What that cryptic looking motor wave actually means in NH, ME, VT

Motorcycle season is here in New England, and it seems they are mostly found in New Hampshire and Maine. Whether groups or solo cyclists enjoying our beautiful landscapes, car routes and cities, they are everywhere.

We know that motorcycle enthusiasts form their own club, even if they don’t know each other. So you may have noticed that that includes a private wave.

It’s called the motor wave and it’s pretty simple.


According to the website Riding Without Reason, motorcyclists place their left hand at a 45-degree angle under the handlebars at hip or knee height, and extend the index and middle fingers in a horizontal peace sign.

This motorcycle boom is 100 years old and started with, you guessed it, William Harley and Arthur Davidson. They are, of course, the makers of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

There are three other waves, which don’t occur nearly as often.

Low palm wave

According to Motor cookieSome riders prefer to extend their entire palm forward rather than having two fingers maintain the same, low height.

Wave with 3 fingers

Meanwhile, “trikes” (three-wheeled motorcycles) sometimes get a three-finger wave, including the thumb or ring finger.

Fist wave

A left fist in the air (according to Big Bike Reviews) with the elbow bent at 90° is to show solidarity and support for social justice causes and motorcycle culture.

However, as I mentioned above, the two-finger wave is by far the most common. So what exactly does this cryptic-looking wave mean?

Two fingers are a way of saying, “Hey, my two-wheeled friend, stay safe and keep the two wheels on the ground,” according to Riding Without Reason. If two wheels are not on the ground, there is a good chance that the motorcyclist will crash or has already crashed.

According to Big Bike Reviews, all motorcycle waves are really a gesture to convey support and camaraderie, often focusing on real motorcycles, from cruise missiles and custom ones to something like a moped.

9 of the best places to play laser tag in New England

Gallery credits: Megan

Give back by volunteering with these life-changing organizations in Maine

Gallery credits: Megan