There is a universal brotherhood between motorcyclists and this is perhaps best reflected in the 'nod' or wave we give when approaching other bikers. But, maybe it's just me, but there are bikers that either don't know this 'secret' handshake between bikers - or believe they are superior and above acknowledging other bikers on the road.
As a mere - albeit friendly adventure rider, I make a point of greeting fellow riders as they pass and inevitably, I get a response that ranges from absolutely nothing, to a hardly perceivable 'nod'' or manic waving from newbies as they try control their flailing steeds. But then, there are those that simply give those 'F*&^' looks as they sail past - and the riders of the big American twin's are perhaps the most likely candidates.
I recently had the pleasure of riding one of these behemoths and decided to give my theory a try. as bikers approached, I would regally nod or raise my hand in recognition, and without exception, riders of non-American bikes simply rode past, probably thinking to themselves 'I cant believe what he just did'. On the other hand, fellow Twin's nodded and waved as if I was a member of their close family
So how do you give the 'nod' without losing control of your bike? Well, it depends on your version of the 'nod'. This simple act can vary from an almost imperceptible movement by the uber-cool rider of dipping the head towards the shoulder as if to say 'peasant' - almost a grudgingly cool instinctive nod of approval by one that thinks he rides a better bike. On the other hand the less experienced riders reactions range from a snot-dislodging whip of the head downwards towards the instrument cluster to a fracture-inducing snap of one's head to the side. You may have come across those that believe they can multi-task with a head-snap and simultaneous wave - truly awesome dexterity, until the act of lifting their hand off the throttle causes the bike to plunge forward causing what initially seemed a good idea to snowball into a life-saving procedure as they grab at the throttle to stabilise the bike.
So what constitutes a wave? Well, there are no hard and fast rules but here are some don'ts. Don't wave like you are waving at your mother on the first day of school - you just look weird. 'Snapping' a salute makes you look deranged - besides being likely to end with a rather hard smack to the head as the wind catches your arm. And above all, you aren't the queen, so resist the urge to do the 'Royal wave' because you will never live it down (unless of course you have thoughts of grandeur)! For me, the 'nod' that happens when you slightly drop your head sideways as if you are looking in the mirror, looks less frantic.
In the States and countries that ride on the 'wrong side of the road', bikers simply drop their hand down in recognition of other riders - safe in the knowledge that their throttle hands are in control. But where we come from, unless you have an activate cruise control, using your right hand becomes a game of chance as you 'snap' a Teutonic wave because the wind has grabbed your arm and flung you backward and away from that all-important throttle!
And of course, don't forget the off-bike greeting either..! There are those cool dudes that enter a group of riders and simply nod as if to say 'OK, I've arrived and the party can begin' or the less experienced that make a point of greeting everyone in the room with eye contact and a solid nod that conveys the message 'I am a total dufus but I ride bike' as they slowly undo their branded adventure or club colours while taking care to ensure that everyone knows what bike they ride.
While there are some that simply don't do the 'nod' because they feel they don't know the oncoming rider - or see it is extremely uncool'', that little bit of acknowledgement between bikers remains an important part of riding. After all..... it really doesn't hurt to give it a try...! In fact, “the wave” or "nod" is a simply a sign of solidarity among riders, and a way for them to acknowledge one another sharing the same passion for riding. The action means many things - on a beautiful road on a sunny day, it’s a way for riders to tell each other “ain’t this awesome?” - and on a rainy, freezing winter day, it’s a way for them to tell each other “I feel your pain, and I’m right here with you!”