I am looking forward to writing this one because I can’t remember all of them myself. I am sure this would be quite the refresher for me and many of you!
Like you all, I learned them at a motorcycle safety course, but it’s easy to forget and not use them.
Table of contents
- 1. Right turn motorcycle hand signal
- 2. Left turn motorcycle hand signal
- 3. Road hazard ahead motorcycle hand signal
- 4. Turn indicator is still ON motorcycle hand signal
- 5. Stop Motorcycle Hand Signal
- 6. Single file motorcycle hand signal to a group
- 7. Double file motorcycle hand signal
- 8. Follow me motorcycle hand signal
- 9. Speed up motorcycle hand signal
- 10. Slow down motorcycle hand signal
- 11. Asking for another motorcycle rider to take over as lead hand signal
- 12. Pull off motorcycle hand signal
- 13. Turn around motorcycle hand signal
- 14. Motorcycle hand signal to ride staggered
- 15. Motorcycle hand signal to indicate a fuel stop
- 16. Motorcycle hand signal showing the need for a comfortable stop
- 17. Stop for a refreshment break motorcycle hand signal
- 18. Hand signal for motorbikers to stop for pictures
- 19. Hand signal for motorcycle riders to indicate police ahead
- 20. The biker sign of respect motorcycle hand signal
- Bonus: Hand signals for Dirt bike and ATV riders
1. Right turn motorcycle hand signal
Motorcycle riders control the throttle of the bike in their right hand. So, you cannot hold out your right arm when you want to show road users your intentions to turn right.
So, to indicate your intention to make a right turn, use your left arm instead. You hold it at the elbow at a 90-degree angle with a closed fist. It looks like you are pointing your clenched fist at the sky.
You can use your indicators or signal lights along with such turn signals.
2. Left turn motorcycle hand signal
When turning, you should always use your indicators first. If this is not possible, you can use the left turn-hand signal.
To show this signal, you should extend your left arm out with the palm of your left hand facing down.
3. Road hazard ahead motorcycle hand signal
This signal is to indicate if you spot a hazard on the road. It can be a pothole, roadkill, oil spill, or anything else that can cause harm.
To show this signal, you should point with your left arm at the hazard if it passes on your left.
If the hazard is on your right, you should point with your right leg at the danger. The hazard signal will help fellow riders avoid any potentially dangerous situations.
4. Turn indicator is still ON motorcycle hand signal
Motorcycle indicators do not automatically switch off after a turn, as in a car. So riders can remember if they have them on.
This can be dangerous to other riders and car drivers on the road.
So, if you come across a fellow motorcyclist who has unknowingly left their indicator light on, you can signal them.
To do this, you extend your left arm and open and close your hand.
5. Stop Motorcycle Hand Signal
You can indicate your plan to stop using your brake lights.
But you can also use hand signals to show you want to stop.
To do this, hold out your left arm from your body with an open palm and fingers pointed towards the ground.
6. Single file motorcycle hand signal to a group
If you are part of a group of riders and are leading them, you may need to show your fellow bikers that everyone needs to travel in a single file.
You can direct the group to do this by holding your left hand in the air and showing your left index finger.
7. Double file motorcycle hand signal
Similarly, you could be leading a group, and you need them to ride double files.
In this case, the hand gesture is to hold your left hand in the air.
Then, extend your index finger and middle finger.
This signal looks similar to the peace sign (V).
8. Follow me motorcycle hand signal
Say you are in a big group, but the group has to break up into two.
You want one group to follow you and need them to know.
In this case, as the lead rider, you should raise your left arm with your palm open and face forward to encourage the riders behind you to follow you.
9. Speed up motorcycle hand signal
As the leader of a group of riders, it is often your responsibility to make sure that all riders are keeping pace at the same speed.
The signal to get other riders to increase their speed is to extend the left arm out.
Then, raise it repeatedly with the palm up.
10. Slow down motorcycle hand signal
Alternatively, the group leader (you) may have to ask the group or some members to slow down.
