Why Do Motorcyclists Point To The Ground?

It is common for motorcyclists to point two fingers to the ground whenever they ride past each other in opposite directions. This gesture is referred to as the “Biker Wave.” The practice is so familiar to the extent that it has become a norm. Some bikers make the gesture without understanding what it means. Even though there are different variations of why Motorcyclists point to the ground, it is agreed that the gesture is a way of acknowledging each other.

How did the biker wave originate?

It is widely believed that the inventors of the biker wave are William Harley and Arthur Davidson. Back in 1904, as they approached each other while riding, each waved to the other. People who witnessed the gesture perceived it to be an incredible gesture for bikers, and it has become common since then.

Generally, the biker wave, as pointing to the ground is commonly referred to, is a way of saying hello to fellow bikers and acknowledging each other while on the road. Motorcyclists share the same passion; hence they have adapted their unique way of appreciating each other.

Reasons Why Motorcyclists Point To The Ground 

Reasons Why Motorcyclists Point To The Ground 

Motorcyclists pointing to the ground when approaching each other is a sign of camaraderie among the riders. They believe that the motion makes them look nice as they express their fraternity. The pointing to the ground can be perceived as a sign of brotherhood or a sign of peace.

Here below are some of the main reasons why motorcyclists acknowledge each other by pointing to the ground.

1. It Is A Secret Handshake

Motorcyclists have adopted the pointing to the ground salute because the gesture serves as their handshake. It is common for footballers and other people sharing something in common to adopt specific hand signals to say hello to each other, hence the pointing to the ground gesture for motorcyclists.

2. A Sign Of Politeness

The pointing to the ground salute is a sign of politeness amongst motorcycle riders. It will be unwise not to reciprocate the gesture unless the situation dictates otherwise.

3. Show Of Fraternity

A motorcycle rider pointing to the ground for a fellow rider is a nice gesture of showing fraternity to each other. The motorcyclists have perfected the gesture of pointing to the ground very well to a point where it has become a culture amongst themselves.

4. Expression Of Respect

Just like how members of armed services use the two-finger gesture to express respect to fellow officers, the motorcycle riders use a variation of the same to accord respect to each other. To an extent, the two-finger salute to the ground has become a standard riding etiquette.

5. Sign Of Encouragement 

The pointing to the ground gesture can be construed as a sign of encouragement to a fellow rider. Pointing to the ground can be a sign of telling your fellow rider to keep the two wheels firmly on the ground and concentrate on the ride ahead.

How Is The Pointing To The Ground Salute Done?

How Is The Pointing To The Ground Salute Done

The pointing to the ground salute or the bikers wave is performed by simply pointing the index and middle fingers to the ground. The ritual is performed when the other rider approaches you from the opposite direction. It is a fantastic gesture to tell your fellow rider to maintain the two wheels on the ground and wishing each other well while riding.

When To Avoid The Pointing To The Ground Salute

Although pointing to the ground is a cool and popular way of appreciating each other and expressing brotherhood amongst fellow riders, there are situations where you are advised to avoid the gesture.

Here below are the cases where you are advised to avoid the biker’s wave;

1. During Night Hours

Chances are that performing the pointing to the ground at night might be futile as your fellow rider might not notice it. Additionally, at night you need both of your hands on the throttle so that you can have complete control of your bike.

2. When Raining

It is dangerous to abandon the throttle and perform the pointing to the ground ritual when raining. In such a situation, you need to give your bike full attention for safety purposes. Also, there are chances that the other rider might not notice your gesture.

3. When Riding In Heavy Traffic

Your safety depends on your concentration when riding in heavy traffic. You will have less time thinking about other riders, but you will rather pay attention to the road and map your way out of the traffic.

4. If your Bike Is Faulty

It is a common scenario for a motorcycle to develop a minor problem while you are riding. In such cases, you need to give it maximum attention, until you have delivered it to the repair shop. Even if your fellow rider acknowledges you and you are in this scenario, assume the gesture and concentrate on your bike’s controls.

Frequently Asked Questions

When Is It Safe For Me To Point Two Fingers To The Ground?

If the situation is peaceful, you are at liberty to acknowledge your fellow riders with a biker’s wave. Assess the case first, and be assured that your safety is guaranteed before saluting other bikers.

Must I Reciprocate The Pointing To The Ground Gesture?

There is no harm in reciprocating the gesture if you have complete control of your motorcycle. Otherwise, it is polite to salute back as a sign of politeness.

Other Hand Signals For Motorcyclists

Throwing Your Arm To The Right indicates that you are about to turn to the right.

Throwing Your Arm To The Left- The gesture indicates that you are about to turn to the left.

Nodding The Head- It is strongly recommended that suppose a fellow rider points to the ground, and you are not in a position to point back, reciprocate the gesture by nodding your head.


Motorcyclists need to understand the primary forms of hand waves to make you relevant in the rider’s community. Importantly, learn the culture of pointing down to the ground in reciprocation to your fellow riders, as it will make you blend well with others.

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