Motorcycle Hand Signals And Why You Need To Know Them

Motorcycles are quite different from a traditional automobile. You’re on two wheels instead of four, riding on it instead of driving it, and you’re exposed to the elements without a means of any overhead protection. Aside from the obvious physical aspects, motorcycles can be a means of daily transportation, just like a car, truck, or SUV. These bikes have evovled over the years and now incorporate some of the features you would find in other vehicles. One thing that hasn’t changed is the use of hand signals. As a licensed driver, it is already required to know some of the basic hand signals but motorcycle riders have quite a few that can be used when riding solo or within a group. Granted, most motorcycles do have the proper indicator lights but it is still wise to be familiar with the hand signals. You never know what unexpected situations you may end up end. Your signaling lights may fail and you may be unaware of the problem. Using hand signals in conjunction with your indicator lights regularly, will ensure that you will always have a back up.

Hand signals are great for not only riders to know but also any other motorist who share the road with them. If you are in a vehicle that is trailing a motorcycle, you need to know what they are trying to tell you. They can be stopping, turning, or warning you of a situation up ahead. A good tip to know is that all hand signals are used on the left side of whatever vehicle you are on or in. Drivers in the United States, drive on the left side of the car. If a motorcyclist is signaling, it is easier to see the movement then possibly overlooking it on the right side.


Right Turn - Motorcycle Hand Signals

When making a right turn, extend your left arm out. Next, bent at the elbow, making a 90-degree angle. Make sure you’re making a closed fist. Some people may think it makes more sense to use the right arm to do this but that is incorrect. Using your right arm instead of the left may confuse fellow motorists and can possibly cause a hazard.


When making a left turn, extend your left arm out and point your palm downwards. This motion is pretty easy to understand, considering the fact that you are turning left and you are using your left hand to motion that direction.


Motorcycle hand signal for left turn


When coming to a stop, extend out your left arm and turn your palm to face backwards. It is a universal fact that a hand being held up means to stop. Due to being on a motorcycle and having to maneuver it, you can’t face the people behind you to hold your hand up and let them know you are coming to a stop. So, this is a safe way to alert them with the same concept of the hand being up.
Take your left hand and open and close it. This creates a “blinking” movement with your hand instead of a signaling light and alerts fellow motorists that you will be turning soon.



Extend your left arm with your index finger pointing towards the ground and take your right foot and point it towards the ground as well. This is a signal to let other motorists know that there is something obstructing the road or possibly, an accident up ahead.
Extend your left hand and wave it in a vertical motion toward your body. When riding in a group, in order for everyone to know when to “pull off”, this signal can be used by the lead rider so that everyone can leave at the same time.



Extend your left arm. Close your hand into a fist and wave it up and down. Sometimes you need to take a quick break. In a group, it is impossible to yell what you are trying to do. So, this signal alerts everyone that a break is needed.
Extend your left arm. Do a downward movement with your palm facing down. If for any reason the group needs to slow down, the lead rider can give the signal to everyone and they can then lower their speed.



Speed up

With your left arm extended, do a upward movement with your palm facing up. Just like with the “slow down” signal, this signal allows the lead rider to let the whole group know to pick up the pace.
Take your left arm, extend it up, and have your index finger pointing up. If for some reason everyone needs to line up, the lead rider can signal to everyone ahead of time so that they can get into position, one behind the other.


Single file



Double File - Motorcycle Group Hand Signal

Take your left arm, extend it up, and have your index and middle fingers pointing upward. Just like the “single file” signal. This is a way for the leader to get the group into two lines.

Take your left hand and point your index finger towards the fuel tank. Most vehicles on the road run off of some sort of fuel. This means the tanks have to be refilled at some point. This signal allows the group to know that there will be a fuel stop coming up.


Fuel Stop Signal



Refreshment Stop Signal

Take your left hand, make a fist, and place your thumb to your mouth. Everyone needs nourishments and sometimes during a long ride, you will get thirsty. This signal lets the group know that there will be a stop for refreshments and possibly food.

Extend your left arm upward and have your palm facing forward. This signals other riders in the group that you are the leader and they should follow you.


Follow me signal for bikers



You take the lead

Place your left arm at a 45 degree angle and wave it from front to back while pointing your index finger. This signal is a way to give someone else the lead.

With your palm facing down, tap on the top of your helmet. This is a heads up that the police are up ahead and to some, it can be used for a signal that highbeams are on. If the lead rider signals oncoming traffic of their highbeams, it can prevent the rest of the group from being temporarily blinded by the lights..


Police Up Ahead


Over the years, there have been other hand signals created and used by motorcyclists. Sometimes groups have their own secret signals aside from the basic universal ones. Most of the time, these are just used among the riders in that group and the universal hand signals are still used to signal other motorists. Either way, we all have to share the road with each other. Being able to communicate with each other can make our journeys much safer for all motorists, regardless of the vehicle.


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