Why Do Motorcyclists Point To the Ground? And When It Began

Why do motorcyclists point to the ground?” runs through many people’s minds, especially those new to the motorcycle riding community. A rider points to the ground as a sign of greeting, showing respect and wishing their fellow rider a safe ride.

Motorcyclists Point To the Ground ~ Ran When Parked

Sometimes, this hand gesture can mean something else, mainly if it’s directed at a four-wheeled driver. We’ve discussed that in length, including how the culture came about, and other standard signals motorcyclists use to keep safe on the road, so read on to be fully informed.

Why Do Motorbike Riders Point Two Fingers to the Ground?

Motorbike riders point two fingers to the ground to greet their fellow riders, wishing them a safe ride. Pointing to the ground represents mutual understanding and appreciation between the bikers. Motorbike riders can also point down to alert other riders and drivers to a potential hazard ahead.

Motorcyclists use numerous gestures and signals to mean different things. Knowing at least a few before going out to ride can give you a sense of belonging or feeling of a community. It can also give you an early warning of a danger ahead.

As mentioned, motorcycle riders point to the ground to greet fellow bikers and wish them a safe ride, but the signal can mean a different thing, depending on the situation.

The Two Fingers Down to Fellow Motorcyclists

A motorbiker pointing two fingers to the ground at an angle with the left hand is an easy and efficient signal. It involves dropping the clutch (left) hand down and back up again, allowing the riders to come into view quickly to ensure safety and not disrupt other road users.

Motorcyclists on the Road ~ Ran When Parked

Any seasoned rider will tell you that while riding a motorbike, when encountered by another bike coming the opposite direction, point out the middle and index fingers of your left hand to the ground. The 2 fingers down motorcycle is a biker wave that means “Hello! Keep the rubber side down, keep both wheels on the ground.”

It’s wishing the fellow biker a safe riding experience. The 2 wheels down sign is a biker sign of respect or an expression of due regards towards the other motorcyclist. In other words, the two wheels down meaning is a sign of mutual understanding and courtesy, and it’s used to greet other motorcyclists you might not know.

The motorbike-riding community shows respect for each other because they are aware of the dangers of riding a motorcycle.

They understand their vulnerabilities on the road and the importance of always being aware of their surroundings. As a close-knit community, bikers look out for each other. Motorcyclists also appreciate each other as they share a common passion for motorbikes.

Most riders appreciate the excitement of riding a motorcycle and respect other riders who share the same feeling.

Two Fingers Down to a Four-Wheeled Driver

A motorcyclist may also show a driver the same two-finger down gesture to mean ‘thank you.’ Another reason why bikers point to the ground is to communicate with drivers.

Four Wheeled Driver ~ Ran When Parked

Motorcycle riders may point at something on the ground to alert other drivers of problems or potential hazards, which helps keep everyone on the road safe. Thus, the next time you see a rider do that, take a second to appreciate them and all they stand for.

Other Common Motorcycle Hand Signals

You don’t need to point your fingers down each time you encounter a rider passing by if you feel uncomfortable. There are several other forms of communicating with a fellow motorcyclist:

A Simple Hand Wave

What does the motorcycle wave mean? It’s a popular way of saying hello to other bikers. When riding on the right side of the road, a fellow biker from the opposite direction will be towards your left. You can wave with your left hand while the right remains on the throttle.

Motorcyclists Waving Hand ~ Ran When Parked

However, a biker wave is rare, especially among sports bike riders, because it’s challenging to do so at higher speeds. It may also be problematic in other situations. For instance, if you’re new to biking and are afraid of removing your hand from the handlebar. Fortunately, there are alternatives.

Nodding the Head

A node often comes in handy when you can’t wave back at a fellow rider. Nodding the head up and down is a simple way to say, ‘Thank you, I appreciate that.’ It’s easy and won’t take your eyes off the road. But like a hand wave, this gesture only applies when riding slowly.

One-Finger Salute

The one-finger salute (the middle finger) historically represented the phallus. It gained immense recognition among music artists, celebrities, actors, politicians, and athletes in the 1980s as a sign of disrespect. Presently, this gesture is still viewed as obscene.

Some bikers use this signal to show anger or disagreement with another biker. That involves holding up the middle finger with their hand outstretched.

