A Handy Guide for Cruisers, Burners, Bippies & Nodders

by Leslie Kay Drury

The secret handshake – some are so old that they precede any specific dated origin.  One thing that can definitively be determined about them; they are as old as any form of greeting.

My favorite of all these secret salutations is most unique, as it requires zero physical contact to conduct, yet holds more soul and intention than – I would vehemently argue – more traditional exchanges.  Yes, it’s ‘The Wave’.  If you drive a motorcycle, you know about this rolling phenome.  This innocent mobile exchange holds an intrinsic insider connection to the biker brother and sisterhood.

As with other historic accounts, the wave comes with its own stories and tall tales about its origins and meanings.  According to the WHAT – BS (Wave Hard And True – Biker Society),  many riders believe there was once a secret wave society, similar to thePriere de Sion fraternal order, founded back in 1903 when the first Harley Davidson rolled out of the shed.  Unfortunately, this tale is just that… a really cool tale.  In truth?  It all started one day in 1904 when Arthur Davidson passed by William Harley and, since they knew each other, they waved. Another biker saw the two ‘Kings of Motorcycles’ doing this and thought this was a biker necessity.  It was all one, big, glorious accident of happenstance and nosey onlookers.

For those of you that have ever wondered if your wave is appropriate, then this is your insider’s guide to all of the possible biker high fives, peace outs, whaz-ups and yo’s .  Although there are many waving flourishes that have taken hold over time, the long standing signature biker wave is a variation of two fingers pointed parallel or down toward the ground.  There are many speculations for why this symbol: a”V” for V-twin; a “2” for keeping it “on two wheels”; or just a peace sign that keeps your hands close to the controls.

If you are going to embark on the exclusive bikers hand shake, then learn the wave that is right for you.  There is nothing worse than thinking you are waving like a pro, but in reality you come across like a poser.   Truth be known, hard core riders even attach specific meanings to certain types of waves.  Don’t get caught with your proverbial leathers down!  Here are the different types of waving methods, broken down and idiot-proofed:

  1. The LOW WAVE

Appropriate For – Cruisers, Harley Riders, Universal Rider Wave

This is the most universal wave and a standard go-to for any rider.  I have seen this technique utilized mostly for cruiser riders, particularly of the Harley variety.

  • How To Boss It – Extend the left arm downward at a forty-five degree angle, then extend any variation of fingers.
  • Idiot’s Method – Extend the left arm straight out. That’ the signal for a left turn!

Variations –

  • A fist with index and middle fingers extended together – The low wave if you’re on a two cylinder bike.
  • All four fingers extended – The low wave if you’re on a four cylinder bike.
  • A fist with the index and middle fingers extended but spread apart – A peace sign meaning “peace on the road.”
  • Thumb and index finger making a circle other three fingers extended – The “OK” sign saying, “I’m okay, you’re okay.” Can also be a question asking if the other rider is okay.
  • All five fingers extended, palm facing forward – the “low five.”

Appropriate For – Crotch Rockets, Rice Burners, Speed Freaks or Traffic Safety Situations

This is most often utilized by sporty types due to the seated leaning position that can make waving awkward and potentially unsafe.   This is also an appropriate wave for any rider that needs both hands on the bars – such as in traffic situations – to maintain a safe response control.

  • How To Boss It – Leave your left hand remaining on the grip, but then raise up the index and middle fingers.
  • Idiot’s Method – Attempting this in an unsafe situation and dropping the bike.  Dude, just forget it if you need your grips!

Appropriate For – All Riders in a Safety Situation

  • How To Boss It Keep your left hand on the grip, while raising all four fingers up and give a minimal wiggle with raised fingers side to side.
  • Idiot’s Method – Over shaking your raised fingers and looking like someone should call a paramedic.
  1. The MINI WAVE

Appropriate For – All Riders Who Have Commitment Problems, But Want to be Nice About It

  • How To Boss It – Raise your left hand up just a few inches of the grip and flash a wave before going back to the grip.
  • Idiot’s Method – Flash it so fast that the other rider never even saw it and now thinks you are an A$$.
  1. The FULL WAVE

Appropriate For – All Overly Enthusiastic Riders or the The Cheerleaders of Bikers

  • How To Boss It – Raise your left hand up to shoulder height or higher to wave.
  • Idiot’s Method – Shake so vigorously your loose balance and do your best road rash impersonation.

