signals - stop

Stop

When the leader of the group makes the “stop” signal, it should cause a chain reaction going all the way back to the last rider in the group. Make the signal by bending your arm 90 degrees, keeping your palm open, and pointing your fingers down at the road.

moto hand signals - speed up

Speed up

Inexperienced groups will benefit most from this signal. Experienced groups rely more on body language. Use it to tell the rest of the group to match your pace by increasing their speed. Extend your arm and swing your palm in an upward direction to give the signal.

moto hand signals - slow down

Slow Down

This signal is useful because motorcycles generate intense engine-braking forces, which do not activate the rear-facing brake light. Extend your arm and swing your palm down toward the road to tell everyone in the group to slow down.

moto hand signals - follow me

Follow Me

Used to announce a new, often self-appointed group leader. Also used to segment a large group into a smaller group. Make the signal by extending your arm forward at the shoulder with your palm facing outward.

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moto hand signals - you lead/ come

You Lead/Come

Also known as the “YOU! Follow me!” signal. It has 2 distinct parts. Start by pulling up alongside the rider you want to follow or lead. In one motion, point to their bike and then swing your arm forward. Repeat this motion until the other rider understands.

moto hand signals - single file

Single File

An easy gesture. Extend your left index finger and bend your arm up to the sky. In other words, pretend the riders behind you are asking “How many?” and then indicate the answer by gesturing with your left pointer finger.

moto hand signals - double file

Double File

Bend your left arm at the elbow and point to the sky with your index and middle fingers. Do not forget to include your index finger.

moto hand signals - comfort stop

Comfort Stop

Poke your arm out to the left and shake your fist using short, up-and-down movements – as though shaking a can of paint. Make this stop only when the road or shoulder is debris-free and there is ample room to pull over.

moto hand signals - refreshments

Refreshment Stop

Indicate your intention to stop at a gas station or restaurant. Make a “thumbs up” with your left hand and gesture toward your mouth (or the front of your helmet) as though your thumb is a straw poking up out of a glass of water.

moto hand signals - turn signal on

Turn on Signal

To make a “blinking” gesture using your left hand, alternate between extending your fingers and making a fist. Use this signal to let another rider know he left his blinker on, allowing him to save face during the next comfort or refreshment stop.

moto hand signals - pull off

Pull off

Indicate to the rest of the group to pull off of the highway, either immediately or at the next exit. The pull off signal is given when the reason for the stop is something other than a comfort or refreshment stop.

moto hand signals - cops ahead

Police Ahead

Let your fellow riders know about police activity up the road by patting the top of your helmet with your left palm. Keep our communities’ police officers and other first responders safe. Use caution and respect all laws when riding your motorcycle. Remember to follow best practices in the event that you do get pulled over while on your motorcycle.

moto hand signals - cops ahead

Fuel Stop

When riding with most groups, running out of gas will earn you a nickname you probably won’t like. Communicate your need to refuel by pointing to your fuel tank using your left index finger.

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Most motorcycle hand signals are fairly intuitive, especially when combined with appropriate body language; however, new riders without proper training may be confused upon first seeing them. When proper signaling is crucial to safety, like during large group rides or track days, important biker hand signals should be communicated during a pre-ride meeting.

BIKER HAND SIGNALS FAQ

What does it mean when bikers point two fingers down?

Pointing two fingers down is an easy way for bikers to say hi to one another. Motorcylists occasionally greet each other in other ways as well. For example, with a nod or a wave. Whatever you decide to do, it’s best to acknowdege fellow bikers on the road instead of ignoring each other.

How do you greet other motorcyclists?

Sometimes called the “biker wave,” riders can greet each other using a variety of hand signals. These include a nod, a traditional wave, a pointed finger or even a palm out peace sign.

What does it mean when a motorcyclist gives you a thumbs up?

A thumbs up can mean that the upcoming road is clear, however this signal does not have a universal meaning amongst motorcyclists.

Michael Padway

Michael Padway uses his expertise in personal injury and motorcycle accidents to represent a broad spectrum of clients dealing with life-changing and permanent injuries for the first time. His offices are located at 235 Montgomery St., Ste 668, San Francisco, CA 94104 and at 3140 Chapman St. Oakland, CA 94601. For more information, please call (800) 928-1511.

comments

10 Comments

  1. Motorcycle Gloves

    Very useful information. Thanks for your efforts and time.

  2. Bradley Rebecca

    Great information. I am impressed from this post. I haven’t any word to appreciate this post. You share the actually right information here. Very useful and helpful blog. Thanks you share with me.

  3. Ontor Hasan

    WoW! This information are useful for bike rider. Thanks for this information.

  4. Junaid

    Thanks for the post, I went through these hand signals. When i took the motorcycle class here in California but it’s a good reminder to go over this again.

    Appreciated.

  5. indiadrivesafe

    Good article. It will be useful for my website readers as well.

  6. Jj Baker

    They should make all driver take a motorcycle awareness class

  7. Joe T

    Another good one we use a lot is “turn around/U Turn” which looks a lot like the single file or pull off gesture, only you make large circles with your hand with pointer finger pointed strait up.

  8. Edwin Azurin

    We also use some of this hand signals in our bicycle group whenever we go out as a group for a long ride…very useful.

  9. Op

    Sorry to ask you is there any chance the police will raise both hand to signal the vehicle to slow down? 🙏

  10. Leif

    Actually the hand signs are part of the curriculum for both motorcycle and car driver licenses:-)

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