This could be because of heavy traffic, poor weather, bad road conditions, etc.
So, to inform the rest of the group to slow down, you should do the opposite of the speed-up signal.
You can do this by repeatedly putting the extended left arm down with the palm also facing down.
11. Asking for another motorcycle rider to take over as lead hand signal
If you want to signal another rider to take over as lead, pull alongside their motorbike and point to their bike before pointing forward.
This will indicate to them that you would like them to take over as the lead rider.
12. Pull off motorcycle hand signal
While traveling in a group, you may need to pull off the road sometimes quickly. So, the best way to show the group you are going to do this is to extend your left arm.
Then, wave it away from the body, pointing that you need to pull off at the next exit.
It would be best if you used this signal only for essential or emergency stops. This is not a signal for a refreshment stop or a comfort stop.
13. Turn around motorcycle hand signal
In this signal, the lead rider of the group points their left arm straight up at the sky with the index finger out. And twirls it around in circles. This indicates that the group should turn around.
14. Motorcycle hand signal to ride staggered
Sometimes, a group of bikers may be riding too closely to each other.
This can be a potential safety hazard.
So, the group leader will signal the group to ride staggered. In this signal, you hold up either arm at 90 degrees and hold up the index and pinky fingers.
It looks similar to the sign for rock music.
15. Motorcycle hand signal to indicate a fuel stop
Sometimes, while riding in a group, you may need to take a sudden fuel stop at the next gas station.
So to let the others know this, extend your left arm and point to the fuel tank.
16. Motorcycle hand signal showing the need for a comfortable stop
If you need to stop for a comfort break or a loo visit, keep your left arm straight with a clenched fist.
Then, wave it in short up and down motions.
The signal should look like you are shaking an aerosol can or stirring a drink.
17. Stop for a refreshment break motorcycle hand signal
To indicate that you are planning a refreshment stop, make a clenched fist with your thumb pointing up.
And gesture it towards your mouth as if it were a drink with a straw.
18. Hand signal for motorbikers to stop for pictures
When you are on a road trip in a group, it’s nice to stop and take photos to capture memories of the trip.
So, if you want to signal that you want to stop to take pictures, lift an arm and make an L shape with your index finger and thumb.
Then, wiggle your index finger.
19. Hand signal for motorcycle riders to indicate police ahead
You may spot police activity ahead while in a group and need to let others know. So, you can alert fellow riders by tapping the top of your helmet with an open palm.
This can help riders stay within the speed limit to avoid getting speeding tickets. Or the presence of police can also indicate an emergency ahead.
There is also another signal to indicate that there are police ahead. In this one, you lift your left index finger and twirl it around.
The movement mimics a police siren.
20. The biker sign of respect motorcycle hand signal
This signal is to acknowledge other bikers on the road and show your respect.
To do this, put your left arm out and down and point two fingers to the ground.
It looks something like an inverted “peace sign.”
The signal also indicates to the other rider that everything is okay ahead of time and they don’t need to worry about anything.
Bonus: Hand signals for Dirt bike and ATV riders
Dirt bike riders and other off-roaders also have their own set of signals. This can be especially important if you’re riding on narrow trails with oncoming traffic.
If you are in a group, the riders in the opposite direction will need help knowing how many of you they can expect to bypass. So, hand signals are a great way to communicate.
- If two riders are behind you, hold up your arm (either one) and show two fingers. Similarly, if there are three, show three fingers.
- The closed fist sign. This means you’re riding alone or you’re the last rider in the group. To show this, hold up your arm and show a closed fist, facing them.
Today, it’s become common to use bike indicators to show what your intention in traffic is rather than hand signals. Additionally, universal hand signals are not standard, and motorcycle hand signals can differ from country to country.
But this doesn’t mean that the use of essential hand signals is entirely redundant. They still serve a purpose, especially in large group rides. New riders should also learn them because you never know when your indicators might give out.
So, the next time you are on the road, use hand signals and enjoy the feeling of community!