Appropriate For – Ultra Classic and Goldwing Riders

  • How To Boss It – Raise your right hand, with elbow bent with slight forward angling of the forearms.
  • Idiot’s Method – Raise your left first, then switch to the right.  Yea, your other right!

Appropriate For – Bippies (Biker Hippies), Chill-a-holics, and Antique or Vintage Model Riders

  • How To Boss It – The left hand makes a fist with the index and middle fingers extended and spread.
  • Idiot’s Method – This one is basically foolproof so if you mess this up, you have bigger problems then this article.
  1. The NOD

Appropriate For – Laid Back Cats, Cool Riders, and Grease Over-Indulgers

  • How To Boss It – Nod your head down once on a slight angle, chin slightly pointed to one side, almost like a head wink and express a chill, cool facial façade.
  • Idiot’s Method – Nod upwards Jersey style or nod upwards while pursing your lips like the ‘special’ guy standing at the bar with leathers too tight.  Eww – Gross!!

Appropriate For – **CAUTION**  For Advance Riders & In the Know Only! 

This salute is rather rare.  I have been riding over 18 years and have only seen this on the odd occasion, and always between riders that look as though they are part of the same ‘group’.  The references that I have heard or read indicate that it’s an old-time biker gang signature.  Sounds very mysterious, and I love a good story…so I’m going to go with it.

  • How To Boss It – Raise your left fist and hold it up high and proud.
  • Idiot’s Method – Any variation of this if you are not a HA or have not been riding since in diapers. Example:  If you are just learning about this, you should DEFINITELY NOT try this one!

‘Sullen’ Rider  ‘Snobby’ Rider                                                    ‘WHY DON’T THEY WAVE’ RIDERS

Sorry folks, but some riders just don’t wave.  Why?  Well, life is a melting pot of conundrums and this is one that is on my Riders Rant & Head Scratching list.  To be fair, in my personal riding experiences I find that more often than not the vast majority of riders passing by do wave back.   And it is not uncommon for the few that do not wave are not able to in that specific moment, or happen to be looking in another direction (in which case I rev the pipes and then “Hello”).  But, every so often, I encounter the ever elusive fickle riders that just will not wave back.

I wave at EVERYONE.  The way I see it, we are all part of the same brotherhood/sisterhood of riders.  I don’t care what you ride, as long as your ride often and safely! “  ~ Leslie Kay Drury, Proprietor Leslie Kay’s Insurance

To Wave or Not to Wave…

That IS the question.   And I’m going to simplify this for you so that you think less and enjoy more on your next wind-in-your-face adventure.  Here are some general DO NOT wave rules:

  • On the interstate; unnecessary
  • On a curve; dangerous
  • In the rain or at night; dangerous
  • In traffic, unnecessary
  • At a rally, unnecessary unless you want to wave your arm right off

Reasons Your Wave Failed…                                                          

I have seen some individuals write about brand loyalty being a catalyst for such behavior.  For example: Harley riders should only wave at other Harley riders and Honda riders to other Honda riders.

  • You weren’t seen
  • Clutch manipulation
  • A head nod was substituted

I believe the rhetoric about brand loyalties and uber ‘insider-inside club’ mentality is just an excuse for poor manners.  The point is to ride people!  I don’t give a hoot how you go about it or what revs your engine.  Regardless, I’ll be waving to you anyway.  And if someone chooses not to wave back… it’s not going to ruin my adventure; my soul will still ride free and happy!


Protect Yourself While Riding with these Safety Tips


by Leslie Kay Drury

I see you?  Can you see me?  As riders of two wheeled machines we see many things.  Especially visible are trucks and cars (cages) all seemingly aiming to take our lives or at the minimum ruin our carefully planned ride.  Any trip we take has the possible misfortune of being interrupted by someone texting, Facebooking, applying mascara, or rubber necking at anything other than the road.  Some mishaps are simply unpreventable accidents.  Others may be prevented by taking some simple steps to stay visible.

Stay out of the No-Zone

The illustration below shows where a trucker will be unable to see you.  These blind spots are dangerous and need to be respected.  A tractor trailer takes

a lot longer to stop than a mini-van.  Keep plenty of distance between you and them.  All vehicles have blind spots.  Even other Motorcyclists.  If you are riding in a stagger with another biker be sure you can see their face in their mirror.  If you can see them they can see you.

Reflective Gear

Wearing reflective gear and using reflective tape when and where possible makes you visible. If you are traveling or even just doing day to day riding you may and probably will at some point be on your motorcycle at night.  Want to be seen?  Having reflective material on the back of your gloves and using your hand signals in addition to the signals on your cycle may make all the difference.  Is your motorcycle Basic Black?  Reflective tape on the back of your jacket and or helmet will add visibility for the drivers around you.

