|If you are around motorcyclist for any length of time, the topic
will eventually turn to “The Wave.” “Those guys didn’t wave” or “Those
guys waved and I didn’t expect them too,” etc. Since I seem to have
an opinion about most everything else I might as well put my two-cents
in on this one as well. Since I have had follow bikers not return
my wave, I certainly have an opinion about those who wave and those
Let me put it out on the table so everybody knows up front where I’m
at on this issue. I wave to every other motorcyclist I see; Harleys,
Goldwings, cruisers, metrics, standards, crotch rockets, trikes, motor
scooters, and old people with two wheels on their walkers, I wave
at them all.
When I first started riding in the early 60’s, there were far fewer
motorcyclists than there are today. Hell, there were far fewer people
than there are today. In fact, those who rode motorcycles were a
bit suspect. If you weren’t actually irresponsible you were at least
immature. The slogan, “You meet the nicest people on a Honda” was
as yet unknown, and not believed in any case.
During that period of time, some drivers would tailgate me or cut
me off intentionally, and a few were just generally hostile. Then
again, that was in the heyday of the Hell’s Angels and many of the
people who didn’t ride assumed we were all, what later came to be
called, the one-percenters. Today, I still have people who cut me
off and tailgate me but now its just because everyone seems to be
in such a damned hurry they’re not paying attention, not because they
don’t like motorcyclist, per se. Of course, we still have some of
For all of those reasons, there seemed to be a closer bond between
“bikers” than there is today, and we all waved. The type of motorcycle
never occurred to me and apparently never occurred to them. If you
were on two wheels, you had to be willing to put up with being odd
and, as the old saying goes, misery loves company. Besides, we shared
a common obsession, motorcycles. Everybody waved.
OK, so I leave the sport for about 20 years and come back into it
at a time when motorcycling has become a popular pastime and motorcycles
now cost more than open-heart surgery. I bought a used BMW, a bike
that had a good reputation for quality when I left the sport, took
a CMSP course, and hit the road, glad to be back in the group. I
pass a fellow biker on the road, he waves, and I wave back. Oh yeah,
I remember this. Later, I pass another biker, I wave first and he
returns the wave. Hey, I love this sport. That wave brought forth
the memory of camaraderie, of being part of a smaller group, of sharing
an obsession at a time when we are becoming an anonymous glob, and
I enjoyed that memory. I liked the wave.
Then, one weekend I’m up on skyline and I pass a couple of crotch
rockets and….they don’t return the wave. “What the Hell?” I pass
lots of other bikers and they all wave. OK, maybe the two guys were
busy and couldn’t wave. I can accept that. Then I pass a couple
of Harley guys, no wave. At first I thought it was an age thing,
but the Harley guys looked more my age. I needed to find out what
was going on.
I ask one of my motorcycling friends, who is and has been an active
rider for many years, and he just laughs, “Yeah, a lot of the Harley
guys won’t wave,” he tells me with a “ welcome to the real world”
kind of attitude. He didn’t know about the crotch rockets.
“Really, why is that?”
“I don’t really know. They don’t think it’s cool I guess.”
A couple of months later, I head out on a 4300 mile trip around the
western part of the United States. I spend most of my time on the
two-lane back roads and every biker I wave to, waves back. Everyone,
no matter what they were riding. Harleys, crotch rockets, (well actually,
there were very few crotch rockets) touring bikes, they all wave.
Apparently, they hadn’t gotten the word about coolness. When I got
back into the bay area, I encounter the same old silliness. Selective
After thinking about this difference, I have come up with the following
theory: Those who ride only on weekends or for show, or who have
a short history in the sport, may not wave. They are too concerned
with the image they are buying in to. Those who put a lot of miles
under their bottom, appreciate another true believer and will wave.
I think it’s that simple.
Will I continue to wave while riding around town? Damn right I will.
I generally like people and I’ve seldom met another motorcyclist who
was unfriendly to me when I talked with them. I like to laugh, I
like to hear others laugh, I enjoy talking to other riders about motorcycles,
and by God, I’m going to wave at you, no matter what.
If you don’t wave back, I will assume you didn’t see me instead of
assuming you’re a poser or a biker with more money than manners.
But rest assured, as a fellow motorcyclist if I see you on the road,
I’ll wave and if I see you broke down on the side of the road, I’ll
stop, and if I see you in a gas station, I’ll talk motorcycles with
you, and I hope you will do the same for me.
Remember, there are still more of them then us, and there are still
some of them that don’t like us. And even if there are more of us
today than there were 20 years ago, we still need each other.