Things can get pretty loud on the open road, and universal hand signals are the best way to keep in touch with your riding group. It's a tried and true method of communication that means you and your buddies can all stay on the same page.
You might already know the 5 basic hand signals, but keeping safe while group riding means adding a few extra moves to your arsenal. So let's run through every signal you'll need to know once you and your group hit the road.
THE BASIC MOTORCYCLE HAND SIGNALS
These are the most basic biker hand signals that most riders are familiar with, so learn them well. The lead rider will use these to dictate the pace to their fellow riders.
INDICATE TO TURN LEFT
Stick your left arm straight out, with your palm flat like in the picture. Keeping your left arm extended straight is also a useful alternative if you ever get a busted indicator.
INDICATE TO TURN RIGHT
It might seem unnatural to indicate a right turn using your left hand, but it would be unsafe for a lead rider to remove their hand from the bars. This would temporarily restrict their access to the front brake.
Riders indicate a right turn instead by putting their left arm out at a 90-degree angle while keeping a closed fist.
Extend your left arm straight out, with your palm facing upward. From here, swing your arm upwards a few times to indicate that you want to speed things up.
When you need to slow things down, just do the opposite of the 'speed up' signal. Keep your left hand straight out, only with your palm facing down now, and swing your arm downwards to tell your riding group they need to take it easy for the moment.
THE BIKER WAVE
This signal isn't strictly necessary, but a nice way to show comradery with your fellow riders. If you ever pass a rider and see them stick two fingers out by their side, they're simply saying hello.
Motorcycling is a brotherhood and it's always nice to give a nod to a fellow traveller. Give it a try next time you're out riding.
MOTORCYCLE HAND SIGNALS FOR RIDER COURTESY
While less commonly used than the signals mentioned above, these are some handy signs you can throw up when the situation calls for it. Most of these are about looking after your fellow riders.
When you spot some boys in blue, it might be a good idea to let any cowboys in your group know about it. Simply tap the top of your helmet with your palm, and the riders behind you will know they need to keep a lid on things.
You can even give the same warning to other riders that aren't in your group. Motorcycling is about community after all, and we've always got each other's back.
FAILED TO TURN INDICATOR OFF
If the rider in front of you is opening and closing their left fist, it means you've forgotten to turn your indicator off. You should also extend the same courtesy to any riders behind you who have made the same mistake.
A riding group can get strung out over the course of a trip, and the drop-off system is a great way to prevent the group from getting split up when a turn is coming.
The lead rider will point to a spot on the side of the road, indicating that the rider behind them should stop and direct the rest of the group.
This one is pretty much the same signal as 'drop-off'. The lead rider will point to any potential hazards on their left using their index finger, and any hazards on their right by pointing using their right foot.
PULL OFF AT THE NEXT JUNCTION
When the lead rider decides it's time for a break, they'll point to their head using just their thumb. This means it's time to pull over at the nearest pit stop and take a break.
TURN SIGNAL ON
When a turn is coming up, the rider in front of you will stick their left arm out and start opening and closing their hand. This is a sign to turn your indicator on. Be a good guy and do the same for any other riders behind you as well.
Extend your left arm all the way up in the air with your palm facing forward, as if you're waving to someone but without actually swinging your arm.
COMMON GROUP RIDE SIGNALS
Any riding group needs a way to let the entire group know that it's time to stop, and this can be for a number of reasons. There's a specific signal depending on why a pit stop is needed.
This one is pretty straightforward. Point to your fuel tank with your left index finger if you notice that you're running low.
SIGNAL TO STOP
Sometimes you need to let the group quickly know that you need to stop. This signal isn't for any particular reason, it's just a way of telling everyone that you need to pull over.
To signal a stop, show the rider behind you the open palm of your hand. This is done by bending your left arm 90 degrees with your palm facing backward. It's a unique signal, which makes sense if you need a sudden stop for any particular reason.
CALL FOR COMFORT STOP
If the rider in front of you forms a clenched fist and starts moving it up and down, it's not because they're calling you a wanker (hopefully). This is actually a universal motorcycle hand signal to make a comfort stop.
Yep, it's going to produce a few giggles but that's the way it is. Thankfully there are a few alternatives if your riding group can't take this one seriously.
CALL FOR REFRESHMENT STOP
Exactly like the signal mentioned earlier in this article, put your thumb up to your mouth to call for a refreshment stop. It doesn't have to be direct to your mouth though. Just do the thumbs-up gesture and point to your helmet to signal that it's time for a snack.
LESSER KNOWN HAND GROUP SIGNALS
We've covered the main signals that you'll need to know, but the more the better! Here are some lesser-known but still handy signals you can pull out when the situation calls for it.
Point your left index finger to the sky then hook it to the right over your head. This is used when you're riding on a freeway and the lead rider wants to get off at the next exit.
The pull-off signal isn't used for a refreshment stop, but rather when an issue has come up and the group needs to pull over.
Point your finger upwards with a bent arm at 45 degrees, then point to the ground like in the picture above. Repeat this motion a few times, pointing up and then to the ground, to signal the rider behind you to follow.
If the road ahead looks a bit tight, the lead rider might indicate for everyone to organise into a single file. This is a fairly simple motion. They will simply point to the sky with one finger raised as if they were celebrating a goal.
Similar to the single file gesture, the lead rider will hold up two fingers when the roadway is clear and you once again have the freedom to ride side by side.