However, most riders use the one-finger salute (index finger) with their hand stretched as a simple acknowledgement or wave. Some do that to all riders, even scooters, while others only to their kind.

All these signs are easy to understand, and you can use them to communicate different things. There are other crucial signals you should watch for to understand better what a biker is saying.

Many have asked, what does it mean when a motorcyclist taps his head? A tap on the head or motorcycle helmet usually indicates ‘high beams are on‘; sometimes, depending on the location, it can mean ‘cops ahead.’

A biker can also hold their left arm straight to the side to indicate a left turn. Many also show a right turn by holding up the left arm and bending it at the elbow so that the hand is pointing up.

Motorcyclists indicate they are stopping by holding their left arm up and making a fist with their hand. Your turn signal is on if a motorcyclist flashes his hand at you. Shaking one leg tells other riders behind that there’s debris ahead on the side of the road.

A rider can also point their finger straight up to indicate a need to ride a single file to avoid obstacles or debris.

If a motorcyclist in front of you swoops their arm forward, they often tell you to pass them and go in front (pass). As you can see, numerous hand signals exist among the motorcycle community and the above are just a handful and most commonly used.

As mentioned, it’s essential to familiarize yourself with these signals to learn how to communicate silently with your fellow motorcyclists. That will make your ride more enjoyable and create a safer riding community.

When Did the Idea of Riders Pointing to the Ground Begin?

The idea of riders pointing to the ground began tens of decades ago, according to multiple widely accepted theories. One theory suggests that Harley Davidson is behind the start and development of this culture. Other people believe that the idea was invented by riding World War veterans.

Riders Pointing to the Ground ~ Ran When Parked

So, who invented the gesture of riders pointing to the ground? Many people are also asking, where did the motorcycle wave come from? The truth is that there needs to be a clear history of how this culture came to life. As mentioned, there are only a few interesting theories out there:

Harley and Davidson

One belief is that the legendary motorcycle manufacturers are behind it. It’s believed that the culture began in 1904 when the dual passed and waved at each other on their motorcycles.

A passer-by happened to see them and noted the gesture, which they believed to be etiquette among riders. Since then, the signal caught on, and other common gestures developed from there.

Riding World War Veterans

Another story suggests that in the 1950s when World War veterans rode motorcycles, they signaled with two fingers (a V symbol) pointing to the ground upon passing each other on the road.

The gesture was then used as a sign of peace and the victory obtained after the war. After that, the pointing-to-the-ground culture spread like wildfire, and that’s how it’s still popular today.

When Biking Become Mainstream

There’s also another theory, which some call the motorcycle camaraderie. In the 1970s, motorcycles became popular and accepted by many people as a means of transport and for having fun. With the expanding motorbike rider community, pointing to the ground became a sign of acknowledgment and respect.

Biking Become Mainstream ~ Ran When Parked

Whichever story you believe in most, the point remains. Riders pointing to the ground is a form of acknowledging their fellow biker and wishing them safety on the road. It’s also a convenient means of communication, which forms one of the critical aspects of safe riding.

Remember, a motorcycle rider is less visible by the four-wheeled drivers. Thus, these gestures enable riders to be aware of their surroundings and let drivers know what they are doing. As discussed, they contribute significantly to harmony and safety on the roads.


Riding a motorcycle is a fun and an easy means of moving from point A to B. You now know that motorbike riders point to the ground and use other gestures to communicate to their fellow riders and drivers, and here’s a recap:

  • Motorbike riders pointing to the ground is a greeting, a sign of acknowledgment and respect towards fellow bikers.
  • By pointing two fingers to the ground with the left hand, riders express their appreciation to others, wishing them a safe ride.
  • Riders can also point to the ground to indicate a potential hazard ahead to their fellow riders and drivers behind them.
  • The culture of riders pointing to the ground is believed to have begun in 1904 by Harley and Davidson, in the 1950s by World War veterans, or in the 1970s when motorcycle riding became mainstream.
  • Besides pointing two fingers to the ground to show acknowledgement and respect, seasoned riders also use gestures with different meanings, such as nodding their heads to show appreciation and a tap on the head to indicate that your high beam light is on.

Mastering these gestures and signals can help you ensure safety on the road, whether you’re a beginner, seasoned rider, or four-wheeled driver. So, please memorize at least a few to play your part in building a safe motorcyclist community.

Rate this post
Ran When Parked