Friday, May 27, 2016

Motorcycle Manners and Protocols

Having good manners is the right thing to do, in any situation. We’re not savages that only think about ourselves. We don’t exactly need to behave the way Emily Post told us to at the dinner table, or when entertaining, but there should be some form of manners, even protocols or etiquettes, when riding your bike.

Manners are usually a two-way street. It’s like a good stereo system; it needs to come from both sides. A bit like, treat people the way you want to be treated yourself; respect.


When coming up behind another biker, don’t honk, and don’t immediately overtake. At a red light when the other biker is stopped, don’t pull up beside him/her, but staggered behind the bike. The reasons for this, is that you don’t know the rider’s abilities and street smarts. Coming up behind a biker and continuing fast, may result in the biker suddenly pulling out to accelerate and bump into you. Coming up behind the other biker and staying a few seconds will ensure that the other biker has seen you. Sitting behind the biker at a red light, staggered, will give the biker time to see that there’s someone behind.

MANNER: Don’t suddenly overtake another biker. Don’t honk.

When you ride up to another slower bike and there’s no lanes available to pass, wait. The slower bike will hopefully see you and wave you through on the same lane. If you don’t, you stand the chance of crashing.

MANNER: Don’t pass in the same lane if you don’t have space to pass on the road. Wait for an acknowledgement.

If you are behind a slow car which goes out of its way to let you pass, remember to wave to the car as a thank-you.

MANNER: Wave a “thanks” to cars that go out of their way for you.

If you see another motorcycle that has broken down, it can be a good idea to stop and see if they need help. We’re on our own out there in SUV land, and the more help we get from our brothers & sisters, the easier and safer our lives will be. The same obviously applies to bikers who are in trouble with car drivers. Go and help them.

MANNER: When possible, help out other bikers on the road who are in trouble.

The Wave

One of the most common forms of manners, or protocols (etiquette) is the famous wave between bikers. When you are riding and come upon other bikers, give them a wave, or at the least a nod with the head. The “wave” shouldn’t be just to motorcycle riders who are riding your favorite motorcycle. The wave is to any motorcycle, even scooters. It’s a form of respect, a respect to their chosen form of transportation. We are a brotherhood.

The actual form of wave is not that important, it could be a high held hand, a low one, one, two or all fingers, whatever the “wave”, as long as the others can see it. Obviously when you are riding in a dense motorcycle area, like Sturgis, you don’t need to wave, or even nod. In cities where there are many more motorcycle riders, you could be spending all your time waving. Here maybe a nod will do, or nothing at all.

MANNER: If you can, wave or nod to other bikers riding any brand or type of motorcycle.

Group Riding

When riding in a group, if there’s a smoker out there, would you like to ride behind that person and receive their cigarette in the face when they flick it away;

MANNER: Don’t throw away cigarettes when riding (it’s illegal anyway). Remember the bikers behind you.

Don’t try to get others to ride at your pace, especially when your pace is fast. It’s nicer for everyone to ride at their average pace.

MANNER: Don’t force the pace.

Lane Splitting

If you are in an area that allows lane splitting, don’t race your bike through the lane, ride at a leisurely pace, but keep an eye on your mirrors. Other bikers may come up to you faster than you. That is their concern and safety, but to ensure good harmony, when you get a chance, move over and let them pass. When you move over, signal the other rider that they can pass, thereby eliminating confusion and misunderstandings.

MANNER: Let faster motorcycle pass when lane splitting.


When you see a parked motorcycle, even if the owner is right there, never, ever, sit on the parked motorcycle. If you want to sit on it, ask permission. You don’t see people go into someone else’s car to sit in it. It’s just not done.

MANNER: Never sit on someone’s motorcycle without asking for permission.

When you have to park in car spots, if the spot is taken up by another motorcycle, do not put your bike in that slot. You are going to give the other biker problems taking out his/her ride. Only put multiple bikes in one parking slot if you are all riding together.

MANNER: Do not park in the same car parking space as another motorcycle.


When you get a new pillion, tell them what is expected from them. Tell them where to get on or off the bike, what to do when you are in a curve and what not to do. Even if the pillion has been riding as pillion with others, just remind them of “your” rules. Why do you think airlines keep telling you about the safety procedures?

MANNER: Instruct a new (to you) pillion on your rules and procedures.

Remember that you have got the pillion’s life in your hands. Be extra careful. Now is not the time to show off, or the scare the pillion. Ride responsible.

MANNER: Ride extra careful.

These are just a few common sense manners. Keep civil, be nice. Let’s all enjoy the ride.


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