Wear Bright Colors

Road workers wear fluorescent orange and yellow for a reason. It can be seen.  High contrast clothing and clothing with reflective reports attracts the eye and can get you seen in time to prevent a collision.  OSHA has square inch recommendations for how much high vis gear a road worker needs to wear based on the speed of the surrounding traffic.  Guess what…the square inch requirement is highest for those nearest traffic.

Avoid putting yourself in a compromising situation

While we cannot avoid riding at night entirely we can limit it. The likelihood of a serious motorcycle accident significantly increases at night.

Common sense tells us that rush hour is not a place we want to be on purpose. Simple planning and time management can save your life.


The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has done the research and proven that conspicuous forward lighting assists in the prevention of motorcycle collisions. This includes daytime collisions as well as night time. Today’s available LED lights provide even greater visibility and therefore afford a higher degree of safety.

In the day to day hurry and hustle of our lives we never seem to slow down and just take our time.  Many of us bought our motorcycle as part of our recreational time.

recreation noun

  1. refreshment by means of some pastime, agreeable exercise, or the like.
  2. a pastime, diversion, exercise, or other resource affording relaxation and enjoyment.

Remember to Relax and enjoy your ride.  Enjoy the pastime and the diversion of it.  Good decision making and education should always part of the exercise of getting out on the roads.  There will always be people texting, Facebooking, rubbernecking, or just plain ignoring the rules of the road.  Take the steps to respect the “No Zone”, be visible, relax, and just ride.

what to pack for a cross country motorcycle trip

Traveling by Motorcycle

what to pack for a cross country motorcycle tripYou have decided to mark Cross Country Motorcycle trip off your bucket list. Now that the decision is made you will need to prepare. The obvious will be picking your dates, your destination, and making sure your ride is ready for the road. You will of course need to pack. Packing seems simple enough. You are aware of how much space you have, and you are certain what will fit. So you pack it all up, and then go out to load your bike. Realizing that the Beverly Hill Billy’s truck was loaded lighter you go back to the drawing board.

You will need to be prepared not only for your day to day care such as bathing and brushing your teeth but also for things like Sunburn, Bee Stings and any minor injury you may have along the way. A good checklist is helpful and a great resource can be found at http://www.firstaidanywhere.com/motorcycle-first-aid-kit.html. This site details items that they say can be packed into a bag 7”x5”x3”. I did not see Bee Sting treatment listed here, and from experience I strongly recommend that it be included. If you will be camping at any time on your trip Bug Repellant will also be a very close friend to have along. Another useful item is a small travel pack of baby wipes. You can figure out a number of uses for these.

No one on a Motorcycle really wants to think about a flat tire. However, you must consider the possibility. You could find yourself alone and stuck with no cellular service. Progressive Suspension has a tire kit available that will easily fit in your limited space. It includes CO2 cartridges and could save you from being stuck.

So you have prepared for possible injury, and for a flat tire. What about communication? Most all of us have cellular phones these days. This wonderful technology is battery dependent and not everyone has a 12 volt charger on their bike. There are products available that use solar power to provide a charge for your mobile phone, or digital camera. A simple internet search will bring up several options, and you should be able to find one versatile enough to charge most devices.  Some will even include a flashlight as part of the unit.

While writing this article I spoke with Ray Vega of the Palm Beach Motorcycle Safety Council. I asked him what he would take on a trip. First answer was his wife followed by Rain Gear, First Aid Kit, Tool Kit, Tire Repair Kit, Flashlight, Water and Snacks. We also discussed the usefulness of items such as a Leatherman, and a Swiss Army Knife. These items pack the most bang for your buck, and can be packed in small spaces.

Be aware of the weight rating of your cycle and tires. Overloading the bike will have an effect on not only the tires but also on the handling of your bike. As for the rest of your packing adventure there are many checklists out there detailing hundreds of items you might need to have with you. Some of which will take you right back to the Beverly Hill Billy look. During a 2 and ½ year period I relied solely on my motorcycle for transportation and I traveled a bit during that time. Keeping it as simple as possible was the best and it was a hard learned technique. You can always find a coin laundry for your clothes, and some hotels will have one onsite. Pack light, pack simple, and pack useful.

Be sure to verify your roadside assistance on your motorcycle insurance policy, and that your coverage is up to date. Ride safe, and ride often.